Ishan Pandey: Hi Stella, welcome to our series “Behind the Startup.” Please tell us about yourself and the story behind Millicent?
Stella Dyer: My background has given me a unique perspective on the global financial system from both sides of the equation.
I arrived in the UK as a refugee from the Biafran War as a child. Our family was living in public housing and had very little money, but still, we had more than our friends and relatives back home. My mother would try to send over what little money she could spare, but the system was so disjointed; the fees and delays were nasty, and oftentimes payments couldn’t be made at all. The financial system is tougher for those with lesser means made me grow up with a fierce desire to carve a more prosperous future for myself.
This desire led to me earning my MBA from Harvard Business School before beginning my career on Wall Street as an investment banker with Morgan Stanley. I went on to manage the Global High Technology Investment Banking Group at Goldman Sachs before moving on to C-Suite roles with several large private equity firms.
These experiences mean that I intimately know the myriad of different ways that blockchain can improve the global financial system, but, unfortunately, we are still a long way from mainstream adoption. That’s why I founded Millicent: to overcome the remaining roadblocks and deliver an open, accessible, and equitable financial infrastructure with the potential to—quite literally—change the world.
Ishan Pandey: Can you please explain to our readers what Directed Acyclic Graph means in the crypto ecosystem and how exactly does it work?
Stella Dyer: Directed Acyclic Graph (DAG) is a more recently developed distributed ledger technology, offering faster finality and higher scalability than traditional blockchain designs.
In a blockchain, individual transactions are grouped into blocks that wait to be validated as a batch. DAG does away with this batch processing, so the transactions are asynchronously processed as soon as they come into the system.
To put it simply, where a blockchain diagram looks like a linear sequence of blocks in a chain, a DAG looks more like a tree of transactions, branching out and growing.
Rather than a “pure” DAG like Nano that doesn’t support smart contracts, Millicent has developed a hybrid system using a DAG-based asynchronous Byzantine Fault Tolerant (aBFT) consensus engine paired with a blockchain created with the Cosmos SDK. The consensus is incredibly fast and secure, with the leaderless aBFT doing away with the risk of transactional front-running, while the Cosmos-based chain offers secure smart contracts in Rust and the incredible interoperability of Cosmos InterBlockchain Communication (IBC).
Our platform really is the ideal system for a global payments infrastructure. By default, most Cosmos chains have 6-second block times which—compared to Bitcoin or Ethereum—is extremely fast. However, in a real-world setting, all of those 6-second delays add up quickly. Imagine waiting in line in a busy coffee shop and everyone in front of you takes 6 seconds longer to pay. Those 6 seconds can quickly compound and result in you missing your train. With our platform’s DAG-based system, transactions are finalized in an average of just 0.9 seconds.
What is Standing in the Way of Our Financial Evolution?