From Jordan Earls, co-founder of Qtum and co-chair of the Smart Contracts Alliance; “Qtum is all about connecting the existing blockchain communities. We have chosen to do this by using the Bitcoin’s UTXO blockchain, which is the foundation for many other projects such as Litecoin, BlackCoin, DASH, and Zcash, and combining it with the Ethereum Virtual Machine, since most blockchain smart contracts use solidity.
Qtum combines the technologies and paradigms of the best blockchain projects with the goal of unifying the many disparate blockchain communities. We believe this will make the entire blockchain ecosystem stronger and easier to use for consumers, developers, and enterprises.”
Please tell us your name, about you and your Team?
Earls: My name is Jordan Earls, I’m the co-founder and lead developer of Qtum. Our team comprises of individuals from nine countries, with two offices (one in Shanghai and one in Minsk) and another office opening in Denver, Colorado later this year. Our team has experience working with many notable organizations including Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, NASDAQ, and Microsoft.
How would you describe Ethereum and Blockchain to someone who is not tech-oriented?
Earls: Blockchain is a global, immutable ledger where critical data can be openly exchanged. Ethereum is a platform for applications that use blockchain technology.
Why do you think blockchain community and business world have been running alongside each other in parallel?
Earls: The business world is always trying to innovate to increase their bottom line, while the blockchain community has been working in sort of a tech-focused bubble. Only recently have these two communities started looking to each other for new ways to solve practical problems, and how to implement new technologies for business use cases.
Why do you think Qtum is definitely one of the projects everyone should be keeping their eyes on?
Earls: Our technology uniquely positions us to be ready for whatever comes next in the industry. We built Qtum so that it could handle more than one virtual machine, so that blockchain parameters could be easily changed to scale, and to be compatible with the existing communities to leverage their technological advancements.
Some people believe you to be the best team out of China and Asia. What has been the key to your success?
Earls: We believe in having realistic expectations that are achievable in practical time frames. I believe this has been the key to us meeting our deadlines, under promising, and over delivering.
Qtum is the foremost toolkit for building trusted decentralized applications, suited for real-world, business oriented use cases. What are decentralized applications? Give us an example.
Earls: Decentralized applications run via a network of computers that have virtually 0% downtime, and they are censorship resistant. This means people can create applications that you wouldn’t necessarily see in your traditional app store and have them run 24/7.
The possibilities for decentralized applications are limitless. You could build a decentralized Airbnb, Uber, bank… and the list goes on and on. Decentralization brings about new business opportunities and can bring down costs by disrupting intermediaries.
Qtum, in cooperation with its academic partners, develops tools and methods to standardize the workflow for business smart contract development. Describe smart contract to someone who is not tech-oriented.
Earls: Smart contracts are just programs which dictate under what conditions money should be sent, and to who. Such as “if X happens, pay Y party Z dollars.” However, smart contracts are also utilized for sharing tamper-proof state data and other proof-of-existence use cases.
What do you think about the security of Smart Contracts? What is necessary in order to prevent ‘The DAO’ fail?
Earls: With anything new there’s always bound to be bugs. It’s just a matter of trial and error. In these beginning stages, we should always exercise on the side of caution. I think we are moving towards more standardized rules and formally verifiable languages that will help bring down the likelihood of such security exploits.
Recently, the Qtum launched Sparknet. What is Sparknet and what inspired you to launch it?
Earls: Sparknet was our first test network. It illustrated that we could combine Bitcoin’s technology with the ethereum virtual machine. People didn’t know if this was possible because the technologies use two different systems, Bitcoin uses the Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO) model and Ethereum uses the Account model.
Last Week, you also launched Qtum Skynet. What is Qtum Skynet and why did you launch it?
Earls: Skynet is the second iteration of our test network. It is a preview of what our main network will look like and ideally (barring bug-fixes of course) its blockchain will work the exact same as our main network that will be released in September. It includes the Decentralized Governance Protocol, and the finished implementation of the Smart Staking Protocol. This public test network allows us to test all of this new technology and integration on a more live network than our private test networks.
Why is Qtum designed with a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) mechanism?
Earls: Proof-of-Stake is generally considered to be more scalable, user-friendly, and better for the environment since it doesn’t require a lot of energy and computer hardware. Additionally, we believe that proof of stake is ultimately more friendly to a fully decentralized blockchain. In Qtum, it doesn’t matter if you have 1 coin or 1 million, you can contribute to the security and the entire blockchain. However, in Proof of Work implementations such as Bitcoin, mining farms tend to benefit from economies of scale, leading to a small handful of companies controlling the security of the blockchain.
Who is funding Qtum?
Earls: Qtum was funded by blockchain evangelists, venture capitalists, technology enthusiasts, and through community support. Some of the big names are the world’s first investor in blockchain companies, Roger Ver; ethereum founder, Anthony Di Iorio; OKCoin CEO, Star Xu; BitFund founder, Xiaolai Li; co-founder of Augur, Jeremy Gardner; and Fenbushi general partner, Bo Shen.
What are the biggest challenges for Qtum this year?
Earls: Most of the big challenges are out of the way now. Our next goal is to implement a smart contract x86 virtual machine. This is still being designed and researched, but we’re very confident it can be done by 2018. The x86 architecture is what most computers use and what most programs run on today. By utilizing an x86 virtual machine, we can leverage all of that existing tooling and technology but bring it into the smart contract space. This would allow for developers later to use established and known programming languages with a significantly smaller learning curve than learning an entirely new programming language for smart contracts as developers currently must do.
Is there any other important message you would like to pass across to our readers?
Earls: You should always try to learn something new and set your sights on the future, not just what is popular right now. I think everyone should do at least some research on Blockchain technology and what it means for business and the global economy. Even though it’s relatively small today, I think it will be very big in the future.