Interview with Victor Zhang, who is the current CEO and co-founder of AlphaWallet, and has been working for the last 3 years experience in blockchain developing AlphaWallet. Before he dived into blockchain tech, Victor worked for 7 years managing multinational teams and businesses across Asian countries — Australia, Singapore, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, and India. Victor holds a Master’s degree in Information and Communication Technology from the University of Wollongong.
What is your background briefly?
My education background is IT master, but I started my career as sales 12 years ago, then all the way to management. I’m always interested in new technologies. Before starting this new journey, I did some tech status before and invest in some tech startups as well. I’m one of the core team of a tech startup which sold to ebay for 165M in 2016.
Our CTO Wei wu used to be the blockchain architect at the largest bank in Australia, Commonwealth Bank, he leads more than 20 blockchain projects in the bank, he was a member of R3 Corda global architect group. He invest BTC in 2011, did several BTC alt-coins. After Ethereum launched, he did serval architect for ICO projects.
Our Lead Dev James Brown has 20+ years software experience. 70% of PS3 games are running through the compiler he made for Sony. Before AlphaWallet, he is the Chief blockchain engineer at Commonwealth Bank.
Our youngest co-founder James Sangalli used his education fund to buy BTC and then promoted BTC in 38 countries since 2014. He used to be the Blockchain Dev at Commonwealth Bank. He is Co author for 4 EIPs.
Including me, these are the 4 co-founders.
Victor Zhang discusses zombiecoins
Does it seem like a logical background to what you do now?
Definitely, 1. I understand tech very well and has a huge passion in new tech 2. I know how to start, manage and grow businesses which is a perfect match with the other 3 Co-founders who are deep in tech..
1 min pitch for what you are doing now?
We build TokenScript and AlphaWallet, which are the “HTML” and “Browser” for Web 3.0. We are the Netscape for Web 3.0
Tell us about the possible solutions for “zombiecoins” ?
For whatever “promise” they have made, delivery it. If you are zombiecoins who promised to make a blockchain enabled airbnb, then use TokenScript to tokenize the rights and let your users to use the services through AlphaWallet.
How does TokenScript work?
Step 1 which most people can understand and can see the value easily:
Step 2 is more about the Frictionless Market and allowing limitless integration(Integrating the Web) which are the key utilities of blockchain but not many people can understand and see the value now.
Suggest you read the design paper of TokenScript https://github.com/AlphaWallet/TokenScript/blob/master/doc/design_paper.md
Most of the people understand what is DApp, but don’t understand why DApp is better than App. DApp are just App which use token (tokenized information). Tokenization is the key, not DApp
Have we reached Web 3.0? – What does it looks like, and how it will work?
We have reached Web 3.0 in terms of starting to create it. But the mass adoption is currently not there. TokenScript and AlphaWallet is what brings Web 3.0 to reality.
What it looks like:
As an user:
You never need to signup or login to use any services on internet
You never need to copy/paste between any services on internet
You can read the ebook bought from Amazon in Apple Books app, you can watch the Movie bought from iTunes with whatever media player in your Samsung mobile.
You can choose whatever delivery services to deliver your Amazon online shopping.
You can use Nofacebook to keep in touch with your friends on Twitter, your colleague on Linkedin and your Chinese friends on Wechat
You can use a service which is integrated by 100 services provider. Eg. “Hi Siri, please optimize my investment portfolio”, Done, your new portfolio are made from evaluating all the existing investment opportunities on internet and then get a portfolio which only suitable for you. Everything is done in one step.
Not saying the better privacy which users don’t really care, Web 3.0 brings users the super convenient UX which they have never experienced and brings the control from big platform back to users’ hands.
As a service provider:
I can provide services directly to my users without “joining” any platform. Eg, If Bob wants to receive money from Alice, Bob don’t need to be connected to any bank, any paypal, any wechat. Eg. If Bob wants to provide discount to Alice based on Alice is NoFacebook member, Bob don’t need to get permission from NoFacebook, don’t need NoFacebook to verify Alice is a member.
An open market for me, I don’t need to please the big platform to get an integration permit any more, and I don’t need to be worried about being kickoff by the big platforms.
I compete with other service providers on and only on whether I can provide the best services to each user. An open, fair and frictionless market on the internet for all the businesses.
How it will work?
Web 3.0 is an integrated Web, and the integration layer is made by token (tokenized information), blockchain is one of the tokenization tools. Tokenized rights can be traded on the market and integrated across systems, forming a Frictionless Market and allowing limitless integration(Integrating the Web). Services integrated through token on user side instead of big platform.
Tim Berners-Lee and the innovators of the world wide web modelled the web primarily on a) the public library model and b) the computer-human interaction model.
a. In the library model, information is freely available, indexed and cross-referenced by a URI. Its incarnation, the URL, is where the data is, and there is no restriction on where you can go.
b. In the computer-human interaction model, two players are having a conversation – the human asks and the machine answers. A computer has limited knowledge, but it can help the user to reach the right computer.
Therefore, the web was built as a giant library where each book is a computer with whom one can have a conversation.
This design has caused a lot of modern inconveniences. A user would one day receive an email on her monthly statement, yet she couldn’t recognise a few entries on them. It says “Amazon”. Was it about ordering a pair of shoes? She has to copy the order number and look it up in Amazon.
The same user might pause as she books two tickets for an opera, switch to her frequent flyer app, copy that number over and paste it into the order to collect the points. She might struggle a bit installing that frequent flyer app at the outset. When she buys on another webshop, she needs to download another app or create another account.
Why are we doing so much copy and pasting when machines are exceptionally good at doing this? Owning to the design, the web is like a giant library, and we are like readers keeping notes of the index numbers under our sleeves. We hope that in the future the Web resembles no longer of a library, but more like a personal assistant.
The client side can’t integrate a web that is not designed to integrate
Surprisingly, even the technology that was created to fill the role of a personal assistant, the Smart Phone, still failed for the same reasons: the efforts from client side alone can’t integrate a Web that is not designed to integrate. It made the problem even worse, as copy-pasting becomes bigger trouble when using a Smart Phone.
The truth is: Not only the client but the infrastructure has to support integration. A smartphone is modelled after a dial-up Internet connection, with each app representing a website. The users still need to figure out which computer (app) to talk to before entering the conversation, and still copies information around as he swaps apps around. It’s therefore not possible, for example, to ask your smartphone to sum up all the money one may access by his online banking apps.
It’s easy to see the cause of the inconvenience: the web is poorly integrated. The bad examples go on and on:
When a user checks out on the web, she isn’t sure if she has enough balance on her card, since the bank is not integrated with the shopping system. When a patient orders a service, she can’t see how much the insurance can cover until the bill settles, nor can she know whether she has reached the annual cap since the clinic is not integrated with the health insurance company.
Such integrations can be addressed by having a backend connection between the two service providers, but it is not often done, because it requires the parties to collaborate and negotiate a value distribution. The collaboration depends on the security (takedown system A through system B), availability (one went offline while the other serving customers), scalability (n²-n integrations needed for n parties).
Furthermore, such integration restraining the free market in two ways. First, the competition will be on integration, not goods and services. An insurance company which integrated their systems to more clinics competes against a new insurance company on the ground of integration, not coverage and premium. Second, it doesn’t allow integration between contending parties, and it requires permission from both side of the integration to work.
The challenge to integrating the web requires a few building blocks that weren’t in the Web’s blueprint: authentication, ownership, transfer of value and trading.
“Account authentication” is not a substitute for web integration.
The web doesn’t have a built-in authentication mechanism[^tls]. To route around this gab, many users use add-ons like “Sign in with Facebook”. Those merely try to provide authentication through a trusted 3rd party, which does not only cause privacy and availability concerns but also only serves for account authentication and can’t be used for integration.
[^tls]: There have been excellent efforts on client/server certificates in Transport Layer Security (TLS). However, these authentication methods are not for processes, but only for sites. They represent a delegation model: Imagine a buyer not checking if a title deed is real, but only checks if the seller’s name matches the one on the deed.
That would be the delegation model used in TLS. In this model, TLS can’t guarantee that anything on the website is genuine — only that the website itself is. Facebook uses TLS, but people put much fake news on it. The unit of trust here is undoubtedly not granular enough for the web to deliver an integrated experience.
On top of it, the model of account based authentication is the cause of further problems. Most simple business cases – for example, “the owner of a car checks its service history” – don’t require an account. Truthfully, accounts are stopgaps to problems created by the specific structure of the Internet as we know it.
If you enforce parties involved having an account to authenticate, bad things happen:
When the car is sold, the new car owner would now need to create a new account at the service website and secure it with the proof of ownership to the car. This is onerous and unreliable.
When a 3rd party like a Vehicle Modification workshop or an insurer needs to access the repair history, there is no easy way to authorise them without giving away the account. This is inflexible.
Such integration needs, poorly addressed by adding accounts, are easily found in healthcare, retail and almost every web-based business. Today, we are still adding more and more accounts to address the growing integration needs. It’s a case of hammering every problem down as if it is a nail. Most people do not feel well with this model but don’t see an alternative to integrating the web. An internet without accounts is beyond most people’s imagination.
We demonstrate that integration through token is a superior solution to integrate the internet. A vital element of this process is ownership.
The lack of an ownership mechanism
The web doesn’t have a built-in mechanism for ownership, transfer of value and trading.
To demonstrate, we take the car story a bit further: When you want to sell your car, you need to post the car information on a website. To do so, you must create an account on the way. When someone wants to buy your car, you and the buyer have to go through a chain of processes: Insurance, unused service quota, vehicle registrations, documentation handover, payment and so on.
All these actions have to be done separately, using easily-tampered paper proofs and forms and accounts. The process starts at the web and ends somewhere else instead of being automatically done after the buyer clicked “buy”.
Is it possible to make it happen, that the entire chain of bureaucratic procedures happens securely in the backend, while you just push the “buy” button? With the web of accounts, you’d need to knot together a lot of accounts and trusted third parties, which hide the process from the user, while they fulfill the same paper trail as before.*
In contrast, when you base the same process on a blockchain and on tokens, it would be automatic, fraud-proof[^attestations] and atomic[^atomic]. You could finish a car sell with one click in a secure way without the need for accounts and paper trails.
[^attestations]: the method to provide cryptographically signed attestations as a condition for a transaction is discussed later in the “Attestation” chapter.
[^atomic]: In blockchain terms, an atomic transaction either happens or not. If well defined, it’s not impossible for a buyer to have successfully paid for a car yet not getting the ownership token, or only have transferred the car’s ownership but not the compulsory insurance on it.
These missing features of the web are the well-known functions of the blockchain. A blockchain is an immutable, decentralized record of ownership, sometimes called a “triple-entry bookkeeping” system. The virtual wedding of this perfect fit couple requires a virtual exchange of tokens, or what this paper called “tokenisation”.
To do so, Token must seamlessly go across systems, carry their trading rules and user interfaces and business context.
What is the Business value to the blockchain sector with proper tokenisation?
Blockchain without “proper tokenisation” is like the internet without web (proper informatization). The utility of blockchain is tokenisation, tokenisation is to tokenise some of the digitised information. It is part of the digitization process.
The business opportunity cannot be understated here. If businesses can properly build in the business logic of their tokens properly, they will have encapsulated the rights of their customers into a digital framework (an app), and therefore expand their reach customer reach. Proper tokenisation allows for legitimate utility tokens.
What is the Global economic potential of mobile apps built with proper tokenisation?
An integrated web and a frictionless market: open, fair and efficient.
Open and fair leads to more and healthier competition.
Efficient saves the resources.
Read this to understand what is Token-economy https://medium.com/alphawallet/what-is-a-token-token-economy-101-29593afa13d2
See the difference of the tokenised, decentralised Web 3.0 world and the current world in which, for the lack of tokenisation, a giant all-mighty 3rd party is needed and is thus propped up to the pedestal of the world’s largest company.
A giant all-mighty 3rd party model limits the competitions, makes the market close and unfair. And it cannot fulfill the unlimited demand for more convince (integrate more services), as there is a technical limitation of how many services they can integrate on their platform.
The economic opportunity cannot be understated here. If businesses can properly build in the business logic of their tokens properly, they will have encapsulated the rights of their customers into a digital framework (an app), and therefore expand their reach customer reach. Proper tokenisation wouldn’t be limited geographically, opening up businesses in every single country in the world, bringing them into the digital economy. It would be world changing, like the 5th Industrial Revolution.
Is Tokenization the ‘missing piece’ to true societal digitalisation.? If so, why?
Yes, tokenization is the inevitable trend of digitalisation.
In the process of digitalisation, we made the internet and web which became the infrastructure and the tool of informatization.
When people started to run businesses on the web, they have to use trusted 3rd parties to verify the information which are related to business logic. Without trusted 3rd parties, none of the businesses can exist on the web. This is the current world and I have explained the issues with this model under previous question
Currently, blockchain is one of the best tools to do tokenization, tokenized information can be verified without trusted 3rd parties. By removing the trusted 3rd parties with tokens, we can have an integrated web and a frictionless market. A better economic.
How can people find out more about you personally & your work?
People can learn more by following me on my personal twitter account – @victor928
Developers can join this open source project on https://github.com/AlphaWallet/TokenScript
Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?
These shark photos are amazing! ->
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