Zilliqa is a public, permissionless blockchain that is designed to offer high throughput with the ability to complete thousands of transactions per second. It seeks to solve the issue of blockchain scalability and speed by employing sharding as a second-layer scaling solution. The platform is home to many decentralized applications, and as of October 2020, it also allows for staking and yield farming.
Development work officially started on Zilliqa in June 2017, and its testnet went live in March 2018. A little over a year later, in June 2019, the platform launched its mainnet.
The native utility token of Zilliqa, ZIL, is used to process transactions on the network and execute smart contracts.
Zilliqa was first conceived by Prateek Saxena, an assistant professor at the National University of Singapore School of Computing. Saxena and several students in the School of Computing published a paper in 2016 that outlined how a sharding-focused blockchain could improve network efficiency and speed.
Around the same time, Saxena co-founded Anquan Capital alongside Max Kantelia, a lifelong finance and tech entrepreneur, and Juzar Motiwalla, former president of the Singapore Computer Society. The company incorporated Zilliqa Research in June 2017 to develop the Zilliqa network, bringing on Dong Xinshu as its CEO, Yaoqi Jia as its chief technology officer and Amrit Kumar as its chief scientific officer. All three previously worked as research fellows at the NUS School of Computing.
Zilliqa claims to be the world's first public blockchain to rely entirely on a sharded network. This allows it to achieve high throughput and a high rate of transactions per second, which it says solves the scalability issue. Because each shard processes transactions individually, as the network grows and the number of shards increases, the number of transactions that can be processed per second also increases. As well, records are immediately added to the Zilliqa blockchain after being processed, meaning that no additional time for confirmation is required.
Zilliqa seeks to become the blockchain of choice for large-scale enterprise use, including among the advertising, gaming, entertainment and financial services and payments industries. In its 2018 position paper, its team states that the platform "aims to rival traditional centralized payment methods such as VISA and MasterCard."
Both Anquan Capital and Zilliqa Research, the company responsible for developing Zilliqa, hold significant reserves of ZIL.
Zilliqa has a fixed maximum supply of 21 billion tokens. ZIL was first made available for sale as an ERC-20 token as a part of a token generation event that concluded in January 2018. The tokens were subsequently transferred to the Zilliqa mainnet in a token-swap event that concluded in February 2020.
Before launching, Zilliqa generated 60% of all tokens (12.6 billion ZIL) to be distributed at the token generation event, and the remaining 40% (8.4 billion ZIL) will be created through the mining process. Ten percent of all tokens (2.1 billion ZIL) were reserved for Anquan Capital, 12% (2.52 billion ZIL) for Zilliqa Research, and 5% for contemporary and future Zilliqa team members — all of which were announced to be distributed quarterly over a three-year period.
Zilliqa is designed such that all tokens will be minted within 10 years, with the block mining reward slowly decreasing. According to its whitepaper, the project aims to have 80% of the tokens (16.8 billion ZIL) mined within the first four years and 20% (4.2 billion ZIL) in the remaining six years.
The Zilliqa network is secured through a practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance, or pBFT, consensus protocol, meaning that at least two-thirds of all nodes must agree that a record is accurate in order for it to be added to the blockchain. Each Zilliqa blockchain shard relies on a group of nodes to confirm a subsection of all the transactions, and once each shard has reached a consensus, a second group of nodes confirms the shards' collective results and adds a new block to the blockchain.
The network uses elliptic-curve cryptography to secure its consensus protocol and allows for multisignatures. In addition to the pBFT consensus protocol that secures its transaction records, Zilliqa also uses a proof-of-work algorithm to assign node identities and generate shards.
Zilliqa developed a new language, Scilla, for its smart contracts. Short for Smart Contract Intermediate-Level Language, Scilla is a safety-focused language intended to automatically identify and eliminate security vulnerabilities at the language-level and make it easier to formally verify the safety of smart contracts through mathematical proofs.