ValueWalk sat down with Lilin Sun, CEO and Founder of PlatON to talk crypto and open source software. See the interview below.
Can you tell us about your background?
I began my career as a developer of deep-water missile systems for submarines and did this until 2001 when Google Earth was first released. This critically impacted how the industry operated and in turn, my career. After completing my PhD in photogrammetry and remote sensing, I decided to jump into the internet industry and eventually found my way to China UnionPay. There, I served as a Senior Researcher in Strategic Development, then a Senior Executive in Market Development, and finally as a Deputy General Manager of a third-party payment and clearing subsidiary of China UnionPay for two years. In 2013, I made my way to the blockchain space and focused on the development of consortium blockchain and privacy-preserving computation, and then founded PlatON to begin the development and commercial practise of blockchain-based infrastructure.
Tell us more about your company. What problem are you trying to solve and how are you looking to do that?
PlatON is a global, trustless computing architecture that aims to enable secure and seamless data exchange for the public good. With our enterprise grade, scalable network that leverages privacy-preserving technologies, we enable businesses to utilise the benefits of blockchain while maintaining privacy compliance standards.
Comprised of a team of academics and researchers as well as seasoned cybersecurity and cryptography experts with extensive algorithm expertise, we are able to balance both cutting-edge technical capabilities and innovative research. PlatON has very solid background of both academics and technologies. By leveraging secure multi-party computation (MPC), zero-knowledge proofs (ZKP), and full homomorphic encryption (fHE), we have built a secure distributed network that combines data circulation with privacy-preserving mechanisms. Apart from that, we have a privacy artificial intelligence team that leverages AI in order to develop enterprise-ready privacy-preserving solutions, first beginning with an anti-fraud and advertising service.
Are there any specific industries that you’re specifically targeting?
At PlatON, our focus areas extend anywhere from the financial services and healthcare to automotive and insurance. The existing appetite for blockchain implementation across the financial services sector has shown that the technology has a great deal of potential in addressing the many issues in operational efficiency, fraud, and mounting costs across the industry. Enabled by blockchain, manual verification and auditing processes can be automated with the use of smart contracts which can also help to mitigate the likelihood of human error. Similarly, this utility applies to sectors such as insurance where a bloated administrative layer and primarily paper-based processes have led to severe inefficiencies.
In the case of healthcare, with PlatON’s combination of blockchain with leading cryptography technologies, clinics can safely share specific data points, which can help to drive greater collaboration in the sector for the purposes of research and development.
Despite there being many different consortium platforms today, PlatON also offers a consortium blockchain platform, PlatONE. What pain points are you specifically targeting and what makes PlatONE different?
PlatON Enterprise (PlatONE) is a consortium blockchain platform that allows businesses to benefit from PlatON’s privacy-preserving technologies. Though the consortium blockchain ecosystem is dominated by prominent players, be it R3’s Corda, EY, or Quorum, what we’ve seen is an existing gap in the needs being addressed by these platforms. With the implications of transparency being addressed as a key concern by businesses, privacy-preserving technologies can mitigate this. When compared to its counterparts, PlatONE offers a secure, high-performance platform that allows for greater security and privacy for data-sensitive industries such as finance, healthcare, logistics, Internet of Things (IoT), among many others.
Do you have any partners on the platform today?
To date, PlatON has partnered with some of the world’s leading institutions and organisations across finance, healthcare, logistics, smart manufacturing, and IoT. This includes the likes of China Unicom, Daimler AG, Wanxiang Innova City, and Minsheng Life Insurance, the latter of which is one of PlatONE’s initial strategic partners. As an enterprise-level solution of PlatON, PlatONE will certainly stand to benefit from this our existing industry network.
Locally, how has the blockchain industry evolved in China? What are the key industries and pain points that local projects are looking to address?
The Chinese government has approached blockchain with a “wait-and-see” attitude that has often been perceived as a dampener on the excitement surrounding the technology. With an existing ban on any activities surrounding cryptocurrencies, be it Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), Security Token Offerings (STOs), or cryptocurrency trading, sentiments on the technology itself, paint a different picture.
In the last three years, the government has enacted supportive policies that have pioneered innovation and research and development related to blockchain-enabled applications. With this in mind, different industries have been able to benefit from versatile use cases and even industrial-grade models. Today, the local blockchain industry consists of mining hardware, public and consortium platforms, as well as blockchain applications.
Mining hardware is the most competitive area to date, with mining machines, mining pools, and chip manufacturers being the most prevalent in the country. Due to the technical complexities, the hardware market is dominated by two key players, namely Bitmain and Canaan Creative. At the same time, China’s local ecosystem of blockchain protocols and consortium platforms is slowly beginning to gain traction as traditional enterprises are beginning to explore its use in supply chain traceability and payment reconciliation. I foresee that this area will only continue to grow far more competitive in the years to come.
China has recently made the headlines amid President Xi Jinping’s statements of support for blockchain. What are some insights you can share about the state of the local blockchain industry in the country today?
Last month, President Xi Jinping highlighted the value of accelerated blockchain adoption at a group study session for members of the Political Bureau (Politburo) of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Central Committee. Since then, China’s relationship with blockchain has dominated the headlines, causing a sudden spike in bitcoin prices.
In my view, despite this support, the real-world applicability of blockchain remains a challenge that still needs to be overcome. For one, greater standardisation will be necessary to truly drive blockchain innovation on an industrial level. While China has a stronger engineering workforce than its Western counterparts, it was in these regions of the world where the very foundation of the technology began, with the emergence of Ethereum, the Lightning Network, and many of the industry’s earliest players. China, on the other hand, is a requirement-driven market that focuses less on infrastructure and more so on use cases and applications.
The underlying development of blockchain is an arms race of sorts. To excel in this industry, one needs capital, resources, and a strong command of technical fundamentals, as well as traditional management and business acumen. As appetite for the technology continues to change over time and the industry continues to mature, we can hope to see more of these early-stage startups making meaningful strides as they develop commercial-grade applications.
Lilin Sun is the Founder and CEO of PlatON, bringing almost a decade of experience in blockchain development and commercialisation. Previously, Lilin served as the Deputy General Manager of the third-party payment and clearing subsidiary of China UnionPay, one of the largest card payment organisations in the world.
Throughout his career, Lilin has gained extensive experience in strategic planning, product innovation, business development in payment and financial clearing infrastructures. As an advocate of computational theories such as zero-knowledge proof (ZKP), secure multi-party computation (MPC), homomorphic encryption (HE), and algorithmic game theory (AGT), Lilin eventually founded PlatON in 2018 and continues to pioneer the application of these cryptographic algorithms in China as well as around the world.
Lilin is also the Co-Founder and Deputy Director of the Technical Committee of Chinaledger; a Commissioner on the Financial Technology Committee of the Asset Management Association of China; and a Commissioner of the third Shanghai Financial Youth Federation. Lilin obtained his Master’s Degree in Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing from Wuhan University, and his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical and Electronic Engineering from Beihang University.
PlatON is a next-generation computing architecture that aims to facilitate secure, seamless, and open data sharing for the public good. Through Privacy-Preserving Computation (PPC), PlatON breaks down data silos and enables secure data exchange and collaborative computing for enterprise users. With its open-source data marketplace, PlatON supports and incentivises individuals and businesses looking to both monetise and utilise data resources. PlatON addresses limitations in scalability and security by way of Verifiable Computation and privacy-preserving encryption capabilities, currently enabling real-world usability across a variety of global industries, including advertising, healthcare data management, IoT and decentralised AI, financial services, as well as key management systems.