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As more industries adopt blockchain technology, its financial value and popularity continues to grow. For example, healthcare information sharing is a critical issue that some companies are beginning to address with blockchain-based innovations. According to Gartner, the shipping, finance and fashion worlds are also seeing a huge increase in the use of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to connect with consumers in an increasingly digital world.
As the adoption of new technologies like blockchain is accelerating at a rapid pace, so is corporate investment. A Statista survey predicts that global spending on blockchain solutions will reach $19 billion by 2024. This shows accelerated investment growth in a technology that received just $6.6 billion in global investment in 2021.
One of the unique capabilities of blockchain is that developers can create their own private or public blockchains. As concerns about privacy and data ownership grow across the enterprise, blockchain technology offers businesses a way 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 that it uses “zero-knowledge proofs” to not only protect user data, but also to increase the scalability of the blockchain and make it more useful, especially for enterprise users.
Rob Viglione, co-founder and team leader at Horizen, told VentureBeat in an exclusive interview that the focus on zero-knowledge technology will allow real business use cases to be built on top of blockchain. Viglione believes that privacy technology is the missing link to achieve blockchain scalability and enterprise adoption of blockchain. Horizen aims to solve this problem by using Zero Knowledge, which Viglione described as “a breakthrough technology that enables information verification without revealing the underlying data”.
The zero-knowledge technology
As technology advances and more organizations become data-driven, questions of governance, privacy, sovereignty and ownership will arise. While data has become the lifeblood of today’s businesses, organizations now need to start rethinking and prioritizing how they use data.
An example of this is an agreement between an investment broker and a client, where the client (the verifier) must 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 specifying reveal how much they have.
For Viglione, the desire to enable the industry to overcome the fear of data breaches is what drives Horizen’s zero-knowledge-proof. A zero-knowledge proof is an encryption scheme that allows one person/group to verify the authenticity of given information while another person/group acts as a verifier. What is special about the process is that no additional data is disclosed. Horizen strongly believes that zero-knowledge proof use cases can reach important industries like healthcare, education, and DeFi. A combination of non-repudiation and interoperability will lead to blockchain scalability, according to Viglione.
Horizen helps its customers build their public or private blockchain or applications using its existing infrastructure, which it says is highly secure. The company claims that this relieves its customers of the burden of building from scratch and addressing enterprise-level blockchain adoption challenges such as scalability, decentralization and privacy.
How the no-code TokenMint platform works
While some kickbacks and doubts remain, cryptocurrency adoption is increasing significantly. According to data from Statista, the cryptocurrency was launched in 56 different countries between 2019 and 2021. In addition to enabling transactions on the blockchain web, cryptocurrencies can also be minted as crypto tokens that reside on exclusive blockchains that can be used for investing, purchases, and a store of value. However, developing a crypto token can be difficult, especially if the potential creator lacks experience. Horizen’s new no-code tokenization platform, TokenMint, seeks to bridge the gap between tokenization and the general public. TokenMint uses automation to allow people with no development skills to interact with the platform, giving them complete freedom to customize their token economy.
Viglione said TokenMint will enable anyone, regardless of knowledge, to create a crypto token with minimal effort, adding that the platform’s user interface (UI) is “simple and intuitive, making for a seamless experience.” The platform comes from an existing blockchain network and a scalable cross-chain. While TokenMint is made up of multiple components at the moment, he said Horizen will be rolling out more components and improving functionality in the coming months as his team continues to build out the platform.
With over 45,000 active nodes, Horizen claims to have one of the largest node networks, which also happens to be decentralized. With this set of active nodes, Horizen can efficiently manage large traffic events and infrastructure support issues, according to Viglione. Horizen’s target audience is the group of individuals who want to realize their business goals by creating a token. With TokenMint, these individuals can personalize their token design until it suits their needs.
Viglione also said that Horizen’s go-to-market strategy will be a “product and user experience-driven phased approach” that will begin with the “public alpha testnet phases with rapid improvement releases” where real user feedback is implemented to make this platform market-proof and secure. Next, it will move into the “Mainnet Phases” and finally enter the “Major Capability Add-On Phases” where key features like NFT functionality, EVM capability and zkSNARK will be added to increase the performance of the platform and to better meet the market demands .
Security remains fundamental to Horizen, with Viglione insisting that Horizen adhere to a strict policy that encompasses privacy, security and transparency. The TokenMint platform will leverage the power of zero-knowledge cryptography in its future releases. Regardless of whether a customer decides to use TokenMint, they benefit from the built-in zero-knowledge proofs that strengthen privacy.
The Horizen sidechain network runs on zkSNARK technology, a novel form of zero-knowledge cryptography (privacy technology) that enables the enterprise mainchain to confirm sidechain transactions without interaction between the prover and the verifier. This eliminates the need for external validators, preserving the idea of decentralization. Such a structure also significantly reduces the computation required for transaction confirmation, which promotes the scalability of the network.
While Vigilone agreed to compete with companies like Ethereum, Polkadot, Cosmos, and a few others, he said Horizen tends to view other players in this space as collaborators or ecosystem partners, particularly because of its focus on interoperability. He added that Horizen adds unique value and capabilities to the broader blockchain ecosystem by bringing its expertise in zero-knowledge-proof (zkp) technology with its robust blockchain infrastructure and powerful cross-chain delivery protocol.
More on Horizen
Since its founding by Rob Viglione and Rof Versluis in 2017, Horizen has provided developers with world-class tools to custom build public or private blockchain networks. Horizen has a cryptocurrency called ZEN that has funded all of its on-chain activities. While Horizen has been self-funded since its inception, Crunchbase has reported that Horizen Labs, its Texas-based subsidiary that helps companies develop secure distributed ledger solutions using technology, has raised a total of $11 million to date. Horizen Labs was founded in 2019 by trio Rob Viglione, Dean Steinbeck and Liat Aaronson.
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