A Future Vision of Blockchain and the Road to One Million Transactions per Second

Tom Anderson
Jun 6, 2018 · 8 min read

Devvio recently completed benchmarking tests on our sharding solution, where our Devcash protocol implementation processed over three million transactions per second (TPS) on-chain for a public blockchain. Being the first blockchain to process over one million TPS is a great accomplishment that we are proud of, but we feel it is only the first step in our overall plans.

More important than the milestone itself, is the vision we have for what blockchain and cryptocurrency can become. It has become clear over the past few months that we are not simply growing a tech company; we’re trying to do much more. In reality, we’re looking to create the future of money, and we are doing things differently than anyone else in the space.

Devvio’s sharding solution, which allows us to process millions of transactions per second, can weave blocks from thousands of independent blockchains (i.e. the shards, which we call Tier 2 networks) into a single Tier 1 blockchain. The key to making it work is the wallet designation concept described in our Greenpaper.

Devvio’s start in cryptocurrency and blockchain was made in an effort to leverage some valuable IP we had in a related field. The original concept was that we could build a blockchain business, leveraging the IP to build value in a company so that we wouldn’t have all our value in just the IP itself. Our first look at the space took us through the implementations of Bitcoin and Ethereum. However, in evaluating building our business around any of the existing protocols that were already out there, we realized there were some significant issues such as scalability, theft and loss, privacy, and volatility to name a few. Even given how brilliant Bitcoin and Ethereum were, they both had fatal flaws that we didn’t think they would be able to overcome. One cannot build a house on a faulty foundation and expect good results.

We therefore evaluated creating our own protocol to address the biggest challenges in blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies. Blockchain is good for two things; robustness and trustlessness. Any solutions that use blockchain as a system’s database should require both of those concepts (if you don’t need both of those concepts, then one should simply use a traditional database). Beyond what blockchains are innately good at, though, they need to be competitive in today’s high tech space. For any blockchain solution to really thrive, it must have a few basic elements in order to succeed.

It must be scalable — the solution should be able to grow to a level beyond what credit card networks can handle and ultimately handle millions of transactions per second on-chain.

It must have fraud, theft, and loss protections — Billions of dollar of cryptocurrencies have been stolen with no recourse. The idea that people would keep their bitcoin in underground converted military vaults, for example, is pretty silly.

It must have a versatile privacy solution — not only should users have complete and total privacy, but governments will need to accept the solution they are presented with, for a cryptocurrency to thrive.

It must have price stability — for a cryptocurrency to be used for transferring value (rather than just storing value) the price must be stable relative to fiat currencies. When the price of Bitcoin is going up no one wants to spend it. When its price is going down no one wants to accept it. Volatility is a killer for the use of cryptocurrencies.

We designed our new protocol to solve all of these problems, while still maintaining Bitcoin’s original premise of allowing any two people to transfer value without relying on a central authority.

Devcash’s design indeed does solve all of blockchain’s biggest challenges. It is scalable given our sharding algorithm, and has fraud/theft/loss and privacy solutions that governments will approve of. Our stability solution is compelling and will truly unlock the potential of cryptocurrency. Overall, we feel we have the best technological implementation in one of the most exciting and important fields in the world today. There are always trade-offs in any design decision, but we feel our trade-offs define one of the most elegant and balanced solutions out there.

After finalizing the Devcash design and submitting many patents, we hired some top-notch programmers to implement our initial system. In May, just before the Consensus conference, our lead programmer, Nick Williams, called and told me that we had hit three million transactions per second in our initial benchmarking. My first thought was “yeah!” (technically, there was an expletive before ‘yeah’, to which Nick calmly replied “exactly”). We had been close to reaching at least one million TPS over the past month. My second thought was “oh no, we only have six days until Consensus to announce the news”.

Within a few days we booked Consensus, finalized our website, finalized our communication channels, wrote a press release, researched and hired a press release team, were invited to speak at Becon, created Devvio’s first public presentation, and worked to make our results final and official.

I landed in New York on Saturday before Consensus having had a horrible night’s sleep as I was anxiously waiting to hear that we were reliably recreating the results. I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to announce our milestone before Consensus, but we needed official benchmarking results to announce anything. I dreamed a stress dream I’ve never had before. I was pulling long pieces of broken glass out of my skin (nice, I know). My partner in growing Devvio, Ray Quintana, later pointed out that they were clearly ‘shards’ of glass as well as the irony that the stress I was having was regarding finalizing our sharding algorithm. It’s almost as if my brain was making a subtle joke that I would get later. I called Nick when I landed and didn’t reach him (he and the rest of the team were getting some sleep after working through the night). On the Uber to my hotel I made peace with the fact that we might not be able to announce the results if we couldn’t officially and reliably present them.

Just before I got dropped off at my hotel, Nick called me and said that the team had done it. We consistently hit above three million TPS and could prove the milestone! I verified with Nick that our code was hashed and provable at that time frame, and he confirmed it is. Finally, I could relax, and we had an amazing week at Consensus. We’re now doing a bit of cleanup on the code but will release the code base, including its history, to the world when we open up our test net in a couple months. I want to be sure to give a shout out to the tech team on the amazing work they did in order to get above one million TPS. Nick, Shawn McKenney, Bill Anderson, Andree Jacobson, Greg Scantlen, and Anish Mohammed, you are all incredible. To create the first blockchain to process over one million TPS is quite an accomplishment on a personal level as well as a team level. Also, thanks to Ray, for all his help getting to this point, as well as Gerald Grafe, Nimish Patel, and Addison Adams, on the legal and business side of things. This team is pretty amazing.

Really, though, this first milestone is just the tip of the iceberg. For the past year we haven’t had much doubt we would eventually get to the million TPS and beyond. Having solved the sharding problem is a very important piece of what we’re doing but it is just one piece. Similarly, our privacy solution is an important piece, and our fraud/theft/loss protections are important, but they are also pieces to the whole solution. Perhaps most importantly, our stability solution (an implementation of a one-to-one fiat backed representation of money) is a critical piece. Each piece on its own is valuable, but it is not until they are all combined that one can truly create digital money that can exist in today’s world on a broad scale. Devcash is the first blockchain to solve all of those problems in a single solution, and we have ambitious plans. We have the best technology in the space and an experienced team to execute on our vision. The execution is key.

We intend to target remittance, exchange, and payments with our financial payments system. Remittance is a trillion-dollar market, and the current financial system is just simply broken. It’s offensive that a migrant worker sending money home pays on average 7.5% (and often much more) for the privilege of sending their money to their relatives. Foreign exchange of currencies, or Forex, is a $5 trillion USD a day market. The size of it is mind boggling. I believe we can implement a system with the lowest fees in the space, and when you look to apply technology in a space that massive, you’re not really talking about just growing a tech company, but instead you’re talking about the future of money itself. The concept of money is one of the most important inventions in human history, and the ability to have an implementation of money that is digital (i.e. a trustless technical solution that solves the double-spend problem), has importance that I think few people, if any, fully realize the significance of. We’re realistic and practical on how to get there as well, and all of our approaches innately include regulatory compliance and a government-friendly approach. Governments will ultimately welcome the value that digital currencies bring.

Looking even further beyond that, if one can send value instantly around the world with the lowest fees in history, and without trusting a central authority, that is a foundation from which humanity as a whole can be transformed. Blockchain can be extended to represent any type of value from dollars and euros, to commodities, to any type of digital asset, to any type of physical asset represented by a token. Anything and everything of value can be represented on a trustless, instant, worldwide system. Even human endeavor itself can be represented on blockchain. Concepts like ride sharing on Uber will become only the tiniest fraction of what can be implemented digitally. The bulk of value in a system like that will go to the creators and owners of the value itself (rather than a central authority taking 30%), whether it is someone selling an app or a song, a company moving their products across the globe, a government providing safe voting systems for democracy, someone driving another person to their destination or performing work in their community, or someone sending money to a relative across the world.

This is why blockchain is so exciting. It’s not really blockchain itself (which is simply a technology) that everyone is so excited about — it’s the impact that trustless, worldwide, secure databases can have. I’m definitely not the only person with this vision for the future, but Devvio is the first company with a technological solution that has all of the required pieces to get us there.

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