The invention of bitcoin in 2010 by an enigmatic figure known only by the moniker “Satoshi Nakamoto” sparked a technological revolution that spawned similar tokens. Now called “cryptocurrencies,” these digital coins are not plagued by concerns that traditional or fiat money usually faces, such as volatile monetary regulations and potential corruption involving banks and governments.
It’s no wonder then that any mention of “blockchain” – the decentralized technology that prevents cryptocurrencies from being controlled by any one entity – brings to mind a “digital gold” economy that threatens to reinvent existing monetary institutions and give everyone with a computer easy access to financial systems and services.
But Long Vuong, founder, and CEO of blockchain platform TomoChain, thinks that the emerging technology has the potential to revolutionize not just the financial industry, but also the tech scene at large.
Vuong first learned about blockchain in 2013, while he was studying for a doctorate degree in economics at the University of Massachusetts. He was fascinated by the technology’s potential applications outside of cryptocurrency.
“I have a very different way of looking at blockchain and cryptocurrency,” he says. “The model allows people to use tokens and create applications on the blockchain, which is more interesting than just having cryptocurrency like bitcoin.”
These decentralized applications, more commonly known as DApps, run on decentralized peer-to-peer networks with trustless protocols. They’re designed to avoid single points of failure and typically reward users with tokens for providing computing power to their system.
Vuong’s interest in the blockchain industry led him to co-found the cryptocurrency platform NEM Blockchain in 2014, where he headed a team of software engineers to build a bitcoin alternative from scratch.
He eventually left the company later that year to complete his doctorate research and joined a Hanoi-based e-commerce startup in 2015. But Vuong’s fascination with creating a blockchain platform for DApp developers ultimately drove him to set up TomoChain at the end of 2016.
Instead of creating a cryptocurrency to replace fiat money, Vuong decided to devise a platform that would give developers everywhere access to a global infrastructure, opening up opportunities.
“We support a global economy that everyone can join and [has] a fair playing field. So it’s not just people in Silicon Valley building tech for the world anymore, but people in Asia, Southeast Asia, and Vietnam building something for the global market,” he shares.
To do this, the TomoChain team initially wanted to build on the Ethereum blockchain, but it ran into issues with making the platform mainstream and accessible to a majority of users.
“It’s not just people in Silicon Valley building tech for the world anymore, but people in Asia, Southeast Asia, and Vietnam building something for the global market.”
As Vuong explains, “Making a transaction has to feel like sending a message – it has to be very fast and have a very low fee. Ethereum didn’t have that capacity back in 2017, and it still doesn’t now.”
This led Vuong to build an improved blockchain system that retains some of the values that Ethereum’s had. The new platform will make it more efficient for developers to create stable and secure DApps that can be more easily scaled.
However, establishing a startup is not without its challenges – it’s “very much a process of trying a lot of things at the beginning,” says Vuong. For TomoChain, differentiating its core offerings from other blockchain platforms was one of them. “We actually went a different direction until early 2018, when we found what we really want to do.”
Vuong also had to struggle with battling the stigma that, as an emerging technology, blockchain has limited real-world applications. Most people, which include some of TomoChain’s investors, “don’t have a good idea of what or how blockchain will be in the next five to 10 years.”
“You need to have a very clear idea of what kind of platform you want to build and how it creates value for other people.”
He also points out how challenging it can be to convey the uses of the blockchain. “Is it for having a cryptocurrency or is it an open platform for building financial products? You need to have a very clear idea of what kind of platform you want to build and how it creates value for other people.”
In the future, Vuong hopes to establish TomoChain as the main contender for issuing tokens and developing DApps.
“I want to say we should be able to roll out the solution for scalability within three to five years. That will allow the blockchain to scale up to 30,000 to 40,000 transactions per second, which is about equal to what Visa is doing,” estimates Vuong, citing the US financial services giant.
By then, he says that “20 percent of the population should have a cryptographic wallet and cryptocurrency in some way.”
He continues, “That also means we can build a new financial system that is not based on the banking system in about 10 years, where people can use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ether, and Tomo to transact without going through the current traditional banking system.”
This kind of infrastructure will pave the way for other things that could be powered by the blockchain, such as peer-to-peer lending and automatic investment, according to Vuong.
Plans to achieve these long-term goals are already underway as the TomoChain team continues to work on research and development. It’s also forming partnerships with companies that can help create DApps to address market gaps across several sectors.
“The idea here is that startups and companies in different industries will have insight that can be combined with blockchain technology to build new kinds of projects,” contends Vuong. “I think that’s the vision we are trying to follow.”
TomoChain is a public blockchain that allows developers to create decentralized applications on its platform for global adoption.
To find out more or reach out for business partnerships, visit the TomoChain website.
By: Nathaniel Fetalvero | 28 November 2018