AMA with SKALE Network (SKL) feat. Solutions Engineers Ebru Engwall & John Frost

We spoke to SKALE Network’s Dir. of Solutions Engineering Ebru Engwall and Sr. Solutions Engineer John Frost about staking, bringing scalability to Ethereum, and the future of Web3.

In September 2022, Binance.US introduced SKALE Network (SKL) staking, with an introductory APY of 10.9% at launch.

Recently, we sat down with Ebru Engwall and John Frost from SKALE Network’s Solutions Engineering team to learn more about the platform, which defines itself as a “100% decentralized network that will bring the power of Ethereum to billions of users through a world of interconnected, limitless SKALE chains.”

Continue reading for a transcript of our conversation, which originally aired on Twitter Spaces, hosted on our handle @BinanceUS.

A Conversation With the SKALE Network (SKL) Team

Note: The following section features a transcript of our live conversation between guests Ebru E. and John F., and our host, Garret from Binance.US. The sections below have been edited for brevity and clarity. Where possible, conversations have been condensed to make the following content more readable.

The opinions expressed below are Ebru E. and John F.’s own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Binance.US. The commentary provided here is for general informational purposes only, and does not constitute financial investment, tax or legal advice.

Click here for a recording of the full, unabridged conversation.

Today I'm joined by Ebru Engwall, the Director Solutions Engineering and John Frost, Senior Solutions Engineer, to discuss staking, bringing scalability to Ethereum, and the future of Web3. How are you both doing today?

Ebru E. Hi, Garret. Thank you for having us here today. It's very exciting to be here.

John F. John here. Thanks for hosting us. Appreciate it.

Of course. Just so everyone can learn a bit more about you: What are your roles at SKALE and what do they entail? And tell us a little bit about your history in crypto and what got you here in the first place.

Ebru E. I'll start with my background. My name is Ebru Engwall, and I'm the Director of Solutions Engineering at SKALE Labs. Prior to SKALE, I was a principal software engineer and big data engineer in marketing cloud solutions. I started investing in crypto when my friends began telling me about it.

Around 2017, because of my engineering background, I was fascinated with  Web3 technology and I started researching [the space]. [I realized some projects had] scalability and performance issues and that there were some [performance] bottlenecks to contend with.

Then I was introduced to SKALE and I saw that it was a perfect solution to the issues I was seeing. I joined SKALE three years ago and work with almost the entire SKALE ecosystem: our integration partners, technology partners, app developers, validators, and more.

Basically, I make sure everybody gets what they need and I make sure that they have a fantastic journey at SKALE. By connecting the dots as a team, we help the Web3 and SKALE ecosystem grow.

John F. Thanks Ebru. From my side, I've been in the FinTech space on the Braintree / PayPal / Venmo side of things. And I’ve definitely started to see interest from that ecosystem in blockchain [technology] because Braintree started to look into that space. I think you can see today, especially [when it comes to] PayPal, that they’re pushing ahead in the [blockchain] space as well.

After that, I was in the anti-fraud space, where I worked on some great blockchain-related projects, including one with GitHub at one point because they had a marketing promotion where you could have free server time — and a lot of people were just spinning up servers to mine Bitcoin, which really piqued my interest.

And outside of the work-related things, I was also actively interested in the [blockchain] space, investing and just getting up to speed with what's new. And I think as everyone here knows, within two weeks, if you're not paying attention to the [blockchain] ecosystem, everything changes so fast.

Now I’ve been with SKALE for over a year, and Ebru and I are both part of the Solutions Engineering team, working with decentralized apps (dApps) and partners on the integration side of things. We also update releases with the validators and help with hackathons, which is actually really cool and exciting.

We've got so many cool features that are coming out and rolling out to the dApps, plus all the different partnerships that SKALE is doing. We’re a fast-moving team that’s very much on the startup side of things. So we do [work with various teams including] product, engineering, marketing and so forth. Solutions Engineers work across the board is what I'm trying to say. We help out in any way we can.

Thank you for sharing your backgrounds. And I completely agree that the industry changes so rapidly that you might lose yourself if you stop paying attention for two weeks.

I want to just start at the beginning of SKALE when it was founded in 2018. What was it exactly that Jack O'Holleran and Stan Kladko (SKALE co-founders) were attempting to solve? What were the challenges at the time and what were the main goals for SKALE, especially when it came to Ethereum?

John F. I can take this one. To be honest, there's no one better to tell that story than Jack and Stan themselves. But if we go back in time, I know both of them had a passion for the crypto space.

Stan was previously studying and working within cryptography and Jack was a successful entrepreneur and CEO who was interested in blockchain technology himself. He was reading every article that he could find and just getting himself up to speed with the evolving industry at the time.

Originally they connected, I believe, through mutual friends. I know when they met and had some discussions, certain concepts came up around scalability, decentralization, and infrastructure. And I think that's where the idea began. I love how people with different skill sets and experiences were able to come together and make something impactful, like SKALE Labs.

Ebru E. Yeah, their vision was always decentralized. SKALE was designed to connect to different blockchains and applications, in order to power Web3 and bring blockchain technology to billions of users. I think that's the main vision. The [team at SKALE] believes that a modular multi-chain approach is actually the answer for the [scalability] problems and performance issues I was just talking about in the beginning.

A couple of years ago when I first joined SKALE, we were just talking about SKALE being a Layer-2. However, over time, it evolved into being more modular and hybrid-network-like Layer-1 and Layer-2.

So now our vision is to provide scalability while connecting all different blockchains. Put simply, [in the beginning, the SKALE blockchain] maintained a connection to the Ethereum blockchain, so dApps were able to run with faster transaction times and zero gas fees. By bringing data from Ethereum, when a user wanted to withdraw assets, they were able to do it from the SKALE to Ethereum side.

But right now, with the hubs and our most recent launches and versions, every SKALE chain is connected to each other, which is something I’m really excited about.

There's no global state or a single blockchain. SKALE is multi-chain, which means it supports many, many chains — so every dApp that’s onboarded can have their own application on the blockchain while benefiting from the [security pool of the entire network]. dApps can also maintain a connection to other DeFi and NFT hubs, plus all these different communities that can work together and grow.

When it comes to how SKALE is different — SKALE is solving high transaction costs on blockchains. Due to highly volatile token prices, sometimes you might be able to execute a transaction for $10, and the next day that might be $100. So instead of users having to pay different transaction fees every time, with SKALE, there's zero transaction fees, so your end users don’t have to worry anything: you can mint an NFT for free. You can basically deploy a smart contract for free. You can transfer assets, play a game, and transact for free, which is one of the biggest benefits of SKALE Network. And also by doing so, you get up to 2,000 transactions per second. I think every dApp can benefit from SKALE’s offerings when it comes to security and decentralization.

I see. My next question for you is in regards to how SKALE provides zero gas fee transactions in comparison to some of the other blockchains that are designed for scalability.

John F. [Laughs] We get this question all the time. At hackathons, people ask us, “you have zero gas fees — that’s crazy!”

But you know, unlike gas tokens on other networks, SKALE uses [a free gas token] we call sFUEL to conduct transactions. We have a central location to get sFUEL, called sFUEL Station at If you’re wanting to use anything on the SKALE Network, you’re required to have sFUEL.

If you’re a developer and you’re like “hey, I want to understand this a bit more”, you can do this on the staging environment. You can get your own SKALE chain for that or you can do it on the mainnet side of things as well. So you’ve got that option to test [the network] in a sandbox environment.

Ebru E. To summarize it: When a SKALE chain owner joins SKALE network, they basically have [the ability to set a] permissioned [version of] sFUEL. And instead of using sFUEL as a value, they can define who has access to their own application — so they can send a small amount of sFUEL to any user so they can execute transactions.

So everything works on a permission mechanism basis. Nobody can go and perform DDoS attacks or attacks like that, because SKALE chain owners can define who can use sFUEL and how much they can use. In essence, sFUEL ensures that transactions remain secure while users get access to zero gas transactions.

Yeah. And just to clarify, every developer that comes on and builds their own chain can set these permissions?

Ebru E. Absolutely.

John F. Yeah. [Zero gas fees] definitely incentivizes the creation of a great ecosystem within a game, for example. [Developers or projects] don't need to worry about transaction costs, so you get higher user activity. There are many more real-world examples if you go from SKALE chain to SKALE chain… but zero gas fees help grow the ecosystem by encouraging user engagement and activity.

SKALE staking is obviously now available on Binance.US. Why is staking vital to the SKALE ecosystem and network?

Ebru E. I think it's so important to make staking simple for end users. And I saw that with Binance.US. It’s important for SKALE especially as the ecosystem achieves greater adoption. It’s easy to incentivize users to stake when you offer rewards of up to 10 or 11% APY, which is a big number.

But to answer your question about the SKL that’s staked and why it's so important for the security of the network… Basically, when a user is delegating by staking their SKL to a validator, they’re supporting the decentralization of the ecosystem. There's more nodes, validators run the nodes, and then in return there's rewards that come back to users in the form of SKL tokens. In general, it’s important to support the ecosystem running the nodes and the like. But there's so many ways you can stick a token and support the ecosystem.

You mentioned nodes there for a moment. How many SKALE nodes are up and running in your network and can anyone come along and set one up? Or are there specific requirements? Do you need to be a part of the organization in some form?

John F. I had to look this morning just to confirm the numbers. But you know, we do have a large pool of validator nodes right now and it's around 150 within the SKALE ecosystem.

Without getting too deep into the requirements, we do have amazing documentation on the expectations and requirements of being a SKALE validator.

If you want to spin up a node, we have documentation that you can fill out and we will essentially work with you in getting that up and running. But there are some requirements that are on our website in regards to the hardware requirements and so forth.

Ebru E. When it comes to validators in general, with things like staking requirements and hardware requirements. There's an SGX. We encourage everyone to set up nodes in the different data centers. SGX encourages people to [branch out beyond] AWS, which enables validator nodes to maintain a certain level of diversity from a geographic and cloud provider perspective.

So one of the most important hardware requirements is the SGX. It’s a very important requirement that helps [maintain the security of the SKALE network]. And of course, like the delegators, there's no minimum bonding requirements for being a validator. Validators are responsible for finding delegators.

[To run a node], they have to know the docker and orchestration, and they have to maintain 99% availability. To run a node in a network, they can go through the testnet environment to figure out if they can actually support the SKALE network.

And then of course like John and Fabio, another one of our team members, are doing a fantastic job by growing the network validator community. I'm excited to see new validators in the space.

Do you have any exciting news or updates regarding SKALE that you can share? I think the listeners would definitely appreciate that.

Ebru E. I’ll talk on behalf of our product. We are going to see a lot of different things [in the pipeline] because we worked so hard in the last couple of months to improve the user experience. And I think we have a fantastic solution right now. We connected almost all the hubs together, so we are going to see NFT marketplaces next month. We are going to see NFT hubs launching very, very soon, which will bring liquidity from like DeFi hubs into [the overall ecosystem]. All the connections are almost done and all these on-ramp / off-ramp integrations are going to be finalized very soon.

I'm also excited about the archival node for indexing purposes, which will be finalized this fall. So that's one of the things that the SKALE engineering team is working on right now, which is going to help to share all SKALE data, so we will be able to provide API solutions for all the dApps.

John F. The archival node is definitely a highlight from the product side of things. To the listeners, keep an eye on our blog posts for what's coming up. There's so many great dApps and partnerships coming out very, very soon that we're really, really excited about. There's a lot happening in our team. So yeah, to the listeners, please keep your eyes open, reach out, join Discord, ask questions. We're very fast to respond.

And if there's anything you guys want to know, you know where to find us.

For more information, follow SKALE Network on Twitter. The transcript above has been condensed and edited for brevity and clarity. Listen to the full, unabridged conversation on our Twitter page.

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