DeFi is supposed to be the great recalibrator of finance. It is supposed to offer people a better alternative to traditional centralized financial tools and services. Recently, we've all seen how centralized services can result in catastrophic losses for users due to lack of transparency.
However, as it stands now, using DeFi protocols can be extremely time-consuming, confusing and ineffective. Many of the problems in the space can be traced to the way it has developed. There are now a multitude of networks that each have their own ecosystems and platforms with which they integrated. While this has led to innovation with individual networks vying for space in a crowded market, it has also stilted growth and made things hard for the end user.
ZetaChain, a decentralized blockchain network, has taken a different approach, building the first omnichain smart contracts platform. The possibilities presented by such a network — DEXes that can natively swap from any chain to any other, DAOs that aren’t bound to one network — could very well result in a more unified and effective era in DeFi. Over the past few months, their community has seen massive growth and the future they are building seems to resonate with many. We were able to speak with the ZetaChain team about their project and the impact they anticipate it will have on the industry.
When did the ZetaChain project first take shape?
The team got together over the course of 2021. Crypto was and is still in a state where users either take on additional risk to use crypto, like operating through a centralized exchange or questionable bridges or jumping over many hurdles to achieve even simple tasks. ZetaChain took shape as an aligned effort to try to solve these issues and give a new sane, safe, and pleasant default for more users to use and benefit from crypto.
What problem did you see in DeFi that needed to be fixed?
When users onboard into the crypto ecosystem through a given dApp, this fragmentation makes immense barriers for the user to fluidly adopt or try a dApp on another chain. A few projects have emphasized the ability to interoperate, but the majority of interoperability systems only apply to specific blockchains, force and require significant protocol integration work, or are more one-off bridges that can have questionable security architectures.
How can your network also natively work with blockchains that don’t operate with smart contracts?
Our TSS (threshold signature scheme) implementation allows ZetaChain to custody assets on external blockchains that might not have adequate smart contract capability, such as Bitcoin and Dogecoin. This feature allows smart contracts on ZetaChain to orchestrate assets like Bitcoin in a similar way to any other tokens on any chain. This capability looks much like Ethereum, where a smart contract can manage assets according to predetermined logic. The difference is that ZetaChain’s omnichain smart contracts can manage assets from anywhere as opposed to only assets on a single chain. So you can effectively have Bitcoin smart contracts or smart contracts that manage many different assets on different networks at once.
What advantages will omnichain technology bring to end users?
Users will have fewer hoops to jump through to use crypto, wherever and whenever. With omnichain, we’ll be able to build applications that abstract networks for many use cases such as using any wallet and interacting with any application anywhere. There will be decentralized, true alternatives to things like CEXs where you can transact any asset for any other asset. Overall, as an end-user, you’ll experience better and seamless UX, more freedom to do what you want across the entire ecosystem, lower risk, and minimized fees.
Will ZetaChain be building platforms of its own or will that be up to users of the network?
In addition to building the core protocol itself, ZetaChain aims to build highly usable products and core functionality that help users interface with the network. It will also build tools to help showcase omnichain dApps built on top of ZetaChain by developers and partners.
Of course, developers have the power to create anything they want on ZetaChain: new protocols/platforms, new businesses, and new public goods. The ZetaChain team is very close to the community and takes a lot of input in building and planning new features. The team also provides resources like technical help to developers and partners to build better and faster.
How was ZetaChain able to attract so many users during its beta stage?
With anything ZetaChain launches, we aim to have real, usable products for users to play with, learn about, and engage with. ZetaLabs was a big launch for us where the community can help contribute to ZetaChain by testing native cross-chain asset transactions and inviting people to do the same. At any given time, hundreds of people tweet about ZetaLabs and ZetaChain. Our growth to date is largely people resonating with the real core problems we see in crypto as well as having a tangible product to get a glimpse of what the future could be like.
What do you think the biggest problem confronting DeFi is at the moment?
I think the biggest problem right now in DeFi is a lack of usable, transparent, sane, risk-minimized, and sensible options, especially when operating across many blockchain networks. People tend towards the simplest solutions, and the simplest across many verticals right now is often a centralized or risk-heavy solution. On top of this, the lack of good defaults results in a huge problem of fragmentation in liquidity, identity, and data.
If DeFi is going to deliver on its promise, then truly decentralized solutions need to rival centralized ones in terms of UX and opportunities while also minimizing risk with strongbaseline security. ZetaChain’s working to deliver a good future-proof default for multichain so that more builders can create these experiences for more users.
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