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With more industries embracing blockchain technology, its financial value and popularity continue to grow. For example, information exchange in healthcare is a critical issue that some companies are beginning to address with blockchain-powered innovations. The shipping, finance and fashion worlds are also seeing a tremendous increase in the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to connect with consumers in an increasingly digital world, according to Gartner.
As the adoption of emerging technologies like blockchain continues at a rapid rate, so do enterprise investments. A Statista survey projects global spending on blockchain solutions to hit $19 billion by 2024. This demonstrates an accelerated growth in investments toward a technology that got only $6.6 billion in global investments in 2021.
One of blockchain’s unique capabilities is how it enables developers to create their own private or public blockchains. As data privacy and data ownership concerns grow across the enterprise, blockchain technology is offering a way for companies to build systems that enable privacy, transparency and identity protection. This is where Horizen, a Delaware-based blockchain network provider, wants to change the game. Horizen claims it leverages “zero-knowledge proofs” to not only protect user data, but to also increase blockchain scalability and make it more useful, particularly for enterprise users.
Rob Viglione, cofounder and team lead at Horizen, told VentureBeat in an exclusive interview that the focus on zero-knowledge technology is what will enable true business use cases to be built on blockchain. Viglione believes privacy technology is the missing link to achieving blockchain scalability and enterprise adoption of blockchain. Horizen wants to solve this issue through the use of zero knowledge, which Viglione described as “a breakthrough technology that allows for the verification of information without revealing any of the underlying data.”
The zero-knowledge technology
As technology advances and more enterprises become data-driven, issues around governance, privacy, sovereignty and ownership will rise. While data has become the lifeblood of today’s organizations, businesses must now begin to rethink and prioritize how they use data.
One example of this is an engagement between an investment broker and a client, where the client (the prover) needs to prove to the broker (the verifier) that they have a certain amount of money in their bank account in order to purchase an investment product without revealing exactly how much they have.
For Viglione, the desire to enable industries to cut through the anxiety around data breaches is what drives Horizen’s zero-knowledge proof. A zero-knowledge proof is an encryption scheme allowing an individual/group to verify the authenticity of given information while another individual/group acts as the verifier. What’s significant about the process is no extra data gets disclosed. Horizen strongly believes the use cases of zero-knowledge proofs can reach major industries like healthcare, education and DeFi. A combination of provability and interoperability is what will lead to blockchain scalability, according to Viglione.
Horizen helps its clients build their public or private blockchain or applications using its existing infrastructure, one it asserts is highly secure. The company claims this insulates its clients from the burden of building from scratch and encountering challenges with enterprise-level blockchain adoption like scalability, decentralization and privacy.
How no-code TokenMint platform works
While some kickbacks and doubts persist, cryptocurrency adoption is growing significantly. Between 2019 to 2021, cryptocurrency was adopted in 56 different countries, according to data from Statista. Apart from enabling transactions on the blockchain web, cryptocurrencies can also be minted as crypto tokens, which are housed on exclusive blockchains and can be utilized for investments, purchases and store value. However, developing a crypto token can be difficult, especially when the prospective creator lacks experience. Horizen’s new no-code tokenization platform, TokenMint, seeks to bridge the gap between token creation and the general public. TokenMint uses automation to allow people with no development knowledge to interact with the platform, giving them the complete freedom to custom design their token economy.
Viglione said TokenMint will allow anyone to create a crypto token with minimal effort regardless of knowledge, adding that the platform’s user interface (UI) is “simple and intuitive, making for a seamless experience.” The platform originates from a subsisting blockchain network and a scalable cross-chain. While TokenMint consists of several components at the moment, he said Horizen will roll out more components in the coming months, improving functionality as its team continues to build out the platform.
With over 45,000 active nodes, Horizen claims to possess one of the largest node networks that also happens to be decentralized. With that amount of active nodes, Viglione said Horizen can efficiently manage large traffic events and infrastructure support problems. Horizen’s target audience is the group of individuals eager to actualize their business goals by creating a token. With TokenMint, these people can personalize their token design until it matches their needs.
Viglione also said Horizen’s go-to-market strategy will be a “product and user-experience led phased approach,” which will begin with the “alpha public testnet phases with rapid improvement releases,” where real user feedback will be implemented to make the platform market-proof and secure. Next, it will move to the “mainnet phases,” and finally enter the “major capability add-on phases,” when key features like NFT functionality, EVM capability and zkSNARK will be added to boost the platform’s performance and better meet the market needs.
Security remains essential for Horizen, with Viglione insisting Horizen maintains a strict policy encompassing privacy, security and transparency. The TokenMint platform will harness the power of zero-knowledge cryptography in its future releases. Whether a client decides to use TokenMint, they will benefit from the built-in zero-knowledge proofs that boost privacy.
The Horizen sidechain network runs on the zkSNARK technology, a novel form of zero-knowledge cryptography (privacy technology) that allows the company’s mainchain to confirm sidechain transactions without any interaction between the prover and verifier. This removes the need for any third-party validators, preserving the idea of decentralization. Such structure also significantly reduces the computation needed for transaction confirmation furthering network scalability.
While Vigilone agreed to competition from companies like Ethereum, Polkadot, Cosmos and a few others, he said Horizen views other players in the space more as ecosystem collaborators or partners, especially because of its focus on interoperability. He added that Horizen is contributing and adding unique value and capability to the broader blockchain ecosystem by bringing in its expertise in zero knowledge proof (zkp) technology, with its robust blockchain infrastructure and a powerful cross-chain deployment protocol.
More on Horizen
Horizen has been providing developers with top-level tools to custom-build public or private blockchain networks since it was founded by Rob Viglione and Rof Versluis in 2017. Horizen has a cryptocurrency called ZEN that has financed all of its on-chain activities. While Horizen has been self-financed since inception, Crunchbase reports Horizen Labs, its Texas-based subsidiary that helps businesses develop secure distributed ledger solutions using technology, has raised $11 million in total to date. Horizen Labs was founded in 2019 by the trio of Rob Viglione, Dean Steinbeck and Liat Aaronson.