Horizen is a phase 3 blockchain, a blank canvas without limitations and infinite customisation.
Horizen’s blockchain is a blank canvas on which developers and users can finally create infinite landscapes. Offering scalability, flexibility, decentralization, and choice of consensus, Horizen lets users fully customize their blockchain infrastructure. An elegant solution to the growing needs of the crypto-economy, Horizen solves today’s problems while keeping one eye on the future.
The evolution of blockchains over the past ten years can best be summarized in 3 phases; from tools to swiss army knives to blank canvases.
Phase 1: Tool
When we think of a tool, we imagine something that is designed to execute a specific function. Bitcoin’s blockchain is a tool for creating a censorship-resistant form of money in Bitcoin. The Zcash blockchain is used for enabling private transactions with Zcash.
Phase 2: Swiss Army Knife
A swiss army knife (Ethereum, Solana, etc.) is a tool with multiple use cases. While there are several things you can do with a swiss army knife, each tool is never quite as functional as it would be if it were a standalone not attached to an assortment of other tools.
Phase 3: Blank Canvas
A canvas is a blank space that allows the expression of creativity without placing limitations on the kinds of tools you can apply.
Evolution of Blockchains: From Tool to Canvas
|Blockchains – Phase 1: Tool Examples: Bitcoin, Zcash||Common traits: single use case, single architecture|
Flaws: lacks flexibility
|Blockchains – Phase 2: Swiss Army Knife Examples: Ethereum, Solana||Common traits: multiple use cases, single architecture (“one size fits all”)|
Flaws: using the same architecture to support multiple use cases leads to growing pains (will always disappoint some subset of users)
|Blockchains – Phase 3: Blank CanvasExamples: Horizen||Common traits: multiple use cases, different architectures: flexibility, scalability, decentralization, consensus agnostic |
Flaws: We can’t think of any 😉
Blockchains have evolved from simply being technologies to secure and verify transactions of value to platforms that support the creative desires of developers and entrepreneurs.
While swiss army-like blockchains such as Ethereum and Cardano were initially built to support dapp ecosystems, these single architecture-multiple use case networks will eventually hit a wall in terms of their ability to satisfy the various requirements of users and developers, many of which are diametrically opposed to each other.
Some users will want faster and cheaper applications, some will want privacy features, and others will want better security. It is impossible to cater to all of these needs with one blockchain.
What ultimately ends up happening is that users who want speed and cost savings win out over those who want more privacy and security features because they are typically in the majority.
This leads developers to implement changes that further centralize blockchains by reducing the number of nodes or concentrating key decision-making to a single master node like a traditional distributed ledger system.
Additionally, on Ethereum, dapps are beholden to the underlying Ethereum blockchain and consensus mechanism that it operates. This means that developers are restricted in their ability to improve the user experience during times of network congestion when gas fees might be higher than average, and transactions take longer to confirm.
Building a crypto-economy for the future
Let’s imagine what a blockchain developer would need to accommodate the launch of a successful dapp ecosystem in the year 2024.
If the events of the past year are any indication, the successful crypto-economy of the future caters to the needs of the following stakeholders:
- Investors seeking to generate yield on their tokens or stablecoins (Aave, Uni, Anchor)
- Day traders seeking to speculate on margin using DEX’s (DyDx)
- Creatives looking to mint NFTs and fans looking to invest or flip them (Open Sea)
- Gamers looking to earn a living in play to earn metaverses (Axie infinity).
- Combinations of the options listed above (e.g., generate yields on in-game NFT assets)
Additionally, with regulations encroaching on the crypto markets, enterprises adopting blockchains, and financial institutions building onramps, developers will need to create robust identity authentication solutions and adhere to KYC/AML policies without compromising users’ privacy and security.
With so many different requirements, it’s difficult to imagine how even a network of swiss army-like blockchains (i.e., Cosmos and Polkadot) can adhere to the needs of all the stakeholders mentioned. While these platforms enable developers to build their own custom blockchains, all Cosmos ecosystem chains follow the same proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, while Polkadot limits the number of side chains (or parachains) that can be launched to just 100 while operating with just 300 validators compared to Horizen’s 48,000 nodes.
In other words, developers on Cosmos and Polkadot can build crypto-economies optimized for speed yet still fall short of the privacy and security requirements necessary to appeal to enterprises or more traditional crypto users.
Horizen – the first blank canvas blockchain network.
Horizen aims to become the first true blank canvas blockchain network to empower developers to customize their own crypto-economy.
The main benefit Horizen will offer is the ability to decide what type of blockchain infrastructure you want to build, all the way down to the type of consensus mechanism you wish to run (PoW, PoS, DAG, or even a traditional centralized database system).
Through the Zendoo SDK, developers can launch multiple independent and fully customizable sidechains capable of transferring value to each other using our cross-chain transfer protocol.
Operating multiple sidechains can allow developers to achieve horizontal scalability, meaning their ecosystem can expand by building parallel and connected L1 blockchains to alleviate network congestion instead of building L2s on top of L1s.
Security & Privacy
To keep independent L1s secure, the Horizen mainchain uses a modified, more secure version of the proof-of-work consensus mechanism, leveraging a ‘penalty system for delayed block submission’ to enhance protection against 51% attacks.
In addition, Horizen uses zk-SNARKs to make transactions between sidechains verifiable by the Horizen mainchain without the details of these transactions being known to the nodes that validate them.
Instead of validating sidechain transactions through PoW, all the mainchain needs to do is verify ‘proof of computation’ for virtually any number of sidechain transactions that have occurred on the network. This reduces the computational load of the mainchain and further helps to enhance Horizen’s scalability capabilities.
No matter the level of decentralization of a sidechain, once the mainchain verifies the sidechain transaction data, it becomes anchored to the same security model as our modified proof-of-work consensus mechanism.
This means that Horizen can offer the scalability of Solana greater flexibility than Cosmos or Polkadot, all while maintaining the same level of security as a single-purpose blockchain like Bitcoin or Zcash.
Ultimately, we believe Blockchains are meant to be evolving organisms that are not bound to a single-use case. That is why we are designing the most flexible sidechain SDK for developers who wish to build blockchains and applications that solve today’s problems, with an eye on the future opportunities that can be captured down the road.
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