Interview with Ilya Smagin-Head of Development for Waves smart contracts
1) What is the background of the Waves’ founder?
Waves founder and CEO Sasha Ivanov is a graduate of Moscow State University and Leipzig University in Germany. From 2008–09 he was involved in programming bots to trade on the international forex markets, making use of artificial neural networks, later working on trading operations and neural network trading systems for banks. In 2016 he founded the Waves custom tokens blockchain platform, crowdfunding 29,445 BTC (around $16 million at the time).
2) Tell us more about Waves
Waves Platform was purpose-built from scratch and came into operation after a successful ICO in 2016. Today Waves is the fastest, most secure and user-friendly open blockchain platform in existence, with a wide range of effective tools for everyday use by enterprises and individuals. Besides that, we’re actively contributing to overall development of blockchain technology and its compliance with the legislation that is currently evolving.
3) What’s the goal or vision of the project?
Waves’ goal is simple — to bring blockchain to the people. In pursuing this goal, you can’t just create a blockchain platform, release it and expect it to be thriving in a year or two. Blockchain is a constantly-evolving phenomenon. The world hasn’t yet reached the point where blockchain is a normal, day-to-day reality that makes our lives easier and more comfortable than they are today. Bringing the economy of the future to life demands much effort, which is why we are constantly improving our products and technology, particularly in tackling such matters as scalability and speed.
4) Why did you choose PoS for the consensus algorithm?
The advantages of PoS over PoW are obvious and considerable: better energy efficiency for users, higher throughput, transparency (network knows where the next block should be forged) and security (in PoS, in order to carry out an attack scammers must possess more than 51% of coins, and that’s impossible). Waves was able to improve the standard PoS algorithm. Our blockchain is powered by Waves-NG, the fastest and most scalable consensus algorithm available today. Ahead of any other protocol, Waves-NG is capable of executing up to 6,000 transactions per minute. Moreover, it has the highest throughput capacity, so the system never gets clogged with pending transactions. The larger the WAVES amount on your balance, the higher your chances to mine the next block.
5) What stage are you now in terms of the road map? Please tell us your progress so far.
We have a lot of new features coming this year. First, Waves will be launching atomic swaps — making exchange of tokens from different blockchains against each other possible. Integration of atomic swaps will allow ERC-20 tokens to be traded on the Waves DEX, amongst other use cases.
Secondly, we’re launching Turing Complete smart contracts, enabling developers to implement sophisticated logic to address almost any computational task. Waves’ smart contracts will provide outstanding functionality for implementing different types of transaction parameters, with whatever restrictive scripts, including two-factor authentication, elapsed time and real world data.
Moreover, with smart contracts, people will be able to use multi-signature wallets that cannot be controlled by one person alone. In order to make a transaction, the parties must provide their private keys simultaneously. Also two-factor authentication will be introduced.
The next innovation that we’re implementing is voting. It can be carried out according to a range of criteria, including one vote per account, and with vote weight proportional to WAVES or token balances.
Our Token Launcher will also undergo an update. It will provide support for burn transactions to destroy tokens permanently, issuance of additional tokens if permitted, and displaying a list of tokens issued by that address.
Also we will introduce more crypto and fiat gateways and a major update for the Wallet, Client and DEX, making them more convenient and handy to use. Besides this, payment services integrations, a DApps marketplace and hardware wallets are planned.
6) Could you describe in simple terms why smart contracts are so essential for blockchain projects?
Smart Contracts are mechanisms that allow custom logic to be executed within blockchain. Doesn’t matter if they are small stateless scripts or fully-blown complex DAPPS, they all work transparently and securely for any party involved. A transaction underpinned by a smart contract won’t be executed until the required conditions are fully met. Because it will only be completed trustless under these conditions, there is no possibility of fraud occurring.
7) Could you briefly summarize the philosophy behind Waves’ smart contracts?
Waves’ smart contracts will initially include account and token controls (before being extended to become Turing-complete), providing functionality for implementing the most-needed scenarios like multisignature wallets, atomic swaps, 2-factor authorization as well as more elaborate protections for coins. We’ll also introduce a Data Transaction: a way to post Oracle data to blockchain, of course, available from within our smart contracts code.
8) How many developers are currently working on the first release of Waves’ smart contracts?
2 to 3 programmers are currently working on it, with myself (Ilya Smagin) heading up development.
9) Did the developers see flaws in other smart contract implementations which made you choose your specific route? If so, how are you going to improve them?
There are some differences with Ethereum, certainly, that we view as improvements. For example, people use Ethereum for ICOs because you can create tokens, but it’s actually a pretty complex, inefficient and expensive way of doing it. Tokens aren’t held in your Ethereum address: they’re registered to a smart contract and every time you ‘move’ them, you’re really updating the information that smart contract records. With Waves, a token is like WAVES itself — they are treated the same and are held in your address. Plus of course we support token creation in the core and from the standard Waves wallet, which makes life an awful lot easier for end users. Then the tokens you create can immediately be distributed and traded on the DEX, with no further work. It’s a far more streamlined and useful approach.
We’ve taken the same kind of approach to all of our work on smart contracts. What do people need? What will they use? And how can we deliver that functionality as effectively as possible and in as user-friendly way as possible?
10) Will smart contracts be available to use for non tech-savvy users?
Yes. Whilst Turing-complete smart contracts will require some programming experience, we will make certain popular functionality available to everyone. 90% of all smart contracts that people use don’t need turing completeness in any form. These are simple scenarios like multisigs, atomic swaps, token transfer limitations (like freezing), etc — exactly what the first release would enable. Most of them don’t even require much coding, they would be initialized under the hood via wallet, enabling everybody to use them seamlessly.
11) How will smart contracts influence the Waves ecosystem? Will node operators benefit from a lot of smart contract executions?
Waves is blockchain for the people, and we want to make this functionality as widely available as we can. For the first version, the fees for smart contracts won’t require elaborate procedure to estimate gas cost: these will be simple and fast predictable scripts. That means nodes will benefit, but the cost won’t be prohibitively high for businesses and users.
12) What happens when Waves’ price increases, will the smart contracts still be sustainable and able to run potentially years from now?
Firstly, the fees for standard transactions are currently very low — just 0.001 WAVES — so the price would need to rise considerably for it to be a problem. And that would be a nice problem to have! Last year we introduced voting mechanism over features in blockchain, so any limitations can be changed in code and approved by miners when needed and supported, so it’s pretty flexible. Since we mentioned fees, I’d like to point out that we are also working on improvements for fees in assets. These are an essential feature for many projects, but — at the moment — confusing for node maintainers, especially small ones.
13) Where do you think existing blockchain platforms are lacking and what can Waves do better?
There are at least three ways in which we can improve on existing platforms’ implementations of smart contracts.
- Accessibility. Currently you have to be a skilled developer to use smart contracts on Ethereum (and a long list of exploits and hacks shows that even then, they’re not perfect). Waves will make certain kinds of contract available to all users, including various account controls — like multi-sig addresses.
- Cost. The transaction fees for executing smart contracts on Waves will be the same as for any other transaction.
- Integration. Waves has a fundamentally different approach to delivering blockchain services, which means that smart contracts can be integrated with other features — such as token issuance and decentralized trading — seamlessly.
14) How do you see the future of Blockchain, and where do you see the Waves project in a few years?
Blockchain will be everywhere, and everyone will use it, but most people generally won’t need to know they’re using it. It will be ‘under the bonnet’, powering various distributed applications, whilst the user experience is much the same as it is for traditional centralized apps and services. That’s why it’s extremely important not only to provide powerful functionality, but a fantastic UX and straightforward APIs so that businesses can build their own applications on the platform. Waves is one of the only platforms to prioritize all of these things, targeting mainstream adoption, and so our future as a popular blockchain infrastructure partner is bright.
15) Who are the target users of Waves?
Since Waves is an ecosystem, comprised of diversified, cutting-edge blockchain tools, our target audience is broad. We appeal both to simple users, who are passionate about crypto and utilize blockchain instruments in their day-to-day lives, and professionals, including traders, investors, established businesses, small and medium-sized enterprises.
16) For token holders, how can they engage in the blockchain and be incentivized in the ecosystem?
Waves uses a variation on Proof of Stake mining. There are 100 million WAVES tokens, and so 100 million potential chances to mine the next block. A miner who has a balance of 1 million WAVES will have a 100 times greater chance of mining a block than one who has 10,000 WAVES. Because there are very low costs involved — a simple hosted server is all that is required to mine on Waves — there is no need to incentivize miners with new block rewards and Waves can have a static coin supply.
17) Who are your competitors and what are your advantages or distinctive features?
Our main competitors are Ethereum, Stellar, NEO, Nem, EOS and Qtum. We stand out for several reasons. First of all Waves is powered by the unique consensus algorithm we already mentioned.
The second reason we are different is that Waves does not focus on one particular aspect of blockchain technology. Our rivals offer products with an obvious emphasis on this or that element of blockchain adoption: DApps creation, financial services or identity authorization. By contrast, Waves is a multifaceted entity, offering people and entrepreneurs a whole ecosystem of diversified blockchain tools, with attention paid to speed, transparency and ease of use.
Finally, Waves’ complex approach goes beyond solely technological development, incorporating enhanced legal compliance for blockchain and promotion of business perspectives, whether giving a great start to promising ICO projects or enabling established companies to develop with the use of blockchain solutions and investment opportunities.
We might be the only company out there that advocates blockchain’s development across every dimension — technological, legal and popular, through mainstream business demand. Without all of these things together, the new tokenized economy is impossible.
18) Do you have any challenges you are faced with now? If you do, how are you going to get them over?
We have worked hard to create very strong fundamentals for our platform, before we deploy these features and market them to the community and the world. We believe this is the right way of doing things. However, we are competing for attention against many other projects that have far less positive fundamentals but that aggressively market their products all the same. Over time, we know that the market will reward the best projects. In the short term, we — and the whole legitimate crypto world — face that problem of spin over substance.
19) Your platform is widely recognized as being one of the promising projects on the crypto market. Have you been officially introduced by accredited or reputable media sources? Or do you include any public figure in your team?
Waves Platform is often featured in well-known financial, tech and crypto media, including Forbes, Huffington Post, American Banker, Coindesk, The Cointelegraph, International Business Time, The Next Web, etc.
20) Can you share your ideas about the cryptocurrency market and how Waves will address it?
The market is maturing and the authorities are taking a far greater interest. Waves has always maintained that mainstream adoption will only come with compliance and the existence of adequate regulation. There is huge appetite for crypto around the world, which brings both opportunities and challenges. We believe there is a significant market for a blockchain that prioritizes compliance and working with regulators — which is exactly our approach at Waves.
21) Thank you for your time and answers for the questions. Any last word for global blockchain communities?
Grassroots crypto communities are among the most vibrant online groups in the world and are making a significant contribution to global blockchain development. Waves will definitely going to tighten our links with local crypto enthusiasts, as we’re very positive about the development of these relationships.