Interview with Alex Chien: Darwinia will provide truly decentralized bridge


After having CEO of Plasm Network Sota Watanabe and founder of Mangata Finance Peter Kris, we decided to focus our next AMA on the projects, which are on the waiting list for the Rococo V1 Parachain. So we asked Mr. Alex Chien, a co-founder at DARWINIA Network to tell us about their goals and how to achieve them.

Hello Alex, thank you for joining our interview. At the very beginning, can you tell us, what is the size of the development team behind Darwinia?

We have a small but strong team at the size of 20, most of them are in China.

What utilities are Darwinia going to bring to the Polkadot ecosystem?

Darwinia has been building a permissionless non-custodial bridge protocol, featuring efficiency, low cost, and decentralization of cross-chain tokens and NFTs transfer, as well as other cross-chain operations.

Darwinia bridge solution integrates technologies, including super-light client, zero-knowledge, and optimistic verification mechanisms.

Darwinia bridge distinguishes itself from other bridges in terms of quality and how decentralized the bridge is, which could carry high-value cross-chain asset transmission.

Darwinia connects Polkadot and other public chains. As the “Golden Gate Bridge’’ for the cross-chain networks, Darwinia provides the safest heterogeneous cross-chain solution without middlemen, making the cross-chain asset transfer safer, cheaper, and more frictionless.

Darwinia also bridges other Polkadot ecosystem parachains cross-chain interoperability to achieve more broad asset circulation. They are also able to focus more on their business applications but not building repeated direct bridges on their own. Darwinia serves as the bridge center in the Polkadot ecosystem.

Darwinia has two different coins, RING, and KTON. RING serves as a gas for transactions and can be locked and staked; KTON will be a staking reward. Why did you decide to go this way instead of using for rewards also RING coin?

Darwinia Network can function normally with a single token design, just like most of the other projects within the Polkadot ecosystem. But we think we can do better.

Our ideas and understanding of proof-of-stake systems is that the time length of the stake commitment matter in safety and governance dimensions. A similar original theory can also be found in Daniel Larimer’s article.

So we introduced an auxiliary token called KTON to represent the tokenization of the stake commitment. Commitment has value so it should be tradable.

In a sense, it can be called commitment mining or reverse-liquidity mining in the recent DeFi point of view.

To encourage users to make long term commitments and pledge, users can choose to lock RING for 3–36 months in staking, and the contract will offer a KTON token as a reward for users’ commitment. During the committed pledge period, users cannot unlock their RING. (Unless they utilize triple the amount of KTON as a penalty). KTON’s initial supply is zero. It only increases when a user voluntarily time-deposits RING.

KTON holders represent users with longer interest in the system. We split the system influence-power into two equal pools, one for RING stakers, and one for KTON stakers. The influence-power users obtain match their proportional staking amount among all stakes, either in RING or KTON. In the early days, KTON’s supply is far less than the RING’s supply, so staking KTON generates much more influence-power than RING. With the influence-power or voting power can be used to nominate validators and share their block producing reward paid in RING coming from the network inflation.

The capital efficiency will drive the economic user to lock RING for KTON. The following cycle may happen:

1. KTON staking yield is high compared with RING staking.

2. Users lock more RING for KTON, and staked KTON goes up.

3. KTON staking yield drops.

4. Circulating RING drops, and the RING price goes up.

5. KTON yield goes up as RING price goes up.

The cycle should end when a sweet spot is found where yield from both sides equalizes. But in reality, the system will bounce around the theoretical balance point. This creates a “perpetual motion machine”. KTON acts as a stabilizer and stimulator, adjusting the RING circulating supply by market forces.

More to read in Genepaper, Section Staking, and Section KTON.

What kind of bridges are you planning to use? Are you developing your own, or do you want to use already existing ones in the ecosystem?

We are building bridges by ourselves. We tend to provide truly decentralized bridges as an option to the industry in addition to the existing centralized or semi-centralized ones.

Our bridges use smart contracts to secure users’ assets and rely on Darwinia ChainRelay, a sub-linear super-light client to detect and verify transactions across the chain. Our first bridge from Ethereum to Darwinia has launched, check out the announcement [Darwinia-Ethereum bridge].

More bridges between Darwinia and external blockchains will be built over time. The potential destinations include but not limited to BSC, EOS, HECO, TRON, and more.

For more info about bridging different blockchains, refer to our tech talk at the Sub0 Parity conference and our tech paper to walk you through how the bridge works and the technical details.

Similarly, as it’s the Kusama Network to Polkadot, you will launch your canary network called Crab. So, Crab will be launched on Kusama as a Parachain. Is there any significant difference between Darwinia and Crab?

Darwinia Crab Testnet (Crab for short) is a Canary Network for Darwinia, The positioning of Crab is similar to Polkadot’s Kusama Network. Expect Chaos is a reasonable expectation.

Crab Network is not just a testnet, it will be a long-term network, but it cannot be ruled out that it will stop running due to unexpected conditions or failures.

Crab mainly provides a simulation and test environment for Darwinia’s upgrade and application deployment, performing various radical experiments. The test environment includes not only the software operation environment and network environment required for testing but also the test economic environment.

In order to make Crab simulate the real economic environment to a certain extent, Crab has the same parameters as Darwinia Mainnet and uses the same Staking mechanism and inflation model. Crab’s tokens are cRING and cKTON, the initial supply of cRING is 2000M, and the supply of cKTON is 0.

Darwinia Network is injecting 1% of its value into Crab network to make participants more serious. cRING and cKTON have got real value. After the Darwinia Mainnet launches, a Token Bridge will be built between Darwinia Mainnet and Crab, allowing cRING and RING to be mutually exchangeable in the long term, with a conversion ratio of 1 RING = 100 cRING. Darwinia will reserve 40M RING as the backed asset of cRING for the Cryptocurrency Backed Asset Model(CBA Model). Darwinia Mainnet is the backing chain, Crab Network is the issuing chain, cRING is CBA.

How are you going to incentivize your supporters in Parachain auctions both for Crab and Darwinia Network?

We haven’t announced the detailed incentive scheme for PLO yet, a rough idea of what it will be can be shared here.

Besides RING token reward to the PLO supporters, we will also offer NFT rewards. We will launch new gameplay Defi+NFT mining systems in our cross-chain game Evolution Land. Supporters will be rewarded with limited Lands, Apostles, Drills, and more. They can use these NFTs to have fun in the game and actually make money.

Here are how can users play to earn in the game:

After launching Crab Canary Network, you will head towards the main Darwinia Network that is going to be part of the Polkadot. And then, after moving towards Polkadot 2.0, there will be a chance to become a level-one Relay chain. Do you see that Darwinia or Crab will want to move in this direction — becoming a Relay chain? How that works anyway — the process of launching your own Relay chain? Can you compare it with starting your own Parachain?

Darwinia mainnet has officially started the progressive launch. Modules are enabled step by step. Users can already come to the mainnet to act as nominators or validators to earn staking rewards. On-chain governance is enabled as well, launch of the backward bridge from Darwinia to Ethereum is coming very soon. Darwinia mainnet will become a milestone of full modules activation.

At the moment, only Polkadot and Kusama will be the Relay chain. Darwinia or Crab will connect to them as Parachain. Upgrading Parachain to a Relay Chain (sub-relaychain) and having its own Parachains is on the future development list because it is not technically possible at the moment. But that’s definitely a direction.

We build bridges and connect external chains to Darwinia. This is a kind of Relay chain to heterogeneous Parachain model as well.

What can you tell us about the Parachain auction and the bridges in the ecosystem?

Parachain auction is the kickoff of Polkadot’s Web3.0 future vision of the Internet of blockchains.

To build the internet of blockchains, not only blockchains within the Polkadot ecosystem need to achieve cross-chain interoperability. Significant heterogeneous blockchains outside of the Polkadot ecosystem need to be wired together and this relies on the Darwinia cross-chain bridge.

There are many bridges out there but most are custodial bridges where Darwinia provides the safest heterogeneous cross-chain bridge solution without any middlemen (so called trustless bridge).

Polkadot Founder Gavin also highlighted Darwinia in Polkadot 2020 Roundup.

Gavin Wood : “China alone has over 30 teams that are building systems, projects and components for the Polkadot ecosystem. Many of these are active in the community and household names in our Element channels including Acala, Phala, Crust and Darwinia amongst others, contributing code, feedback and encouragement for the entire Polkadot community.

Source: Gavin Wood medium article Polkadot 2020 Roundup

In 2020, Darwinia was written in Polkadot light-paper as one of the friends of Polkadot and Substrate.

Polkadot Founder Gavin also highlighted Darwinia as “Projects to watch” on Web3 Forum.

Dr. Gavin Wood on Web3 Forum 2020 talking about Darwinia as a project to watch

Once Darwinia will have its own para-relaychain, the economic model known as Parachain auctions from the Polkadot will apply here as well? Why would anyone pick Darwinia Relay chain instead of Polkadot or Kusama? What’s the primary focus group of Darwinia Parachains?

It will be cost and vertical specialty. Renting a Parachain on a hot, crowded Relay chain such as Polkadot or Kusama will be much more expensive than on Parachains such as Darwinia. For special-purpose Parachains (para-relaychain) will provide domain-specific functionality for its Parachains, which will not be provided by general-purpose Relay chains.

Can you give us a link to your roadmap for 2021?

Sure, here it goes. Roadmap 2021 and Website Update

Thank you for your time and Polkadotters wish you all the best within the incoming Parachain auctions!

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