Updated: Jun 28
An Interview with Featured Contributor, Collin JG Miles,
Colin, JG, Miles is English originally but has lived in Singapore for 27 years. He is a serial entrepreneur with a number of successful exits in his recent past, most notably in i-POP. He holds industry positions in mobile, including Chair Emeritus of the MEF, Mobile Ecosystem Forum. He has moved from the dot.com to the mobile to blockchain with ease – all signposts lead this way. His focus is the intersection of technology and media, this is the zenith of his career and he views blockchain as the 1000 times multiplier.
“My introduction to blockchain was via Bitcoin – back in 2013 there was a bitcoin ATM at a conference. I was told I could buy a coffee with this new currency. So I put in $50 and the machine spat out a QR code.”
Colin was advised to open a wallet which he did and promptly forgot about it for a couple of years. Then a chance checkup showed him the value had grown to $450 and this got his attention. The coming years saw Colin mingle with anarchists and early adopters, watching from the sidelines with interest. He was invited to invest in a self-sovereign, decentralised ID project and he moved a bit closer. Then a headhunter out of the blue approached him to join Zilliqa as the head of marketing.
“I felt it was right time, right place, right company.”
Zilliqa arose out of an academic project. It sought to solve a clear issue in the blockchain world – number of transactions per second. Bitcoin was crippled at 6, Ethereum was not much better at 15 and CryptoKitties highlighted the bottleneck in a dramatic fashion. Zilliqa aimed to solve this speed issue with sharding. A team was brought in and a TGE raised $22 million in 2018. It was the world’s first public blockchain built entirely on a sharded architecture.
The Zilliqa main net went live in January 2019 demonstrating sharding was effective and viable. An early and engaged community was complimented by active recruitment of partners now numbering 70 plus different entities.
Colin came on board in February 2020 but six months later was chief commercial officer and co-CEO.
Some highlights around the project that caught the eye include Social Pay. This is an in-house product which, in Colin’s words, literally destroys Twitter when engaged.
“We have run it three times. It’s effectively social commerce where people are rewarded for taking action online. We pay people in $Zil. The first time we used the project to promote Zilliqa itself we generated in excess of 72 million social engagements over a 72 hour period – literally a million interactions an hour with people hitting Twitter and then forwarding the links to their friends and claiming $Zil.”
The second time they unleashed the Social Pay Kraken was in aid of the Red Cross.
“We added in some bells and whistles, allowing people to issue a blockchain certificate thanking a health care worker or a volunteer. This way we helped raise money for the charity which we also matched in corporate funding.”
The third outing was to celebrate Zilliqa’s third anniversary in July of last year. Again, the Zilliqa community crushed Twitter with an 80% dominance at one stage.
These experiences demonstrate the engagement of the community which numbers about 200,000 active people spread across Twitter, Telegram and Discord.
“There is an element of ‘free money’ too but it boils down to an engaged base first and foremost.”
Another interesting demographic detail is that some 50% of the hits came from North America, not just emerging economies where an average reward of 30c has a relative value.
Zilliqa may or may not have gone for relevance or indeed relatability as a key tenant, but it works out that way. For example, a recent high-profile partnership with the Hq Exchange is looking at whisky as a use case, in an easy to identify example.
Hg Exchange is interesting for several reasons. It is approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and uses smart contracts to represent digital assets.
Hg Exchange has the capability to sell securities the old-fashioned way but by partnering with Zilliqa they are can do it in a tokenised fashion.
“The first tokenised product, as an asset backed security, is premium whisky.”
As an ABS, premium whisky offers huge profit, something in the 500% range. Hg is also looking to roll out other projects such as pre IPO offerings, share sales or private share placements.
“Maybe even property.”
Another initiative is the Zeeves product currently running on Telegram which tips people, manages quiz rewards and other games as added. It’s effectively a wallet and an interactive bot.
And then there NFTs. A recent project with American rapper Soulja Boy yielded a huge response with more celebrities following suit.
“We are talking with DJs with big Spotify followings and wondering if we can disrupt Spotify.”
These are all interesting developments but where Colin really gets excited is in stablecoins, obviously their own XSGD, the first Singapore dollar-pegged stablecoin built in conjunction with partner Xfers. This is just the start, with more planned with other fiat currencies beginning with Indonesia and a US dollar backed stablecoin.
“This is a game changer where people can use cryptocurrency in the same way as fiat but with all the benefits of crypto. Think of the difference in terms of remittances when sending money from a developed world back to say Indonesia or Malaysia.”
COVID has not slowed up Zilliqa, on the contrary, it appears to have sped things up. The community is keen and the projects are racked up like Formula 1 cars at the start line.
“We have a motto – patience is a virtue and things come to those who wait. It can be a bit daunting at first but there is a lot to feed out.”
We’re drawing to the close of our conversation when Colin mentions in fast succession swap decks, locked value, decentralised exchanges, own tokens, pillar protocol, collateralised service, staking services, liquidity mining, and DeFi. All big topics in their own right but lined up at the start, revving engines and about to engage in a big fog cloud of pre-sustainable engine grunt.
His ambition is not to be Asia’s top blockchain. His ambition is for Zilliqa to be the world’s leading blockchain.
“We’re knocking on that door right now.”
Colin’s entrepreneurial ideas are all fired up, and he is focussed on driving the Zilliqa brand into every retail offering, every media offering, every single engagement on a daily basis.
“I’m pretty ambitious. I believe I have the tools and the resources to create Zilliqa as she was intended.”