Trilemma Blockchain Problems and Solutions from Massa Labs

Trilemma Problems and Solutions from Massa Labs
Trilemma Problems and Solutions from Massa Labs

Today blockchain technology is claimed to be a breakthrough and a new technological innovation that will drive and create change in various sectors.

Blockchain is the technology that was first used successfully in the development of cryptocurrency. Blockchain technology allows peer to peer (P2P) transactions to occur safely, even without using third party intermediaries such as banks or other financial institutions.

Even not only in cryptocurrency, blockchain technology is also claimed to be able to be applied to several sectors such as banking to government.

However, in practice, blockchain technology also has challenges or obstacles that have not been able to be answered to this day, that challenge is the blockchain trilemma.

The Trilemma Blockchain has so far not been fully resolved. The blockchain trilemma phenomenon was first popularized by Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin. The trilemma is blockchain’s inability to balance decentralization, security and scalability. Because one of them must be sacrificed.

The trilemma is actually based on Eric Brewer’s CAP theorem, which focuses on the limitations of traditional databases.

In computer science, the CAP theorem is a well-known idea that examines the connections between database consistency, data accessibility, and partition tolerance.

Similar to the CAP theorem, the blockchain trilemma asserts that three fundamental characteristics of blockchains exist in a zero sum game. Decentralization, security, and scalability are the three characteristics mentioned.  The trilemma states that most attempts to improve one of these three attributes will eventually necessitate a compromise with the other two.

Before we jump to solution of trilemma, let’s talk about this three attributes first.


Decentralized means the blockchain system is independent from central control. This is the core component of blockchain as mention by Satoshi Nakamoto. This is the contrary of the traditional finance, in which the entire system is centralized. Customers give banks complete control over their assets, including their personal documents and the actual assets themselves.

In the other hand, decentralized systems empower permissionless ownership, where anybody can use and modify the platform. Transactions are approved by a group of nodes as opposed to a single node since decisions are made by consensus. And these transactions cannot be changed after they have been confirmed by consensus. As a result, when completing a transaction, confidence is not based on a third party and no one central organization is exposed to risk.

However, speed is a trade-off for absolute decentralization. A transaction would naturally take longer to complete than one that can be approved by a single party if consensus required many confirmations. This brought us to the second trilemma, scalability.


Scalability is the ability of a blockchain system to handle an ever increasing number of transactions. This is crucial for widespread adoption. The issue is how much a blockchain system can support and whether it can continue to function normally as demand rises.

According to current claims, EOS can process up to 4,000 TPS, or transactions per second. The EOS whitepaper also outlines the path EOS will take to handle millions of transactions per second in the future.

In contrast, Visa manages 63,000 TPS on average. If EOS can live up to its promise of scalability, it will be able to build a network that is more advanced than a significant global credit service.

However, there is a trade-off, as the trilemma suggests. EOS is used as an illustration of the potential benefits of focusing on scalability, although it has drawn criticism for being overly centralized.


Security means the ability of a blockchain system to operate as expected, defending against attacks, bugs and other unforeseen issues. Security in blockchain system is crucial since no one will trust this technology if their assets are gone overnight because of security issues.

It is clear that many crypto projects have decided to focus on decentralization and scalability, leaving security behind, as evidenced by a bombardment of high-profile exchange breaches and engineered flaws in source code.

Despite all of their benefits, blockchain ecosystems depend on the robustness of the underlying source code; like anything else, it needs to be properly checked.

Blockchains have become popular targets for hackers because of the openness of the source code and the possible financial rewards of a successful attack.

When considering blockchains from a broad perspective, the trilemma might be helpful because it allows for the plotting of current systems. For instance, Bitcoin has proven to have strong decentralization and security, but it is still not scalable. In contrast, protocols like Solana have shown to be very scalable but by sacrificing decentralization and security. A secure and highly scalable blockchain, of course, will be more centralized, like Binance.

Often times, several blockchain projects offer the ability to solve these problems, but until now it has only been a mere vision and is being sold by new blockchain projects. By only getting stuck on decentralization and security but not for scalability.

This creates a dilemma where high scalability should not come at the expense of decentralization. If this problem is solved, the use of blockchain will be increasingly massively adopted by many countries and other sectors.

In addition, Vitalik has identified technologies — most notably, sharding — that can allow a blockchain to scale outside of the limitations of the blockchain trilemma. We will talk about this “sharding“ tech on other articles.

Mass Labs Solutions

One of the blockchain projects considered capable of solving and becoming a solution to this trilemma is Massa Network. Massa was originally a research project spearheaded by a group of great and intelligent young men with different scientific backgrounds but who shared the same passion for mathematics.

They are Sebastien Forestier a doctor in artificial intelligence technology (AI) as the CEO of Massalabs, Damir Vodenicarevic a doctorate in fundamental physics as CTO Massalabs, and finally Adrien Laversanne-Finot with an educational background as a doctorate in quantum information as CSO Massalabs.

Based on information from Massalabs CSO Adrien who was gathered through AMA (Ask Me Anything) together with the Indonesian mass community that the research project began in 2017.

At that time, Sebastian saw a problem in the Bitcoin network and had an idea to accelerate blockchain scalability by parallelizing block creation because many projects offer scalability but sacrifice decentralization. The idea was passed on to Damir and Adrien, they were both intrigued by the idea and in then agreed to work as a team.

What’s unique about Massalabs is the founding process, in which they try to prove the idea without having to go to investors begging for help with the alibi of ‘bright idea’ like most projects that exist today.

They proved this idea in the 23rd edition of the i-Lab innovation competition organized by the French government through the Ministry of Higher Education and was awarded an award as an innovative project.

Massa came up with a visionary concept to overcome decentralization which so far has always been a victim or a stepchild as a consequence of the trilemma blockhain phenomenon. Because basically in terms of performance, the blockchain is just a pretty bad database. True decentralization is revolutionary in blockchain projects.

This is also what makes Massa carry out private sales without involving actors, investors or those with large capital because again it is for the sake of maintaining the decentralization aspect.

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