(Photo : Nikita Chashchinskii)
Anyone who is even remotely following cryptocurrencies has seen the rise and fall of multiple altcoins that have promised to take buyers “to the moon” only to come crashing down within days, weeks, or months. It’s no secret that cryptocurrencies are often volatile, but because the technology used in this space is still not fully understood by many of the investors, mistakes can happen. According to Nikita Chashchinskii, a software engineer specializing in blockchain technology and a key contributor to the Drivechain project, altcoins take advantage of naïve investors who should instead focus on the reliable frontrunner: Bitcoin.
Bitcoin holds the most market share amongst its competitors, but with new altcoins popping up near-daily , the market faces constant infighting, misinformation, and bad investments. However, since its market presence is so dominant, it is harder for Bitcoin to be nimble in development and adopt technological advancements while maintaining proper security levels. The Drivechain project focuses on enabling Bitcoin to innovate and adapt at a pace that would confer it with an overwhelming advantage in its competition with altcoins without compromising its security. Drivechain achieves this by letting each investor and user choose exactly how much risk they want to take on, opting in or out of new innovations.
Select few experts combine the talent, passion, and skill set necessary to effectively contribute to a project sitting on an intersection of software engineering, cryptography, computer security, and economics such as Drivechain; Nikita has had a propensity for computer science and software engineering since he was a child and has always been excited by new projects. In middle school, he became interested in coding because he wanted to make video games. He taught himself C++, a programming language that has been around for decades, then began learning linear algebra and calculus to understand the math required to develop games. Though his versions of Tetris, Breakout, and Pong were merely buggy toy projects, the experience of building them empowered him as a programmer.
Nikita went on to learn Rust, Haskell, and Python. Before he graduated college, he was contributing to an open-source game engine in Rust. In college, Nikita entered an international programming contest where he was challenged to build software that could be used with Drivechain. While finishing school, completing his thesis, and working a day job as a software engineer, he built Zside a sidechain copying the functionality of the Zcash altcoin; if Drivechain is activated, this technology would bolster Bitcoin’s privacy guarantees. Nikita was the only contestant to build a working solution, and after winning the contest, he continued to work with the Drivechain team.
When completing his master’s degree was interrupted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Nikita moved out of the country and dove head-first into working on the Drivechain project. In a short time, he has built a software library that makes it a lot easier to convert altcoins into sidechains. He has also revamped his Zcash sidechain, making it better and more secure. Lastly, he built an Ethereum sidechain, proving that even altcoins with a completely foreign design can be converted into Bitcoin sidechains. Unlike altcoins sidechains allow a 1:1 relationship with the mainchain (in this case Bitcoin), people can move their investments to a sidechain without dealing with a floating exchange rate.
Sidechains enable everyone involved in Cryptocurrency to take calculated risks without an all-or-nothing approach. If a new sidechain is activated, investors can transfer some of the assets in their digital wallet to that sidechain without the exchange rate risk inherent in altcoins, making the space less volatile and risky. Nikita’s contributions are a key practical step in this risk reduction, and are certainly his most significant project to date, which is already having a significant impact on the industry. The development of a Zcash sidechain and an Ethereum sidechain proves that altcoins are not necessary, all technological innovations existing in altcoins today and all future technological innovations can share a single asset – Bitcoin.