Interview with Smilo Platform CTO, Thomas Modeneis
Smilo — The Hybrid Blockchain Platform
Hey, Thomas! Thanks for taking the time to reach out to us. We’re always excited to meet and greet with projects around the globe, and why not take the opportunity to dig a little deeper into you and Smilo.
Can you give us a quick introduction to your background?
I’m a grey hat, developer advocate, and blockchain core developer. I am an Italo-Brasiliani and I live in Amsterdam. I am an IT professional with over 15 years of professional experience in software development. I am also a longstanding JCP member and Executive Committee Member with SouJava. On top, I am also known as one of the JUG Leads of SouJava and a regular keynote speaker on conferences such as JavaOne, GopherCon, JustJava, Campus Party, RHoK, The Developers Conference and Blockchance.
I started to discover my passion for software as a grey hat and vulnerabilities researcher back in 1999. In 2002, I founded the Brazilian Defacers and Grey Hat Meetings in São Paulo where for the first time, many notorious Brazilian Defacers/Grey Hat exchanged zero-day exploits and latest hacking techniques.
In October 2012, together with other members of SouJava and the London Java Community (LJC), we won the 10th JCP Annual Award — JCP Member/Participant of the Year.
Before joining Smilo, I exploited my professional career as a blockchain core developer by contributing pro-bono to the Ethereum Golang client. After that, I joined MDL Talent Hub as their Blockchain Chief Architect, in charge of the implementation of an advanced Teller (OTC) software, used to raise $2M USD in funding without any third party software / ERC20 smart contract. The OTC software is still in use and currently manages payments for MDL, SKY, WAVES, ETH and BTC.
By working with the MDL Blockchain I learned about maintaining a blockchain in production and all related day to day operational tasks such as, secops, testing, bug fixes and development of new features like mobile wallets and desktop clients. MDL is implemented using the Obelisk consensus, a new distributed consensus algorithm often described as “web of trust” by SKY developers.
How did you get where you are today and what does your company do?
I joined Smilo in June 2018. Our development team was intending to build a blockchain infra completely from scratch. This proved to be a too time-consuming and costly exercise also using an external development agency and the limited progress made me propose a different approach since this path would, knowing the team was completely self-funded and time was of the essence. At the time, the ambition was to release our software open source and launch mainnet by Q2 2019. After extensive exploration and debates within the management team, we eventually came to the conclusion that the best strategy was to drop the existing Java code base and start over again in Golang and make use of the open source solutions available to give us a head start and a solid base to accelerate on.
It was a bold move, but the MT was confident that this decision would bring us the best results and it would most likely enable us to deliver an advanced and solid blockchain solution within the planned timeframe. By using Ethereum as a vendor lib, we have extended and implemented several important and mission-critical features that were all tailor-made for the actual needs of both enterprise and individual users.
After months of battle testing and performance testing, our agile team of developers worked very focussed and as such concentrated on the development of the web wallet, the block explorer, a brand new metamask plugin and the remix/faucet web services for testnet and mainnet. In a short period of time, by using our professional experience, we have managed to turn the odds and actually deliver a full and solid mainnet on 8 March 2019, one quarter even before the communicated deadline. All this with a full-featured battle proven technology that both users and developers were able to use its flexibility and create new powerful tools to achieve enterprise-level goals. At Smilo, we aim to continue our contribution to the ecosystem and payback to the community in areas that are very much needed for broader adoption.
So our mainnet is live, we are open for business, we invite developers to engage with us and test us out. All code is on GitHub and open source. Through the Smilo Foundation, based in The Netherlands, we will be offering enterprise solutions to any organisation who wants to offer their clients the mentioned privacy and transparency. The Smilo Foundation will also be managing and maintaining the network, the token metrics, exchange listing and the future development of the platform.
And all of this with no ICO, without pre-mining and fully self-funded.
Which problem do you solve?
In today’s world, personal data is being exposed and hacked and misused by organisations. People around the globe object to this data mining of their personal information for commercial or even criminal purposes and are seeking ways to actually be able to regain full control over their own data, deciding who gets to access which part and for how long. From a legal point of view, legislation is now in place to force organisations to be much more diligent with customers information and this GDPR compliance is a huge burden onto any organisation. And that is where we come in.
We have developed a unique protocol that allows for fully secure and GDPR compliant storage and sharing of personal data through its private smart contracts, called Smilo Vaults. So any individual is able to define what information would be stored, and how and with who and for how long any organisation can get access to this data. So we are effectively turning the odds from the organisation in control of data to the individual, which has huge benefits for both parties. Organisations, both public and private are resolving their GDPR issues first hand by allowing their clients, patients, users, citizens to control their own data. As such they will also provide more transparency and trust.
We have on top also developed a new governing structure providing highly efficient public and private transactions, effectively allowing enterprises to run their DApps at a predictable cost. The simple principle is, if you hold sufficient XSM (Smilo), your transactions will remain free indefinitely.
The Smilo blockchain does not only provide pure technical solutions but is empowered by novel governance and economic models, which, we believe, will push forward broader blockchain adoption and the creation of ecosystems with more trust and efficiency.
So we provide privacy and protection of personal data to all on a next-generation decentralized blockchain protocol that offers fast, scalable and highly secure transactions, free of charge. It is Ethereum compatible so very easy to adopt as well.
So, Smilo’s unique strength stems from its combination of several features. The best affordances of the Smilo platform are its GDPR smart contracts on a decentralised infrastructure. It is fast, scalable and secure and transaction costs are virtually non-existent. No other platform has yet combined these features. Can you tell us more about that?
What we wanted to achieve with this setup was to safeguard personal data in a decentralized environment so that no one would be able to control or manipulate this. There are many applications currently running on permissioned ledgers for this particular purpose but being permissioned, even with the best possible intention, does not do right to the desire of people to regain control over organisations and as such the only true option to us is providing this solution on a genuinely decentralised platform.
Smilo will as such be actively challenging companies like R3/Corda and Hyperledger since our solution could in principle make these permissioned ledgers obsolete.
Through its private smart contracts, Smilo will be offering individuals full control over their personal data on a decentralized blockchain network that is GDPR compliant and offers free transactions and 100% compatibility with Ethereum.
Smilo Platform recently launched mainnet successfully. What is the feedback of the community?
When Smilo Foundation announced its mainnet release before the predetermined deadline and considering the actual status of the market the community went viral, everyone was super happy and satisfied with the results. Our community of developers is not paid in advance, our project did no pre-mining and all the earnings depend on the product that the community is creating, thus motivating the community to work harder. We did it, and we are super thankful to this super community that helped to make this a successful launch. Being fully focused on delivering a high quality, solid and innovative project, and also being self-funded with no hefty ICO budgets, and as such very limited funds available for extensive marketing and expensive roadshows, we need to spread the word much more to grow our community even further. With our mainnet now live, we are also gaining interest from investors as well as developers which we will actively engage with over the coming weeks.
What is your mission and what do you want to achieve?
One of our core missions is to make permissioned ledgers obsolete. With this mission in mind, Smilo positioned itself to be a decentralized, multi-purpose and open source blockchain platform offering private smart contracts, allowing individuals to regain full control over their personal data. These private smart contracts are basically mini permissioned networks of one node communicating peer to peer with one other node without any of its contents being exposed. As such, it is offering the benefits of a permissioned network, but then providing the advantages of decentralisation. In essence, this makes permissioned ledgers, used for similar use cases, in fact, obsolete.
What are the top priorities for the company right now?
The products developed by Smilo are being tested and tried by both clients and the community, and together with our very high throughput, thousands of transactions can be going through them, enabling companies to securely transfer tens of thousands of dollars every day. Smilo’s community of developers managed to develop a solid protocol which works seamlessly. Our top priorities right now are to make sure that all the developers who put in extraordinary numbers of hours, as did the management will have the right processes and funds in place to continue to expand this amazing mission of making the world more decentralized and autonomous. Our key priorities as such are, inspire and ignite investors, traders, developers, organisations, converting existing dApps onto our platform and jointly develop POC’s and as such gain traction which will convert into volume and liquidity.
How are you able to secure the network optimally and reward the full nodes sufficiently?
The Smilo BFT+ consensus algorithm requires 66% of consensus between the fullnodes prior to the insertion of a block into the chain, which makes it virtually impossible to fork or mal-intended penetrate the platform.
Consider the following scenario: Assuming 3.000 to be the total available fullnodes, and an attacker would own 80 million XSM. Even if that attacker would create an additional 4.000 fullnodes (one fullnode required 20.000 XSM each), he/she/it may obtain a success rate of 1%, and may have its funds slashed by honest masternodes, also maybe blacklisted and will become orphan. Note: 80 million XSM is close to one-third of the total supply to be mined over the course of the next 100+ years. Currently, the block reward is 4 XSM and is currently being traded for ~1USD.
We know that Smilo is free and you decided to commit to free transactions for the users and not to do an Initial Coin Offering (ICO). How do you financing the project?
Indeed, the velocity of token sales done in recent months is declining exponentially. Where has the ICO gone? It has been a very difficult year for crypto investors and enthusiasts. Investors are losing faith in the ICO market and the ICO communities are just not so attractive anymore. As the crypto industry and regulatory environment continue to evolve rapidly, the idea of more compliant, accountable and traditionally funded non-ICO projects emerges. Investors have learned from their mistakes and the mistakes of others regarding the numerous crypto projects out there. This is why we have decided to do it differently.
Smilo is a blockchain start-up, thus not at all like other start-ups due to the existence of a secondary market (crypto-exchanges), and unlike the vast majority of other blockchain projects, Smilo’s development is not motivated by profit for either its developers or early adopters. In order to finance the project and guarantee its future, we invite everyone who sees potential to consider donating/investing to the project, and we hope that the vibrant cryptocurrency community will help Smilo to achieve its goal of making permissioned ledgers obsolete.
The Smilo platform contains 2 types of tokens, each with its own unique characteristics: Smilo (XSM) and SmiloPay (XSP). Tell us about those characteristics?
Smilo (XSM) represents the incentive ensuring that developers write quality applications since to run the code you are required to deposit XSM and an inefficient code will require more Gas. Thus, the higher the desired throughput, more XSM is required. Additionally, it will ensure that the network remains healthy as users are required to pay for transactions with SmiloPay (XSP).
SmiloPay (XSP) tokens are a currency which is issued to users who own Smilo tokens, SmiloPay tokens cannot be traded and can only be consumed, representing the fee to use network resources, such as transactions, computing, storage, and bandwidth. For every Smilo token you own, you will receive a certain amount of SmiloPay, and each SmiloPay token represents a share of the network resources.
In other words, free transactions do not mean that the network can be used without any costs or limitations. The users of the network will still have to pay a fee, but this fee will be paid with time. The users will have to own Smilo tokens in order to generate free transactions, and the amount of owned Smilo tokens will determine the number of transactions per second that can be executed by the said user.
What can we expect of Smilo in the near future?
Out of the 1,658 cryptocurrencies in existence, only a few have an actual tangible use case and can handle high throughout — Smilo is one of them. Smilo provides excellent documentation and has the resources to make a big impact on the Blockchain GDPR compliant space. Smilo aims to be far more than a supply chain solution, we will revolutionize the way permissioned ledgers business is done by pioneering a full-scale, decentralized business platform for enterprises.
Thank you for your time — any final words?
The Smilo Blockchain is empowered by novel governance and economic models, which, we believe, will push forward broader Blockchain adoption and the creation of ecosystems with more trust and efficiency. We believe that the new features give both users and developers added flexibility and powerful tools to achieve their goals, thus contribute to the ecosystem and payback to the community. Join us on this mission to make the world a better place.