UAE Blockchain crypto and Blockchain evangelist Saeed Al Darmaki joins as Managing Director of CasperLabs MENA
In the last 10 years since blockchain was invented, developers and technologists have been trying to understand how to leverage this novel decentralized technology and determine what network is best for development and integration. Building on blockchain takes time. Up to this point, developers have needed to learn new coding languages, systems and best practices for building on decentralized architectures. Because of this, creating blockchain applications is time intensive and costly, and enterprises have been slow to adopt this new technology to transform their business. The next generation of new blockchain networks has an opportunity to solve these adoption issues.
CasperLabs is making blockchain development accessible to the world’s 38 million developers by using familiar programming languages and develop friendly processes, without sacrificing on performance and security. CasperLabs is developing the Casper network, an open-source proof of stake blockchain network built off the CBC (Correct-by-Construction) Casper specification, originally established by early Ethereum developers. It is the first fully decentralized proof of stake blockchain network that doesn’t compromise performance or security. The company is providing developers with a reliable and secure framework to build private, public and hybrid blockchain applications and seamlessly connect existing applications to the network. Casper will launch to mainnet in March 2021, allowing enterprises to create new markets and unlock value by tokenizing nearly any asset on the network.
CasperLabs recently visited the UAE as participants and speakers at the AGORA DeFi Congress. UNLOCK met with Mrinal Manohar, Founder and CEO, to talk about their upcoming launch, the strengths of their platform and their future plans.
One of the first questions we posed was, why build CasperLabs? “Blockchain technology is very esoteric in the sense that you need a blockchain engineer to be able to use it. We believe that blockchain should be as simple to use as any part of the tech stack, and should resemble what entrepreneurs and developers already use. Just like Amazon Cloud made cloud computing simple to use, CasperLabs is making blockchain easy for developers’ access, as they don’t need to learn new proprietary programming languages or tools.” CasperLabs is using WebAssembly, which supports multiple widely used programming languages.
While most believe that CasperLabs is the runaway bride of Ethereum, Mrinal sets the story straight. He explains, “We have always been an independent project even though members of our team had previously worked on Ethereum. We always intended to build a separate blockchain.”
CasperLabs versus Ethereum
CasperLabs Founder doesn’t view Ethereum as competition— the team believes the future will be multichain, and that all advancements in blockchain technology benefit the entire ecosystem (a rising tide lifts all ships). Mrinal states, “We are an open source platform, so any protocol can integrate with Casper as part of their design. Today we are in the pre-competitive stage, as the blockchain ecosystem is still very new and under penetrated, so it would be impractical for us to be highly competitive with each other. Rather, we should all grow the market together, given that less than 1 percent of developers globally use any of the existing blockchain platforms.”
Mrinal does believe that CasperLabs has its advantages when compared to Ethereum, “Scaling on Ethereum will affect the cost of running the network, decentralization and security, and these are the three things we won’t sacrifice at CasperLabs. By leveraging complex mathematical algorithms, Casper will be faster, more cost effective and much easier to use than Ethereum.”
CasperLabs Target Market
Many enterprises globally have hesitations about the open programming standards of public blockchains and had previously chosen to use private blockchain platforms such as Hyperledger or Corda from R3. CasperLabs has created a public system that gives them the benefits of a private chain. Mrinal states, “We have given enterprises the trust of a public chain but the security and privacy of the private chain, and enterprises can still run part of its infrastructure on a private chain if desired. For example, a company managing licensing rights for songs would want to keep most of their play data private (due to local regulations), yet at the same time hash the play data to a public ledger so they can have an audit trail on the ledger in case they ever need to prove they didn’t alter or make up this data, without actually surfacing the data.”
Mainnet Live Soon
CasperLabs mainnet will launch this March, but you can start building projects as betas or proof of concepts on testnet before it goes live. Casper is working on several partnerships ahead of the public launch, including a partnership with CoinList, the exchange on which they will host the public sale of their token, $CSPR.
CasperLabs has joined forces with PlasmaFinance to facilitate retail access to Casper’s Native CSPR token. PlasmaFinance’s PlasmaPay will equip the Casper Network with wallet infrastructure to enable CSPR token-holders to store and manage their digital assets in a secure, non-custodial cryptocurrency wallet.
Blockchain in 2021
Mrinal is optimistic about the adoption of blockchain in 2021. “I think there will be a lot of adoption within sectors that deal with licensing, collectibles, and patents, where the actual tracking and tracing of documents, intellectual property ownership is important. I also believe supply chain use cases will continue to emerge, such as in tracking materials for aerospace and medical supplies, for example.”
CasperLab Funding and Future investments
CasperLabs has already raised just under 40 million USD— they raised 14 million USD in 2020 in a seed round that followed the private validator sale for validators on the network. Mrinal explains, “All those who bought tokens have to set up infrastructure to run the network or stake their shares so others can be validators, and are as such considered founding members of the Casper network. We have around a 100 validators who will participate in the launch, but the bigger the validator network the better for computational needs. From March 23-30 we are hosting our public sale to help build the community. As such, we are looking to raise similar figures as previous rounds.”
CasperLabs and DeFi
Since CasperLabs was present at UAE’s Agora DeFi congress, UNLOCK asked Mrinal on his views and Casper’s current activity in DeFi. As per Mrinal, “For DeFi to succeed, it needs to work with real financial instruments and structured products like proper bonds and loans, which have yet to be brought to DeFi (due to lack of standardization). As such we are trying to create algorithmic standards for all financial assets, such as debt mezzanine, because it has to be interoperable. We also have provided special features for DeFi. Instead of the sender always having to pay for transaction fees especially in cases where money is requested or certain information is needed, we are setting up a system where we front the cost and the user pays them to send information or assets. The ‘sender pays’ model doesn’t work because it is counterintuitive to the UI of existing products. In addition, another feature we are working on is multi signature with weights for each signatory, this could be used when users want to repay a loan and need a combination of signatures with different weights assigned to each. This could even be used in shareholder proxy votes. All these are unique to our platform.”
CasperLabs in UAE and MENA region
In terms of its activities in the MENA region, Mrinal affirms that they are looking for strategic partners to be investors or technology partners. CasperLabs wants to service the enterprise and governmental sectors in the region. As Mrinal states,” We already work with many enterprises and have created important technical partnerships and we want to do the same in the region and will be coming back very often with some exciting announcements.” CasperLabs recently announced that Saeed Al Darmaki has joined the team as Managing Director of CasperLabs in MENA. Prior to joining CasperLabs, Saeed was the Managing Director of Alphabit Digital Currency Fund and Chairman of eGovern blockchain consultancy.
CasperLabs has been forging partnerships across the globe and has recently joined China’s state backed Blockchain Based Service Network (BSN). Other partnerships include that with HDAC backed by Hyundai for technology development of consensus mechanisms.