Radix Blog

Radix DLT CEO Piers Ridyard Q&A with Blockchain Space Telegram Community.

April 17, 2021

The CEO of Radix DLT Piers Ridyard recently conducted a Q&A session with the @BlockchainSpacee Telegram community. Some excellent questions were put forward via Telegram and answered by Piers.

If you have any follow up questions you are welcome to ask via our Telegram or Discord.

Thanks for joining us today, please start by introducing yourselves to the Blockchain Space community, a bit of your background, your role in the team, and tell us what Radix is all about in detail?

Sure. I'm Piers Ridyard. I've been CEO of Radix for almost four years now. Before that, I founded a decentralized insurance startup called Surematics that went through YCombinator. I'm also the host of The DeFi Download, which is a podcast on all major podcast platforms (defidownload.com). If you're interested in DeFi, please do check it out, we've had Aave, Ren, mStable, and many others on.

Radix is a layer 1 protocol. That means it’s the base layer where data, tokens, and smart contracts live. Decentralised applications (or dApps) such as Uniswap can then be built out of those components. Ethereum for example is a layer 1 protocol.

We've been thinking about what the financial world is going to look like for a long time (since 2013 when Radix started) - and fundamentally it is going to be decentralized. That is what the DeFi movement is all about - the creation of a new financial system to replace the old one

During our eight years of R&D, we realized pretty early on that none of the existing designs for any distributed ledger technology were going to work, that includes blockchains and DAGs. It was that iteration process of building and breaking each generation of consensus algorithms that got us to Cerberus in 2020.

However, it isn't just scaling that matters - while we have been building the infrastructure for the decentralized future we believe in, we have also been carefully watching Ethereum and other protocols such as Polkadot, Solana, and Avalanche. It isn't just scalability that is needed for the financial platform of the future - there is a lot of other supercritical things missing too such as consumer-ready user experiences, the safety of using dApps, and creating a system that prevents all the various hacks, bugs and exploits that seem to happen in DeFi every couple of weeks.

We have come to realize that if a layer 1 protocol is ever going to meet the demands of the future, it has to deliver three fundamental things:

1. Allow developers to build fast and not break things

2. Reward everyone that makes the platform better

3. Scale without friction

For (1) we are building a custom development and deployment environment specifically for DeFi; one that substantially reduces the difficulty of building DeFi and makes it much much easier to build innovations like Uniswap or Aave.

For (2) we are putting a system of developer royalties directly onto the Radix ledger so that you can get rewarded directly for the great code you write that helps other projects be successful.

For (3) we have built our unique form of consensus, Cerberus, which can scale linearly without breaking atomic composability, making complex things like layer 2 scaling solutions unnecessary

What are the use cases of the $EXRD token and how does it capture the value of the ecosystem you're building?

Interesting question - I cannot say it "captures value" as the Radix token is a utility token and not a security. However, I will give a picture of the different expected uses of the token within the system.

For a layer 1 protocol, the token must first and foremost be the means of paying for the use of the platform. Every time an application is deployed or a transaction sent, a fee must be submitted to the ledger. On Radix, every time a transaction or anything is done, the entire fee is burnt.

Secondly, for a layer 1 protocol, the token must provide security to the network. This is achieved via staking. To secure the network you must lock your XRD to node runners. In return, as long as the node runner is participating in consensus you will receive part of the staking rewards, that amount to a fixed 300m XRD per annum once the network goes live.

Thirdly, the XRD is the base currency of the platform and could be used by any application on top of the Radix DeFi ecosystem as one of the fundamental collateral or exchange token types. Good examples of this are things like MakerDAO and how it locks up Eth to create stable value tokens.

The eXRD (ERC20) token that is currently released before the network goes live at the end of Q2 of this year will be 1:1 swappable with the XRD. We released the EXRD ahead of the release of the mainnet to help improve decentralization of ownership and stake, as well as improve the security of the mainnet once it goes live.

Could you share with us, the recent progress and your future plans for Radix?

So all eyes right now are on our betanet, which is our test network. Betanet starts April 28th and will run for two months. Our mainnet is expected to then go live at the end of June with our Olympia release. Olympia is going to allow payments between XRD token holders as well as token creation, similar to how ERC-20 allows token creation on Ethereum.

Then at the end of 2021 will be our Alexandria release, which will be the first iteration of the Radix Engine, and will allow smart contracts to start being developed and tested using our new custom-built environment. Then in 2022 will be our Babylon release, which will be the full implementation of the Radix Engine and language.

Then the full implementation for Cerberus is then planned to go live in 2023 and will allow for that infinite scalability we talked about. I should say that on current industry growth models, we do not expect scale to be an issue on any of our interim releases before the full implementation of Cerberus.

We decided on this approach because there’s no point in having scale if you don’t have useful apps and a base of users first. So our priority is the builders: making it as easy as possible and as fast as possible for developers to start building powerful and secure DeFi dApps on our platform.

OK let's move to the next segment. Questions collected from the community.

Radix is building a layer 1 protocol that is built specifically for DeFi, but Radix isn’t the only protocol working towards tackling different issues facing DeFi, we have Polkadot, Avalanche, Near, Cosmos and a few others hoping to improve scalability, how does Radix compare itself from these protocols and why is it the only real solution to DeFi’s issue?

Good question. The key here is Atomic Composability - which is one of those low-level issues that often gets thrown around, but I'll give a quick overview of what that means and what the issue is. So "atomic" means that something happens all at once or not at all.

Let's say I want to borrow some wBTC from Aave, trade it on Uniswap to take advantage of an arb opportunity I have seen, and then repay the loan on Aave with the other side of the trade (say Eth) in a single block. This is what flash loans are used for. And it is actually amazingly useful and what drives a huge amount of the liquidity in DeFi. "Do this thing if and only if I can do this other thing as well" Basically the basis of a huge number of financial trades in DeFi.

Problem is, Polkadot, Avalanche, Near, Cosmos, Eth 2.0, etc - they all don't support cross-shard atomic composability of DeFi apps. This means the ONLY solution on these platforms is to stick all the apps you want to compose together on the same shard. Which, well, makes their scaling solutions pretty pointless for DeFi.

Radix went the extra step of making sure that our consensus algorithm was able to do cross-shard atomic composability. This means that things can happen on multiple shards simultaneously or if they do not happen, fail on all of them. This is not possible on any other platform. 

However, if you WANT DeFi to be able to scale to every single person on the planet, this is something your consensus algorithm MUST support. Otherwise, you might as well just stay on Eth 1.0.

Tell us more on the research project, Cassandra being undertaken by Radix DLT founder, Dan Huges. What is its purpose, the current progress and some of its achievements so far?

Sure. I guess the short answer is - to make sure everything that works on paper works in practice. 

We have done a load of very deep theoretical work on proving that we can deliver atomic composability without breaking linear scalability - including doing a bunch of research work with the consensus and blockchain research team at the University of California Davis and Prof Mohammed Saddogi. This ended up with writing the mathematical proofs behind our consensus model: https://arxiv.org/abs/2008.04450

However, proofs are great, but you still have to implement it - what Dan is doing is taking all of our cutting-edge theoretical work and implementing it in a series of very ambitious test networks - this group of test networks is called Cassandra.

The first thing that Dan did with Cassandra was take Twitter and import it onto a full sharded Cerberus instance. To put this in context, this is probably 1,000 times more data than has ever been put on any distributed ledger system. The purpose here is to show that not only throughput but also storage is never going to be a problem on top of our full sharded networks. These tests also allow us to play around with different optimisation experiments that have not made it into the main network yet.

You don't want to mess with people's money - so we put our reliable, tested code into our mainnets, and we do all our cool experiments on Cassandra. We've done this for years, but we thought we should start making them public because they are a lot of fun!

Congratulations on the growth of the Radix community in China, Korea and Turkey, to which other countries do you plan to expand this year?

What strategies will you implement to strengthen the growth of the community?

So, first off, huge shout out to the Chinese, Korean and Turkey communities and community leaders - you guys have been doing amazing work and it has been so wonderful to see the growth of the communities and how they have been helping each other out. Community is such an essential part of a public decentralised ledger - and new communities should always start with the community itself.

We build where members of our community come forwards with a desire to build the community out in their local language or local community. It is essential that we empower people, not just randomly pick countries we think we should be in next - Turkey has been an incredible example of just how powerful that can be - started by some great core members of our community and growing faster than any of our other communities or even main channels. So - if you are in the Radix community and there isn't a community in your native language and you would like to be part of making sure there is one, please ping me or @Mikael_XRD

As for growth - again - just keeping in touch with the community leaders and making sure they have all the materials and knowledge they need to be successful. 
In addition, we started the Goodfi.com initiative - a cross-DeFi initiative to get 100m people to put at least $1 into DeFi by 2025. We already have Aave, mStable, Chainlink, and a bunch of others already joined up. We think that getting people into DeFi is one of the most important evangelisms you can do right now, and we want to make that as easy as possible for everyone.

I applied to participate in the Olympia Betanet but wasn't selected, is that the end of the road, or I still get a chance to become a full or part Betanet Validator?

Yea, we had so many amazing applications (over 350) and we, unfortunately, had a limited number of slots on Betanet to do all the various tests we needed to get done.

However, this is only Betanet - mainnet is an entirely open decentralized ledger, we have no control over who you pick or who can become a node runner and that is 100% by design. If you didn't get picked for Olympia, don't let that stop your ambition to be the #1 node runner on the mainnet!

According to data from Santiment, Radix was one of the projects with the highest-recorded developer activity in the last 30 days.

So how do you get Developers Engaged, what kind of incentives do you offer developers wanting to contribute to the Radix Ecosystem?

All our development is still very much done in-house - we focus on getting the right people in and then make sure they have everything they need to be productive. Our new CTO, Russ has been doing a phenomenal job of getting us organized and streamlined, and everyone in the Radix development team has been putting in a huge amount of effort.’

Radix is open source, but until the mainnet is out and all the components added onto it that make it special, we don't expect a huge amount of external development on the core for now.

However, our DeFi building environment will be a different thing entirely! I am super excited to see our Developer Royalty system in the wild and actually rewarding communities directly for helping to build amazing dApps.

Then to questions from the community chat. What type of staking does Radix use and will there be minimum or maximum stake limits?

Staking is dPos - 1 XRD up can be staked.

How exactly the new consensus algorithm that you develop called Cerberus will be able to scale infinitely, how are you calculating that scale possibility? And how separate one from another will be those 3 steps, from 50 TPS to thousands of TPS, to unlimited TPS. how will that work?

A complex question, with a complex answer. This is a great starting point: Cerberus whitepaper.

Radix intends to lower the barrier to allow the entry of more users. I would like to know why you choose this approach and don't you think it could have negative implications on the ecosystem's security?

Lowering the barrier to users does not lower the security of a platform. It just makes it easier for end-users to use it. A great example of this is the complexity of private key management, or interfacing with a DeFi application, or any of the ways in which new users get started. Making the internet easier to understand led to the explosion of the internet today. When I say lowering the barrier to entry, this is what I mean.

Smart contracts are vulnerable to bugs, and even recently three big new DeFi projects were victims of this, costing users funds. How efficient and secured is your smart contract, and did you ever audit it via any external party?

We have a partnership with Quantstamp to make sure exactly this - thanks for asking!

Thank you Piers for being here with us today! We appreciate your time here with us, we hope to have you back here again. Blockchain Spacers, if you have any more questions you can direct them to Radix Telegram. The team would be there to answer all of your questions. I wish the whole team at Radix, success in the long run. 

To stay up to date or learn more about Radix DLT please follow the links below.

Join the Community:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/radixdlt
Telegram: https://t.me/radix_dlt
Reddit: www.reddit.com/r/Radix/
Discord: https://discord.com/invite/WkB2USt

Radix Resources:
Podcast: https://www.radixdlt.com/podcast
Blog: https://www.radixdlt.com/blog/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/RadixDLT 

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