DAOs are a Catalyst for Decentralization - Unhashed #15by@musharraf
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DAOs are a Catalyst for Decentralization - Unhashed #15

by Mohammad MusharrafAugust 21st, 2021
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Too Long; Didn't Read, founded by Stephen Tse, is working to drive a fintech revolution. Harmony aims to solve the interoperability and scalability challenges faced by first-generation blockchains. Tse says cross-chain communication is a must for blockchains to turn mainstream and provide scalable solutions. Harmony is providing an open platform for developers to choose between different blockchains for their products. It is also enabling the digital transfer of digital assets with negligible friction in fees or transaction costs.

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2021 has been a big year for blockchain. We are seeing an explosive growth of new protocols and new projects - many of which are solving real-world problems. Blockchain proposes an entirely new way of doing things. From an authority-less marketplace to DeFi platforms that could entirely disrupt the traditional banking system, blockchain is helping us realize the dreams of tomorrow.

To date, the majority of the population consider Bitcoin as the synonym of blockchain technology. But, in reality, Bitcoin is a popular, yet the minuscule application of the versatile blockchain tech. And the versatility of the technology has started to carve its name by disrupting the financial sector., for one, is an interesting project effectively working to drive this global fintech revolution. So, I reached out to’s founder, Stephen Tse — an entrepreneur who sold his startup to Apple and worked on multiple infrastructure projects for Google — to discuss this revolution.

Q1. Welcome to Unhashed. What’s your crypto story and how did you come to establish Harmony?

Answer: I delved into the world of programming when I was just 12. My passion to understand the complexities of this world led me to get a Ph.D in security protocols and that’s how I learned to work on full-stack and use an end-to-end approach to tackle problems.

With my knowledge, I worked on infrastructure projects at Apple and Google. In some cases, these projects were serving hundreds of millions of users. From there, when I took the next step in my career, it took me two years to understand blockchain at a deep level. Then I put together a team to build a network that could solve the interoperability and scalability challenges faced by first-generation blockchains.

That was the beginning of Harmony.

Q2. Cross-chain or interoperability is a hot topic in the blockchain space. What does interoperability mean and how does it benefit the blockchain ecosystem?

Answer: Imagine if operating systems like Windows and macOS functioned in siloes. Or, if the iOS version of Gmail was unable to interact with the Android version of Gmail. Or, if Gmail was unable to interact with any other email platform. We would have surely adapted to these situations but working on the internet or exchanging data would have been extremely difficult.

The same applies to blockchains. Without cross-communication between blockchains, the feasibility of products and applications built on them ceases to exist. By design, blockchains aren’t interoperable. Spending Bitcoin to own a character skin on an Ethereum game is not possible.

Extrapolate this inability to solutions of scale, it equates to the blockchain being a platform for individual features and never a facilitator of full-fledged solutions. And for the scale of problems blockchain is trying to solve, individual features shall never suffice. A cross-chain communication is a must for blockchains to turn mainstream and provide scalable solutions.

We all know the concerns over rising gas fees and transaction times in the Ethereum blockchain. However, it is home to thousands of dApps and DeFi solutions. So, at this juncture, interoperability is the only way out. Likewise, we at Harmony are operating a chain where ETH developers can jump onto the Harmony ecosystem, leverage our transaction speeds and low fees amongst other features, and return to the ETH blockchain.

Until recently, developers were looking for a better blockchain amongst a few to develop their products. But, with interoperability, they can pick the best features of different blockchains while not compromising on the security or the utility of their product.

Q3. You spoke about Harmony offering to solve interoperability issues of blockchain. Can you delve deeper into what Harmony does and how it achieves this?

Answer: Currently, blockchains have built walls around them detesting the need for peer-to-peer communication with their counterparts. Given the diversity in blockchains, the walls have further grown in strength leaving developers to stick to their favorites while compromising on their visions.

Harmony is superseding the walls with bridges, the ones that shall connect all the blockchains and empower developers with freedom of choice. Using cross-chain collaterals, we are ensuring the value of tokens is maintained while their application is widened across different blockchains.

By bridging blockchains like Ethereum, Binance, and Bitcoin, we are enabling the digital transfer of a vibrant range of assets with negligible friction in fees or time. From providing tools to Ethereum devs to migrate codes across blockchains to enabling Bitcoin holders to earn on Eth-based dApps, we are providing an open platform based on interconnectivity.

We provide scalable solutions on three fronts in network, storage, and transaction processing. Thereby, we can cater to premium blockchains as a layer-1 solution, rather than a layer-2 alternative. With our vision of ‘Open Consensus for 10B people’, we are committed to delivering a decentralized blockchain that provides quick and secure transactions.

Q4. How sustainable do you think the DAO structure is for the future?

Answer: To achieve true decentralization, decentralized autonomous organizations, a.k.a. DAO, act as a catalyst. They further the industry’s efforts in building an inclusive ecosystem. Right now, we are accustomed to trusting a specific group of people, who in the form of a company or organization provide services to us.

And those in authority have complete control over the provision of services. This means there exists an unequal distribution of authority. Conversely, blockchain and DeFi divert our trust from people to technology and/or math-based algorithms. Now, who designs the tech infrastructure or the nuances of the algorithms?

As a facilitator of true decentralization, DAO structures allow every party involved to have their say in the operations and management of the protocol or product. By removing hierarchy and promoting equality, DAO ensures inclusivity is upheld at all times. This also fosters transparency amongst the people involved, courtesy of the immutability property of the blockchain tech.

In terms of sustainability, the DAO structure is right up there thanks to its perpetual undertaking. DAO’s fluidity beats all the traditional paperwork by a mile and ensures the continuity of the protocol/project. With a people-first or community-first approach, traditional firms can embrace the potential of the DAO structure.

Answer: The recent hack sounded like a death knell to the crypto industry and its credibility. It also garnered unwanted attention from the regulatory authorities which is the last thing our industry wishes for. However, there are certain steps that blockchains can employ to further their robustness and security.

Overall, the structural integrity of a blockchain is impenetrable, given its decentralized nature. Not only data theft, but even tampering and/or manipulation of data is out of the question. These innate advantages have opened their use in applications like securing IoT devices, digital identities, and similar use cases.

Blockchain, as an infrastructure, is robust and has no single point of failure, but security risks are far from being obsolete. So, this leaves the door open for solutions like better consensus algorithms, resharding processes, and others.

Consensus algorithms that reduce centralization are a blockchain’s favorite. Take the proof-of-stake mechanism, for instance, it maintains network security via widespread delegation and incentivizes the participants. Topping it off with regular resharding ensures unbiased shard membership which further secures the blockchain.

Similarly, other security measures can be employed by blockchains to uphold their integrity without compromising their utility to the end-user.

Q6. What does the future look like for the Harmony project? How does the growth of NFTs and DeFi blend in Harmony’s roadmap for the coming years?

Answer: We are excited to look at what the future of blockchain and crypto space holds for us and everyone. The existing potential and room for innovation bewilder all of us. If the potential is realized at scale, disruption of industries would be an understatement.

At Harmony, we see ourselves being the norm of the industry in the coming years, thanks to our forward-looking solutions built on the lines of interoperability. Developers would love the flexibility of picking the best features of numerous blockchains, integrating them, and providing a wholesome product.

With DeFi off to unparalleled growth, there is a need for improving the accessibility of DeFi solutions and products. We look forward to providing this by empowering an inclusive marketplace where assets, tokens, and products can be transacted at ease.

Also, Harmony is working towards developing more bridges for independent blockchain networks. This shall improve the efficiency of transactions in both time needed and gas fees required.

With regards to NFT, we have adopted it and launched Crazy.ONE, a subdomain marketplace where each of the subdomains is an NFT linked to a particular wallet. And with more than 1000 of them purchased, we have ensured the income generated is put to productive outcomes. Hence, we have used it to finance the DAO wallets. Our recent launch of Validator DAO is also a step towards an ideal future where decentralization is the permanent residence of the Harmony project.

The future of Harmony is simple, adapting to the market trends, and providing value to our users with no compromise.

Disclaimer: The sole purpose of Unhashed is to unhash (decode) information about projects innovating using blockchain and cryptocurrencies and share it with the community. The writer does not have any vested interest in any of the projects covered herein. Not that this article shares any, but still, taking investment advice from strangers on the internet is not a wise thing to do.