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An interview with Algorand Foundation’s Head of Marketing, Stephen Duignan

Algorand Foundation’s Head of Marketing Stephen Duignan spoke to YFarmX and answered some of our questions about the foundation and its work.

The Algorand blockchain is an open-source, payments-focused blockchain network that uses a novel, more scalable form of a “proof-of-stake” consensus mechanism to solve one of the most persistent problems facing cryptocurrency: scalability.

They recently announced a partnership to be FIFA world cup 2022 sponsors and consider themselves to be a 3rd generation ‘green’ blockchain.

  1. Could you give a brief overview of Algorand Foundation, current themes you’re working on and perhaps the biggest challenges you face?

The Algorand Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to creating a vibrant, global digital ecosystem built around the unique Algorand blockchain. The Foundation’s mission is to drive adoption and use of the Algorand blockchain and to inspire builders, innovators, entrepreneurs and creators to build the businesses of the future on Algorand. The biggest challenge faced by the Foundation is to make sure that everybody on the planet has heard of Algorand and understands the unique, sustainable innovation opportunities that can be created on the Algorand blockchain – it’s a lofty goal but one we strive for every day.  

  1. We’ve heard about the initiative to bring some of the Terra blockchain talent to Algorand. Have you had any success in that regard?

The program has just begun and we have had a number of projects already successfully complete their transfer ( an example being @poppinpuffins ) and there are quite a number now in process. We’re really happy to help creators in the Terra community to successfully move to one of the most robust, powerful and secure blockchain chains in our industry and we’re delighted by the response from the Terra community and our own community in welcoming the Terra projects.

  1. YFarmX reported the fantastic news that Algorand will sponsor the upcoming FIFA world cup. I am sure you are proud of your team for this great achievement. Are you able to elaborate a bit about the sponsorship and what it entails?

That’s still in development as we speak (June). When it launches fully its going to be huge – but it will take a little longer before we see the first activities of that partnership drop in the run-up to the World Cup. But I can promise you its going to be amazing and will help bring the innovation potential of blockchain to the world. Can’t wait to share that with you.

  1. In addition to being carbon-neutral, Agorand also purchases carbon offsets via smart contracts to become carbon negative. In your opinion, how important is environmental consciousness in blockchain, and is the space taking the issue seriously enough? Is more attention needed on this topic?

Designing our core protocol, from the ground up, to be as energy efficient as possible was a fundamental design decision by the Algorand team. By integrating that decision at the start, we have enabled the entire ecosystem that builds on Algorand to be sustainable and have the same zero carbon footprint as the core protocol. It is a fundamental truth that any blockchain that aspires to global scale must embrace sustainability and a low carbon footprint – its non-negotiable in our current environmental situation. As an industry, it really is only 2 legacy blockchains ( lets call them Gen 1 – Bitcoin, and Gen 2 – Ethereum and its L2s ) that have a sustainability issue. And of those, Ethereum is working toward Eth 2.0 and a low energy, Proof-of-Stake consensus. But Gen 3 blockchains, who have embraced Proof-of-Stake or similar consensus mechanisms are already there. As the industry grows, that growth will come from Gen 3 chains that can scale massively and in a sustainable way. The challenge now is to communicate that sustainable, “green” blockchain choices are possible to the wider public.

  1. What’s been the most interesting project to come out of the Aeneas Liquidity Program which you announced late last year?

That’s a great question. I wouldn’t identify one specific project, rather a number of amazing projects that are now live on the Algorand blockchain. The first three deployments of Aeneas announced late last year have been hugely successful. Three projects were highlighted. AlgoFi is our all-in-one defi suite, they provide essential borrowing & lending services for Algorand users. Tinyman has been entirely focused on its decentralized exchange service, allowing users to exchange Algorand ASAs easily and without friction. Algomint is Algorand’s first bridge, they have accepted millions in native BTC and ETH from their respective networks, and those wrapped assets are actively owned and traded on the Algorand network.

  1. Silvio Micali (the 2012 Turing Award winner and inventor of ZK Proofs and VRF) invented Algorand’s pure-proof-of-stake consensus mechanism which claims to solve the blockchain trilemma. Has it been challenging to achieve security, scalability, and decentralisation all at the same time?

Silvio’s achievement in solving the blockchain trilemma has come about as a result of a combination of factors. His 30 years as the world’s leading Cryptographer has created a unrivalled technical and intellectual understanding of cryptography and Silvio allied that to the most amazing team of computer scientists and cryptographers to develop a radical approach to solving the trilemma. He did this by using the features of the trilemma itself to create the solution – in effect, Silvio used the scale of Algorand’s decentralization as the key mechanism to deliver the protocol’s security, by utilizing the strengths of the VRF. VRF ( Verifiable Random Function ) is an amazingly powerful cryptographic tool, created by Silvio Micali and his research partners ( Michael Rabin and Sadil Vadhan ) that enables the creation of random, anonymous and secure committees to propose and verify blocks – the more scale, the more randomness and therefore more security – in effect, Silvio used the features of the trilemma to solve the trilemma. Was solving the Trilemma challenging ? – yes but it’s now been achieved. And, as important, Silvio is committed to the concept of Open Source – so VRF and the technology of the Pure Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism has been open sourced and is now available to any team to use.    

7. Finally, I’m curious to know what Algorand’s relationship is with regulators and what you think are the challenges associated with the blockchain space in terms of anti-money laundering and compliance?

Algorand Foundation, being a public company limited by guarantee incorporated in Singapore, proactively engages with local regulator through active engagement with prominent professional firms that have strong relationship with local regulator and participation in leading industry associations in ensuring Algorand Foundation’s contributions, challenges and opinions are heard and considered by our local regulator. While Algorand Foundation does not currently subject to any AML and other compliance requirements applicable to persons regulated by local regulator, Algorand Foundation takes AML and compliance seriously and has been adding significant resources in the area of legal and governance in meeting the highest legal and compliance standards that are generally expected from the blockchain industry.

Follow Stephen Duignan on Twitter.

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