When Nikita was a child, science fiction books were his passion; he read William Gibson's "Neuromancer", Neal Stephenson's "Snowcrash", "Cryptonomicon", and others. This early interest shaped the direction of his future career. Like many others who end up in the world of software engineering, he started out wanting to make video games. To this end he learned C++, an unwieldy but fast language suitable for game development, and other tools like basic calculus, linear algebra, and graphics APIs like OpenGL. To hone these skills he created simple games.

Nikita Chashchinskii
Nikita Chashchinskii Nikita Chashchinskii/IBT Ignite

This interest in game development culminated with his contribution to an open source game engine written in Rust (a less unwieldy, but more experimental, alternative to C++). This contribution allowed Nikita to learn the basic skills necessary within professional software development, which later proved to be very useful..

As he was wrapping up the last year of his bachelor's program in "Informatics and Computing Technology," Nikita found a software contest to convert Zcash, an altcoin, into a Bitcoin sidechain, bringing the privacy benefits of Zcash to Bitcoin (if the underlying Drivechain technology gets activated on Bitcoin). A sidechain is a separate network that connects to the main network - in this case, Bitcoin. The difference between an altcoin and a sidechain is that a sidechain has a 1-to-1 exchange rate with the main asset.

Nikita won the contest and went on to continue working on the Zcash sidechain and the Drivechain project in general. During his time working on the project he upgraded the Zcash sidechain, bringing many improvements and achieving parity with the latest version of the Zcash altcoin, built an Ethereum sidechain, and a software library that greatly simplified the conversion of altcoins into sidechains.

Bitcoin is the most prominent cryptocurrency, but alternative cryptocurrencies (commonly referred to as altcoins) like Zcash and Ethereum enter the market regularly. When a new altcoin is brought to investors, in the current system, it takes away Bitcoin's market share and opens the investors up to more risk. This type of risk can also become an issue when new features are proposed for Bitcoin, forcing the entire community to collectively choose how they want to engage with the new features.

Drivechain removes all of these risks by enforcing a 1-to-1 exchange rate between the Bitcoin mainchain and all of its sidechains and by letting individual users decide what features they do or don't want, with the features they don't want having zero effect on their experience or on their security.

The Drivechain project makes the cryptocurrency world less risky and reduces the volatility in the market. If the Drivechain project succeeds, Bitcoin will likely absorb most of the market share taken up by altcoins, unifying the industry behind a single asset and making the entire industry much stronger by eliminating fragmentation, infighting, and risk from it..

Nikita is developing the Drivechain project at LayerTwo Labs, a company founded by veterans of the cryptocurrency industry. LayerTwo Labs aims to improve Bitcoin to the point where all the other crypto- and traditional currencies will become obsolete. To achieve this, Bitcoin needs to combine privacy, scale, and versatility. It also has to be useful in every use-case and include an intuitive User Experience. LayerTwo Labs' ambitious goals align with what Nikita wants to accomplish, so this is a perfect place for him to continue growing as a professional.

In the grand scheme of things, cryptocurrencies are a new factor on the financial markets; programmers, investors, and governing bodies are still trying to figure out how to handle them. But looking at small but clever and ambitious projects, like Drivechain, and the talented expert minds working on them, such as Nikita Chashchinskii, may prove to be the key to understanding the future of this volatile, uncertain, but very interesting space.