As always, it’s been an interesting year for the blockchain and dApp communities. After a very eventful 2018, we’ve finally begun to see the fruits of the hard work from various projects across the Ethereum ecosystem.

Our partners at Barunson, Chainbreakers, and BattleRacers are just a few examples of how NFTs are being put to practical use through gaming - a fun, and technically challenging way of proving the value of blockchain tech to the general public.

In the wake of last year’s activity, we’ve doubled down on our own NFT-based approach to decentralized virtual good ownership.

Bringing your virtual goods under one roof

After several iterations, we’re excited to finally support virtual, verifiable picture frames within the Decentraland SDK, thanks to the latest 6.0 beta release. These “picture frames” make it possible to host and display content backed by real NFTs.

One of Decentraland’s recent successful experiments is our innovation in composable NFTs: essentially, these are NFTs that are owned by other NFTs. The first use-case was Estates, an NFT that composes (or contains) LAND tokens. Estates are now one of the most frequently traded assets within the Ethereum NFT ecosystem, since they let people manage and trade multiple parcels at once with fewer transactions.

Picture Frames is a new feature designed around leveraging provable ownership of LAND and other non-fungible tokens. By cross-checking the ownership of virtual goods and LAND, owners of virtual assets like CryptoKitties are able to display them in a secure way. This is similar to how the green lock icon by your browser’s address bar indicates who the rightful owner of the domain is.

How do we do this on a bigger scale?

Back when we were planning the first LAND Auction, we wanted to create the most intuitive and responsive application that we could. There weren’t very many other dApps around at the time to draw inspiration from, so we devised a state-channel based web app that allowed for a smooth UX plus confirmation times not too much longer than those in other non-blockchain apps. The big difference was our dApp had the security benefits of the blockchain.

However, we still knew that we could conduct transactions in Decentraland even faster. More importantly, we knew that we would have to conduct these transactions faster if we wanted to enable an ecosystem of composable NFTs, like Estates, Picture Frames, or avatar wearables.

In steps Matic

The Matic Network, founded by Jaynti Kanani, Sandeep Nailwal, and Anurag Arjun, has been attacking this problem of scaling decentralized transactions with fervor.

We first started working with Jaynti back in 2018, when we collaborated remotely on a proof of concept for Plasma and debated at length about how to build the holy grail that is a general purpose sidechain. That collaboration sparked an exciting friendship between our teams, and led to us meeting in person at the ETH Buenos Aires conference.

After ETH Buenos Aires, we focused even more of our attention on Plasmabits, but we abandoned the project due to the concerns on low incentives regarding data withholding, making it insecure for a wide audience.

However, Jaynti spent the rest of 2018 working incredibly hard to build out his team and to solidify what would become known as the, a proof-of-stake based sidechain that has the security of plasma for NFTs and ERC20s.

This past quarter, Jaynti moved to work with the Decentraland dApps team on the Marketplace integration with Matic, with some astonishing results.

We recently bought a testnet LAND parcel in just milliseconds.

Why does Matic’s solution work so well?

Unlike other chains with “mirrored” tokens (like PoA), if the Matic sidechain’s Proof of Stake mechanism is attacked, the deposits and withdrawals of the mirrored tokens on the sidechain go through a plasma contract. This achieves the security of plasma with the data withholding incentives of Proof of Stake.

While these data withholding incentives aren’t quite as good as those provided by Proof of Work, they’re still a big improvement given the added security from Proof of Stake, but that doesn’t affect users who are only transacting ERC20s and NFTs. These transactions include validations making them secure under the assumptions of Plasma, so Proof of Stake operators won’t be able to seize these assets or censor transactions!

The most difficult problem right now, with a Proof of Stake integration is the experience of the end-user. It’s absolutely critical that users understand where their assets are sitting. Are they on the mainchain? Are they on the sidechain? When and how can I transfer them to somebody else?

We can’t brush these questions aside in the interest of giving users faster transactions. What would be the point of having lightening fast dApps if you can’t trust them with your virtual assets and more than a normal app?

We’re excited to have this opportunity to put Matic’s Proof of Stake sidechain to use in the Decentraland ecosystem and want to extend our thanks to Matic’s creator, Jaynti, for his ceaseless innovation and collaboration to solve some of the most challenging problems faced by the blockchain community.

See you in the Metaverse!