Compact Blockchain Protocols can Disrupt IoT Devices

This interview was originally published on Hackernoon.

Ishan Pandey: Hi Paddy, welcome to our series “Behind the Startup.” Please tell us about yourself and the story behind Minima?

Paddy Cerri: Hi Ishan, nice to meet you. I’m Spartacus Rex. The guy who wrote Minima. Paddy Cerri is just the pseudonym I use in the real world, not the digital one.

I’ve been programming since the ZX Spectrum 48K at the ripe old age of nine.

I've owned almost every computer since then, worked in almost every computer industry since then, and before starting Minima, was a full-stack programmer contracting to the highest bidder.

In 2012, I fell in love with Bitcoin -- a love affair that has never really stopped. But the story of Minima began once I realised I was only a bit player on the network, not an equal. I was a User, not a Miner.

My full node had zero influence on which valid transactions were actually in the blocks.

Only the miners decided that. And that stung. That hurt. That gnawed at the back of my mind.

So, although I won’t go into technical details now, as we’ll cover them later, ultimately, when designing Minima I wanted to ensure that what I felt was happening to Bitcoin, would never happen again.

Ishan Pandey: What is Minima protocol and what will be its use cases plus impact?

Paddy Cerri: To create a truly decentralized protocol, every participant on the network has to be equal - both fully validating and fully involved in the construction of the blocks. Everyone.

With this in mind, the protocol is so compact that everyone can run a complete node on their phone. Those using the network undergo the PoW necessary to send their own transactions and no one else’s.

Such PoW is not financially incentivized, since carrying it out is as inconsequential as letting an app run in the background on your phone. Everyone’s work is then added together to make blocks. All the blocks are added together to make a chain.

The protocol being built is the only truly decentralized base-layer protocol for censorship-resistant value transfer.

Ishan Pandey: Please tell us a little bit about the Minima protocol. Further, how do layer 1 and layer 2 integrate together into the protocol? (Please give technical explanation)

Paddy Cerri: Minima and Maxima - On-Chain vs. Off-Chain. We need both types of settlement in a blockchain application.

Layer 1, On-Chain: The entire network receives and processes transactions. Everyone can process any smart contract for any amount with any party. Moreover, it’s FINAL. Settled. Complete... but it takes time.

There is a limit to the number of messages everyone can process if everyone has to process them all. Slower and more expensive than layer 2.

Layer 2, off-chain: Only the sender, recipient, and those involved in relaying receive and process the transaction. Anyone can process a subset of permissible smart contracts for a smaller set of amounts to a smaller set of recipients.

There is no limit to the number of transactions that can be sent - save for that set by the hardware topology of the network. It’s fast and cheap.

Ishan Pandey: How can IoT devices aid in the mass adoption of blockchain in terms of its accessibility and user-friendliness? How can IoT and blockchain be integrated together?

Paddy Cerri: The ultimate end game for the product is to be so compact that the protocol runs in full on a microchip. One that can be inserted into any IoT device in the world.

Only then can we start to have conversations about Billions of fully validating and constructing nodes coming online. Furthermore, once that happens, it’s game over.

Ishan Pandey: As public concern grows over the recent rise in ransomware assaults, Bitcoin is gaining new privacy features. What exactly are these privacy features, and will they be the game-changer that crypto desperately needs?

Paddy Cerri: The often misunderstood point on privacy is that it works rather well as a function of layer 2, where only the sender, recipient, and those involved in the relaying process and view a transaction. Meaning they are the only parties with the ability to monitor the transaction whatsoever.

Whereas on Layer 1, transactions should always be seen to be only pseudonymous as there are certainly known techniques that can be used on UTXO systems to maximize your ‘anonymity.'

Ishan Pandey: The rise in bitcoin’s value, as well as the cryptocurrency market’s volatility, has sparked an institutional interest. Do you believe that regulators will be eager to facilitate institutional investment by enacting new regulations governing the storage and transfer of coins?

Paddy Cerri: Those entrenched in our current system have no incentive to cooperate, so I don’t expect them to. All that matters is that we use this technology to empower individuals whom such a system has left behind.

Ishan Pandey: In today’s time, the DeFi ecosystem has enormous potential and is growing as more value is injected, but it is fundamentally limited due to the high entry barrier. How can this issue be addressed and resolved?

Paddy Cerri: What we see today in DeFi is what happens when individuals are allowed to experiment in an open market, and It’s beautiful to see.

The ideas which have emerged have huge potential and I would like to see them built on a truly decentralized protocol. For now, that is simply not the case, and this needs to be more widely understood.

Also - transacting on Layer 1 will never scale ( not in a decentralized way ). I’m sorry - this is true for all of us. All these protocols need to operate on Lightning - in a scalable, fast, cheap decentralised environment.

Ishan Pandey: In what ways can competition within the mining industry be unfavourable towards the ecosystem? Does it ultimately lead to the leading competitors in the space becoming more centralized? Also, kindly share some words of wisdom for novice miners.

Paddy Cerri: Mining is an Industry. Simple as that. And just like every other industry on the planet is susceptible to Economies of Scale.

We know how this ends because we see it objectively play out in every other industry. So there is only one way that the Bitcoin Mining industry ends... a monopoly. One miner. Centralised. And nothing anyone has ranted about has convinced me otherwise.

Ishan Pandey: What, according to you, are the implications of the recent boom in DeFi, for example, in terms of Blockchain gaming, etc.?

Paddy Cerri: The DeFi ecosystem (despite its lack of decentralization) is incredibly exciting. The innovations and ideas being thrown about are exactly what occurs when you unleash and unshackle us in an open environment.

It’s incredible to witness. We can’t know for sure how much of a difference this will make but there’s a chance - it changes everything.

Ishan Pandey: China recently intensified its stance on cryptocurrencies by imposing a blanket ban on all crypto transactions and mining, putting immense pressure on bitcoin and other prominent coins as well as crypto and blockchain-related companies. What will be the global implication of this nationwide ban?

Paddy Cerri: As history has shown us, tools that democratise access for individuals do not often succeed in being outlawed. Instead, only bolstered people's conviction that they are needed in the first place. So in terms of a global implication, I see such actions only accelerating adoption.

Ishan Pandey: In what ways do you think Covid-19 has affected decentralized finance and what has been the overall impact of the pandemic on global finance?

Paddy Cerri: I’m not sure about Covid-19’s impact on “DeFi” or global finance for that matter. But I do know that the lockdowns have made me code so much that I don’t know where I end and Minima begins or where Minima ends and I begin... It’s all just one big mash-up.

First thought in the morning. Last thought at night. Every spare moment in between. When I wake up at night - I just hope it doesn’t kick off... or that’s it. Rest of the night is gone. Sleep gone. Staring. Thinking. Drilling. Wide Awake. And yet... Here I am. I am praying for this moment to last.

Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is to remove informational asymmetry existing today in our digital markets by performing due diligence by asking the right questions and equipping readers with better opinions to make informed decisions. The material does not constitute any investment, financial, or legal advice. Please do your research before investing in any digital assets or tokens, etc. The writer does not have any vested interest in the company.