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Dragonchain Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off Public Proposal
Dragonchain Public Proposal TL;DR:
Dragonchain has demonstrated twice Reddit’s entire total daily volume (votes, comments, and postsper Reddit 2019 Year in Review) in a 24-hour demo on an operational network. Every single transaction on Dragonchain is decentralized immediately through 5 levels of Dragon Net, and then secured with combined proof on Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Binance Chain, via Interchain. At the time, in January 2020, the entire cost of the demo was approximately $25K on a single system (transaction fees locked at $0.0001/txn). With current fees (lowest fee $0.0000025/txn), this would cost as little as $625. Watch Joe walk through the entire proposal and answer questions onYouTube. This proposal is also available on the Dragonchain blog.
Hello Reddit and Ethereum community!
I’m Joe Roets, Founder & CEO of Dragonchain. When the team and I first heard about The Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off we were intrigued. We believe we have the solutions Reddit seeks for its community points system and we have them at scale. For your consideration, we have submitted our proposal below. The team at Dragonchain and I welcome and look forward to your technical questions, philosophical feedback, and fair criticism, to build a scaling solution for Reddit that will empower its users. Because our architecture is unlike other blockchain platforms out there today, we expect to receive many questions while people try to grasp our project. I will answer all questions here in this thread on Reddit, and I've answered some questions in the stream on YouTube. We have seen good discussions so far in the competition. We hope that Reddit’s scaling solution will emerge from The Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off and that Reddit will have great success with the implementation.
Dragonchain is a robust open source hybrid blockchain platform that has proven to withstand the passing of time since our inception in 2014. We have continued to evolve to harness the scalability of private nodes, yet take full advantage of the security of public decentralized networks, like Ethereum. We have a live, operational, and fully functional Interchain network integrating Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and ~700 independent Dragonchain nodes. Every transaction is secured to Ethereum, Bitcoin, and Ethereum Classic. Transactions are immediately usable on chain, and the first decentralization is seen within 20 seconds on Dragon Net. Security increases further to public networks ETH, BTC, and ETC within 10 minutes to 2 hours. Smart contracts can be written in any executable language, offering full freedom to existing developers. We invite any developer to watch the demo, play with our SDK’s, review open source code, and to help us move forward. Dragonchain specializes in scalable loyalty & rewards solutions and has built a decentralized social network on chain, with very affordable transaction costs. This experience can be combined with the insights Reddit and the Ethereum community have gained in the past couple of months to roll out the solution at a rapid pace.
Response and PoC
In The Great Reddit Scaling Bake-Off post, Reddit has asked for a series of demonstrations, requirements, and other considerations. In this section, we will attempt to answer all of these requests.
A live proof of concept showing hundreds of thousands of transactions
On Jan 7, 2020, Dragonchain hosted a 24-hour live demonstration during which a quarter of a billion (250 million+) transactions executed fully on an operational network. Every single transaction on Dragonchain is decentralized immediately through 5 levels of Dragon Net, and then secured with combined proof on Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, and Binance Chain, via Interchain. This means that every single transaction is secured by, and traceable to these networks. An attack on this system would require a simultaneous attack on all of the Interchained networks. 24 hours in 4 minutes (YouTube): 24 hours in 4 minutes The demonstration was of a single business system, and any user is able to scale this further, by running multiple systems simultaneously. Our goals for the event were to demonstrate a consistent capacity greater than that of Visa over an extended time period. Tooling to reproduce our demo is available here: https://github.com/dragonchain/spirit-bomb
Source code (for on & off-chain components as well tooling used for the PoC). The source code does not have to be shared publicly, but if Reddit decides to use a particular solution it will need to be shared with Reddit at some point.
Dragonchain’s architecture attacks the scalability issue from multiple angles. Dragonchain is a hybrid blockchain platform, wherein every transaction is protected on a business node to the requirements of that business or purpose. A business node may be held completely private or may be exposed or replicated to any level of exposure desired. Every node has its own blockchain and is independently scalable. Dragonchain established Context Based Verification as its consensus model. Every transaction is immediately usable on a trust basis, and in time is provable to an increasing level of decentralized consensus. A transaction will have a level of decentralization to independently owned and deployed Dragonchain nodes (~700 nodes) within seconds, and full decentralization to BTC and ETH within minutes or hours. Level 5 nodes (Interchain nodes) function to secure all transactions to public or otherwise external chains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. These nodes scale the system by aggregating multiple blocks into a single Interchain transaction on a cadence. This timing is configurable based upon average fees for each respective chain. For detailed information about Dragonchain’s architecture, and Context Based Verification, please refer to the Dragonchain Architecture Document.
An interesting feature of Dragonchain’s network consensus is its economics and scarcity model. Since Dragon Net nodes (L2-L4) are independent staking nodes, deployment to cloud platforms would allow any of these nodes to scale to take on a large percentage of the verification work. This is great for scalability, but not good for the economy, because there is no scarcity, and pricing would develop a downward spiral and result in fewer verification nodes. For this reason, Dragonchain uses TIME as scarcity. TIME is calculated as the number of Dragons held, multiplied by the number of days held. TIME influences the user’s access to features within the Dragonchain ecosystem. It takes into account both the Dragon balance and length of time each Dragon is held. TIME is staked by users against every verification node and dictates how much of the transaction fees are awarded to each participating node for every block. TIME also dictates the transaction fee itself for the business node. TIME is staked against a business node to set a deterministic transaction fee level (see transaction fee table below in Cost section). This is very interesting in a discussion about scaling because it guarantees independence for business implementation. No matter how much traffic appears on the entire network, a business is guaranteed to not see an increased transaction fee rate.
Dragonchain uses Docker and Kubernetes to allow the use of best practices traditional system scaling. Dragonchain offers managed nodes with an easy to use web based console interface. The user may also deploy a Dragonchain node within their own datacenter or favorite cloud platform. Users have deployed Dragonchain nodes on-prem on Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, MS Azure, and other hosting platforms around the world. Any executable code, anything you can write, can be written into a smart contract. This flexibility is what allows us to say that developers with no blockchain experience can use any code language to access the benefits of blockchain. Customers have used NodeJS, Python, Java, and even BASH shell script to write smart contracts on Dragonchain. With Docker containers, we achieve better separation of concerns, faster deployment, higher reliability, and lower response times. We chose Kubernetes for its self-healing features, ability to run multiple services on one server, and its large and thriving development community. It is resilient, scalable, and automated. OpenFaaS allows us to package smart contracts as Docker images for easy deployment. Contract deployment time is now bounded only by the size of the Docker image being deployed but remains fast even for reasonably large images. We also take advantage of Docker’s flexibility and its ability to support any language that can run on x86 architecture. Any image, public or private, can be run as a smart contract using Dragonchain.
Flexibility in Scaling
Dragonchain’s architecture considers interoperability and integration as key features. From inception, we had a goal to increase adoption via integration with real business use cases and traditional systems. We envision the ability for Reddit, in the future, to be able to integrate alternate content storage platforms or other financial services along with the token.
LBRY - To allow users to deploy content natively to LBRY
MakerDAO to allow users to lend small amounts backed by their Reddit community points.
STORJ/SIA to allow decentralized on chain storage of portions of content. These integrations or any other are relatively easy to integrate on Dragonchain with an Interchain implementation.
Cost estimates (on-chain and off-chain) For the purpose of this proposal, we assume that all transactions are on chain (posts, replies, and votes).
On the Dragonchain network, transaction costs are deterministic/predictable. By staking TIME on the business node (as described above) Reddit can reduce transaction costs to as low as $0.0000025 per transaction. Dragonchain Fees Table
How to run it
Building on Dragonchain is simple and requires no blockchain experience. Spin up a business node (L1) in our managed environment (AWS), run it in your own cloud environment, or on-prem in your own datacenter. Clear documentation will walk you through the steps of spinning up your first Dragonchain Level 1 Business node. Getting started is easy...
Download Dragonchain’s dctl
Input three commands into a terminal
Build an image
More information can be found in our Get started documents.
Dragonchain is an open source hybrid platform. Through Dragon Net, each chain combines the power of a public blockchain (like Ethereum) with the privacy of a private blockchain. Dragonchain organizes its network into five separate levels. A Level 1, or business node, is a totally private blockchain only accessible through the use of public/private keypairs. All business logic, including smart contracts, can be executed on this node directly and added to the chain. After creating a block, the Level 1 business node broadcasts a version stripped of sensitive private data to Dragon Net. Three Level 2 Validating nodes validate the transaction based on guidelines determined from the business. A Level 3 Diversity node checks that the level 2 nodes are from a diverse array of locations. A Level 4 Notary node, hosted by a KYC partner, then signs the validation record received from the Level 3 node. The transaction hash is ledgered to the Level 5 public chain to take advantage of the hash power of massive public networks. Dragon Net can be thought of as a “blockchain of blockchains”, where every level is a complete private blockchain. Because an L1 can send to multiple nodes on a single level, proof of existence is distributed among many places in the network. Eventually, proof of existence reaches level 5 and is published on a public network.
Dragonchain is open source and even though the platform is easy enough for developers to code in any language they are comfortable with, we do not have so large a developer community as Ethereum. We would like to see the Ethereum developer community (and any other communities) become familiar with our SDK’s, our solutions, and our platform, to unlock the full potential of our Ethereum Interchain. Long ago we decided to prioritize both Bitcoin and Ethereum Interchains. We envision an ecosystem that encompasses different projects to give developers the ability to take full advantage of all the opportunities blockchain offers to create decentralized solutions not only for Reddit but for all of our current platforms and systems. We believe that together we will take the adoption of blockchain further. We currently have additional Interchain with Ethereum Classic. We look forward to Interchain with other blockchains in the future. We invite all blockchains projects who believe in decentralization and security to Interchain with Dragonchain.
While we only have 700 nodes compared to 8,000 Ethereum and 10,000 Bitcoin nodes. We harness those 18,000 nodes to scale to extremely high levels of security. See Dragonchain metrics.
Some may consider the centralization of Dragonchain’s business nodes as an issue at first glance, however, the model is by design to protect business data. We do not consider this a drawback as these nodes can make any, none, or all data public. Depending upon the implementation, every subreddit could have control of its own business node, for potential business and enterprise offerings, bringing new alternative revenue streams to Reddit.
Costs and resources
Summary of cost & resource information for both on-chain & off-chain components used in the PoC, as well as cost & resource estimates for further scaling. If your PoC is not on mainnet, make note of any mainnet caveats (such as congestion issues).
Every transaction on the PoC system had a transaction fee of $0.0001 (one-hundredth of a cent USD). At 256MM transactions, the demo cost $25,600. With current operational fees, the same demonstration would cost $640 USD. For the demonstration, to achieve throughput to mimic a worldwide payments network, we modeled several clients in AWS and 4-5 business nodes to handle the traffic. The business nodes were tuned to handle higher throughput by adjusting memory and machine footprint on AWS. This flexibility is valuable to implementing a system such as envisioned by Reddit. Given that Reddit’s daily traffic (posts, replies, and votes) is less than half that of our demo, we would expect that the entire Reddit system could be handled on 2-5 business nodes using right-sized containers on AWS or similar environments. Verification was accomplished on the operational Dragon Net network with over 700 independently owned verification nodes running around the world at no cost to the business other than paid transaction fees.
This PoC should scale to the numbers below with minimal costs (both on & off-chain). There should also be a clear path to supporting hundreds of millions of users. Over a 5 day period, your scaling PoC should be able to handle: *100,000 point claims (minting & distributing points) *25,000 subscriptions *75,000 one-off points burning *100,000 transfers
During Dragonchain’s 24 hour demo, the above required numbers were reached within the first few minutes. Reddit’s total activity is 9000% more than Ethereum’s total transaction level. Even if you do not include votes, it is still 700% more than Ethereum’s current volume. Dragonchain has demonstrated that it can handle 250 million transactions a day, and it’s architecture allows for multiple systems to work at that level simultaneously. In our PoC, we demonstrate double the full capacity of Reddit, and every transaction was proven all the way to Bitcoin and Ethereum. Reddit Scaling on Ethereum
Solutions should not depend on any single third-party provider. We prefer solutions that do not depend on specific entities such as Reddit or another provider, and solutions with no single point of control or failure in off-chain components but recognize there are numerous trade-offs to consider
Dragonchain’s architecture calls for a hybrid approach. Private business nodes hold the sensitive data while the validation and verification of transactions for the business are decentralized within seconds and secured to public blockchains within 10 minutes to 2 hours. Nodes could potentially be controlled by owners of individual subreddits for more organic decentralization.
Billing is currently centralized - there is a path to federation and decentralization of a scaled billing solution.
Operational on-premises capabilities
Operational deployment to any datacenter
Over 700 independent Community Verification Nodes with proof of ownership
Operational Interchain (Interoperable to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ethereum Classic, open to more)
Usability Scaling solutions should have a simple end user experience.
Users shouldn't have to maintain any extra state/proofs, regularly monitor activity, keep track of extra keys, or sign anything other than their normal transactions
Dragonchain and its customers have demonstrated extraordinary usability as a feature in many applications, where users do not need to know that the system is backed by a live blockchain. Lyceum is one of these examples, where the progress of academy courses is being tracked, and successful completion of courses is rewarded with certificates on chain. Our @Save_The_Tweet bot is popular on Twitter. When used with one of the following hashtags - #please, #blockchain, #ThankYou, or #eternalize the tweet is saved through Eternal to multiple blockchains. A proof report is available for future reference. Other examples in use are DEN, our decentralized social media platform, and our console, where users can track their node rewards, view their TIME, and operate a business node. Examples:
Transactions complete in a reasonable amount of time (seconds or minutes, not hours or days)
All transactions are immediately usable on chain by the system. A transaction begins the path to decentralization at the conclusion of a 5-second block when it gets distributed across 5 separate community run nodes. Full decentralization occurs within 10 minutes to 2 hours depending on which interchain (Bitcoin, Ethereum, or Ethereum Classic) the transaction hits first. Within approximately 2 hours, the combined hash power of all interchained blockchains secures the transaction.
Free to use for end users (no gas fees, or fixed/minimal fees that Reddit can pay on their behalf)
With transaction pricing as low as $0.0000025 per transaction, it may be considered reasonable for Reddit to cover transaction fees for users. All of Reddit's Transactions on Blockchain (month) Community points can be earned by users and distributed directly to their Reddit account in batch (as per Reddit minting plan), and allow users to withdraw rewards to their Ethereum wallet whenever they wish. Withdrawal fees can be paid by either user or Reddit. This model has been operating inside the Dragonchain system since 2018, and many security and financial compliance features can be optionally added. We feel that this capability greatly enhances user experience because it is seamless to a regular user without cryptocurrency experience, yet flexible to a tech savvy user. With regard to currency or token transactions, these would occur on the Reddit network, verified to BTC and ETH. These transactions would incur the $0.0000025 transaction fee. To estimate this fee we use the monthly active Reddit users statista with a 60% adoption rate and an estimated 10 transactions per month average resulting in an approximate $720 cost across the system. Reddit could feasibly incur all associated internal network charges (mining/minting, transfer, burn) as these are very low and controllable fees. Reddit Internal Token Transaction Fees Reddit Ethereum Token Transaction Fees When we consider further the Ethereum fees that might be incurred, we have a few choices for a solution.
Offload all Ethereum transaction fees (user withdrawals) to interested users as they wish to withdraw tokens for external use or sale.
Cover Ethereum transaction fees by aggregating them on a timed schedule. Users would request withdrawal (from Reddit or individual subreddits), and they would be transacted on the Ethereum network every hour (or some other schedule).
In a combination of the above, customers could cover aggregated fees.
Integrate with alternate Ethereum roll up solutions or other proposals to aggregate minting and distribution transactions onto Ethereum.
Users should be able to view their balances & transactions via a blockchain explorer-style interface
From interfaces for users who have no knowledge of blockchain technology to users who are well versed in blockchain terms such as those present in a typical block explorer, a system powered by Dragonchain has flexibility on how to provide balances and transaction data to users. Transactions can be made viewable in an Eternal Proof Report, which displays raw data along with TIME staking information and traceability all the way to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and every other Interchained network. The report shows fields such as transaction ID, timestamp, block ID, multiple verifications, and Interchain proof. See example here. Node payouts within the Dragonchain console are listed in chronological order and can be further seen in either Dragons or USD. See example here. In our social media platform, Dragon Den, users can see, in real-time, their NRG and MTR balances. See example here. A new influencer app powered by Dragonchain, Raiinmaker, breaks down data into a user friendly interface that shows coin portfolio, redeemed rewards, and social scores per campaign. See example here.
Exiting is fast & simple
Withdrawing funds on Dragonchain’s console requires three clicks, however, withdrawal scenarios with more enhanced security features per Reddit’s discretion are obtainable.
Interoperability Compatibility with third party apps (wallets/contracts/etc) is necessary.
Proven interoperability at scale that surpasses the required specifications. Our entire platform consists of interoperable blockchains connected to each other and traditional systems. APIs are well documented. Third party permissions are possible with a simple smart contract without the end user being aware. No need to learn any specialized proprietary language. Any code base (not subsets) is usable within a Docker container. Interoperable with any blockchain or traditional APIs. We’ve witnessed relatively complex systems built by engineers with no blockchain or cryptocurrency experience. We’ve also demonstrated the creation of smart contracts within minutes built with BASH shell and Node.js. Please see our source code and API documentation.
Scaling solutions should be extensible and allow third parties to build on top of it Open source and extensible APIs should be well documented and stable
Third-party permissionless integrations should be possible & straightforward Smart contracts are Docker based, can be written in any language, use full language (not subsets), and can therefore be integrated with any system including traditional system APIs. Simple is better. Learning an uncommon or proprietary language should not be necessary.
Advanced knowledge of mathematics, cryptography, or L2 scaling should not be required. Compatibility with common utilities & toolchains is expected. Dragonchain business nodes and smart contracts leverage Docker to allow the use of literally any language or executable code. No proprietary language is necessary. We’ve witnessed relatively complex systems built by engineers with no blockchain or cryptocurrency experience. We’ve also demonstrated the creation of smart contracts within minutes built with BASH shell and Node.js.
Bonus Points: Show us how it works. Do you have an idea for a cool new use case for Community Points? Build it!
Community points could be awarded to Reddit users based upon TIME too, whereas the longer someone is part of a subreddit, the more community points someone naturally gained, even if not actively commenting or sharing new posts. A daily login could be required for these community points to be credited. This grants awards to readers too and incentivizes readers to create an account on Reddit if they browse the website often. This concept could also be leveraged to provide some level of reputation based upon duration and consistency of contribution to a community subreddit.
Dragonchain has already built a social media platform that harnesses community involvement. Dragon Den is a decentralized community built on the Dragonchain blockchain platform. Dragon Den is Dragonchain’s answer to fake news, trolling, and censorship. It incentivizes the creation and evaluation of quality content within communities. It could be described as being a shareholder of a subreddit or Reddit in its entirety. The more your subreddit is thriving, the more rewarding it will be. Den is currently in a public beta and in active development, though the real token economy is not live yet. There are different tokens for various purposes. Two tokens are Lair Ownership Rights (LOR) and Lair Ownership Tokens (LOT). LOT is a non-fungible token for ownership of a specific Lair. LOT will only be created and converted from LOR. Energy (NRG) and Matter (MTR) work jointly. Your MTR determines how much NRG you receive in a 24-hour period. Providing quality content, or evaluating content will earn MTR.
Security. Users have full ownership & control of their points.
All community points awarded based upon any type of activity or gift, are secured and provable to all Interchain networks (currently BTC, ETH, ETC). Users are free to spend and withdraw their points as they please, depending on the features Reddit wants to bring into production.
Balances and transactions cannot be forged, manipulated, or blocked by Reddit or anyone else
Users can withdraw their balance to their ERC20 wallet, directly through Reddit. Reddit can cover the fees on their behalf, or the user covers this with a portion of their balance.
Users should own their points and be able to get on-chain ERC20 tokens without permission from anyone else
Through our console users can withdraw their ERC20 rewards. This can be achieved on Reddit too. Here is a walkthrough of our console, though this does not show the quick withdrawal functionality, a user can withdraw at any time. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aNlTMxnfVHw
Points should be recoverable to on-chain ERC20 tokens even if all third-parties involved go offline
If necessary, signed transactions from the Reddit system (e.g. Reddit + Subreddit) can be sent to the Ethereum smart contract for minting.
A public, third-party review attesting to the soundness of the design should be available
To our knowledge, at least two large corporations, including a top 3 accounting firm, have conducted positive reviews. These reviews have never been made public, as Dragonchain did not pay or contract for these studies to be released.
Bonus points Public, third-party implementation review available or in progress
Compatibility with HSMs & hardware wallets
For the purpose of this proposal, all tokenization would be on the Ethereum network using standard token contracts and as such, would be able to leverage all hardware wallet and Ethereum ecosystem services.
Minting/distributing tokens is not performed by Reddit directly
This operation can be automated by smart contract on Ethereum. Subreddits can if desired have a role to play.
One off point burning, as well as recurring, non-interactive point burning (for subreddit memberships) should be possible and scalable
This is possible and scalable with interaction between Dragonchain Reddit system and Ethereum token contract(s).
Fully open-source solutions are strongly preferred
Dragonchain is fully open source (see section on Disney release after conclusion).
Whether it is today, or in the future, we would like to work together to bring secure flexibility to the highest standards. It is our hope to be considered by Ethereum, Reddit, and other integrative solutions so we may further discuss the possibilities of implementation. In our public demonstration, 256 million transactions were handled in our operational network on chain in 24 hours, for the low cost of $25K, which if run today would cost $625. Dragonchain’s interoperable foundation provides the atmosphere necessary to implement a frictionless community points system. Thank you for your consideration of our proposal. We look forward to working with the community to make something great!
Disney Releases Blockchain Platform as Open Source
The team at Disney created the Disney Private Blockchain Platform. The system was a hybrid interoperable blockchain platform for ledgering and smart contract development geared toward solving problems with blockchain adoption and usability. All objective evaluation would consider the team’s output a success. We released a list of use cases that we explored in some capacity at Disney, and our input on blockchain standardization as part of our participation in the W3C Blockchain Community Group. https://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-blockchain/2016May/0052.html
In 2016, Roets proposed to release the platform as open source to spread the technology outside of Disney, as others within the W3C group were interested in the solutions that had been created inside of Disney. Following a long process, step by step, the team met requirements for release. Among the requirements, the team had to:
Obtain VP support and approval for the release
Verify ownership of the software to be released
Verify that no proprietary content would be released
Convince the organization that there was a value to the open source community
Convince the organization that there was a value to Disney
Offer the plan for ongoing maintenance of the project outside of Disney
Itemize competing projects
Verify no conflict of interest
Change the project name to not use the name Disney, any Disney character, or any other associated IP - proposed Dragonchain - approved
Obtain legal approval
Approval from corporate, parks, and other business units
Approval from multiple Disney patent groups Copyright holder defined by Disney (Disney Connected and Advanced Technologies)
Trademark searches conducted for the selected name Dragonchain
Obtain IT security approval
Manual review of OSS components conducted
OWASP Dependency and Vulnerability Check Conducted
Obtain technical (software) approval
Offer management, process, and financial plans for the maintenance of the project.
Meet list of items to be addressed before release
Remove all Disney project references and scripts
Create a public distribution list for email communications
Remove Roets’ direct and internal contact information
Create public Slack channel and move from Disney slack channels
Create proper labels for issue tracking
Rename internal private Github repository
Add informative description to Github page
Expand README.md with more specific information
Add information beyond current “Blockchains are Magic”
Add getting started sections and info on cloning/forking the project
Add installation details
Add uninstall process
Add unit, functional, and integration test information
Detail how to contribute and get involved
Describe the git workflow that the project will use
Move to public, non-Disney git repository (Github or Bitbucket)
Obtain Disney Open Source Committee approval for release
On top of meeting the above criteria, as part of the process, the maintainer of the project had to receive the codebase on their own personal email and create accounts for maintenance (e.g. Github) with non-Disney accounts. Given the fact that the project spanned multiple business units, Roets was individually responsible for its ongoing maintenance. Because of this, he proposed in the open source application to create a non-profit organization to hold the IP and maintain the project. This was approved by Disney. The Disney Open Source Committee approved the application known as OSSRELEASE-10, and the code was released on October 2, 2016. Disney decided to not issue a press release. Original OSSRELASE-10 document
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
Technology and some more:
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
Down the rabbit hole
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here. Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017. Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand. Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”.Scilla design story part 1
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
“Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
Business & Partnerships
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
Marketing & Community
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
Bitcoin SV – is a new coin splitted of Bitcoin Cash blockchain on 15 November 2018.Four fundamental pillars form the basis of Bitcoin SV’s roadmap to create the one blockchain for the world:stability, scalability, security, and safe instant transactions (a.k.a 0-confirmation).The Bitcoin SV project was created at the request of and sponsored by Antiguan-based CoinGeek Mining, with development work initiated by nChain. The project is also owned by the Antiguan-based bComm Association on behalf of the global BCH (SV) community, and the Bitcoin SV code is made available under the open source MIT license.
Qué tiene de bueno BSV? Estabilidad, escalabilidad, seguridad y transacciones seguras e instantáneas. Yo no tengo queja con ninguna de ellas. Las transferencias son muy rápidas (segundos) y con una fee razonable. Incluso asumidas en muchos casos por el proveedor. La escalabilidad (banca) y el tamaño de bloque (multimedia) serán fundamentales a futuro.
“The existing Visa credit card network processes about 15 million internet purchases per day worldwide. Bitcoin can already scale much larger than that with existing hardware for a fraction of the cost. It never really hits a scale ceiling.” –Satoshi Nakamoto (April 2009) The BSV network will ‘upgrade’ to Quasar and increase the block size from128 MBto 2 GB on July 24, 2019.
https://preview.redd.it/w6voga5ly2p51.jpg?width=2256&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=c08304e64764e01515c379b8d9bcac35f3c7c3f4 BTC podrá seguir añadiendo capas paralelas, parches y demás que ya contempla BSV de base. No sé si es una solución que pueda alargarse en el tiempo, por lo que no parece que compitan en la misma liga. Queda por ver si complementarias o excluyentes … Qué tiene de malo BSV? Es otro proyecto más? Si bien los números y la visión es ganadora, no siempre lo mejor es lo más extendido ni lo más adoptado. Lo peor que tiene BSV … es que no es BTC. Ni BCH. Hay multitud de haters atacando el proyecto y a su promotor principal Craig Wright. Autoproclamado como Satoshi Nakamoto, el promotor está envuelto en líos judiciales en el caso Kleiman (su socio fallecido) en el que los herederos de éste reclaman una fortuna (estimada en 1,1 millones de BTC) de cuando trabajaban conjuntamente. Más info:
Noticias como ésa, unida a los haters de profesión (que lógicamente defienden “lo suyo”), ha convertido a BSV en una moneda controvertida que no deja indiferente a nadie. Para ver un ejemplo claro, Binance lo delistó arrastrado por la numerosa comunidad que atacaba a Craig Wright. Sin embargo, las pools de esa misma Binance están minando BSV mayoritariamente porque es una moneda rentable. BSV no parece una moneda especulativa, ni intradía. Sigue las variaciones del mercado, con subidas y bajadas locas (como todas), pero apunta más a un largo plazo. Cinco, diez años. Más info: https://bitcoinsv.com/
Why Ethereum Problems Make UMI the Flagship Among the New Generation Cryptocurrencies
https://preview.redd.it/8skuypxp9lj51.jpg?width=1023&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=ba5a38ba592428f92dc7c1943a780ff127132875 Ethereum cryptocurrency that comes second in terms of capitalization on the crypto market is traditionally seen as fast and profitable. However, over the last few weeks it's had a rough patch. Since early August, the network has had huge queues of transactions pending processing while fees have skyrocketed and surpassed the historical high. The main issue though is that even fees of a few dollars per transfer don't help get rid of the“traffic jams”. The cause of this is numerous DeFi projects and a huge number of financial pyramids based on the Ethereum platform. Both generate excessive load on the network. The situation is downright unpleasant, and our users might question whether the UMI network could face a similar challenge? We'd like to assure you it could not. The UMI network is by default protected against these problems — it cannot have “traffic jams”, fees or financial pyramids. But first things first. How has the Ethereum network ground to a halt? In its report dated August 4, Arcane Research that provides analysis within the field of cryptocurrency stated that over the previous week the daily size of transaction fees in the Ethereum network has surged up to a record high for over two and a half years. On August 3, the median value #%D0%9F%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B5%D1%80_%D0%B8%D1%81%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%B7%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F)of the fee amounted to $0.82, with the overall amount of transaction fees totaling $2 mln. However, it only signaled the start of real problems. Over the next week, fees continued to grow and by August 11 the median fee value almost doubled equaling $1.57. Larry Cermak, an expert at a big analytical and news-making crypto portal The Block, wrote in his August 15 tweet that over a week the total amount of transaction fees in the Ethereum network totaled $34.5 mln, having surpassed its historical high. Meanwhile, in the Bitcoin network that is seen as too expensive the fees were almost four times lower at $9 mln. The total fee amount paid by cryptocurrency users over a week:
Ethereum — $34.5 mln;
Bitcoin — $9 mln;
Monero — $2,240;
Tezos — $1,876;
Cardano — $1,615;
XRP — $1,138;
BSV — $1,102;
Stellar — $1,059;
Bitcoin Cash — $1,027;
UMI — $0. Let's talk about it a little later.
https://preview.redd.it/z9azd9v6alj51.png?width=1600&format=png&auto=webp&s=25c365d6e14665ecda4a2b8d19b2fc57dd5cde1e Historical Growth Chart for Ethereum Fees.Source The existing situation shows that Ethereum is actually not as fast and profitable as commonly cited. Additionally, this could happen to almost any cryptocurrency except UMI that charges no fees whatsoever. We will tell you why. Why have these problems emerged? There is nothing unoriginal: the Ethereum network simply can't handle an increased load. Arcane Research analysts consider that a principal cause of this situation is the constantly increasing number of the DeFi ecosystem projects built on the Ethereum blockchain. Their number is growing all the time which causes the overload of the network. As of August 12, the total amount of funds in DeFi applications reached $4.3 billion which is 19.5% higher than that in the past week. At the time of writing this article, the amount surged to $6.21 billion. You can see the current data here. What is the most unpleasant about DeFi protocols is that a lot of them are scam projects. Which is not the worst part though. There is also another factor that significantly slows down the Ethereum network. There are a lot of pyramid-like projects that are built on the EOS platform and use smart contracts. One of them is SmartWay Forsage, which regularly overloads the network with a large number of transactions, causes traffic jams, and, consequently, leads to increased fees (keep in mind that Ethereum miners choose transactions with a higher commission). Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, revealed his disapproval of the SmartWay Forsage methodology and asked them to "leave and not pollute Ethereum ecology in the future". However, the project is slow to do this — it continues to deceive users. This is only the tip of the iceberg of scam projects which abounds on the EOS network –– they continually emerge, work for a while, then go down as scams and are replaced with new ones. This never-ending stream of "investment projects" based on the Ponzi scheme overloads the system. This is the reason why Adam Back, a pioneer of the crypto industry and founder of the technology company Blockstream, equated Ethereum with such infamous projects as Onecoin and Bitconnect. Adam Back's solid dig at Ethereum became the subject of much debate among crypto enthusiasts. Of course, it all doesn't mean that Ethereum is a bad cryptocurrency. On the contrary, it has a lot of advantages over other coins. But all that has happened exposes Ethereum's faults which must be eliminated. The problem is that they may not be fixable. It is far from certain that the developers will be able to get rid of all the defects as the system has huge scalability problems. The crypto community has to admit that Ethereum, like other first-generation cryptocurrencies, has issues with capacity, fees, and scalability and is gradually becoming obsolete. 2020 is the time for young innovative cryptocurrencies such as UMI. UMI is the flagship of new-generation cryptocurrencies. In real fact, any cryptocurrency could face it. Each cryptocurrency charges fees which typically surge when the network is overloaded or the price is going up. Everyone will remember 2017 when in line with price growth and the network's overload Bitcoin transaction fee reached a high of around $40. But when it comes to UMI, it works the other way round. The UMI network's advantages are high capacity, no fees, and scaling possibilities. It uses the best and fastest crypto industry solutions and excludes all inefficient methods by default. Smart optimization in combination with the Proof-of-Authority technology operating on the master node basis enables almost instant payments. At the stage of network testing, an incredibly high capacity was achieved:
up to 4,369 transactions per second;
up to 262,140 transactions per minute;
up to 15,728,400 transactions per hour;
up to 377,481,600 transactions per day.
Ethereum processes about 20 transactions per second. It means that the UMI network can process transactions that Ethereum processes over a year in 1 to 5 days — and with no fees. https://preview.redd.it/rwohnov3alj51.png?width=1125&format=png&auto=webp&s=4329b75c0bd8b7a22276b529f5ca433d17a0874f The UMI network can process transactions that Ethereum processes over a year in a few days and with no fees.More details What is more important is that less than 0.001% of the network's overall potential is used now. The UMI network has a lot of reserve capacity and can handle hundreds of thousands of times heavier load. Moreover, with scaling possibilities, UMI can keep up with the times. The UMI code ensures the safe introduction of any upgrades — the network can be easily modified and scaled with cutting edge technology solutions. In other words, traffic jams will never pose a problem for us. UMI will instantly process all transactions, with no fees. Always. https://preview.redd.it/t0068th0alj51.png?width=544&format=png&auto=webp&s=019f46ec8c093480c4638cf098312a5a146134a8 A real-time speedometer displays the number of transactions processed by the UMI network per second.Link Additionally, unlike Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, the UMI's staking smart contract prevents possibilities of any pyramid schemes, meaning eliminates their negative influence. Our staking is completely safe and secured against scammers. Read more about this in our article. Any UMI staking structure could work forever. In other words, you can multiply your coins at a rate of up to 40% per month for an indefinitely long period of time. UMI doesn't inherit the disadvantages of the first-generation cryptocurrencies. This is an innovative, carefully designed network based on state-of-the-art technologies. UMI is an ambitious step toward the future. And we're making it together right now! Sincerely yours, UMI team
So-called "Poison Blocks" (what Greg Maxwell called the "big block attack") are the way Bitcoin was designed to scale and the ONLY way it ever can
Sounds insane, right? Not if you realize Bitcoin works only because it is an economic system. Everything in Bitcoin that falls under the purview of cutthroat market competition works, and everything that doesn't, doesn't.
Security: miners compete ruthlessly on hashrate. This prevents 51% attacks. Security in Bitcoin is fully within the purview of cutthroat market competition, and the result is that it works and works excellently.
Networking: miners don't yet compete on networking to any great degree (Joannes Vermorel argues convincingly that the bandwidth and equipment requirements for even terabyte blocks are no great budgetary strain even for small miners). If they did, it would ensure they have the fat pipes needed for global scale, far in advance. The artificial blocksize cap is preventing networking from falling fully under the purview of cutthroat market competition, and therefore it doesn't fully work: we apparently (since some are balking at puny 128MB blocks) have laggard miners who have not upgraded to even mid-grade networking infrastructure or don't have the technical chops to do so. Removing the cap or raising it aggressively is the only way to incentivize miners to upgrade on an individual level (meaning, to avoid free riders; yes some proactive miners may upgrade early but it is a bad investment if the majority doesn't come along).
Node code: The apparent reliance on volunteer dev teams to supply node client code has effectively subsidized laggard miners in this area, keeping the node code from falling fully under the purview of cutthroat market competition, and as a result - surprise, surprise - the node code is insufficient and "lots of work is needed to get to 128MB."
The error here is this is seen as a reason not to lift the cap. "We cannot raise the cap or miners would be forced to do work!" This is stated un-ironically, with no awareness that some miners being left behind and some miners making it is exactly how Bitcoin always had to work. This is a cry to leave node code optimization out of the purview of cutthroat market competition, because apparently some believe that "cutthroat" has something to do with the result -- the kind of socialist mindset that thinks cutthroat competion among seatbelt makers would lead to seatbelts that kill you. Anyone who understands economics knows nothing could be further from the truth. The rallying cry of the Core-style socialist mentality is that "Node code is too important to be left to the market, we need good Samaritan devs to provide it for all miners so that no miner is left behind." The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly, is to fill the world with fools. -Herbert Spencer Likewise, the ultimate result of shielding miners from their inability or unwilliness to suitably optimize their node software is to fill Bitcoin with unprofessional miners who can't take us to global adoption. Without the incentive to upgrade networking and codebase, Bitcoin lacks the crucial vetting process that Bitcoin need in order to distill miners into a long tail of professionals who have what it takes to ride this train all the way to a billion users, quickly and securely. I challenge anyone to describe how they think Bitcoin can professionalize as long as there remains an effective subsidy for laggard miners in the areas of networking and node optimization (not meaning protocol optimization, but rather things like parallel validation). As painful as it may seem, the only way Bitcoin scales is over the bankrupt shells of many miners who didn't have what it takes. The cruft cannot come along for the ride. This means orphan battles, even if just a little at a time. It means stress tests of rapidly increasing scale. While killing off too much hashpower too fast is in no one's interest (hahsrate gets too low), moving at a speed that is fast yet manageable by most big-league pros is. And really, the changes that need to be made aren't even reputed by anyone to be incredibly hard problems once you accept, as Satoshi did, that "it ends in datacentres and big server farms." The fact that people are still arguing against 128MB by referencing tests with laptop nodes suggests that's the real problem here. Core's full node religion still has sway, despite being manufactured from whole cloth. Also known as Blockstream Syndrome, as a play off Stockholm Syndrome (where captives begin to sympathize with their captors). Whatever the reasons given, critics of removing the cap invariably appeal to the infrastructure "not being ready" as if that were a bad thing. It's a good thing! First of all, if we were to wait for all miners to be ready, we would be waiting for far too long. The right approach, to be determined by the market, is to move ahead somewhere between when 51% are ready and say 90% are ready, which is exactly what we can expect to happen without a cap. The incentives are such that it it profitable to sheer away some laggard miners but not too many (as culling too many at a time leaves BCH open to hashpower attack by BTC miners; over the longer term though it incentivizes pros to enter and take the place of the failed miners, making BCH even more secure). Secondly, the idea of a monolithic "infrastructure" ignores the secret sauce that makes Bitcoin work: miners in competition. Some are expected to fail to be ready! If not, how can Bitcoin miners get any more professional? Only the removal or reformation of the laggards can ever ensure Bitcoin ends up with professional infrastructure. This vetting process is inevitable and essential, and it must apply to all aspects of Bitcoin that we want to see professionalized, including node software. Now leaving aside a miner filling his block with his own 0-fee transactions (which can be dealt with by other miners rejecting blocks with too many 0-fee txs of low coin age*), Greg Maxwell's "big block attack" where big miners try to terrorize smaller (less well capitalized) miners using oversized blocks that a sizable minority of the network can't handle due to their slow networking is in fact exactly how Bitcoin MUST scale. It's not an attack, it's a stress test, and one Bitcoin literally cannot scale without. What he called an attack is the solution to scaling, not any kind of problem. Stress tests are incentivized in Bitcoin as a way of calling the bluff of the lazy miners. You gamble some money on an "attack," see who the slowpokes are and take their block rewards for your own. No miners had the balls to do this so far, but they will soon or Bitcoin dies due to the halvings in a few more years, as fee volume won't sustain security. As big blockers said to Core, there no room for arbitrary "conservatism" in the face of an oncoming train. Finally, I leave you with a thought experiment. Imagine somehow the community of volunteer developers in Bitcoin was so incredibly generous that it offered all miners ASIC designs, mining pool software, and all manner hashing optimizations to the point that miners merely had to buy ASICs and plug them in with no need to understand anything at all, and no need to try innovating on their own with ASIC design since these incredibly skilled volunteers trumped everything they could possibly come up with. Now naturally this situation must eventually come to an end, as the real pros step in, like Samsung. With security thereby left out of the purview of cutthroat market competition, thanks to overweening volunteerism that continued for too long (no problem with volunteers at the start, just a child isn't born into the world an adult and needs parenting at first), these miners would be wholly unvetted, unprepared, unable to scale up their hashing operations and be obliterated by Samsung or maybe a government 51% attack to kill Bitcoin. The point here is there is a formative period, and then there is adulthood. Growing up is a process of relying less and less on handouts, being exposed more and more to the cutthroat realities of the world. When is Bitcoin going to grow up? The halvings place a time limit on Bitcoin's security, and overprotective parents (those who don't want to remove the cap) -- in an ostensible effort to be conservative -- may end up keeping Honeybadger holed up his figurative mom's basement too long for him to accomplish his mission. *and if your response is, "This doesn't exist yet in any clients," I think you have missed the point of this post: again, that's a good thing. Let miners who are too incompetent to figure out something that simple get sloughed away. Do we really want such sluggards? If so and you're a dev, volunteer some code to them. If not, try to get hired by them instead. I think the pay will be much better. And if your response is, "But that means some miners might get orphaned unexpectedly and cry foul," then once again I say, that's a good thing. Block creation is fundamentally a speculative process. In other words, it's a gamble, by design. It's a Keynesian beauty contest wherein each miner tries to mine the greediest block they can get away with while not upping their orphan risk appreciably. Messing around with low-coin-age 0-fee tx stuffing might get you orphaned, boo-hoo. Miners are under no obligation to tell other miners their standards for block beauty in advance, even though they typically have done so thus far. Miners are ALWAYS free to orphan a block for ANY reason. That they generally keep to consistent, well-broadcast rules is a courtesy, not a necessity. Preventing general assholery isn't necessarily best effected by being up-front about what you will punish, but even if it is, miners can do that, too (let them figure it out, as they do for hashpower -- unless you have a good argument for why there is no possible solution or the solution is necessary too hard for a professional organization to figure out in reasonable time; that's the bar for objection, not "well the volunteer dev code doesn't do this yet"). And if your response is, "That will increase the orphan rate," yes and orphans already happen routinely so it is certainly not any catastrophe. See it as a detox process. It might put some small strain on the network as the slowpokes and dickheads are smacked, but again miners still choose this level of orphaning as well by the same Keynesian-beauty-contest dynamic. Orphans are a key part of why Bitcoin works and why it can scale, but if the orphan rate would interfere with service too much (unlikely if you believe 0-conf works), that also gets taken into account in the beauty contest and gets balanced with the benefits of punishing bad behavior and the costs of stomaching the poison block. The offending miner can also be un-whitelisted, returned to rando-node status, but again why are we trying to coddle miners by coming up with their strategies for being better professionals for them? Hopefully it is clear by now that all such arguments are central planning, which is bad at least after an early parental phase which I think has long since passed its natural life.
The attempted come back of CoinEx, China's forked-Bitcoin exchange
Written by Shuyao Kong Published bydecrypt.co An interview with Haipo Yang, a crypto OG who’s trying to reposition his Bitcoin Cash-based CoinEx exchange. And more, in this week’s da bing. https://preview.redd.it/h5f3i3lldv051.jpg?width=3200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=09b8696303ae5c6170753cc438929ebe520d4605 Haipo Yang, founder of ViaBTC, one of the largest mining pools in the world, and CoinEx, a crypto exchange known for its focus on Bitcoin Cash-based trading, is a well-known but relatively quiet character in China’s crypto circle. Typically, Yang doesn’t talk that much about his journey launching the mining pool, nor about CoinEx, which launched in December 2017. And he almost never speaks about his fervent support for BCH, a hard fork of Bitcoin, and his now even more enthusiastic belief in BSV. Yet that’s changing of late. Yang has been more active in recent months, participating in interviews about CoinEx and tweeting more frequently on Weibo, China’s Twitter. He’s been making controversial statements predicting the death of BTC, while supporting BCH and BSV on social media. Recently, Yang told me that as a developer rather than a business person, he’s never been comfortable speaking in public. However he’s making an effort now to help publicize his renovation of CoinEx. So, for this week’s da bing, I decided to chat with him and get a peek into the mind of a veteran crypto entrepreneur who’s trying to make a personal, as well as a platform, comeback.
CoinEx’s golden opportunity
The first hard fork of Bitcoin occurred in August, 2017 and created a new cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Cash. The fork was prompted by partisans, including Yang, who wanted bigger block sizes on the blockchain — the basic idea was that bigger blocks would enable more transactions per second and make Bitcoin Cash something people would actually use to buy things, rather than Bitcoin’s more commonly perceived use as a store of value. Yang added a tremendous amount of value to the mining scene in China. As a technical founder with has years of experience in big tech firms such as Tencent, Yang is proud of his #buidl skills. He developed most of the code in the early days of VicBTC, which became one of the biggest mining pools to this day. Not satisfied with owning just a mining pool,Yang conceived of CoinEx, which was born in December of that year, specifically to carry on the mission of the newly forked Bitcoin Cash blockchain. As he got swept up in Bitcoin Cash enthusiasm, he even said that “BCH is bitcoin.” CoinEx’s strategy was BCH-focused from day one; BCH was its base currency, meaning you could use it to buy and sell other currencies, such as Ethereum and Litecoin. Interestingly, Jihan Wu, the co-founder of Bitcoin Exchange — himself a famous BCH supporter — was a big investor in the exchange. That made me wonder why he, Yang, and many other OG crypto miners, were so passionate about BCH. Was it just about bigger block sizes? “Bigger block size means more users and use cases,” Yang explained. The move to bigger block sizes was attractive to miners because they would facilitate more transactions. Miners make money on transaction fees, as well as mining blocks. Likewise, the network would arguably be more useful to people, who were looking for digital cash for every day use. That especially resonated with many early hardcore Bitcoiners. Said Yang: “We really believe that Bitcoin should be a P2P cash vehicle rather than a store of value.” This view probably sounds outdated to people who believe that Bitcoin’s value as cash is long gone, with solutions such as Lightning Network fulfilling that role. Instead, the new narrative for Bitcoin resides in its value, rather than utility. Yet Yang believed that the forked network would create far more opportunity “We could invite influential companies to establish nodes and contribute to the network. This cannot be done with the original Bitcoin architecture,” he said.
But from its inception, CoinEx struggled with adoption and was dwarfed by the bigger exchanges. Part of that had to do with the fact that BCH and “Bitcoin Satoshi’s Vision,” another Bitcoin hard fork, were both controversial. Critics pointed out that these networks are centralized in a few big mining pools, and 51% attacks are not out of the question. So over time, though Yang’s exchange still maintains strong support for BCH and BSV, it began to add support for all the major currencies. Finally, in January of this year, it announced a major upgrade, of… well, just about everything. It started to offer futures trading, leveraged trading, options trading, and over 100 token projects available to traders. It even rolled out its own blockchain, “CoinEx Chain” to support a new DEX, “CoinEx DEX.” https://preview.redd.it/3okoy5mudv051.png?width=1432&format=png&auto=webp&s=7099249da4a95db873d268f2dfc95d8db93a368e The seemingly sudden publicity of CoinEx should not come as a surprise, then. As BCH/BSV was being marginalized, Yang shifted his focus. He’s now trying to ride the wave of building a bigger, more dynamic exchange. “Crypto exchanges are where value is discovered,” Yang told me.
Building an exchange isn’t done overnight, nor is re-building one. CoinEx is still competing with the giants such as Binance. However Yang thinks his exchange will thrive by zigging when his competitors zag. As usual, CoinEx is taking a slightly different route, he told me. Like what? “We will be listing 小币种,” he said, using the expression for “small token projects.” I cannot help but wonder if these “small token projects” are simply shitcoins, the trading of which is certainly not new. Indeed, Yang said that he’s banking on the success of his new, public blockchain. “We are building a CoinEx Chain, a layer one protocol for DEX alone. Using our public blockchain, anyone can issue any token, at any time,” he said. He described the blockchain as “a real decentralized, token-issuance and transaction platform.” This is the core of Yang’s plan and vision. He believes that centralized exchanges will be a bottleneck for crypto adoption because it contradicts crypto’s nature as a completely free and open infrastructure. Essentially anyone should be able to launch a token and trade it with anyone. Only by building DEXes can we achieve full decentralization, he says.
The Religious nature of Bitcoin, and forked Bitcoin
It’s his belief that Bitcoin should adhere to Satoshi’s original vision that led Yang to send yet another controversial tweet last week, which I will translate: “The early days of Bitcoin expansion are similar to religion. The religious fervor brings prosperity to the industry.” By extension, Yang believes that the next generation of Bitcoin should provoke a similar “religious” fervor. That’s why he has slowly become more of a BSV advocate than a fan of Bitcoin Cash. Yang believes that “BSV has more religious connotations, despite its negative image.” (As most crypto people know, the controversial Craig Wright, who claims to be Satoshi Nakamoto, led the hard fork which created BSV. Consequently it is often met with skepticism and derision.) “The early days of Bitcoin expansion are similar to religion,” said Yang. “The religious fervor brings prosperity to the industry.” Crypto is famous for its tribalism. Many people choose one camp over another not for practical reasons but because of simple faith. Talking to Yang and reading his tweet brings a historic texture to the Bitcoin narrative. But crypto cannot survive on religion alone. One has to build. Hash might have been worshipped in the old days but now the crypto religion is all about the size of the congregation. Original article Click here to register on CoinEx!
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement. So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post. Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources. Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in. https://preview.redd.it/lau4hevpm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2c5de1ba497199f36aa194e5809bd86e5ab533d8
The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling. Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?
Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.
The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.
Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.
Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.
Coinbase Wrap Up
At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product. Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.
Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.
Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto. Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them. In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business. So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them. ------ Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
The Bitcoin network is scaling as the network just reached a new all-time high of 1.3 MB average block size amid record low transaction fees. Biggest Bitcoin is now not only regularly mining blocks over the old 1MB block size limit, but has just reached a new all-time high of 1.3 MB average block size. During a panel discussion on Bitcoin scaling at the recent State of Digital Money event in Los Angeles, the idea that a larger block size limit would lead to further centralization of bitcoin mining was debated by the four participants on the panel: Airbitz CEO Paul Puey, derivatives trader Tone Vays, Yours CEO Ryan X. Charles, and Bitcoin Core contributor Eric Lombrozo. Bitcoin Cash is a Bitcoin hard fork that raises the Bitcoin (Cash) block size to 32MB, allowing the BCH network to process around 65 transactions per second. The Bitcoin Cash hard fork took place in August 2017, just before the conclusion of the SegWit and SegWit2x debacle. In many ways, the Bitcoin Cash movement and hard fork was a result of the lack of direction by the latter project. A Bitcoin block has a variable size, though relatively small blocks usually propagate. There is no target or limitation, and the Bitcoin network has not set out to deliberately distribute large blocks. The record for BTC was purely organic, achieving a mean block size of 1.312 MBs. 1/ Bitcoin hit a new all-time high mean block size yesterday Regarding block size, Monero does not have a fixed cap, unlike Bitcoin's 4 million in block weight units. Instead, it has a dynamic block size, meaning that blocks can expand to accommodate increased demand. Accordingly, if demand is reduced, the permitted size will shrink. The size is calculated by looking at the median size of the previous ... Since its genesis block, Bitcoin mining activities have first pivoted from CPUs to GPUs; since 2014, BTC has been mostly mined by Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). Chart 1 - Mining difficulty of Bitcoin (BTC) (log scale) Sources: Binance Research, Coin Metrics. As illustrated by chart 1, the mining difficulty of Bitcoin has increased dramatically since 2010. Before 2010, the ... BTX was created because of the bitcoin block size debate. BTX decided to use 10MB blocks with segwit support, and change the block time from 10 minutes to 2.5 minutes. They also changed the mining algorithm from the ASIC Sha256 algorithm to a more GPU friendly Timetravel10 algorithm. Bitcoin’s average block size reached a new all-time high ahead of the mining reward reduction set to take place on May 11. According to data from CryptoCompare, the average block size of the bitcoin network reached a peak of 1.341 MB on May 2, and almost broke the record days later with a peak of 1.312 MB on May 7. The previous all-time high was established in December 2019, with an average ...
Binance Launches Crypto Mining Pool Amid Centralization Concerns
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