[This is an extended transcript of Harmony’s talks at Ethereum Denver and Miami Blockchain Week in Q1 2021.]

Hello, everyone. My name is Stephen, the founder of Harmony. Our team has been building a scalable blockchain for three years. Today I’d like to share our journey and look ahead of this fintech revolution. How to scale Ethereum applications with low fees in 2021? Why now for financial applications with cross-chain assets?

My research background is security protocols and formal verification. Our team of 15 has extensive background at Google, Apple, Amazon and Harvard as infrastructure builders. Harmony, started as a base protocol in 2018, is now ready for bridging Ethereum DeFi and NFT applications.

Last year Harmony became the first blockchain to launch state sharding and open staking. We launched a Proof-of-Stake protocol that supports 1000 slots for validators and delegators. With our focus on US market and compliance, Binance.US listed our native token ONE. We had a wildly successful Binance IEO in 2019, and now users can trade ONE tokens with fiat USD in the US.

We rode the invincible summer of decentralized finance with multiple showcases. Our forked Uniswap V2, Balancer and PolyMarket went live on our mainnet with assets from Ethereum. Harmony’s bridge to Ethereum uses a cutting-edge architecture based on FlyClient designed by top researcher Mahdi Zamani. (more)

What so special about our protocol? Harmony provides horizontal scaling via uniform sharding and instant finality in 2 seconds. We solved the blockchain trilemma by bringing the best research into production. Our mainnet has been live for 18 months; our transactions cost 1000x lower fees than Ethereum.

How? Our protocol features constant-sized signatures to commit blocks in a single round. Harmony is the first decentralized protocol to implement view change in production against malicious leaders. Our staking economics reduces centralization by capping block rewards while supporting on-chain delegation. (more)

With our trustless and gas-efficient bridge, Harmony is becoming a viable extension for Ethereum applications and assets. Developers simply change Chain ID and enjoy faster EVM executions identical at the bytecode level. They can use their familiar and standard Web3 tooling to easily migrate to Harmony.

What about users? They can continue to use Metamask or Ledger — but now pay minimal fees. Any Ethereum wallets or portals work on Harmony without code changes or installs — we are fully compatible for both transaction messages and execution environments. (more)

Which applications are perfect for fast and low-fee protocols? Let’s think about decentralized finance for the mass, and transactions too expensive for Ethereum. Traders can now balance their portfolio regularly on Harmony — and re-settle assets on Ethereum only when necessary. Harmony can also easily support on-chain market-makers that are more efficient and use granular price feeds.

Arbitrage opportunities is everywhere for weakly connected systems — such as 100 and more pegged tokens for US Dollar across tens of chains. And, 1000 of regional stablecoins to come soon! The product-market fit now is to build a decentralized exchange on Harmony that trades cross-chain assets. (more)

What about other applications? Non-fungible tokens and branded assets are native to the digital worlds. These cyber arts or virtual objects are fertile grounds for community building and experimentations. Low-fees are necessary for their organic growth. Users there commonly pool and lend assets together for group incentives. Yet, for broader access and full security, they demand an interoperable bridge to Ethereum — which Harmony gladly provides.

We recently launched a successful campaign with our partner Animoca Brands, selling thousands of digital cards for the popular game Beast Quests on Harmony. Let us help if you are planning to launch your community tokens or game assets on blockchain. (more)

What will be our major milestones this year? All about cross chains. We are making our Ethereum bridge fully trustless and highly gas-efficient. Harmony will be among the first cross-chain solutions with FlyClient that connect Proof-of-Work Ethereum and Proof-of-Stake chains. Binance Smart Chain will be a natural extension as it is also Ethereum compatible and host many applications with high yields.

The king elephant in any room is Bitcoin. Harmony is prototyping a state-of-the-art research for wrapping BTC as cross-chain collaterals. This approach is not only capital efficient but also fully trustless as on-chain and open-source contracts — a breakthrough in the industry. We have also launched a DOT-ONE bridge on testnet. Now our developers can enjoy Polkadot’s WebAssembly and para-chain tooling by extension. (more)

What do Harmony as a platform want? Developers, developers, developers. We successfully completed a 10-week hackathon with $50k prize and 20 industry-leaders as judges. That attracted almost 400 participants to launch cross-chain applications with our bridge. Harmony is a major sponsor in EthDenver, where we are a speaker and judge. Our workshop there will focus on scaling Ethereum applications with fully compatible toolchains.

Gitcoin is also our close partner for 6 global hackathons this year alone. We are also hosting workshops and bounties with Gitcoin such as bridge designs, zero-knowledge proofs and fiat integrations to engage Ethereum developers. We want developers to integrate multiple components such as lending from Aave on Ethereum and PancakeSwap on Binance Smart Chain together. (more)

Harmony aims to be an open platform for creating digital economy. Our validator community owns the network governance. Over long term, we believe that quadrating voting in our decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) will encourage fair participation. We help educate many non-blockchain folks with the best video production in the world — even my family and non-technical friends are enjoying them! Harmony also partners with universities and student groups all over the world to train for the future.

Yet, we must focus on the real-world utility and bring impacts to mainstream society. Our showcases include travel rewards, cross-border loans and prediction markets. Harmony is recruiting regional advocates and technical blockchain leads. Let’s create a more radical economy together! (more)

Harmony Foundation reserves USD $7M for grants and bounties. There are many open problems in blockchain such as cryptographic privacy and randomness security. Beyond cross-chain, applications for cross-border finance and fiat integrations will become multi-trillion dollar markets. We also see active development in formal verification and language-based security, which had been my research expertise. Come apply for our grants or join our core team — we are HIRING! (more)

You may find this deck at harmony.one/deck, follow my Twitter @stse or email me at s@harmony.one.

Here’s our guest lecture for the course “Applied AI” at Carnegie Mellon University on the applications of artificial intelligence for blockchain — and vice versa. There we cover some ideas on cross-chain arbitrage and zero-knowledge privacy.