Starfish Finance × Web3 Foundation Twitter Space Recap
👋 Gm fam, we were very happy to conduct this Twitter Space with Dr. Radhakrishna Dasari from Web3 Foundation to exchange ideas about Polkadot, parachain ecosystems and Starfish Finance. We recorded the Twitter Space and summarised useful information for those who couldn’t make it to the live session!
Dr. Radhakrishna Dasari from Web3 Foundation and Mars Captain from Starfish Finance are the representatives for both parties in the Twitter Space. They’ll be called ‘Radha’, and ‘Mars’ in the transcript.
🎤 You can also find the recording of the Space here.
✍️ Twitter Space transcript
Introduction on Web3 Foundation, Polkadot & Starfish Finance.
Mars: Hello, good morning, good afternoon and good night guys, tonight we have our big guest Radha from Web3 Foundation. How are you doing, man?
Radha: Pretty good, pretty good. So we have the Web3 Foundation joining the space as well. I’m all excited to be part of this AMA. It was great seeing you at the conference. Things have been nice. We’re making progress with the education initiative. So, yeah, glad to discuss all that in today’s call.
Mars: For the guys who are here, back in July I met Radha in Paris at the Polkadot event. We spoke about our work for both Starfish Finance and Web3 Foundation and we found a lot of things in common because we share the same vision of introducing Web 3 technology to the broader community. We have been having these conversations for a while and then we were saying oh yeah why don’t we just conduct an AMA to let our communities learn more about Polkadot and Web 3. Not sure about your guys’ time zones, we are based in Asia — It’s pretty late here. But starfishes never sleep ;)
Well, Radha, would you like to start with a quick introduction about what Web3 Foundation is, what do you guys do and what Polkadot is about? What’s going on in the ecosystem development, please?
Radha: Yes, sure. So just to clear things up for everybody here. Web3 Foundation is for Polkadot, just like Ethereum Foundation is for Ethereum. The main goal of Web3 Foundation is to build the Polkadot ecosystem. So we have education, research, grants and everything that helps the ecosystem.
Let’s talk about what Polkadot is and then switch to what Web3 Foundations’ role in the Polkadot ecosystem is. So I’m assuming most of you who joined today have heard of Polkadot. Just to give you a brief summary of what exactly it is, you heard of Bitcoin, Ethereum and now you’re hearing about Polkadot. There’s a slight difference between these three blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum are layer 1 blockchains which have a specific application whereas Polkadot is a layer 0 blockchain which hosts layer 1 blockchains that have similar kind of functionality as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
Mars: It’s a great introduction, thanks Radha. I think most people in the blockchain economy heard about Ethereum and other top tier layer 1s. And a lot of people think Polkadot is just another layer 1. Well, actually the mechanism is a little different. On top of Polkadot there are parachains. All the parachains function like layer 1s.
So on our side, Starfish Finance is building on Astar Network. Astar network is one of the parachains like other names you guys might have heard of like Moonbeam, Acala and Parallel Finance. Those are all parachains and they have dApps building on top of them.
Radha made a very good introduction about what the Web3 Foundation does and what the background of Polkadot is. I guess we can move on a little bit more and I would like to give a very brief introduction to whoever hasn’t heard of Starfish Finance so far.
We are Starfish Finance, building a DeFi x NFT-Fi hub. Basically we are envisioning the future of NFT assets that would be propagating in all different ecosystems. We are building our application to prepare for the future where people would use their NFT assets to serve as collateral, enabling them to borrow assets on Starfish Finance on top of all the DeFi functions like swap, liquidity and staking. And of course you can also participate in the governance of Starfish finance.
I think we can actually learn more about what the strengths are and what are the interesting things going on in the Polkadot ecosystem. Radha, would you mind telling us more about that?
What’s coming for Polkadot?
Radha: Yes, sure. So let me continue with what I just introduced earlier, mentioning that Polkadot is like a layer 0 blockchain. To expand on that, it comes with several interesting features. Being that underlying blockchain, Polkadot offers features like interoperability, shared security and a lot of scaling for the parachains.
Let me break down the interoperability part. Every week in the news you keep hearing that there’s some hack on a bridge. You know, millions of dollars have been hacked or moved out of a bridge or whatever. So where exactly is the problem or what exactly is the solution for it? Polkadot is built from the ground up to prevent those hackers from doing anything to begin with. Polkadot has this messaging format called XCM. All the parachains on Polkadot talk to each other through this XCM format. And they’re doing all the transactions with an audited code. So this wouldn’t let any sort of vulnerabilities or advantages for hackers take advantage of the whole code base. With that, there won’t be cross-chain hacking problems on Polkadot.
If you are planning to become a parachain on Polkadot, you could actually talk to all the existing parachains that are already live on Polkadot. That’s the level of composability that we’re talking about, and you’ll also enjoy the security of the entire Polkadot network. So if someone is trying to mess with you, you’re actually protected with the security of the whole Polkadot network. It’s not dividing security among the parachains. Every single parachain is going to be protected by the whole network.
With that introduction, I’ll go to the next part of your question, which is what’s happening in the Polkadot ecosystem. As you are aware, every two weeks we have an auction to onboard new blockchains as parachains on Polkadot. So we have them running on Polkadot and then we have a lot of parachain teams joining. Right now there are over 20 parachains live on Polkadot with different use cases. I’ll stop here and hear something back from you.
Mars: Yeah, that’s very exciting because I still remember when we last met in Paris, we spoke to other Polkadot parachain projects. Then it was really interesting as Polkadot is relatively like a young ecosystem compared to Ethereum, even though it actually has a similar development speed as Ethereum, Solana or Avalanche. Yet a lot of other people know more about Solana and Avalanche. Polkadot looks like a modest one. And that is something we really found interesting. Polkadot is a blue chip. People just don’t know too much about Polkadot. Polkadot is fascinating because of the whole mechanism.
The $DOT holders can participate in the crowd loan. How it works is that you can participate in funding new parachains. And on top of the parachains you have all the dApps like Starfish Finance we are building on this network. Each parachain is an ecosystem that provides support to each other within the ecosystem. And also like what Radha just mentioned about the Web3 Foundation, they also provide funding opportunities and grants and point out interesting issues and technical problems that they’re trying to solve.
So I think maybe Radha you can also tell us more about Kusama and Polkadot because we all know that Polkadot is not just one ecosystem. It sort of co-exists with Kusama. Kusama is also a very interesting dual system. Maybe people should know more about Kusama at the same time, right?
How does Kusama function in the Canary Network system?
Radha: Yes. For sure one of the common questions at every talk I go to is what Kusama is like, why you need it as a test network and why the $KSM token has economic value. So all the questions come because they haven’t seen something like that in other blockchain ecosystems because this is very unique to the Polkadot ecosystem. And you can already see that other blockchain systems are sort of adopting this idea in their own way. So let me tell you what kusama does for Polkadot. If you go and look at the Kusama blockchain right now, it’s live and produces blocks every six seconds just like Polkadot does. But it’s several million blocks ahead of Polkadot meaning the Kusama network is live much ahead of Polkadot. The way it works is that all the new features that land on the Polkadot relay chain are thoroughly tested on Kusama before they make it to Polkadot.
Now you might ask, if Kusama is a test network, why do people call it a canary network. The reason is that the Kusama token has economic value too. It ensures that even though your code is working fine, you don’t know how that code might be gamified by people. Because you have an open blockchain. it’s decentralised. Nobody owns it, but everybody owns part of it and can take advantage of it. That’s why every single line of code that moves from Kusama to Polkadot is thoroughly tested in a real world environment. Kusama is also a layer 0 blockchain, just like Polkadot. So even parachains can have an instance on Kusama to do their testing, to talk to and learn from other parachains, to make mistakes and break things and to do all your innovative crazy stuff. Only when you’re absolutely sure that your code works well will you move that logic to the parachain. So basically the Polkadot ecosystem is gifted with the innovative rapid experimenting platform like Kusama and an awesome community that is open for chaos. So the tagline for Kusama is to expect chaos. Even if things were to break on Kusama, the community would be very receptive to it.
Do you want to add something to it, Mars captain?
Mars: Yeah, I like it that you guys call it a Canary network. It’s the name of a little bird. Can we learn more about what will happen in Polkadot by looking at what’s going on in Kusama?
Radha: Yes, absolutely. So if you look at the latest governance model that Polkadot is coming up with, it will first be deployed on Kusama. Kusama is where all innovation can happen and you see how things are moving from Kusama to Polkadot. The same thing happened with nomination pools. Right now to participate in staking on Polkadot, the entry barrier is very high, taking about 150 $DOT. The nomination pools are going to bring that down to 5–10 $DOT, which is decided by the governance. And all of this functionality, instead of directly going live on Polkadot, we have the nomination pools live on Kusama right now. You don’t need to take the risk of putting everything directly on Polkadot when you have Kusama. Use Kusama to test out all your new products or anything on enterprise level security.
Mars: The Canary network is indeed an interesting innovation for people who are trying to build and bring value to ecosystems like what we’re trying to do — the NFT-Fi — because we can foresee the NFT hype going on forever and getting mature with Game-Fi and all the fashion/luxury brands rushing into the space. What do you think the role of Polkadot is from a mass adoption perspective?
Radha: Absolutely. If we’re talking about the next generation of NFTs, we’re talking about the metaverse with web 2 giants like Facebook is venturing into. So for that kind of technology to be a reality and have a good user experience, you would need Web 3 technologies for obvious reasons. You don’t want the Metaverse assets to be governed by a central entity, so you would want to have a decentralised layer working in parallel with it. And I want to highlight that the Polkadot and all the parachains are all built using substrate, which is like a blockchain building framework that is written in rust, which is like one of those systems level programming languages that would let you write the code in the most optimised way. And you need that level of optimization which is already available from ground up in terms of Polkadot substrate or any sort of modules that you build on top of it.
New technology is being experimented on top of this platform. So in terms of the mass adoption, once all the dust settles people are really going to look for solutions and use cases. And then I’m pretty sure that they will be pleased with what the Polkadot and parachain ecosystem will offer for NFTs in particular.
Parachain in a nutshell.
Mars: That sounds really exciting. I can also point out one of the innovative parachains on Polkadot is Efinity as they are building this future for Game-Fi and enabling the exchange for in-game assets. And Starfish finance is also building the inter-ecosystem NFT lending and borrowing for whoever is interested. And we are really hoping to promote Web 3 technologies within our community just like you have been doing. I remember Radha you’re ‘The Pope’ in our Web 3 Personality Test — it’s a perfect match that you used to be a professor and now you’re on the education side about Polkadot. I hope that in time the blockchain community will discover more of the beauty in Polkadot, in Astar network and in Starfish.
Radha: Absolutely. Like I mentioned, parachains are blockchains that are running parallely without any sort of restrictions from Polkadot. They can have their own logic, tokenomics or fee model — this sort of flexibility enables them to create specific applications and use cases. Once upon a time when you wanted to transfer an NFT on Ethereum, you ended up paying a lot in transaction fees, which is not something you would want to have when you’re talking about giant projects like Metaverse. And parachains give you the flexibility to define your own rules for specific use cases. This is what we want to see on mass adoption.
Web 3 Foundation grants & Polkadot’s development on improving user experience.
Mars: Yeah. I know that the Web3 Foundation has some grants for developers or anyone, even university students who are interested to learn more about developing on Polkadot or in general the blockchain economy. Could you tell the audience more about what kind of grants and support that the Web3 Foundation would be offering?
Radha: Absolutely. If you visit the grants page on the Web3 Foundation website, you would see a link to a GitHub repository. The reason that we still do it via GitHub is that it’s like an entry barrier too. We don’t want a casual person to apply for a grant, instead we want serious developers to apply for a grant application with us. There are several tiers of grants they can apply given the importance of your project. I do have some statistics to share with you.
The majority of the funding has been given for blockchain runtime modules, the core logic for substrate and Polkadot. The runtime is where you can mint NFTs, you can create stablecoins, you can do anything that you can imagine with blockchain like Internet of Things or digital identity. And we also funded a lot of development tools. We would want people to be comfortable building on the Polkadot ecosystem. There is also funding for public infrastructure like block scanners, wallets and anything to do with the improving user experience as we are hearing a lot of complaints that Polkadot is too sophisticated for a common person — so that we can achieve that mass adoption that we were talking about.
Everything that we do is very transparent, if you go to that GitHub repository of funds, you would see all the projects that have received grants, and a couple of milestones to reach. So everything we fund has to be open source. That’s the kind of ecosystem that we want to build; an open, sharing and caring ecosystem.
Mars: Yeah. From a user perspective, we should build a Starfish Finance to cater to the needs of users. If we look at the market at the moment, I guess a lot of the people who are staying in the bear market are not newbies. When the bull market comes back and new users start to pay attention to what’s going on in Web 3. By then, I think Polkadot will need a very user-friendly wallet.
Radha: Yeah, we totally acknowledge that. Just to remind everybody in this space that Polkadot JS is for developers. It’s not meant to be used by an end user. Now you’re going to see a lot of wallets with better user experience that are going to flourish in the Polkadot ecosystem.
Mars: Fantastic. It’s good to hear all these. If you don’t let the community know about all these like Polkadot is actually listening to the feedback from the community, then people just don’t pay attention to what’s going on, and then they just get attracted to something else, like Luna classic. We serious builders should focus more often on users’ perspective.
You are doing a good job as the technical education lead at the Web3 Foundation and Starfish is trying to make it fun to attract users. I think in time we’re really going to stay as long as we hang on, and we will survive the bear market. Now it’s winter, but we can see the spring is coming. We hope to have more people survive the winter ’til Christmas and Boxing Day. Yeah, we hope that will be the case for everyone.
Radha: For the last bit, I just want to say that we are Web3 Foundation and we would like to take the education initiative seriously in the sense we’d like to expand the knowledge about the Polkadot ecosystem in general to a wide set of diverse audiences out there. I want all of you to stay tuned to the Polkadot Twitter account for all the announcements that we have.
About Web3 Foundation
Web3 Foundation’s mission is to nurture cutting-edge applications for decentralized web software protocols. Their passion is delivering Web 3.0, a decentralized and fair internet where users control their own data, identity and destiny.
About Starfish Finance
Starfish Finance is incubated by the Astar Builders program. We are building the next generation DeFi x NFT-Fi headquarters on Astar Network within the Polkadot ecosystem. Through gamification of user experience, Starfish Finance offers stablecoin swap and NFT-Fi on top of an enhanced Balancer AMM model to deepen the liquidity of crypto or NFT trading and financing.