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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Edit: TL;DR added in the comments
 
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:
 
Introduction
 
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.
 
Decentralisation
 
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.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. The faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time-stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
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.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
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!
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CoinEx Token Rating Report by TokenInsight

CoinEx Token Rating Report by TokenInsight
Written by TokenInsight
Published by tokenin.cn

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Advantages

  1. The team’s overall technical background is good, and the CTO and CEO of the project have rich experience in related industries;
  2. The current business scope of CoinEx has been expanded, and the development of the public chain has a decisive role in promoting the development of the exchange business;
  3. The project operation information is transparent, and the development process is consistent with the road map;
  4. The unlocking schedule is clear, and the token held by the team will be unlocked continuously in the next five years;
  5. The project uses POS consensus mechanism. At present, it has been launched on the main network, and the block time is stable, between 2–3 seconds.

Challenges

  1. It is not clear enough yet whether the trichain operation planning can achieve the project’s development goals;
  2. There is limited information on implementation details about cross-chain and other related technologies, and the development status needs to be assessed based on the later project development disclosure information;
  3. The team currently hold a large share of the token, hence the distribution of tokens is relatively concentrated;
  4. There are few application scenarios for project tokens, and more ecosystem scenarios need to be developed;
  5. As a deflationary token, CET needs to be balanced by dealing with the contradiction between public chain users and token holders.

Outlook

The development of CoinEx Chain contributes to the future development of CoinEx’s centralized and decentralized exchanges; the concept of trichain operation simplifies the functions of each chain, improving their performance. At present, there are few exchanges working on the public chain, and no fierce competition has occurred.

Conclusion

Considering the status and development prospects of the project, TokenInsight gives CoinEx a rating of BB with a stable outlook.

1. Multidimensional evaluation


2. Project analysis

CoinEx (CoinEx Technology Limited) was established in December 2017 and is headquartered in Hong Kong, China. It is a sub-brand of the ViaBTC mining pool. At present, CoinEx’s business scope includes CoinEx exchange, CoinEx public chain, and CoinEx decentralized exchange. The current development focus of the CoinEx platform are public chain and exchange. The main purpose of the public chain is to build a decentralized exchange (DEX) infrastructure and an ecosystem around DEX.

CoinEx business structure,Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight

2.1 Introduction

“ CoinEx Chain uses the parallel operation of three chains which are DEX, Smart, and Privacy, as well as cross-chain technologies to create a rich decentralized exchange ecosystem and blockchain financial infrastructure.
The core of CoinEx’s early business was the exchange, consisted of two major categories which were spot and derivatives trading. Currently, there are 123 trading currencies online, covering 302 trading pairs. On June 28, 2019, CoinEx released the CoinEx Chain public chain white paper, aiming to build a decentralized trading system (CoinEx DEX) with community-based operations and transparent transaction rules, and providing user-controlled asset trading scenario by the highest technical standards in the industry; CoinEx Chain has become another development focus of CoinEx. CoinEx Token (CET), which was originally a native token of the CoinEx exchange, will also be developed mainly as a built-in token of the public chain.
CoinEx Chain is a public chain based on the Tendermint consensus protocol and Cosmos SDK, and it uses POS mechanism. CoinEx Chain plans to support 42 nodes when the project starts, and any entity in the ecosystem can participate in the validator’s campaign by staking CET. CoinEx Chain will use the new block reward and the transaction fee contained in the block as the reward for running the node.
CoinEx Chain has developed three public chains with different positioning and different functions in order to meet the needs of blockchain transactions for transaction performance, smart contracts, and privacy protection at the same time. They operate in parallel and collaborate with each other through cross-chain technology. At present, the block time of the public chain is between 2–3 seconds. According to the observation of TokenInsight, the block time is stable, but the number of transactions through the CoinEx public chain is still low at present, the number of transactions in 24 hours is about 30,000; The TPS on public chain disclosed by CoinEx can reach up to 1500 per second.
CoinEx Chain uses a trichain parallel model to build a more vibrant ecosystem around DEX. The three chains are DEX public chain, Smart public chain, and Privacy public chain, respectively responsible for decentralized transactions, smart contracts, and on-chain privacy protection.
CETs that need to participate in complex financial contracts can be transferred to the Smart public chain through the DEX public chain, then moved back to the DEX public chain after that. CET tokens that need to participate in token confusion can also be carried out through the privacy transaction of the Privacy public chain, and can eventually be returned to the DEX public chain. The three public chains are responsible for their respective duties, and they are interconnected through the cross-chain technology through the relay mechanism. In addition to ensuring their respective transaction processing speed and functional attributes, they can also jointly provide richer and safer functions, and synergistically constitute the CoinEx decentralized public chain ecosystem.
In addition, CoinEx Chain also supports any participant to issue new tokens on the chain and create new trading pairs for the issued tokens. CoinEx Chain guarantees the circulation of new tokens by establishing a trading pair between the new token and CET.

2.2 Component architecture

“ Tendermint Core and Cosmos SDK have improved the performance and operation capability of the blockchain. The SDK packaging reduces the consideration of non-related logic, hence reducing the development complexity.
CoinEx Chain is based on Tendermint Core and Cosmos SDK, both of which have brought a big boost to the development of CoinEx public chain performance. Cosmos-SDK will implement the application logic of the blockchain. Together with the Tendermint consensus engine, it implements the three-layer architecture of the CoinEx public chain: the application layer, the consensus layer, and the network layer.
Tendermint
Tendermint is based on the state machine replication technology and is suitable for blockchain ledger storage. It is a list of transactions making consensus with Byzantine fault tolerance, the transactions are executed in the same order, and eventually the same state is obtained. Tendermint can be used to build various distributed applications.
Cosmos SDK
Cosmos-SDK is a blockchain framework that supports the construction of multiple assets with a consensus mechanism of POS (Proof of Stake) or POA (Proof of Authority). The goal of the Cosmos SDK is to allow developers to easily build custom blockchains from 0, while enabling the interaction with other blockchains.
Cosmos-SDK is a blockchain framework that supports the construction of multiple assets with a consensus mechanism of POS (Proof of Stake) or POA (Proof of Authority). The goal of the Cosmos SDK is to allow developers to easily build custom blockchains from 0, while enabling the interaction with other blockchains. The blockchain development framework Cosmos SDK implements general functions such as account management, community governance, and staking in a modular form. Therefore, using the Cosmos SDK to build a public chain can simplify development procedures and facilitate operation. Tendermint is a fixed protocol in a partially synchronized environment, which can achieve throughput within a delay range of the network and each process itself. The CoinEx public chain is developed based on both, improving the performance and operability of the blockchain. The SDK packaging further reduces considerations of non-related logic and reduces the complexity of developers creating. The two components of Tendermint and Cosmos SDK are connected and interacted through the Application Blockchain Interface.
Cosmos SDK and Tendermint interworking structure,Source:CoinEx; TokenInsight

2.3 Project public chain planning

The development plan of the CoinEx public chain is to create a series of public chains with specific application directions, including:
  1. DEX public chain: solve the problems of lack of security and opacity that are widely criticized by centralized exchanges at present; aim to build a transparent, safe, and permission-free financial platform; restore the experience of central exchanges to the greatest extent;
  2. Smart public chain: a public chain that specifically supports smart contracts and provides a platform for building complex financial applications;
  3. Privacy public chain: mainly provides transaction amount, account balance, and information protection and the hiding of both parties to the transaction.
In order to achieve the performance of each specific application public chain, each public chain in the CoinEx public chain focuses on the development of a certain function. For example, in order to improve the transaction processing speed of the DEX public chain, the DEX public chain only supports the necessary functions and does not support smart contracts. To achieve the smart contract function support, cross-chain connection between the DEX public chain and the Smart public chain is required.

2.4 Operation analysis

“ The CoinEx platform publishes monthly ecosystem reports with high transparency; but the monthly reports are limited to contents about transactions and development, and lack progress in ecosystem and community construction, making them relatively simple.
2.4.1 Disclosure of ecosystem information
Operational risks have a direct impact on platform users. Whether platform operations are smooth and whether there is transparency are issues that platform users care about.
The CoinEx platform was established in 2017 and has around 3 years of development. It is also one of the platforms that has been developing for a long time in the exchange industry. It has obtained a digital currency trading license issued by the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU), and the platform’s compliance is guaranteed to some degree.
The actual operation of the CoinEx platform will be displayed in the form of ecosystem monthly reports. The monthly report contains various types of content such as online currencies, new activities, plans for the next month, and ecosystem dynamics. It involves multiple business dimensions including the CoinEx exchange, CoinEx Public Chain, and CET token.

https://preview.redd.it/4mt0999ere551.png?width=631&format=png&auto=webp&s=cba27a7c90275f4c033bdd2445a72e6f294265e8
Snippet of a CoinEx ecosystem monthly report,Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight
2.4.2 Roadmap
CoinEx Chain released its development roadmap for the four quarters of 2020 in January 2020. The roadmap shows that CoinEx Chain will undergo major updates on smart contracts and DEX hard fork upgrades. The project roadmap is basically planned on a monthly basis, with a clear plan and a clear direction of development.
CoinEx Public Chain 2020 Development Roadmap,Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight
In addition to the development route planned in the roadmap, CoinEx public chain also discloses its goals for next month in its monthly ecological report. The project’s main net was launched online in November 2019. According to TokenInsight’s review of the development of CoinEx public chain from January to April and the disclosure of the project’s ecosystem monthly report, the project’s plan about development of the smart contract Demo in February failed to be completed as planned; the project completed launching of the new version of the blockchain browser and the Asian Atlantis upgrade; the smart contract virtual machine development was planned to be completed in April, but the progress related to supporting cross-chain agreements was not disclosed yet.
Overall, the project’s development route planning is clear, and the project’s development schedule is consistent with the plan, but there are still some discrepancies. Operation and development information is disclosed every month, and information transparency is high.

3. Industry & Competitors

The earliest origin of the exchange layout in the public chain field began in early 2018 when Binance released an announcement to start the development of the Binance Public Chain officially. In June of the same year, Huobi announced at its brand upgrade conference that it will combine the technical capabilities of the Huobi technical team and the community developers to develop the Huobi public chain called “Huobi Chain”. In December of the same year, OK Group announced the launch of its self-developed public chain OKchain, dedicating to provide underlying technical support and services for startups stationed in B-Labs.
The successful launch of the public chain brings huge strategic significance to the exchange, which can not only improve the performance of the existing business of the exchange but also achieve further expansion of its influence. As one of the most important blockchain infrastructures, the public chain can benefit the exchanges behind it.
As a platform for developing public chain technology exchanges, CoinEx’s main competitors in the field of public chain development include Binance, Huobi, and OKEx. Although they are all exchange platforms for deploying public chains, the above four are different in terms of specific functions, economic models, and critical points of the public chain.

3.1 Development progress comparison

In 2019, Binance became the first exchange to launch a public chain among all digital asset exchanges, and its main product is Binance exchange (DEX). In April 2020, Binance announced the launch of a second smart contract chain, using Ethereum’s virtual machine, so that developers can build decentralized applications without affecting the performance and functionality of their original chain.
OKEx launched OKChain’s testnet in February 2020 and completed open source two months later. OKChain is designed as the basis of large-scale blockchain-driven business applications, with the characteristics of source code decentralization, point-to-point, irreversibility, and efficient autonomy.
Huobi released Huobi Chain for the first time in July 2019, the code is open source, and the testnet was released in February 2020. As a “regulator-friendly financial blockchain”, Huobi Chain focuses on providing compliance services for companies and financial institutions.
The CoinEx public chain officially completed the main online launch in November 2019 and completed the new block browser’s launch in March 2020. On April 3, 2020, CoinEx DEX uploaded the underlying code to Github to achieve open source. The CoinEx public chain is more inclined to build a full DEX ecosystem to achieve a one-stop solution for issuing, listing, storing, and trading. The long-term goal is to create a blockchain financial infrastructure.

3.2 Comparison of economic models

At present, the exchange is more inclined to use its existing platform currency as the native token of the public chain in the construction of public chain ecology. CoinEx’s CET, Binance’s BNB, and Huobi’s HT all fall into this category. OKEx is the only exchange that issues new tokens for its OKChain, which means OKT is the only ‘inflation token’ in the exchange’s public chain, while CET, HT, and BNB are all deflationary.

3.3 Decentralization of public chain

The initial number of CoinEx public chain verification nodes is 42, which is currently the most decentralized among all exchange public chains, and able to take both efficiency and decentralization into account; OKChain also currently has a relatively high degree of decentralization in the exchange public chain (21 verification nodes), its nodes have a high degree of autonomy; by contrast, Binance still firmly controls the operation of nodes and transactions; In terms of encourages cooperation between regulators and the private financial aspects, Huobi provides a lesser degree of decentralization. Huobi Chain uses a variant of the DPoS consensus algorithm to provide functions such as “supervision nodes”, allowing regulators to become validators.
Comparison of some dimensions of CoinEx, Huobi, Binance and OKEx public chain,Source: TokenInsight

4. Token Economy

CoinEx Token (CET) is a native token of the CoinEx ecosystem. It was issued in January 2018. Token holders can enjoy some user value-added services within the ecosystem. Currently, it is mainly used as a native token on the CoinEx Chain. As of 11 am on April 23, 2020, the current circulation of CET tokens in the market is 3,215,354,906.31, with a total of 5,842,177,609.53. CET tokens will not be further issued or inflated. Currently, daily repurchase and quarterly destruction are carried out. The repurchase destruction dynamics can now be tracked real-time on the CET repurchase system on the platform.

4.1 Token Distribution

The CET token used to be based on the ERC-20 token developed by Ethereum. Since the CoinEx Chain mainnet was launched in November 2019, some ERC-20 CET tokens have been mapped to the mainnet CET, and the rest of the CET will be mapped before November 10, 2020. CET holders need to deposit ERC-20 CET to the COinEX exchange, and the exchange will conduct the main network mapping.
At present, CET is mainly circulated in the form of mainnet tokens, and only a small portion of ERC-20 CET has not been mapped. The distribution of token holdings currently circulating on the mainnet can be seen in the figure below. At present, the number of tokens held by the top ten holders accounts for about 60.44% of all mainnet CET tokens.
Distribution of CET token holding addresses,Source: Etherscan; TokenInsight
The following figure shows the initial distribution of tokens after the mainnet mapping preset by CoinEx. From the initial distribution map of CET, it shows that, after mapping, a large portion of CET remains concentrated in the hands of the team (31%), and the actual number of CET circulating in the market only accounts for 49% of the total.
The initial distribution of CET token,Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight
After the main net mapping, the 31% of the total CET (1.8 billion) held by the team will be gradually unlocked in the five years from 2020 to 2024, and 360 million CET will be unlocked each year. By 2024, the CET held by the team will be completely unlocked. From the current CET dynamics, the CET share held by some teams has been used for destruction purposes to achieve the purpose of CET austerity. If the frozen 1.8 billion CET held by the team are used for similar purposes, the development of CET and its platform can benefit from it.
Team’s CET unlocking plan,Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight

4.2 Token economic model

4.2.1 Deflation mechanism
Since the CET token went online in January 2018, CoinEx has increased the circulation of CET through airdrops, transaction fee refunds, operation promotion, and team unlocking. As one of the existing platform coins with long development time, the deflation mechanism of CET token has undergone a series of changes with the development of the industry. In 2018, when the concept of coin-based mining prevailed, CET used transaction mining, stake mining, and pending order mining, which were cancelled in October, December and, April respectively of the following year.
The repurchase and destruction model currently used by CET was updated by CoinEx on April 11, 2020. The original CET quarterly repurchase and destruction policy of the platform will be adjusted to daily repurchase and quarterly destruction. After the implementation of the daily repurchase policy, CoinEx will take out 50% of the daily fee income for CET repurchase in the secondary market and implement quarterly destruction until the total remaining circulation is 3 billion (currently about 5.8 billion).
At the same time that CoinEx updated the repurchase and destruction plan on April 11, the platform also launched a page dedicated to displaying CET repurchase information, so that users can clearly understand the progress of CET repurchase and destruction.
As of April 23, 2020, the platform has destroyed 4,157,822,390.46 CET tokens, accounting for 41.6% of the initial total issuance. At the end of January 2019, it had destroyed 4 billion CETs (single destruction volume peak) at the end of this quarter. The number of CETs to be destroyed is 3,422,983.56.
CET historical destruction data,Source: CoinEx; TokenInsight
4.2.2 Application scenarios
The current usage scenarios of CET are discounted platform transaction fees, VIP services, special activities rights and interests, CoinEx Chain internal circulation fuel, and use of external scenarios.
Deduction and discount of platform transaction fees
CoinEx platform users can use CET to deduct transaction fees when conducting transactions within the platform. At the same time, using CET to pay transaction fees can enjoy the exclusive preferential rates provided by the platform.
CET fee discount amount,Source:CoinEx; TokenInsight
VIP service
Holding a certain number of CETs can make a user become a platform VIP user. Users can also use CET to purchase platform VIPs to obtain corresponding privileges such as discounted rates, accelerated withdrawals, and exclusive customers.
Special activity rights
CET holders can enjoy special rights and interests in platform marketing activities, such as participating in the airdrop of tokens on the platform or accelerating opportunities for high-quality projects.
CoinEx Chain built-in token
CET will serve as a native token of CoinEx Chain, circulate and serve as fuel in CoinEx Chain, and users can also use CET to invest or trade other digital assets. In addition, CET can also serve as transaction fees and function fees (issuing Token, creating new trading pairs, account activation), etc. in the platform, and users can also participate in the campaign of validators by staking CET tokens.
CET is currently used as a circulation token as well for CoinEx DEX to issue tokens, create orders, Bancor, address activation, set address aliases, and other application scenarios.
In general, the types of application scenarios of CET are not plenty enough. In order to better develop the internal ecosystem of the platform, it is necessary to design and develop more CET usage scenarios and incentive mechanisms to increase the retention rate of users while adding new users.
4.2.3 Token incentive
As the native token of the CoinEx public chain, CET will be used as a block incentive to increase community participation after the mainnet of the public chain launched. The 315 million CET held by the foundation in the total CET issuance will be used to incentivize initial verification nodes and Staking participants.
CET annual incentive information,Source:CoinEx; TokenInsight

5. Team & Partners

5.1 Core team members

Among the core team members of CoinEx, the technical members account for a relatively large proportion. The technical team’s overall ability is good and the team members have different technical experience backgrounds including cryptography, underlying protocols, marketing, and operations. The team has rich blockchain industry experience, especially the chief developer, who has about 13 years of development industry experience.

https://preview.redd.it/kd0z9q0ese551.png?width=785&format=png&auto=webp&s=7beff33e522165202f6a0b75dba70f32630d8656
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https://preview.redd.it/kuyspmkfse551.png?width=978&format=png&auto=webp&s=fd9c808107d245047f7c74ef34fcf6a02965152c

5.2 Investment institutions and partners

CoinEx’s investment is led by Bitmain and its main partners include Matrixport, Bitcoin.com, CoinBull, Consensus Lab, BTC.com, BTC.top, Hoo Exchange, Wa Yi, ChainFor.com, etc.
Investment institutions and major partners have rich experience in the industry, which can promote the development of projects to a certain extent. However, the current industry involved by the partners is not wide enough, and it will have a limited role in promoting the future of CoinEx’s enriching business lines and increasing ecosystem functions.
https://preview.redd.it/zjgzvv6ise551.png?width=533&format=png&auto=webp&s=a3f7fe3abb2c2d522e289213ae6fbc4e899825e0

6. Community Analysis

According to TokenInsight’s research of the CoinEx platform community, as of April 23, 2020, its official Twitter has 19,800 followers and 932 tweets; the official Telegram has 45 official groups, 3 in Chinese and English, and the other is Korean, Arabic, Vietnamese, Indian and other small language groups, with a total number of 56088 people; the current number of followers on Facebook accounts is 3,107. The overall community followers still have a lot of room for improvement, and community activeness needs to be improved.
Number of followers on the CoinEx social platform,Source:TokenInsight
At present, the project’s search popularity and official website visits are both top-notch, and monthly visits have slowly returned to their previous visit levels after experiencing a significant decline in December 2019.
CoinEx visit popularity,Source: TokenInsight, Similarweb, Google
At present, the visitors of the CoinEx website are distributed in multiple countries, and there are no visits concentration from a single country or region. Therefore, CoinEx’s comprehensive global influence is widely distributed and has a reasonable degree of internationalization.

CoinEx official website’s top 5 countries by number of visitors,Source: CoinEx, TokenInsight
Original article
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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

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, analysed 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, decentralised and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis 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:
 
Introduction 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 end of January 2019 with daily transaction rate growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralised and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. Maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realised early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralised, 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 amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralisation. 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 disecting 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 synchronise 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, decentralised and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimisation 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 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 decentralisation.
 
Decentralisation
 
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 (centralised 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 their 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% translates 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 decentralised too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralised in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. Faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, R&D roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalised: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: > “all programmes have two basic components, data – what the programme knows – and behaviour – what the programme can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviours 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 behaviour 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 recognised 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 safety 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 for 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.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
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 organisations 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 suggest that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already taking 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 build 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 dont 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 initiatives (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggest 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 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!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

My response to recent concerns

Hey all,
I’ve spent some time during my flight back home to discuss in detail the experience in Singapore, what talked about, things the mods and team are working on, improvements that can be made and some other things too. This post has also had input from the other moderators too.
I don’t think any of the mods were massively pleased with the outcome of how we portrayed our time in Singapore during the last update and it certainly didn’t put across all the fantastic things we learnt or discussed while we were there. There was a quick turnaround with the update and with some of us were travelling and heading to other countries for various reasons it wasn’t ideal – anyway let’s begin. P.s. I apologise in advance for the lengthy post.

Education

As most of you are aware there is a rebranding process going on for Request currently, it was really exciting to hear Robbins experience and to see the scope of the project. Request are working with an industry leading full-service digital agency to improve the understandability of Request through educational content.
The current Request website is mainly catered towards ICO investors and hasn’t really changed much since the token sale – when visiting the site, it’s extremely difficult to understand what Request is, how it works and who can it benefit from the platform. One of the goals of the project is to revamp the website to cater for developers, businesses, users, community members, early adopters and investors.
The concept of the blockchain, Request, and its products is daunting for the non-technical audience. While the team know it’s important to cater for developers and other industry professionals having an easy to understand project with easy to consume information is an important step towards adoption.
The Request Hub will also play a critical part in the growth of the Request Network. The new website will have a focus on developers and businesses and pushing them towards the hub and how they can use the funding to help create their projects. Most of you will probably be aware that the dApps + the core protocol are different projects entirely. Internally, this is also the case.
You can see an visual image of the structure here: https://imgur.com/pXF1gEK
The core platform team is responsible for protocol development, things like scaling solutions, data encryption, extensions, features like cross-currency etc. Whereas the dApp teams focus on creating applications built on the Request platform, crowdfunding, invoicing, payments etc. Although this isn’t new information it’s important for sections later in the write-up.

FIAT

This is an excerpt from the 8th June AMA special project update (https://blog.request.network/request-network-project-update-june-8th-2018-ama-special-request-network-now-available-for-5da85547d933) which covers the teams thoughts on FIAT.
Fiat integration is vital for the success of the Request Network for medium to long-term. What we focus on today is making sure the protocol has enough features and a solid developer experience to attract developers to build reliable financial tools on top of the Request Network. The foundation prioritizes its own development goals based on direct feedback coming from the developer community. We receive requests for features that are needed by developers, as their product depends on it.
Today, the main feedback coming from the developer community is to make it easier to use the library, implementation of encryption, cross currency support and adding more cryptocurrencies. Apart from these requests, scalability of the protocol itself and developing extensions such as escrow are also prioritized as it is crucial for adoption of the protocol by developers. The above are our current priorities in development, while we in parallel are researching several fiat integration options mentioned in an update last December.
All of the above bullet points are things the team are actively researching and looking into, we discussed how the Singapore government is looking at tokenizing the Singaporean Dollar and how many more governments in the future will look at taking this route, however this is a long way off.
A decentralised Oracle with Chainlink would be ideal but it’s not ready yet.
Integrations by partnerships with banks / partnering with credit card companies or processors (like Stripe) is incredibly difficult (especially being decentralised) but it’s something the team will actively work on / towards.
Oracle and bank APIs – we discussed several projects here like StellarX, OmiseGo and more – each have their own pros and cons but nothing in the space is really ready for FIAT, some options are close and the team are keeping a close eye on several projects in this space.
There are tonnes of regulatory issues surrounding FIAT and the blockchain, governments are dubious about the blockchain technology and banks are having a tough time getting involved too – even big companies like Binance, Coinbase and Circle still can’t obtain a banking license after many years of trying. The regulatory situation will change, crypto is still a young industry and it will take time for governments to catch up.
Instead of spending time trying to achieve FIAT which wasn’t viable, their time has been spent on far more productive things such as scaling solutions, data encryption, working on various dApps, working with partners, hiring and much more. The better the platform the more impact having FIAT will have when it comes. Yes, not being able to stick to the roadmap isn’t ideal, but the team have realised there are limitations and made the best of the situation.
Would it have been good if the team have been more transparent about FIAT and the issues they faced? Absolutely. Detailed articles about subjects like this do take time, and raise further questions which also take up the team’s time. We want to find a good balance going forward of keeping the team on track and keeping the community informed. We will also work with the team to improve communication for things like this (if they ever arise in the future) and how the mods can alleviate some of the time-pressure if possible.
The team do realise the importance of FIAT, it hasn’t been forgotten and will be something the team will keep on the roadmap – in the future when FIAT is possible we will have a much more mature platform and many use cases live and ready to integrate FIAT.

Marketing

One of the most discussed things over the past months is marketing, this is a very important topic and it’s something that can make or break a project.
As per the ‘Rebranding + Restructure’ section, marketing will be broken down into two different groups, dApps and the core Request platform. The marketing for each of these aspects is very different.
So, why aren’t the team marketing right now? Quite simply – the platform just isn’t ready yet, there isn’t enough value to risk marketing at this stage. This is the same with some of the dApps, they are close, but they still aren’t quite there yet.
In my case if we take a look at the WooCommerce + Shopify plugins, if I go ahead and run a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign before BTC is integrated, then users may leave the site and never return. In this instance I will have lost money as well as a potential customer. This is just one example but it’s the same for other dApps too.
Right now, The team are making active steps towards marking when the platform and dApps are, as well as hiring dedicated marketers.
I do want to say that the team truly understand the importance of marketing, they will market the project and the dApps– it’s critical they do so.
To break it down there are entirely separate game-plans to consider when marketing, the core platform and dApps.
Core Platform (Foundation)
Marketing for the core platform will focus on; educating the community about the platform, educating developers / businesses / potential partners about the Request protocol and how it can be used by / integrated into business workflows.
The rebrand will have a big focus on education and driving adoption of the Request Hub + Fund. In the meantime, we are discussing ways to improve the Request Hub and how we can get more developers involved at this stage, I have covered this in more detail in the ‘Request Hub’ section.
dApps
Each dApp will in essence be its own entity (business) and will act independently of the foundation. Each dApp will have a dedicated team, individual aims and goals, potentially a custom roadmap, a proprietary marketing strategy and much more (everything you expect from a typical business).
Marketing for individual dApps will vary greatly depending on what the dApp is, some will be focussed on B2B, some B2C, some dApps might be a combination of both.

Hiring + strategies to find new devs

The foundation growing at a quick rate and one of the things we discussed in Singapore was hiring and strategies to find new devs.
There are several strategies that the Request team can adopt alongside job advertisements to help entice developers, not only to the foundation but also to the Request Hub. We discussed potentially using freelancers and then hiring if they are a good fit, more engagement from the team with people that contribute to the Request Hub and how the team can help (financially via the fund + time set aside for devs), hackathons with prize incentives, speaking at developer conferences (very important). Some ways of engaging with developers do require the platform / ecosystem to be more mature but we are actively working on making these things a reality. Also, improving the community sentiment will also drive hype which in turn hopefully attracts more developers.

Request Hub + Request Fund

In my opinion one of the best selling points of Request is the Request Hub + Fund. Although there is activity in the hub and some projects have receiving funding it is nowhere near as widely used as it could be. As I’ve discussed in the marketing section, the renewed website will have a big focus on pushing the Hub + Fund.
Aside from the marketing aspect I have also been speaking to teams in the Hub for a while about how the flow for funding can be improved, we have discussed the barrier to entry for the fund (MVP limitations), the turnaround time for responding to funding applications (needs to be quicker), having the team engage more with the Request Hub devs as well as actively helping them with their business needs.
In the future I will also look at creating a suite of tutorials, and potentially workshops, for the Request Hub to help get developers up and running.

Bi-weekly updates

One of the hot topics since returning from Singapore has been the bi-weekly updates, we have been discussing with the team how they can be improved without taking up too much time for the team. There are several things which are actively being discussed:
This will be an ongoing discussion with the foundation, it will take time to refine the bi-weeklys and we also need to find a happy medium that suits both the foundation and the community too.

The Community Managers and our role

The goal as community managers is to firstly ensure that the social channels e.g. Reddit, Discord, Slack and Telegram are a good place for investors, the team and developers – we want to ensure it’s good for open discussions (both positive and negative) and a place where we can educate people about Request too.
As community managers we want to try and stay as impartial as possible, we will help to educate when we can, we’ll shut down any false information and we’ll help alleviate any concerns where possible. We don’t want to take sides, we are simply there to be a bridge between the team and the community.
We want the Request community to be an open place where anyone can discuss what they want, we want to see discussions about good things and bad – we don’t want Request to be a place where negativity is censored. We (the mods) are just normal guys, we love technology, we love the blockchain, we are just investors like all of you, and we want the best for the Request Network.
We are continually improving how we and the team deliver information, but things can still be improved massively – we are already actioning some things to improve communication between the community and the team and we have plenty of other things lined up too.

Roadmap

During the rebrand the website will rework the dynamic roadmap to something potentially similar to Ark (https://ark.io/roadmap), with percentages (or something similar) and a breakdown of each goal on the roadmap. This will help with transparency and also allow the community to track progress more easily.
I’ll cover my perspective on the dynamic roadmap looking from a developers point of view, as a lot of people are still unsure as to why the roadmap has changed and in turn it raises lots of questions.
From a developers point of view.
As a dev it can be incredibly difficult to hit deadlines that are more than a few weeks / over a month or two away, the further away the date the harder it is to estimate + hit deadlines. This is the case for a normal business, but as crypto is insanely fast paced and such a new industry this is even more prevalent.
In the normal development world you typically work in weekly / bi-weekly sprints to produce features in small iterations which contributes to the overall project, at the end of each sprint you re-evaluate the previous weeks and re-adjust timings / resources if necessary – estimating deadlines months in advance is almost impossible.
The biggest issue about committing to a firm date is that crypto adoption is moving at a fast rate, non-blockchain businesses are getting involved with cryptocurrencies and a great platform like Request is an attractive option for them. On-boarding these businesses takes money, expertise and most importantly team resources. The team is growing but for now the time spent with these partners needs to come from somewhere, and unfortunately features can sometimes get affected.
Let's take BTC support - if the team was fully focused on BTC I would have no doubt there would have been no delay. But PwC came along, which took up development resources and, unfortunately, impacted the deadline. Long-term, having PwC onboard will have a more positive effect on the overall Request Network ecosystem. Partnerships won't wait around, Bitcoin support will.
With these partnerships there will be a push for features they want to see. PwC for example, would be focused on the accounting so they would likely be pushing for accountancy related dApps (http://accounting.request.network/) - when the roadmap was first created the team could never predict such a huge entity like PwC would come onboard, so changing focus is sometimes required from a project. Once again, long-term this will benefit Request massively.
From a development perspective changing the roadmap is a fantastic move in my opinion, the team never know what is around the corner and being able to quickly adapt to new opportunities, on-boarding companies are critical for the long-term viability of the network. As the team grow there will be more development resource available to focus on the core platform and partners which will allow the team to better predict features in the future. Once again, I’d like to reiterate things do need improving here, the team can be more transparent, and the roadmap can, and will, be improved.

Summary

The Singapore trip was fantastic, and it was an incredible experience working closely with the team and it was great to see their passion and talent while working away through the week, it’s an excellent work environment too.
Every bit of feedback is incredibly important, please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time to me or any of the mods, either by Reddit, Discord, Slack or Telegram.
There is a lot of work ahead for the mods and the team, but rest assured we have every single one of your concerns in our scope; the community and the perception you guys have is so important to the team and the project. There are a lot of great things going on that we will continue to improve and lots of things that need changing – it won’t be something that happens overnight but something that will be continuously improving for the entirety of the project – we are dedicated to working hard and improving Request and the community every day.
At the end of all this, actions speak louder than words, and we will take everything into consideration to help ensure Request thrives, we are already in the process of actively making changes.
Apologies for the lengthy post but hopefully this clears some bits up and helps to put across some of the great things we saw in Singapore, if you have any other questions feel free to leave a comment or get in touch privately. Cheers.
submitted by AdmREQ to RequestNetwork [link] [comments]

The History, The Current State And The Future Of NavCoin

The History, The Current State And The Future Of NavCoin

This is it. If you're interested to see what NAV is all about, this is the ultimate guide for you. You will learn about the history of NavCoin and how it evolved. You will learn about the current state and features of NavCoin and you will learn about the exciting new features that are planned and coming up in the (near) future.
So buckle up, this is going to be a long ride!

Table Of Content


Introduction - What is NavCoin?


The History

Introduction
The following chapter will summarize and break down the history of NavCoin in a few sentences. NAV started a long time ago, went through rebrandings and changes of the core team before it became what it is today.

SummerCoin
NavCoin was initially first introduced under the name SummerCoin on April 23 in 2014. SummerCoin was a fork of the Bitcoin blockchain. It used to have a PoW/PoS hybrid algorithm with a block time of 45 seconds.

SummerCoinV2 /NavajoCoin
Soon after the initial launch of SummerCoin, the original developer left and SoopY (soopy452000 on bitcointalk) took over as the main developer and rebranded the project to SummerCoinV2 respectively NavajoCoin and introduced new features.
The name NavajoCoin was chosen in honor of the Navajo Code Talker. The unbreakable Navajo code was used to encrypt highly classified military information and commands and decrypt the same in WW II.
SoopY introduced a technology which allowed sending transactions anonymously and private. This technology was called "Navajo Anonymous Technology". SoopY also released a new wallet and set the Proof of Stake rewards at 10% for the first year, 5% for the second year and 2% for every year after.

NavCoin
On August 12, 2014, Craig (current lead core developer, pakage on bitcointalk) started to get involved with NAV by helping to set up a website [10].
It was officially announced that Craig joined the core team as a "Wallet & Web Developer" on November 06, 2014.
The last tokenswap and restart of the blockchain of NAV happened on May 12, 2016.
Soon later, SoopY stopped showing up and Craig stepped into the role of the lead core developer. Since then, Craig has assembled a strong team with which he built NavCoin into what it is today.
Currently, Craig and the NavCoin Core team is located in New Zealand and they are actively developing many ground-braking features which differentiate NAV from other cryptocurrencies. You will read more about that later in this article.

The Current State

Introduction
The year 2018 has been a thriving year for the NavCoin ecosystem. Despite the USD price of NAV not reflecting it, in 2018 the core team has developed a whole bunch of new features. Also the core content creators published the first official guidelines that function as an orientation guide for community content creators. This chapter will give you an overview of the current team, the features, the prior mentioned guidelines and the community of NavCoin.

Core Team [1]
Last year, the core team has grown alot. It contains of developers, content creators and interns. The core team are employees of Encrypt S, the New Zealand's leading blockchain R&D lab. Encrypt S is developing blockchain solutions since 2014 and values building open-source software highly.

Craig MacGregor - Chief Executive Officer
Craig is the CEO of Encrypt S and the founder of NavCoin. He is one of the world's most experienced blockchain developers. Craig founded NavCoin in 2014 and is developing software for it since then. He has assembled a strong team of like-minded people. Craig also speaks at seminars and conferenced. Some of the companies and conferences he did blockchain education sessions at are Oracle, Xero, Air New Zealand, Blok Tex and trademe. Together with the team, he is also doing a education series on YouTube where he explains upcoming features in-depth for the community.

Alex Vazquez - Chief Technical Officer
Alex is the CTO of Encrypt S and the most active contributor to the NavCoin core Github. He has incredible knowledge of blockchains and proposes and implements solutions for challenges and features. He supports community developers frequently and answers any questions of the community thoroughly. Like Craig, Alex is developing software for the NavCoin ecosystem for a very long time. Alex speaks at universities at times and educates students about the blockchain technology.

Paul Sanderson - Lead Software Engineer
Paul is the Lead Software Engineer at Encrypt S. He has a flair for technology. His technical and management skills are perfectly suited for consultancy and investment advising. He also frequently contributes to the NavCoin core source code.

Rowan Savage - Senior Software Engineer
Rowan is a full stack software engineer with more than a decade experience in developing complex front-end web applications. He joined Encrypt S in February 2018 and has since been involved in the Valence Plattform, the Kauri Wallet and NavCoin Core. You will read more about these feature/projects later.

Carter Xiao - Lead UX/UI Designer
Carter specializes in user-centric design and is also very talented with 3D animation, motion graphics and programming. One of NavCoins core principle is "Simplifying Crypto" and UX/UI is a very important part of that.

Matt Paul - Software Engineer
Like Rowan, Matt is a full stack Software Engineer. He joined the core team in Mai 2017 and has since worked on NavPay, NavPi, the Kauri Wallet and NavCoin Core. Kieren Hyland - Chief Strategy Officer Kieren is one of the employees that are working for Encrypt S for a very long time. He is the CSO and is a digital strategist and growth hacker with a passion for new technology and has a lot of experience in online marketing. Laura Harris - Creative Director Laura has a combination of commercial and creative flair. She manages the social media accounts for NavCoin and ensures, that NavCoins' message is always powerful, relevant and distinctive. John Darby - Content Creator John is an internationally awarded Technology and Financial sector marketing communications specialist. He is one of the Core Content Creators for NavCoin.

Features of NavCoin [2]
The following features are currently available and have been developed in the last months and years. It is sorted from newest to oldest.

Static Block Reward
The soft-fork for the enabling of static block rewards have been accepted and became active recently at 5th January 2019. This means, that the block reward was changed from a percentage based reward to a static reward. This will incentivize the stakers to have their node online 24/7 which increased the security of the network. It also aligns NavCoin with the PoSv3 specification. With this implementation, the yearly inflation will be 3.6% currently and will exponentionally decrease because of the static value of the rewards. Every staked block will now give the staker 2 NAV. Depending on how many people are staking, the yearly percentage varies. With the network weight currently being around 20'000'000 NAV, stakers earn around 10% rewards from staking 24/7.

Cold staking
To provide extra security to participants in the staking process in the NavCoin network, the core team decided to implement cold staking. This allows to store NAV offline and still be able to sign staking inputs. Looking forward, a possible integration into the Ledger Nano S would mean, that one can stake NAV securely from a offline hardware wallet. How cool is that?

OpenAlias
One of the core principle of NAV is to simplify cryptocurrencies. Many non-technical people are deterred from the long, cryptic addresses used in wallets. When sending funds, you have to make sure that every single letter and digit is correct which is nerve-wracking for the average person. NavCoin has implemented OpenAlias, which allows to transform the wallet address into a email-like form. Everyone can register a name like "[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])". Funds can then be sent to this name, which makes sending crypto much easier and less error-prone.

Community Fund
This is the one big feature I was most excited about. NavCoin core has implemented the first fully decentralized community fund. Acceptance of proposals and release of funds is all approved by the decentralized network. No central authority has access to the fund. The community fund enables everyone to propose their ideas to the NavCoin community and to get paid to implement these ideas. Everyone can propose whatever they like (of course there is a higher rate of success if the proposal contributes to the NavCoin ecosystem ;-)). In fact, this article was sponsored by the NAV-Community by voting "yes" for my proposal. The fund works like this:
For a fee of 50 NAV, everyone can create and present his idea/proposal to the entire NavCoin network. The fee is here to help prevent spam attacks. Proposals can literally be anything - be it development, marketing or anything else you can some up with.
After creating the proposal, everyone contributing to the NavCoin network can then decide if they like the proposal of not. They vote with "Yes" or "No" for the acceptance of the proposal. Voting happens via staking. Every transaction that gets validated by you gives you one vote. This means that the more NAV you are staking, the higher your voting weight is.
The proposal stays in the state "Pending" until it is accepted or rejected. To be accepted, a proposal has to have a participation of at least 50% of all staked blocks and at least 75% of these votes have to be "Yes"-votes. Like-wise to be rejected a proposal need 50% participation of the network and 75% of these votes have to be "No"-votes. Additionally, if a proposal didn't pass after 6 voting cycles (about 6 weeks) it is also rejected.
After a proposal has been accepted, the creator of the proposal can start his work. When the work is finished, or at in the proposal defined checkpoints, the proposal creator can create a payment request for the full or part of the requested funds.
The NavCoin network can then again decide, if the work is what the creator promised to do and vote for the funds or reject the payment request because it was not what he promised. This mechanism ensures, that the funds are only release if the creator of the proposal did what he promised. The NavCoin network decides everything, there is no central authority which makes the community fund 100% decentralized.
The community fund is quite new but there have already been some proposals that were accepted like paying for the development & hosting of NAV block explorer, the creation and distribution of NAV car stickers to the community for free (or paid by the community fund), the funding of interns for NavCoin Core, translation of the website into other languages and YouTube videos. What ideas could you come up with? By the way: this article was also sponsored by the community fund :-)

Proof of Stake
Like said before, NavCoin uses the Proof of Stake algorithm to create and validate blocks. Participants of the NavCoin network can earn rewards by putting their coins to stake and thus validating blocks and securing the network. The reward used to be 4% fixed but recently changed with the implementation of PoSv3. Currently, rewards for stakers that are staking 24/7 is about 10% but it is dependent on how many people are staking. If more nodes come online, this reward will go down. If 90% of all NAVs would be at stake, stakers would still earn 4%.

Tutorials And Guidelines [3]
The NavCoin Core team pushes the community to contribute to the NavCoin ecosystem constantly. They emphasize that NavCoin is an open source project and everyone can contribute. The team tries to make it as easy as possible for the average person to contribute and thus created different tutorials and guidelines.

Tutorials To Contribute To The Website
The whole website is open source. Everyone can contribute to the website. The team created different guides for people to follow [4].

The NavCoin Developer Manifesto
The content creator core team has build a developer manifesto. It defines the values that should be uphold like for example that they will always operate in the best interest of the network. If defines the principles, purposes, scope of involvement and operational requirements [5].

The NavCoin Content Creation Manifesto
Similar to the developer manifesto, there is also a content creation manifesto. Again it defines the principles for creating content, the purpose, the scope of involvement and the operational requirements [6].

NavCoin Brand Guidelines
In addition to the content creation manifesto, there is also a brand guideline booklet. This should help content creators to create images, videos, articles etc. in the same style as the core team. It defines the NAV brand. The brand guidelines contain definitions, the language to use (words to use, words not to use), the tone of voice, what the community aspires to be and what we discourage to be. It also contains the logo pack which can be used in graphics etc. It describes correct logo spacing, logo placement, the colors of NAV and different web assets. It gives tips about gradients and overlays, the typefaces (with a font pack) and many more. Check it out yourself [7].

NavCoin Educational Series
The core team has decided to actively involve the community in the creation of new features. For this reason and to allow users to ask questions, they created the NavCoin Educational Series. The core team schedules an online live meetup which can be joined by everyone. On YouTube they do live-streams and explain upcoming features. Examples of these series are explanations for cold staking, static rewards (PoSv3) and the community fund. The community can ask questions live and the core team will answer them immediately.

Community
During the last year there have been an influx of software developers from the community starting to create features for NAV.

navexplorer.com
An examples is navexplorer.com which is programmed by community developer prodpeak and is a block explorer for NavCoin. Additionally, it functions as a interface to see what is going on in the community fund. It shows pending proposals and payment requests.

NEXT Wallet
The NEXT Wallet is an alternative wallet for NAV and other cryptocurrencies. It has a beautiful user interface and is additionally the easiest interface to interact with the community fund (create proposals, create payment requests and vote for proposals and payment requests). It is programmed by community developer sakdeniz who put hundreds of hours into it during last year.

There were also some marketing activities starting to emerge with the release of the community fund. Some of these were for example free stickers for everyone in the NAV community to stick to their car / shop / window etc. or YouTube videos of CryptoCandor and Cryptomoonie that explained the details of NAV. I am sure, that with the 500'000 NAV available in the community fund per year there will be an influx of gread ideas - development as well as marketing activities - that will be funded.

The Future

Introduction
These features are planned for the future. Many of the following features are part of the 2019 roadmap. Some will not be described in great detail because not much is known about them yet. I've still listed them as they are part of what is yet to come.

Features
Rimu - Improved Privacy Solution
NavCoin used to be a optional privacy coin. That means, that you could choose to send a transaction in private. NavCoin was criticized for the way it handles private payments because it relied on a few servers which didn't make it that decentralized. The technology was called "NavTech" and was a secondary blockchain that obscured the transaction and the amount that was sent. NavCoin Core is currently developing a new improved privacy solution that will make the private payment system completely trustless and districuted and runs at a protocol level. Alex of the NavCoin Core team has published a paper that describes this new privacy solution. It's called Zero Confidential Transactions and can be found here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330366788_ZeroCT_Improving_Zerocoin_with_Confidential_Transactions_and_more. What I want to highlight is the collaboration between Alex as the proposer of the solution and the Veil team, a Bitcoin Core developer and Moneros main cryptographer as reviewers. When the best work together, it will be interesting to see what the outcome is!

Valence Plattform [8]
Valence is an applied Blockchain platform that can help businesses realise the tangible benefits of blockchain. You can think of Valence as a platform with which you can build Anonymous Distributed Applications (aDapps) with. But Valence is a different kind of platform that enables developers to create new types of blockchain applications. The problem with current (turing complete) dApp platforms are their complexity and rigid nature. Security holes in smart contracts and scaling issues happen frequently [9].
Valence provides transitional pathways that let businesses migrate only part of their activities to the blockchain without having to restructure their entire business model [9].
Valence will provide a spectrum of blockchain application solutions which sit along the decentralized spectrum, offering businesses simple ways to dip their toes into the blockchain at minimal risk or complexity [9].
Thanks to the proof of stake nature of the Valence blockchain, more of a node's resources can be used for processing and routing application data which makes the platform faster and scalable.
Valence aims to make building blockchain applications as accessible to the general public as WordPress or Squarespace has made building websites.
The developers NavCoin and Valence aim to make Valence extremely easy to work with:
A Valence application could be an open source mobile or web application that submits unencrypted or encrypted data directly to the blockchain. The only configuration necessary for the app developer would be setting up the data structure. Once they've done that they can start writing to the blockchain immediately.
The Valence blockchain interface is language agnostic, meaning developers are free to build applications in whichever language they're familiar with, which greatly reduces the barrier to entry.
As the platform progresses, Valence will introduce more and more smart contract templates in collaboration with the development community. These will be like plugins that users can simply select and configure for their application, without having to reinvent the wheel and risk contract errors or spend countless hours of research to program them.

NavShopper
The following information is taken from the latest weekly news: NavShopper is a new project which will allow people to spend NavCoin on a growing list of retailers and service providers. NavShopper sits between traditional retailers accepting fiat and NavCoin users and purchases products on behalf of the user by managing the crypt-fiat conversion, payment and shipping. This project will unlock many more ways for people to spend NAV on existing websites/marketplaces without requiring each site to individually accept cryptocurrencies. Some of the prototypes we are working on include crediting your Uber account, buying products on Amazon and donating to charities.

Kauri Wallet
The Kauri Wallet aims to be an open-source, multi-currency wallet which functions as a foundation for other features.

Kauri Enhanced
Enhancements to the Kauri Wallet will allow multiple accounts, pin numbers, recurring payments and more.

Kauri DAEx
The Kauri DAEx is a Decentralised Atomic Exchange that utilises the features of the Kauri Wallet and enables users to create safe peer to peer atomic exchanges for any currency supported by the Kauri Wallet. NavDelta NavDelta will be a payment gateway that allows users to spend NAV at any business which accepts currencies supported by the Kauri Wallet. NavMorph NavMorph is a fusion of Rimu and Kauri DAEx and will allow to privately send every cryptocurrency supported by the Kauri Wallet.

Outro

If you have made it this far: Congratulations! You have learned about how NAV evolved, what its current state is and what the future will bring. To sum all up: NavCoin has made incredible progress during last year and released many long awaited features despite the bear market. Many more exciting features are yet to come and it's going to be very interesting to see where we will stand on this day next year.

Giveaway

Unfortunately, the giveaway was not possible in the cryptocurrency-subreddit because of their rules, so I'm doing it here :-) As a surprise, in the next 2 hours I am going to send some NAV to everyone who wants to try out the awesome features and NavPay you read about above.
To get your NAVs, all you have to do is the following:
If you liked the experience, I'd be happy to hear back from you :)

References

[1] https://encrypt-s.com/company/
[2] https://navcoin.org/en/roadmap/
[3] https://navhub.org/get-involved/
[4] https://navhub.org/how-to-guide/
[5] https://navhub.org/assets/NavCoinDeveloperManifesto.pdf
[6] https://navhub.org/assets/NavCoinContentManifesto.pdf
[7] https://navhub.org/assets/NavCoinBrandGuidelines.pdf
[8] https://valenceplatform.org/
[9] https://valenceplatform.org/learn/business-on-the-blockchain-made-easy/
[10] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=679791.msg8320228#msg8320228
submitted by crypto_sIF to NavCoin [link] [comments]

The History, The Current State And The Future Of NavCoin

The History, The Current State And The Future Of NavCoin

This is it. If you're interested to see what NAV is all about, this is the ultimate guide for you. You will learn about the history of NavCoin and how it evolved. You will learn about the current state and features of NavCoin and you will learn about the exciting new features that are planned and coming up in the (near) future.
So buckle up, this is going to be a long ride!

Table Of Content


Introduction - What is NavCoin?


The History

Introduction
The following chapter will summarize and break down the history of NavCoin in a few sentences. NAV started a long time ago, went through rebrandings and changes of the core team before it became what it is today.

SummerCoin
NavCoin was initially first introduced under the name SummerCoin on April 23 in 2014. SummerCoin was a fork of the Bitcoin blockchain. It used to have a PoW/PoS hybrid algorithm with a block time of 45 seconds.

SummerCoinV2 /NavajoCoin
Soon after the initial launch of SummerCoin, the original developer left and SoopY (soopy452000 on bitcointalk) took over as the main developer and rebranded the project to SummerCoinV2 respectively NavajoCoin and introduced new features.
The name NavajoCoin was chosen in honor of the Navajo Code Talker. The unbreakable Navajo code was used to encrypt highly classified military information and commands and decrypt the same in WW II.
SoopY introduced a technology which allowed sending transactions anonymously and private. This technology was called "Navajo Anonymous Technology". SoopY also released a new wallet and set the Proof of Stake rewards at 10% for the first year, 5% for the second year and 2% for every year after.

NavCoin
On August 12, 2014, Craig (current lead core developer, pakage on bitcointalk) started to get involved with NAV by helping to set up a website [10].
It was officially announced that Craig joined the core team as a "Wallet & Web Developer" on November 06, 2014.
The last tokenswap and restart of the blockchain of NAV happened on May 12, 2016.
Soon later, SoopY stopped showing up and Craig stepped into the role of the lead core developer. Since then, Craig has assembled a strong team with which he built NavCoin into what it is today.
Currently, Craig and the NavCoin Core team is located in New Zealand and they are actively developing many ground-braking features which differentiate NAV from other cryptocurrencies. You will read more about that later in this article.

The Current State

Introduction
The year 2018 has been a thriving year for the NavCoin ecosystem. Despite the USD price of NAV not reflecting it, in 2018 the core team has developed a whole bunch of new features. Also the core content creators published the first official guidelines that function as an orientation guide for community content creators. This chapter will give you an overview of the current team, the features, the prior mentioned guidelines and the community of NavCoin.

Core Team [1]
Last year, the core team has grown alot. It contains of developers, content creators and interns. The core team are employees of Encrypt S, the New Zealand's leading blockchain R&D lab. Encrypt S is developing blockchain solutions since 2014 and values building open-source software highly.

Craig MacGregor - Chief Executive Officer
Craig is the CEO of Encrypt S and the founder of NavCoin. He is one of the world's most experienced blockchain developers. Craig founded NavCoin in 2014 and is developing software for it since then. He has assembled a strong team of like-minded people. Craig also speaks at seminars and conferenced. Some of the companies and conferences he did blockchain education sessions at are Oracle, Xero, Air New Zealand, Blok Tex and trademe. Together with the team, he is also doing a education series on YouTube where he explains upcoming features in-depth for the community.

Alex Vazquez - Chief Technical Officer
Alex is the CTO of Encrypt S and the most active contributor to the NavCoin core Github. He has incredible knowledge of blockchains and proposes and implements solutions for challenges and features. He supports community developers frequently and answers any questions of the community thoroughly. Like Craig, Alex is developing software for the NavCoin ecosystem for a very long time. Alex speaks at universities at times and educates students about the blockchain technology.

Paul Sanderson - Lead Software Engineer
Paul is the Lead Software Engineer at Encrypt S. He has a flair for technology. His technical and management skills are perfectly suited for consultancy and investment advising. He also frequently contributes to the NavCoin core source code.

Rowan Savage - Senior Software Engineer
Rowan is a full stack software engineer with more than a decade experience in developing complex front-end web applications. He joined Encrypt S in February 2018 and has since been involved in the Valence Plattform, the Kauri Wallet and NavCoin Core. You will read more about these feature/projects later.

Carter Xiao - Lead UX/UI Designer
Carter specializes in user-centric design and is also very talented with 3D animation, motion graphics and programming. One of NavCoins core principle is "Simplifying Crypto" and UX/UI is a very important part of that.

Matt Paul - Software Engineer
Like Rowan, Matt is a full stack Software Engineer. He joined the core team in Mai 2017 and has since worked on NavPay, NavPi, the Kauri Wallet and NavCoin Core. Kieren Hyland - Chief Strategy Officer Kieren is one of the employees that are working for Encrypt S for a very long time. He is the CSO and is a digital strategist and growth hacker with a passion for new technology and has a lot of experience in online marketing. Laura Harris - Creative Director Laura has a combination of commercial and creative flair. She manages the social media accounts for NavCoin and ensures, that NavCoins' message is always powerful, relevant and distinctive. John Darby - Content Creator John is an internationally awarded Technology and Financial sector marketing communications specialist. He is one of the Core Content Creators for NavCoin.

Features of NavCoin [2]
The following features are currently available and have been developed in the last months and years. It is sorted from newest to oldest.

Static Block Reward
The soft-fork for the enabling of static block rewards have been accepted and became active recently at 5th January 2019. This means, that the block reward was changed from a percentage based reward to a static reward. This will incentivize the stakers to have their node online 24/7 which increased the security of the network. It also aligns NavCoin with the PoSv3 specification. With this implementation, the yearly inflation will be 3.6% currently and will exponentionally decrease because of the static value of the rewards. Every staked block will now give the staker 2 NAV. Depending on how many people are staking, the yearly percentage varies. With the network weight currently being around 20'000'000 NAV, stakers earn around 10% rewards from staking 24/7.

Cold staking
To provide extra security to participants in the staking process in the NavCoin network, the core team decided to implement cold staking. This allows to store NAV offline and still be able to sign staking inputs. Looking forward, a possible integration into the Ledger Nano S would mean, that one can stake NAV securely from a offline hardware wallet. How cool is that?

OpenAlias
One of the core principle of NAV is to simplify cryptocurrencies. Many non-technical people are deterred from the long, cryptic addresses used in wallets. When sending funds, you have to make sure that every single letter and digit is correct which is nerve-wracking for the average person. NavCoin has implemented OpenAlias, which allows to transform the wallet address into a email-like form. Everyone can register a name like "[[email protected]](mailto:[email protected])". Funds can then be sent to this name, which makes sending crypto much easier and less error-prone.

Community Fund
This is the one big feature I was most excited about. NavCoin core has implemented the first fully decentralized community fund. Acceptance of proposals and release of funds is all approved by the decentralized network. No central authority has access to the fund. The community fund enables everyone to propose their ideas to the NavCoin community and to get paid to implement these ideas. Everyone can propose whatever they like (of course there is a higher rate of success if the proposal contributes to the NavCoin ecosystem ;-)). In fact, this article was sponsored by the NAV-Community by voting "yes" for my proposal. The fund works like this:
For a fee of 50 NAV, everyone can create and present his idea/proposal to the entire NavCoin network. The fee is here to help prevent spam attacks. Proposals can literally be anything - be it development, marketing or anything else you can some up with.
After creating the proposal, everyone contributing to the NavCoin network can then decide if they like the proposal of not. They vote with "Yes" or "No" for the acceptance of the proposal. Voting happens via staking. Every transaction that gets validated by you gives you one vote. This means that the more NAV you are staking, the higher your voting weight is.
The proposal stays in the state "Pending" until it is accepted or rejected. To be accepted, a proposal has to have a participation of at least 50% of all staked blocks and at least 75% of these votes have to be "Yes"-votes. Like-wise to be rejected a proposal need 50% participation of the network and 75% of these votes have to be "No"-votes. Additionally, if a proposal didn't pass after 6 voting cycles (about 6 weeks) it is also rejected.
After a proposal has been accepted, the creator of the proposal can start his work. When the work is finished, or at in the proposal defined checkpoints, the proposal creator can create a payment request for the full or part of the requested funds.
The NavCoin network can then again decide, if the work is what the creator promised to do and vote for the funds or reject the payment request because it was not what he promised. This mechanism ensures, that the funds are only release if the creator of the proposal did what he promised. The NavCoin network decides everything, there is no central authority which makes the community fund 100% decentralized.
The community fund is quite new but there have already been some proposals that were accepted like paying for the development & hosting of NAV block explorer, the creation and distribution of NAV car stickers to the community for free (or paid by the community fund), the funding of interns for NavCoin Core, translation of the website into other languages and YouTube videos. What ideas could you come up with? By the way: this article was also sponsored by the community fund :-)

Proof of Stake
Like said before, NavCoin uses the Proof of Stake algorithm to create and validate blocks. Participants of the NavCoin network can earn rewards by putting their coins to stake and thus validating blocks and securing the network. The reward used to be 4% fixed but recently changed with the implementation of PoSv3. Currently, rewards for stakers that are staking 24/7 is about 10% but it is dependent on how many people are staking. If more nodes come online, this reward will go down. If 90% of all NAVs would be at stake, stakers would still earn 4%.

Tutorials And Guidelines [3]
The NavCoin Core team pushes the community to contribute to the NavCoin ecosystem constantly. They emphasize that NavCoin is an open source project and everyone can contribute. The team tries to make it as easy as possible for the average person to contribute and thus created different tutorials and guidelines.

Tutorials To Contribute To The Website
The whole website is open source. Everyone can contribute to the website. The team created different guides for people to follow [4].

The NavCoin Developer Manifesto
The content creator core team has build a developer manifesto. It defines the values that should be uphold like for example that they will always operate in the best interest of the network. If defines the principles, purposes, scope of involvement and operational requirements [5].

The NavCoin Content Creation Manifesto
Similar to the developer manifesto, there is also a content creation manifesto. Again it defines the principles for creating content, the purpose, the scope of involvement and the operational requirements [6].

NavCoin Brand Guidelines
In addition to the content creation manifesto, there is also a brand guideline booklet. This should help content creators to create images, videos, articles etc. in the same style as the core team. It defines the NAV brand. The brand guidelines contain definitions, the language to use (words to use, words not to use), the tone of voice, what the community aspires to be and what we discourage to be. It also contains the logo pack which can be used in graphics etc. It describes correct logo spacing, logo placement, the colors of NAV and different web assets. It gives tips about gradients and overlays, the typefaces (with a font pack) and many more. Check it out yourself [7].

NavCoin Educational Series
The core team has decided to actively involve the community in the creation of new features. For this reason and to allow users to ask questions, they created the NavCoin Educational Series. The core team schedules an online live meetup which can be joined by everyone. On YouTube they do live-streams and explain upcoming features. Examples of these series are explanations for cold staking, static rewards (PoSv3) and the community fund. The community can ask questions live and the core team will answer them immediately.

Community
During the last year there have been an influx of software developers from the community starting to create features for NAV.

navexplorer.com
An examples is navexplorer.com which is programmed by community developer prodpeak and is a block explorer for NavCoin. Additionally, it functions as a interface to see what is going on in the community fund. It shows pending proposals and payment requests.

NEXT Wallet
The NEXT Wallet is an alternative wallet for NAV and other cryptocurrencies. It has a beautiful user interface and is additionally the easiest interface to interact with the community fund (create proposals, create payment requests and vote for proposals and payment requests). It is programmed by community developer sakdeniz who put hundreds of hours into it during last year.

There were also some marketing activities starting to emerge with the release of the community fund. Some of these were for example free stickers for everyone in the NAV community to stick to their car / shop / window etc. or YouTube videos of CryptoCandor and Cryptomoonie that explained the details of NAV. I am sure, that with the 500'000 NAV available in the community fund per year there will be an influx of gread ideas - development as well as marketing activities - that will be funded.

The Future

Introduction
These features are planned for the future. Many of the following features are part of the 2019 roadmap. Some will not be described in great detail because not much is known about them yet. I've still listed them as they are part of what is yet to come.

Features
Rimu - Improved Privacy Solution
NavCoin used to be a optional privacy coin. That means, that you could choose to send a transaction in private. NavCoin was criticized for the way it handles private payments because it relied on a few servers which didn't make it that decentralized. The technology was called "NavTech" and was a secondary blockchain that obscured the transaction and the amount that was sent. NavCoin Core is currently developing a new improved privacy solution that will make the private payment system completely trustless and districuted and runs at a protocol level. Alex of the NavCoin Core team has published a paper that describes this new privacy solution. It's called Zero Confidential Transactions and can be found here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330366788_ZeroCT_Improving_Zerocoin_with_Confidential_Transactions_and_more. What I want to highlight is the collaboration between Alex as the proposer of the solution and the Veil team, a Bitcoin Core developer and Moneros main cryptographer as reviewers. When the best work together, it will be interesting to see what the outcome is!

Valence Plattform [8]
Valence is an applied Blockchain platform that can help businesses realise the tangible benefits of blockchain. You can think of Valence as a platform with which you can build Anonymous Distributed Applications (aDapps) with. But Valence is a different kind of platform that enables developers to create new types of blockchain applications. The problem with current (turing complete) dApp platforms are their complexity and rigid nature. Security holes in smart contracts and scaling issues happen frequently [9].
Valence provides transitional pathways that let businesses migrate only part of their activities to the blockchain without having to restructure their entire business model [9].
Valence will provide a spectrum of blockchain application solutions which sit along the decentralized spectrum, offering businesses simple ways to dip their toes into the blockchain at minimal risk or complexity [9].
Thanks to the proof of stake nature of the Valence blockchain, more of a node's resources can be used for processing and routing application data which makes the platform faster and scalable.
Valence aims to make building blockchain applications as accessible to the general public as WordPress or Squarespace has made building websites.
The developers NavCoin and Valence aim to make Valence extremely easy to work with:
A Valence application could be an open source mobile or web application that submits unencrypted or encrypted data directly to the blockchain. The only configuration necessary for the app developer would be setting up the data structure. Once they've done that they can start writing to the blockchain immediately.
The Valence blockchain interface is language agnostic, meaning developers are free to build applications in whichever language they're familiar with, which greatly reduces the barrier to entry.
As the platform progresses, Valence will introduce more and more smart contract templates in collaboration with the development community. These will be like plugins that users can simply select and configure for their application, without having to reinvent the wheel and risk contract errors or spend countless hours of research to program them.

NavShopper
The following information is taken from the latest weekly news: NavShopper is a new project which will allow people to spend NavCoin on a growing list of retailers and service providers. NavShopper sits between traditional retailers accepting fiat and NavCoin users and purchases products on behalf of the user by managing the crypt-fiat conversion, payment and shipping. This project will unlock many more ways for people to spend NAV on existing websites/marketplaces without requiring each site to individually accept cryptocurrencies. Some of the prototypes we are working on include crediting your Uber account, buying products on Amazon and donating to charities.

Kauri Wallet
The Kauri Wallet aims to be an open-source, multi-currency wallet which functions as a foundation for other features.

Kauri Enhanced
Enhancements to the Kauri Wallet will allow multiple accounts, pin numbers, recurring payments and more.

Kauri DAEx
The Kauri DAEx is a Decentralised Atomic Exchange that utilises the features of the Kauri Wallet and enables users to create safe peer to peer atomic exchanges for any currency supported by the Kauri Wallet. NavDelta NavDelta will be a payment gateway that allows users to spend NAV at any business which accepts currencies supported by the Kauri Wallet. NavMorph NavMorph is a fusion of Rimu and Kauri DAEx and will allow to privately send every cryptocurrency supported by the Kauri Wallet.

Outro

If you have made it this far: Congratulations! You have learned about how NAV evolved, what its current state is and what the future will bring. To sum all up: NavCoin has made incredible progress during last year and released many long awaited features despite the bear market. Many more exciting features are yet to come and it's going to be very interesting to see where we will stand on this day next year.

Giveaway

Unfortunately, the giveaway was not possible in the cryptocurrency-subreddit because of their rules, so I'm doing it here :-) As a surprise, in the next few hours I am going to send some NAV to everyone who wants to try out the awesome features you have read about above.
To get your NAVs, all you have to do is the following:
If you liked the experience, I'd be happy to hear back from you :)

References

[1] https://encrypt-s.com/company/
[2] https://navcoin.org/en/roadmap/
[3] https://navhub.org/get-involved/
[4] https://navhub.org/how-to-guide/
[5] https://navhub.org/assets/NavCoinDeveloperManifesto.pdf
[6] https://navhub.org/assets/NavCoinContentManifesto.pdf
[7] https://navhub.org/assets/NavCoinBrandGuidelines.pdf
[8] https://valenceplatform.org/
[9] https://valenceplatform.org/learn/business-on-the-blockchain-made-easy/
[10] https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=679791.msg8320228#msg8320228
submitted by crypto_sIF to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

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