Zilliqa unveils a new, high transaction rate, scalable Blockchain

After two years of development led by researchers at the National University of Singapore, Zilliqa has successfully trialled their ‘sharding’ blockchain platform on a testnet of AWS nodes and achieved an incredible transaction rate of almost 1,400 TX/s. They plan to release their source code and public testnet for developers by the end of the year.

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Zilliqa, a new Blockchain platform that has the potential to achieve transaction rates that rival VISA and MasterCard, has announced they have successfully deployed their platform on an internal testnet of Amazon Web Services nodes and the company is on track to release their public testnet and source code for developers within months.

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The Zilliqa Blockchain platform is being developed by researchers at the National University of Singapore led by Xinshu Dong and is based off of a Secure Sharding protocol originally proposed by their research team that included Loi Luu and Prateek Saxena back in 2015.  Zilliqa proposes a new Blockchain based on a sharding protocol that allows for a high-throughput platform designed to securely scale in an open, permission-less distributed network.

The Scalability Bottleneck for Public Blockchains

Zilliqa addresses one of the most pressing problems facing public Blockchain platforms: Scalability. The ability to handle a larger number of transactions per second as a Blockchain network grows has been recognized as one of the biggest problems facing existing Blockchain platforms, as evidenced by the often cited example of only 7–10 transactions/second (TX/s) available in Bitcoin and Ethereum today.  The issue is that these numbers are way short of centralized payment processors like VISA, which processes roughly 8,000 TX/s on average.  Zilliqa has proposed a new Blockchain platform that solves these issues using sharding.

Sharding is a concept that the Zilliqa team proposed in a paper back in 2015, but hasn’t yet been deployed as an open and permission-less Blockchain at scale until now.  The idea is to automatically split up a large network of machines processing transactions into parallel sub-committees or “shards”. Each shard processes its own microblock in parallel with other shards, and resulting micro-blocks are merged into one final one. Although the high-level idea of sharding appears not difficult to understand, ensuring a secure and unbiased process of sharding is highly challenging. Zilliqa develops a mechanism to dynamically elect and update a special committee of machines to ensure such properties.

Using this approach with a network size of 10,000 nodes (less than half of Ethereum), Zilliqa would enable a throughput which matches that of VISA and MasterCard, with much lower fees for merchants.

Zilliqa Sharding-Friendly Smart Contracts

In their current state, today’s mainstream public Blockchains are not suitable for running computation-intensive tasks.  This is because any of the computation tasks would have to be repeated at all full nodes on the Blockchain for validation. Although they are secure, such a fully redundant programming model is prohibitively expensive for running large-scale computations.

Zilliqa proposes a new ‘scalability-driven’ smart contract language that is not Turing-complete, but rather scales much better for a multitude of applications that range from automated auctions, shared economy to financial modelling. The smart contract language in Zilliqa follows a dataflow programming style, where the program can be seen as a directed graph, and nodes in the graph represent computations, while arcs represent input/output.

Initial Results

After months of development (and years of theoretical work) Zilliqa has created an initial technology platform based upon their proposals that has been deployed on an internal testnet of Amazon Web Services EC2 instances, and the results were astounding.  When Zilliqa was deployed on 2,400 nodes with 4 shards, the Blockchain network achieved a throughput of 1,389 TX/s.

In perspective, this trial of their technology produced a transaction rate that was over 100 times faster than today’s Blockchains.

The company has noted that this is just the beginning and there are many more innovations and development milestones ahead that will enable further scalability and add many features to Zilliqa.


Zilliqa does not rely on Proof-of-Work (PoW) for consensus and only leverages it to establish mining identities. PoW is performed only at larger intervals, not by every miner on every block. Thus, it has a much smaller energy footprint.


Zilliqa plans to release their source code and a public testnet in December 2017. The public release of the Zilliqa protocol will enable the public to participate in the Zilliqa protocol to test its functionality, performance and robustness

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About Richard Kastelein

Founder and publisher of industry publication Blockchain News (EST 2015), a partner at ICO services collective Token.Agency ($750m+ and 90+ ICOs and STOs), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) – Vancouver native Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of some two dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1500 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat. Irish Tech News put him in the top 10 Token Architects in Europe.

Kastelein has an Ad Honorem - Honorary Ph.D. and is Chair Professor of Blockchain at China's first Blockchain University in Nanchang at the Jiangxi Ahead Institute of Software and Technology. In 2018 he was invited to and attended University of Oxford's Saïd Business School for Business Automation 4.0 programme.  Over a half a decade experience judging and rewarding some 1000+ innovation projects as an EU expert for the European Commission's SME Instrument programme as a startup assessor and as a startup judge for the UK government's Innovate UK division.

Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London (5x), Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, Prague, San Mateo, San Francisco, Santa Clara (2x), Shanghai, Singapore (3x), Tel Aviv, Utrecht, Venice, Visakhapatnam, Zwolle and Zurich.

He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He's written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com, and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French. A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein's professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he's travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world. In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, 'The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas' travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he's raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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