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Zilliqa: Beginner’s Guide

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The problem of scalability has remained a major challenge for blockchain platforms since the bitcoin. Several blockchains have since been created with the goal of solving this problem. Some solutions that have been implemented include moving some elements of a transaction of the blockchain to reduce the load while others have increased block sizes in order to increase the number of transactions that can be processed in a second. None, however, have arrived at a solution that scales sustainably as the networks continue to grow, until now.

The Zilliqa blockchain platform was designed to scale in transaction rates making it the first to achieve a solution that reduces the amount of time required to complete a transaction as the network continues to grow.


Zilliqa (ZIL) was created in June 2017 with details released in its whitepaper on August. It has since released 3 testnet versions with the latest being in March 2018. The source code for the application was made public in January and it is expected to have the main net launched in the 3rd quarter of 2018.

Zilliqa’s is the first blockchain platform to implement sharding in its consensus mechanism. It is developing a new public blockchain aimed at facilitating high throughput applications. Major Cryptocurrency and smart contract platforms have continued to face challenges with scaling with Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains only able to handles less than 15 transactions per second. With such limited capacity, the platforms have continued to face the risk of delays and increased transaction fees as the demands on the platforms exceed their capabilities. By implementing sharding, Zilliqa has implemented been able to register up to 2488 transactions per second with just 3600 nodes divided into 6 shards.

How it Works

Zilliqa completely redesigned the blockchain placing sharding at the centre of its development in order to bring a more permanent solution to the scaling problem. Zilliqa enables for a consensus protocol that increases the network’s throughput whenever approximately 600 new participants join the platform. Nodes are divided into groups of approximately 600 shards and loads are distributed between these shards in order to increase the speed for verification of transactions.

The mechanism enables this in 2 ways. Firstly, it is much easier to arrive at a consensus when fewer nodes are involved and secondly, having the different shards work simultaneously on different projects means a lot more work can be done without requiring more time.

The platform is however still in the process of developing its main net and the ZIL tokens are currently running as ERC 20 tokens on the Ethereum blockchain. Potential application areas for Zilliqa include automated high volume auctions, decentralized exchanges, high-performance scientific computing and other applications requiring highly reliable results.

Mining and Ownership

Miners run Zilliqa’s consensus protocol which relies on practical Byzantine fault tolerance (PBFT). The protocol’s efficiency is further enhanced by employing EC-Schnorr multi-signature in the PBFT protocol. This lowers the normal case communication latency and reduces the signature size enabling for faster transaction verification. Sharding is however not efficient in the verification of contracts smart as it would require more communication between nodes.

Zilliqa, therefore, uses smart contract layer that employs dataflow programming architecture to arrive at a consensus which allows more than one instruction to be executed at once. At the moment, Zilliqa bases its blocks on a Proof of Work mechanism although research is being carried out to find a secure Proof of Stake mechanism on which to base its blocks. The mechanism is only used for establishing identities and is not used in the consensus mechanism.

Zilliqa’s miners are rewarded with the Zil coin which is the platforms native currency. Users of the platform are required to send some GAS as transaction fees. Holders of the Zil token earn GAS units automatically and the units can later be converted into Zil tokens. Besides mining, Zil tokens can be purchased directly from exchange platforms on which the coin is listed. This includes Binance, huobi, bithumb, upbit KuCoin among others. Zill tokens can be stored in wallets that support Ethereum based tokens such as MyEtherWallet, the Ledger Nano S and Trezor and Exodus.

Team Members

Xinshu Dong

Zilliqa’s current CEO is a scientist and practitioner with experience in the development of secure systems such as blockchains, web browsers and applications among others. His previous works have involved leading several national cybersecurity projects with his latest role involving research and development of Anquan’s scalable and secure blockchain. He is a PhD holder whose research has been published in several conferences internationally.

Juzer Motiwalla

The chief strategist for Zilliqa is a technology startup investor with board level experience having worked as a venture capitalist both in Asia and in Silicon Valley. He has worked with start-ups that have secured M&A exits with leading US and Japanese companies. He also served as the CEO of a computer science research lab in Singapore before he began his venture capital journey.

Prateek Saxena

Prateek holds a PhD in computer science and is a research professor at the University of Singapore with interests in blockchains and computer security. Designs for browser platforms, web standards and app stores widely used today have been influenced by his research. He has received various accolades for his work including being listed among the top 10 innovators under 30 on MIT TR35 Asia in 2017. He currently serves as Zilliqa’s chief scientific advisor.


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