On the final day of Blockwork’s Permissionless II conference, Vitalik Buterin told a packed audience that builders looking for a niche could consider developing a new type of enterprise blockchain based on Ethereum.
The Ethereum co-founder highlighted progress towards adopting account abstraction, particularly by East Asian teams building wallet software – part of a trend to the growth he sees in engineering talent in the region.
“I remember five years ago it really felt like East Asia had great trade and great mining, but very little contribution to development and research,” Buterin said. “And I feel like it’s really shifted massively, which is interesting.”
“Asia is back,” he added, noting “deep community and technical involvement” that extends beyond pre-COVID times.
Opportunities to build
Buterin highlighted the continued need for software that makes transactions more secure on the blockchain. As an example, he cited the Fire browser extension, which parses wallet signature requests in a more readable form.
“I think diving deeper into this space and creating things that help users understand what they’re doing when they interact with DeFi is probably one (opportunity).”
He also highlighted the need for infrastructure that simplifies the transition from Ethereum’s mainnet to Layer 2 ecosystems. Buterin spoke of the potential for a “Merkel proof checker that would basically allow you to do a fully verified decentralized data”. ENS names on layer-2”, rather than relying on a centralized supplier.
Finally, he called for an “enterprise-focused stack that encourages existing companies that do centralized things to build instead validiums,” a type of accumulation which uses a third-party data availability layer rather than the Ethereum mainnet.
Buterin recalled a period from 2014 to 2019 when permissioned blockchains companies were the fashion, often structured as a consortium of companies.
These mostly failed, he explained, because they still required most of the IT overhead of building and operating a blockchain, as well as building a community around her.
“A trend I’ve seen happen over and over again is that someone creates a consortium and the first five members willingly join the consortium and start working together,” Buterin said. “But then members number 6 through 20 never end up paying attention because they don’t want to join an ecosystem that already seems dominated by the top five members.”
Validiums are able to preserve the advantages of centralized systems, while leveraging most of the existing infrastructure designed to Ethereum layer-2.
“You still gain efficiency by keeping things centralized because you don’t have to pay gas per transaction, and you don’t need to ask your IT people to completely rebuild the system,” he said. explained, but others can verify certain information in a decentralized manner.
Exchanges publishing what is called a “proof of creditworthiness” – also known as proof of reservations — is a “weak” variation of this idea, Buterin added, calling it a “semi-successful enterprise blockchain use case.”
Other areas where validiums could shine in an enterprise context are gaming, social media, and supply chain management, and opportunities will increase as zero-knowledge proofs become more common.
Zk proofs are “finally at the level now, where regular developers can go and build things on them without having to deeply understand what a polynomial it is,” Buterin said.
Don’t miss the next big story – join our free daily newsletter.
Follow the trial of Sam Bankman-Fried with the latest news from the courtroom.