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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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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]

Want to know why NEM should be as popular as Ethereum? this will be bigger than any altcoins you see, here's why

Want to know why NEM should be as popular as Ethereum? this will be bigger than any altcoins you see, here's why

Altcoin Explorer: NEM (XEM), the Enterprise-Grade Blockchain Platform


https://preview.redd.it/5ogfihikwkg51.png?width=1300&format=png&auto=webp&s=099780e02777d16d4e2add64b249c46da1cd488b
Nestled among the top 40 cryptocurrencies by reported market cap, New Economy Movement — popularly known as NEM (XEM) – is a peer-to-peer (P2P), dual-layer blockchain smart contract platform written in one of the most influential programming languages, Java. NEM uses the proof-of-importance (POI) consensus algorithm that essentially values the tokens held and the activity conducted by the nodes on the blockchain network.
In this Altcoin Explorer, BTCManager delves deeper into the finer intricacies of the NEM blockchain protocol, including the project’s POI consensus algorithm, its native digital token XEM, and some of its real-world use-cases.
Without further ado, let’s get to the core of this high-performance distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform.

History of NEM

NEM was launched on March 31, 2015, with an aim to develop an enterprise-grade blockchain protocol that could circumvent the infamous trilemma of blockchain: scalability, speed, and privacy.
Operated by a Gibraltar-registered NEM Group, NEM is a fork-out version of the NXT blockchain. After the successful fork, the NEM community decided to build its ecosystem from the ground up and developed its own codebase to make the network more scalable and faster.
NEM’s insistence toward building its own tech infrastructure led to a DLT protocol that is unlike anything resembling other similar platforms.
Today, NEM ranks among the top go-to blockchain platforms for enterprises across the world, rivaling competing protocols including Ethereum (ETH), and TRON (TRX), among others.

NEM’s Proof-of-Importance (POI) Algorithm

Unlike Bitcoin’s (BTC) energy-intensive Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Ethereum’s yet-to-be-implemented Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, NEM uses PoI consensus mechanism.
The PoI mechanism achieves consensus by incentivizing active user participation in the NEM network. This consensus infrastructure ensures an agile decentralized network by rewarding well-behaved nodes that not only possess a significant stake in the network but are also actively engaged in executing transactions to maintain the network’s robustness.
Specifically, each node in the network possesses an ‘Importance Score’ that impacts the number of times the said node can ‘Harvest’ the XEM altcoin.
Initially, when a user puts XEM tokens into their wallet, they are called ‘unvested coins.’ Over time, as the wallets start accumulating an increasing number of XEM and contribute to the network’s transaction volume, they start collecting importance scores. At the same time, the XEM tokens in these wallets change into ‘vested coins,’ provided that there are at least 10000 tokens in the wallet.
To put things into perspective, let’s take the help of a small example.
On day 1, Joe receives 50,000 XEM in his digital wallet. Now, with each passing day, the NEM network will ‘vest’ 10 percent of the tokens held by Joe. So, on day 2, 5,000 tokens held by Joe are vested into the network. On day 3, 10 percent of the remaining tokens – 15,000 XEM – get vested into the network, leaving Joe with 13,500 XEM, and so one. After a couple of days, Joe sees that the number of XEM vested by him has crossed the 10,000 coins threshold, thereby, making him eligible to seek rewards from the NEM blockchain for his contribution to vesting his tokens.
Close followers of blockchain projects would find the aforementioned network reward mechanism bear a close resemblance to the PoS consensus algorithm. However, it’s worthy of note that vesting coins is just one way of calculating a node’s importance score.
The NEM protocol also rewards nodes that are responsible for most activity on the network. In essence, this means that the higher the number of transactions executed by a node, the more likely it is to gain higher importance points. The balance between vesting XEM and network activity is an important metric to be maintained by NEM nodes as it directly impacts their likelihood of harvesting XEM.
NEM’s consensus algorithm does away with several issues plaguing the more energy-intensive protocols such as PoW. For instance, PoI does not necessarily require high-energy hardware to run the nodes. The decentralized nature of the algorithm means that almost any machine — irrespective of its tech configuration – can participate in the NEM ecosystem ensuring it remains decentralized.

NEM’s Native Digital Token — XEM

XEM, unlike the vast majority of other cryptocurrencies, isn’t mined or staked using Pow or PoS algorithms. Rather, as explained earlier, XEM is ‘harvested’ through the PoI algorithm which ensures a steady supply of the digital token without flooding the market and involving the risk of a dramatic crash in price.
Per data on CoinMarketCap, at the time of writing, XEM trades at $0.04 with a market cap of more than $382 million and a 24-hour trading volume of approximately $6.8 million. The coin reached its all-time high of $1.92 in January 2018.
A large number of reputable cryptocurrency exchanges trade XEM, including Binance, Upbit, OKEx, Bithumb, ProBit, among others. The digital token can be easily traded with BTC, ETH, and USDT trading pairs.
That said, if you wish to vest your XEM to partake in the maintenance of the NEM network and earn rewards, it is recommended you store your tokens in the official NEM Nano wallet for desktop and mobile OS. Only XEM tokens held in the official NEM Nano wallet are eligible for vesting.

NEM Use-Cases

To date, NEM has been deployed for various real-world applications with promising results.
In 2018, Ukraine launched a blockchain-based e-voting trial leveraging the NEM DLT platform.
At the time, Ukraine’s Central Election Commission – with the local NEM Foundation representation – estimated the test vote trial in each polling station could cost as low as $1,227. The organization’s Oleksandr Stelmakh lauded the efforts, saying that using a blockchain-powered voting mechanism would make it impossible for anyone to fiddle with the records. The Commission added that the NEM protocol presents information in a more user-friendly format for voters.
In the same year, Malaysia’s Ministry of Education launched an e-scroll system based on the NEM blockchain to tackle the menace of fake degrees. The University Degree Issuance and Verification System use the NEM blockchain which is interrogated upon scanning of a QR code printed on the degree certificate.
The Ministry added that one of the primary reasons for its decision to selected the NEM platform was its unique and cutting-edge features in managing traceability and authentication requirements.
On a recent note, the Bank of Lithuania announced that it would be issuing its NEM blockchain-powered digital collector’s coin (LBCoin) in July after the successful completion of its testing phase.

Final Thoughts

Summing up, NEM offers a wide array of in-house features that separate it from other blockchain projects in a space that is becoming increasingly congested. NEM’s creative PoI consensus algorithm is a fresh take on the PoS algorithm for performance enhancement. Further, the project’s newly launched enterprise-grade DLT solution, Symbol, offers a tremendous option to businesses to help them cut costs, reduce complexities, and streamline innovation.
NEM uses the Java programming language that makes it an easy project for developers to get involved with, unlike other projects such as Ethereum that use platform-specific programming languages like Solidity. The project’s tech infrastructure not only makes it less power-intensive compared to Bitcoin but also more scalable than its rival projects including Ethereum and NEO.
NEM’s tagline, “Smart Asset Blockchain, Built for Performance,” perfectly captures everything the project has to offer. Over the years, NEM’s active developer community has craftily addressed the notorious bottlenecks in the vast majority of blockchain solutions, The future looks promising for NEM as it continues to foster a trustless and blockchain-driven economy for tomorrow.
Source
submitted by charlesgwynne to CryptocurrencyICO [link] [comments]

Want to know why NEM should be as popular as Ethereum? this will be bigger than any altcoins you see, here's why

Want to know why NEM should be as popular as Ethereum? this will be bigger than any altcoins you see, here's why

Altcoin Explorer: NEM (XEM), the Enterprise-Grade Blockchain Platform


https://preview.redd.it/manbawoqvkg51.png?width=1300&format=png&auto=webp&s=fcbae1f067261326f11641bb9b18cd6f57616966
Nestled among the top 40 cryptocurrencies by reported market cap, New Economy Movement — popularly known as NEM (XEM) – is a peer-to-peer (P2P), dual-layer blockchain smart contract platform written in one of the most influential programming languages, Java. NEM uses the proof-of-importance (POI) consensus algorithm that essentially values the tokens held and the activity conducted by the nodes on the blockchain network.
In this Altcoin Explorer, BTCManager delves deeper into the finer intricacies of the NEM blockchain protocol, including the project’s POI consensus algorithm, its native digital token XEM, and some of its real-world use-cases.
Without further ado, let’s get to the core of this high-performance distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform.

History of NEM

NEM was launched on March 31, 2015, with an aim to develop an enterprise-grade blockchain protocol that could circumvent the infamous trilemma of blockchain: scalability, speed, and privacy.
Operated by a Gibraltar-registered NEM Group, NEM is a fork-out version of the NXT blockchain. After the successful fork, the NEM community decided to build its ecosystem from the ground up and developed its own codebase to make the network more scalable and faster.
NEM’s insistence toward building its own tech infrastructure led to a DLT protocol that is unlike anything resembling other similar platforms.
Today, NEM ranks among the top go-to blockchain platforms for enterprises across the world, rivaling competing protocols including Ethereum (ETH), and TRON (TRX), among others.

NEM’s Proof-of-Importance (POI) Algorithm

Unlike Bitcoin’s (BTC) energy-intensive Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Ethereum’s yet-to-be-implemented Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, NEM uses PoI consensus mechanism.
The PoI mechanism achieves consensus by incentivizing active user participation in the NEM network. This consensus infrastructure ensures an agile decentralized network by rewarding well-behaved nodes that not only possess a significant stake in the network but are also actively engaged in executing transactions to maintain the network’s robustness.
Specifically, each node in the network possesses an ‘Importance Score’ that impacts the number of times the said node can ‘Harvest’ the XEM altcoin.
Initially, when a user puts XEM tokens into their wallet, they are called ‘unvested coins.’ Over time, as the wallets start accumulating an increasing number of XEM and contribute to the network’s transaction volume, they start collecting importance scores. At the same time, the XEM tokens in these wallets change into ‘vested coins,’ provided that there are at least 10000 tokens in the wallet.
To put things into perspective, let’s take the help of a small example.
On day 1, Joe receives 50,000 XEM in his digital wallet. Now, with each passing day, the NEM network will ‘vest’ 10 percent of the tokens held by Joe. So, on day 2, 5,000 tokens held by Joe are vested into the network. On day 3, 10 percent of the remaining tokens – 15,000 XEM – get vested into the network, leaving Joe with 13,500 XEM, and so one. After a couple of days, Joe sees that the number of XEM vested by him has crossed the 10,000 coins threshold, thereby, making him eligible to seek rewards from the NEM blockchain for his contribution to vesting his tokens.
Close followers of blockchain projects would find the aforementioned network reward mechanism bear a close resemblance to the PoS consensus algorithm. However, it’s worthy of note that vesting coins is just one way of calculating a node’s importance score.
The NEM protocol also rewards nodes that are responsible for most activity on the network. In essence, this means that the higher the number of transactions executed by a node, the more likely it is to gain higher importance points. The balance between vesting XEM and network activity is an important metric to be maintained by NEM nodes as it directly impacts their likelihood of harvesting XEM.
NEM’s consensus algorithm does away with several issues plaguing the more energy-intensive protocols such as PoW. For instance, PoI does not necessarily require high-energy hardware to run the nodes. The decentralized nature of the algorithm means that almost any machine — irrespective of its tech configuration – can participate in the NEM ecosystem ensuring it remains decentralized.

NEM’s Native Digital Token — XEM

XEM, unlike the vast majority of other cryptocurrencies, isn’t mined or staked using Pow or PoS algorithms. Rather, as explained earlier, XEM is ‘harvested’ through the PoI algorithm which ensures a steady supply of the digital token without flooding the market and involving the risk of a dramatic crash in price.
Per data on CoinMarketCap, at the time of writing, XEM trades at $0.04 with a market cap of more than $382 million and a 24-hour trading volume of approximately $6.8 million. The coin reached its all-time high of $1.92 in January 2018.
A large number of reputable cryptocurrency exchanges trade XEM, including Binance, Upbit, OKEx, Bithumb, ProBit, among others. The digital token can be easily traded with BTC, ETH, and USDT trading pairs.
That said, if you wish to vest your XEM to partake in the maintenance of the NEM network and earn rewards, it is recommended you store your tokens in the official NEM Nano wallet for desktop and mobile OS. Only XEM tokens held in the official NEM Nano wallet are eligible for vesting.

NEM Use-Cases

To date, NEM has been deployed for various real-world applications with promising results.
In 2018, Ukraine launched a blockchain-based e-voting trial leveraging the NEM DLT platform.
At the time, Ukraine’s Central Election Commission – with the local NEM Foundation representation – estimated the test vote trial in each polling station could cost as low as $1,227. The organization’s Oleksandr Stelmakh lauded the efforts, saying that using a blockchain-powered voting mechanism would make it impossible for anyone to fiddle with the records. The Commission added that the NEM protocol presents information in a more user-friendly format for voters.
In the same year, Malaysia’s Ministry of Education launched an e-scroll system based on the NEM blockchain to tackle the menace of fake degrees. The University Degree Issuance and Verification System use the NEM blockchain which is interrogated upon scanning of a QR code printed on the degree certificate.
The Ministry added that one of the primary reasons for its decision to selected the NEM platform was its unique and cutting-edge features in managing traceability and authentication requirements.
On a recent note, the Bank of Lithuania announced that it would be issuing its NEM blockchain-powered digital collector’s coin (LBCoin) in July after the successful completion of its testing phase.

Final Thoughts

Summing up, NEM offers a wide array of in-house features that separate it from other blockchain projects in a space that is becoming increasingly congested. NEM’s creative PoI consensus algorithm is a fresh take on the PoS algorithm for performance enhancement. Further, the project’s newly launched enterprise-grade DLT solution, Symbol, offers a tremendous option to businesses to help them cut costs, reduce complexities, and streamline innovation.
NEM uses the Java programming language that makes it an easy project for developers to get involved with, unlike other projects such as Ethereum that use platform-specific programming languages like Solidity. The project’s tech infrastructure not only makes it less power-intensive compared to Bitcoin but also more scalable than its rival projects including Ethereum and NEO.
NEM’s tagline, “Smart Asset Blockchain, Built for Performance,” perfectly captures everything the project has to offer. Over the years, NEM’s active developer community has craftily addressed the notorious bottlenecks in the vast majority of blockchain solutions, The future looks promising for NEM as it continues to foster a trustless and blockchain-driven economy for tomorrow.
Source
submitted by charlesgwynne to ico [link] [comments]

Altcoin Explorer: NEM (XEM), the Enterprise-Grade Blockchain Platform

Altcoin Explorer: NEM (XEM), the Enterprise-Grade Blockchain Platform

https://preview.redd.it/f82bxncaxkg51.png?width=1300&format=png&auto=webp&s=34afde717d1781f7e472c8dcacd18a8b9390a78d
Nestled among the top 40 cryptocurrencies by reported market cap, New Economy Movement — popularly known as NEM (XEM) – is a peer-to-peer (P2P), dual-layer blockchain smart contract platform written in one of the most influential programming languages, Java. NEM uses the proof-of-importance (POI) consensus algorithm that essentially values the tokens held and the activity conducted by the nodes on the blockchain network.
In this Altcoin Explorer, BTCManager delves deeper into the finer intricacies of the NEM blockchain protocol, including the project’s POI consensus algorithm, its native digital token XEM, and some of its real-world use-cases.
Without further ado, let’s get to the core of this high-performance distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform.

History of NEM

NEM was launched on March 31, 2015, with an aim to develop an enterprise-grade blockchain protocol that could circumvent the infamous trilemma of blockchain: scalability, speed, and privacy.
Operated by a Gibraltar-registered NEM Group, NEM is a fork-out version of the NXT blockchain. After the successful fork, the NEM community decided to build its ecosystem from the ground up and developed its own codebase to make the network more scalable and faster.
NEM’s insistence toward building its own tech infrastructure led to a DLT protocol that is unlike anything resembling other similar platforms.
Today, NEM ranks among the top go-to blockchain platforms for enterprises across the world, rivaling competing protocols including Ethereum (ETH), and TRON (TRX), among others.

NEM’s Proof-of-Importance (POI) Algorithm

Unlike Bitcoin’s (BTC) energy-intensive Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Ethereum’s yet-to-be-implemented Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, NEM uses PoI consensus mechanism.
The PoI mechanism achieves consensus by incentivizing active user participation in the NEM network. This consensus infrastructure ensures an agile decentralized network by rewarding well-behaved nodes that not only possess a significant stake in the network but are also actively engaged in executing transactions to maintain the network’s robustness.
Specifically, each node in the network possesses an ‘Importance Score’ that impacts the number of times the said node can ‘Harvest’ the XEM altcoin.
Initially, when a user puts XEM tokens into their wallet, they are called ‘unvested coins.’ Over time, as the wallets start accumulating an increasing number of XEM and contribute to the network’s transaction volume, they start collecting importance scores. At the same time, the XEM tokens in these wallets change into ‘vested coins,’ provided that there are at least 10000 tokens in the wallet.
To put things into perspective, let’s take the help of a small example.
On day 1, Joe receives 50,000 XEM in his digital wallet. Now, with each passing day, the NEM network will ‘vest’ 10 percent of the tokens held by Joe. So, on day 2, 5,000 tokens held by Joe are vested into the network. On day 3, 10 percent of the remaining tokens – 15,000 XEM – get vested into the network, leaving Joe with 13,500 XEM, and so one. After a couple of days, Joe sees that the number of XEM vested by him has crossed the 10,000 coins threshold, thereby, making him eligible to seek rewards from the NEM blockchain for his contribution to vesting his tokens.
Close followers of blockchain projects would find the aforementioned network reward mechanism bear a close resemblance to the PoS consensus algorithm. However, it’s worthy of note that vesting coins is just one way of calculating a node’s importance score.
The NEM protocol also rewards nodes that are responsible for most activity on the network. In essence, this means that the higher the number of transactions executed by a node, the more likely it is to gain higher importance points. The balance between vesting XEM and network activity is an important metric to be maintained by NEM nodes as it directly impacts their likelihood of harvesting XEM.
NEM’s consensus algorithm does away with several issues plaguing the more energy-intensive protocols such as PoW. For instance, PoI does not necessarily require high-energy hardware to run the nodes. The decentralized nature of the algorithm means that almost any machine — irrespective of its tech configuration – can participate in the NEM ecosystem ensuring it remains decentralized.

NEM’s Native Digital Token — XEM

XEM, unlike the vast majority of other cryptocurrencies, isn’t mined or staked using Pow or PoS algorithms. Rather, as explained earlier, XEM is ‘harvested’ through the PoI algorithm which ensures a steady supply of the digital token without flooding the market and involving the risk of a dramatic crash in price.
Per data on CoinMarketCap, at the time of writing, XEM trades at $0.04 with a market cap of more than $382 million and a 24-hour trading volume of approximately $6.8 million. The coin reached its all-time high of $1.92 in January 2018.
A large number of reputable cryptocurrency exchanges trade XEM, including Binance, Upbit, OKEx, Bithumb, ProBit, among others. The digital token can be easily traded with BTC, ETH, and USDT trading pairs.
That said, if you wish to vest your XEM to partake in the maintenance of the NEM network and earn rewards, it is recommended you store your tokens in the official NEM Nano wallet for desktop and mobile OS. Only XEM tokens held in the official NEM Nano wallet are eligible for vesting.

NEM Use-Cases

To date, NEM has been deployed for various real-world applications with promising results.
In 2018, Ukraine launched a blockchain-based e-voting trial leveraging the NEM DLT platform.
At the time, Ukraine’s Central Election Commission – with the local NEM Foundation representation – estimated the test vote trial in each polling station could cost as low as $1,227. The organization’s Oleksandr Stelmakh lauded the efforts, saying that using a blockchain-powered voting mechanism would make it impossible for anyone to fiddle with the records. The Commission added that the NEM protocol presents information in a more user-friendly format for voters.
In the same year, Malaysia’s Ministry of Education launched an e-scroll system based on the NEM blockchain to tackle the menace of fake degrees. The University Degree Issuance and Verification System use the NEM blockchain which is interrogated upon scanning of a QR code printed on the degree certificate.
The Ministry added that one of the primary reasons for its decision to selected the NEM platform was its unique and cutting-edge features in managing traceability and authentication requirements.
On a recent note, the Bank of Lithuania announced that it would be issuing its NEM blockchain-powered digital collector’s coin (LBCoin) in July after the successful completion of its testing phase.

Final Thoughts

Summing up, NEM offers a wide array of in-house features that separate it from other blockchain projects in a space that is becoming increasingly congested. NEM’s creative PoI consensus algorithm is a fresh take on the PoS algorithm for performance enhancement. Further, the project’s newly launched enterprise-grade DLT solution, Symbol, offers a tremendous option to businesses to help them cut costs, reduce complexities, and streamline innovation.
NEM uses the Java programming language that makes it an easy project for developers to get involved with, unlike other projects such as Ethereum that use platform-specific programming languages like Solidity. The project’s tech infrastructure not only makes it less power-intensive compared to Bitcoin but also more scalable than its rival projects including Ethereum and NEO.
NEM’s tagline, “Smart Asset Blockchain, Built for Performance,” perfectly captures everything the project has to offer. Over the years, NEM’s active developer community has craftily addressed the notorious bottlenecks in the vast majority of blockchain solutions, The future looks promising for NEM as it continues to foster a trustless and blockchain-driven economy for tomorrow.
Source
submitted by charlesgwynne to BlockchainStartups [link] [comments]

Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?

Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?
Can they overcome the product limitations of blockchain and deliver the world-class experience that consumers expect?
https://reddit.com/link/i8ewbx/video/ojkc6c9a1lg51/player
This is the second part of Crypto Banking Wars — a new series that examines what crypto-native company is most likely to become the bank of the future. Who is best positioned to reach mainstream adoption in consumer finance?
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While crypto allows the world to get rid of banks, a bank will still very much be necessary for this very powerful technology to reach the masses. As we laid out in our previous series, Crypto-Powered, we believe companies that build with blockchain at their core will have the best shot at winning the broader consumer finance market. We hope it will be us at Genesis Block, but we aren’t the only game in town.
So this series explores the entire crypto landscape and tries to answer the question, which crypto company is most likely to become the bank of the future?
In our last episode, we offered an in-depth analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. Today we’re analyzing non-custodial crypto wallets. These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access, control, or stop funds from being moved. These apps allow users to truly become their own bank.
We’ve talked a little about this before. This group of companies is nowhere near the same level of threat as the biggest crypto exchanges. However, this group really understands DeFi and the magic it can bring. This class of products is heavily engineer-driven and at the bleeding-edge of DeFi innovation. These products are certainly worth discussing. Okay, let’s dive in.

Users & Audience

These non-custodial crypto wallets are especially popular among the most hardcore blockchain nerds and crypto cypherpunks.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”
This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets), then it’s not really your crypto. There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency. This type of user wants to be in absolute control of their money and become their own bank.
In addition to the experienced crypto geeks, for some people, these products will mean the difference between life and death. Imagine a refugee family that wants to safely protect their years of hard work — their life savings — as they travel across borders. Carrying cash could put their safety or money at risk. A few years ago I spent time in Greece at refugee camps — I know first-hand this is a real use-case.

https://preview.redd.it/vigqlmgg1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=0a5d48a63ce7a637749bbbc03d62c51cc3f75613
Or imagine a family living under an authoritarian regime — afraid that their corrupt or oppressive government will seize their assets (or devalue their savings via hyperinflation). Citizens in these countries cannot risk putting their money in centralized banks or under their mattresses. They must become their own bank.
These are the common use-cases and users for non-custodial wallets.

Products in Market

Let’s do a quick round-up of some of the more popular products already in the market.
Web/Desktop The most popular web wallet is MetaMask. Though it doesn’t have any specific integration with DeFi protocols yet, it has more than a million users (which is a lot in crypto land!). Web wallets that are more deeply integrated with DeFi include InstaDapp, Zerion, DeFi Saver, Zapper, and MyCrypto (disclosure: I’m an investor and a big fan of Taylor). For the mass market, mobile will be a much more important form-factor. I don’t view these web products as much of a threat to Genesis Block.
https://preview.redd.it/gbpi2ijj1lg51.png?width=1050&format=png&auto=webp&s=c039887484bf8a3d3438fb02a384d0b9ef894e1f
Mobile The more serious threats to Genesis Block are the mobile products that (A) are leveraging some of the powerful DeFi protocols and (B) abstracting away a lot of the blockchain/DeFi UX complexity. While none get close to us on (B), the products attempting this are Argent and Dharma. To the extent they can, both are trying to make interacting with blockchain technology as simple as possible.
A few of the bigger exchanges have also entered this mobile non-custodial market. Coinbase has Wallet (via Cipher Browser acquisition). Binance has Trust Wallet (also via acquisition). And speaking of acquisitions, MyCrypto acquired Ambo, which is a solid product and has brought MyCrypto into the mobile space. Others worth mentioning include Rainbow — well-designed and built by a small indy-team with strong DeFi experience (former Balance team). And ZenGo which has a cool feature around keyless security (their CEO is a friend).
There are dozens of other mobile crypto wallets that do very little beyond showing your balances. They are not serious threats.
https://preview.redd.it/6x4lxsdk1lg51.png?width=1009&format=png&auto=webp&s=fab3280491b75fe394aebc8dd69926b6962dcf5d
Hardware Wallets Holding crypto on your own hardware wallet is widely considered to be “best practice” from a security standpoint. The most popular hardware wallets are Ledger, Trezor, and KeepKey (by our friends at ShapeShift). Ledger Nano X is the only product that has Bluetooth — thus, the only one that can connect to a mobile app. While exciting and innovative, these hardware wallets are not yet integrated with any DeFi protocols.
https://preview.redd.it/yotmvtsl1lg51.png?width=1025&format=png&auto=webp&s=c8567b42839d9cec8dbc6c78d2f953b688886026

Strengths

Let’s take a look at some of the strengths with non-custodial products.
  1. Regulatory arbitrage Because these products are “non-custodial”, they are able to avoid the regulatory burdens that centralized, custodial products must deal with (KYC/AML/MTL/etc). This is a strong practical benefit for a bootstrapped startup/buildedeveloper. Though it’s unclear how long this advantage lasts as products reach wider audiences and increased scrutiny.
  2. User Privacy Because of the regulatory arbitrage mentioned above, users do not need to complete onerous KYC requirements. For example, there’s no friction around selfies, government-issued IDs, SSNs, etc. Users can preserve much of their privacy and they don’t need to worry about their sensitive information being hacked, compromised, or leaked.
  3. Absolute control & custody This is really one of the great promises of crypto — users can become their own bank. Users can be in full control of their money. And they don’t need to bury it underground or hide it under a mattress. No dependence, reliance or trust in any third parties. Only the user herself can access and unlock the money.

Weaknesses

Now let’s examine some of the weaknesses.
  1. Knowledge & Education Most non-custodial products do not abstract away any of the blockchain complexity. In fact, they often expose more of it because the most loyal users are crypto geeks. Imagine how an average, non-crypto user feels when she starts seeing words like seed phrases, public & private keys, gas limits, transaction fees, blockchain explorers, hex addresses, and confirmation times. There is a lot for a user to learn and become educated on. That’s friction. The learning curve is very high and will always be a major blocker for adoption. We’ve talked about this in our Spreading Crypto series — to reach the masses, the crypto stuff needs to be in the background.
  2. User Experience It is currently impossible to create a smooth and performant user experience in non-custodial wallets or decentralized applications. Any interaction that requires a blockchain transaction will feel sluggish and slow. We built a messaging app on Ethereum and presented it at DevCon3 in Cancun. The technical constraints of blockchain technology were crushing to the user experience. We simply couldn’t create the real-time, modern messaging experience that users have come to expect from similar apps like Slack or WhatsApp. Until blockchains are closer in speed to web servers (which will be difficult given their decentralized nature), dApps will never be able to create the smooth user experience that the masses expect.
  3. Product Limitations Most non-custodial wallets today are based on Ethereum smart contracts. That means they are severely limited with the assets that they can support (only erc-20 tokens). Unless through synthetic assets (similar to Abra), these wallets cannot support massively popular assets like Bitcoin, XRP, Cardano, Litecoin, EOS, Tezos, Stellar, Cosmos, or countless others. There are exciting projects like tBTC trying to bring Bitcoin to Ethereum — but these experiments are still very, very early. Ethereum-based smart contract wallets are missing a huge part of the crypto-asset universe.
  4. Technical Complexity While developers are able to avoid a lot of regulatory complexity (see Strengths above), they are replacing it with increased technical complexity. Most non-custodial wallets are entirely dependent on smart contract technology which is still very experimental and early in development (see Insurance section of this DeFi use-cases post). Major bugs and major hacks do happen. Even recently, it was discovered that Argent had a “high severity vulnerability.” Fortunately, Argent fixed it and their users didn’t lose funds. The tools, frameworks, and best practices around smart contract technology are all still being established. Things can still easily go wrong, and they do.
  5. Loss of Funds Risk Beyond the technical risks mentioned above, with non-custodial wallets, it’s very easy for users to make mistakes. There is no “Forgot Password.” There is no customer support agent you can ping. There is no company behind it that can make you whole if you make a mistake and lose your money. You are on your own, just as CZ suggests. One wrong move and your money is all gone. If you lose your private key, there is no way to recover your funds. There are some new developments around social recovery, but that’s all still very experimental. This just isn’t the type of customer support experience people are used to. And it’s not a risk that most are willing to take.
  6. Integration with Fiat & Traditional Finance In today’s world, it’s still very hard to use crypto for daily spending (see Payments in our DeFi use-cases post). Hopefully, that will all change someday. In the meantime, if any of these non-custodial products hope to win in the broader consumer finance market, they will undoubtedly need to integrate with the legacy financial world — they need onramps (fiat-to-crypto deposit methods) and offramps (crypto-to-fiat withdraw/spend methods). As much as crypto-fanatics hate hearing it, you can’t expect people to jump headfirst into the new world unless there is a smooth transition, unless there are bridge technologies that help them arrive. This is why these fiat integrations are so important. Examples might be allowing ACH/Wire deposits (eg. via Plaid) or launching a debit card program for spend/withdraw. These fiat integrations are essential if the aim is to become the bank of the future. Doing any of this compliantly will require strong KYC/AML. So to achieve this use-case — integrating with traditional finance —all of the Strengths we mentioned above are nullified. There are no longer regulatory benefits. There are no longer privacy benefits (users need to upload KYC documents, etc). And users are no longer in complete control of their money.

Wrap Up

One of the great powers of crypto is that we no longer depend on banks. Anyone can store their wealth and have absolute control of their money. That’s made possible with these non-custodial wallets. It’s a wonderful thing.
I believe that the most knowledgeable and experienced crypto people (including myself) will always be active users of these applications. And as mentioned in this post, there will certainly be circumstances where these apps will be essential & even life-saving.
However, I do not believe this category of product is a major threat to Genesis Block to becoming the bank of the future.
They won’t win in the broader consumer finance market — mostly because I don’t believe that’s their target audience. These applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that the masses require, want, or expect. The Weaknesses I’ve outlined above are just too overwhelming. The friction for mass-market consumers is just too much.

https://preview.redd.it/lp8dzxeh1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=03acdce545cd032f7e82b6665b001d7a06839557
The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets.
So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future?
No. They are designed for a very different audience.
------
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submitted by mickhagen to genesisblockhq [link] [comments]

Samsung blockchain phones set to feature Elrond project’s gaming app

Samsung blockchain phones set to feature Elrond project’s gaming app

https://preview.redd.it/wmdps45uyw941.png?width=1261&format=png&auto=webp&s=daed52a8e11e98b3127b740f0a443467202e9e85

QUICK TAKE

  • Blockchain project Elrond’s gaming app is set to get launched via Samsung Galaxy Store
  • The app, dubbed “Battle of Elrond,” is expected to go live in Q1 of this year
  • Beniamin Mincu, founder and CEO of Elrond, told The Block that players of the game can earn ERD tokens
Samsung Electronics' blockchain smartphones, such as Galaxy S10, are set to feature Elrond project’s gaming app - “Battle of Elrond.”
Revealing the news exclusively to The Block on Thursday, Europe-based Elrond said that the gaming app is scheduled to get launched in Q1 of this year.
Battle of Elrond is a mobile multiplayer game. Players earn ERD [Elrond’s native token] for defeating their enemies,” Beniamin Mincu, founder and CEO of Elrond, told The Block. One ERD token is currently worth $0.0016.
Mincu added that the game will be “exclusively” available via the Samsung Galaxy Store, meaning smartphones with native blockchain capabilities (Galaxy S10 and above) will support the app. Mincu stressed that Battle of Elrond is not a decentralized app (dApp), but is a mobile app with a blockchain component.
Elrond and Samsung initially teamed up in November, when the smartphone maker integrated ERD token on its blockchain wallet. The wallet also supports bitcoin (BTC), ether (ETH) and Aergo token, among others.
Elrond said blockchain technology helps reduce costs and provide security as well as privacy to users. It explained that native app stores collect fees of up to 30%, while blockchain “allows frictionless direct interaction at low fees.”
“Allowing consumers to enjoy cost reduction and privacy without the intricate blockchain-specific hassle will likely catapult adoption,” it added.
Scalable blockchain?
Elrond has been claiming to focus on performance and usability for its blockchain network. The firm said its blockchain “brings 1,000x improvements over existing blockchains” with “adaptive state” sharding architecture and “secure” proof-of-stake mechanism.
Elrond’s mainnet, however, is yet to get fully launched. According to the roadmap posted on its website, the mainnet bootstrapping will happen over three phases through 2020.
“The Battle of Elrond blockchain mechanics will be ported to our mainnet as a top priority after we launch. Until then, the ERC20 ERD token will be used as interim,” Mincu told The Block.
Elrond is backed by notable investors, including Binance Labs, Electric Capital and NGC Ventures. The firm has raised a total of $5.15 million to date - $1.9 million in private placements and $3.25 million in public funding round via Binance Launchpad, said Mincu.
There are currently 30 members working for Elrond, and the firm is “always looking to add more talent” to its roster.
Looking ahead, Elrond is focused on two areas. “One, we plan to expand our partnerships by making the Elrond Blockchain available to some of the most important enterprises in Europe” in 2020, said Mincu, adding that the firm also plans to “finally make public a product that we’ve been developing for some time, which makes blockchain tech attractive for the average internet user.”
Blockchain gaming
Gaming as a blockchain use case is indeed catching up. Last month, Nasdaq-listed hardware manufacturer AMD ventured into blockchain gaming. Several startups, including BetProtocol, Mythical Games and Immutable, have raised millions of dollars in recent months for their gaming ventures.
Earlier this year, Immutable sold a collectible card from its "Gods Unchained" game for about $62,000, claiming to be the second most-valuable game card in the world, followed by the MTG's "Black Lotus" card for $87,000.
Mincu told The Block that Battle of Elrond does not have non-fungible tokens and that only ERD token is used. "The type of game is different, as Gods Unchained is a 1v1 [one versus one] trading card game, whereas Battle of Elrond is a fast-paced Diablo-like PvP [Player(s) versus player(s)] arena."
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White Paper, Miner, Pizza … | "Old Objects" in the Cryptocurrency Museum

White Paper, Miner, Pizza … |
https://preview.redd.it/giu1ssilga151.jpg?width=900&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=41510785ccdc0d99544ec74229f62427d1c0ce3e
Museum has played the role of a time recorder. Talking about bitcoin, more than ten years has passed since the creation of it. Although it is uncomparable to the stock market with a hundred years of history, during the ten years, in the different stages of the development of bitcoin and blockchain have continuously poured in geeks, miners, speculators, newbies, leaving keywords such as sudden rich, myth, scam, belief, revolution, etc.
There are also many “old objects” with stories in the “Museum” of the cryptocurrency realm. On Museum Day, let ’s review the stories brought by these “old objects”.
The First Digital Currency White Paper — Bitcoin White Paper
On Oct. 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper — A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System in the cryptographic mail group where he belongs, and Bitcoin was born since then.
A white paper is a document that explains the purpose and technology used in cryptocurrency. Usually a cryptocurrency uses the white paper to help people understand what it provides, and it is also an important information channel for investors to understand a project. Therefore, the level of the white paper affects people’s confidence towards the coin.
In a word, in the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry, the value of a white paper is equivalent to that of a standard financing speech. The white paper plays a vital role in this emerging market.
The First Public Bitcoin-Physical Transaction — Pizza
Since Satoshi Nakamoto mined the Bitcoin genesis block on January 3, 2009, Bitcoin has only been spread among the small crowd and has not realized its value.
Not until May 22, 2010, Bitcoin enthusiast “Laszlo Hanyecz” bought a pizza coupon worth $25 with 10,000 bitcoins. This is the first public bitcoin-physical transaction. Bitcoin has its price with 0.3 cents per bitcoin.


This day has also become the famous “Bitcoin Pizza Day” in Bitcoin history. Bitcoin as the imagination of the financial system has more practical significance. The tenth anniversary is coming. How will you commemorate it? Will you buy a pizza?
The First Digital Asset Exchange — Bitcoinmarket.com
After the birth of Bitcoin, in addition to mining, the only way to get Bitcoin in the early days was to conduct transactions on forums or IRC (commonly known as Internet Relay Chat). However, this method involves both long transaction time and great security risk.
In March 2010, the first digital asset exchange — Bitcoinmarket.com launched. However, due to lack of liquidity and transaction depth, it disappeared soon after its establishment, but Bitcoinmarket.com opened the era of the operation of the cryptocurrency realm exchange 1.0.


On June 9, 2011, China’s first Bitcoin exchange — Bitcoin China (BTCChina) launched. Its founder, Yang Linke, translated Bitcoin into Chinese “比特币” for the first time. In 2013, China’s bitcoin trading entered the golden age, and exchanges sprung up. China monopolized more than 90% of the world’s bitcoin transactions. Now, if the top three exchanges Binance, Huobi Global, OKEx are the Exchange 2.0, then the index exchange represented by 58COIN called the 3.0 version, leading the trend.
The First Generation of High-Performance Miner — ASIC Miner
When Satoshi Nakamoto created Bitcoin, the only way to get it is to use computers (including home computers) to mine, mainly relying on the CPU to calculate. However, as the value of digital currencies such as Bitcoin has become higher and higher, mining has become an industry with the competition is getting fiercer, accompanied by increasing difficulty of mining. Therefore, hardware performance competition starts.
In July 2012, the genius Jiang Xinyu (Internet nickname is “Friedcat”) from the junior class of the University of Science and Technology declared at the forum that he could make ASIC miners (chips). As far as mining computing power is concerned, ASICs can be tens of thousands or more higher than the same-generation CPUs and GPUs.
At the beginning of 2013, Zhang Nanqian (Pumpkin Zhang), a suspended doctoral student from the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, developed the ASIC miner and named it “Avalon”.


In June 2013, the Friedcat’s miner USB was finally released, and it maintained 20% of the computing power of the entire network.
At the end of 2013, Wu Jihan, used the tens of millions yuan earned from Friedcat through investment, worked together with Jenke group, to develop the Antminer S1. Since then, the miner manufacturer Bitmain began to enter the stage of history.
It is no exaggeration to say that Friedcat and Zhang Nangeng have opened the domestic “mining” era.
The Birthplace of China’s Bitcoin — Garage Coffee
It is not only the “old objects” that record history, but also a place that everyone in the cryptocurrency realm aspires to.
Guo Hongcai once said, “Without no The Garage Café, there will be no cryptocurrency realm today. Since it is a very mysterious place that all waves of people from the café joint together to create today’s digital asset industry.

▲ In March 2013, American student Jake Smith successfully purchased a cup of coffee at The Garage Café with 0.131 bitcoins. This move attracted the attention of CCTV, and it conducted an interview.
Indeed, The Garage Café is the world ’s first entrepreneurial-themed coffee shop. It has been legendary since its establishment in 2011. The Garage Cafét is not only the core coordinate on China’s Bitcoin map, but also the birthplace of the Chinese cryptocurrency circle, where digital asset realm tycoons including Guo Hongcai, Zhao Dong, Li Xiaolai, Li Lin have made their ways.
The development of digital currency is only 11 years old. Through these “old objects”, we review the various stories of this wave of technology together, hoping to help you understand the development process of the digital currency field. Meanwhile, I also remind all practitioners to use history as a mirror and forge ahead.
Website: https://www.58ex.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/58_coin
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coin.58COIN
Telegram: https://t.me/official58
Medium: https://medium.com/@58coin_blog/
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A Beginners Guide to Bitcoin, Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

As cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology become more abundant throughout our society, it’s important to understand the inner workings of this technology, especially if you plan to use cryptocurrency as an investment vehicle. If you’re new to the crypto-sphere, learning about Bitcoin makes it much easier to understand other cryptocurrencies as many other altcoins' technologies are borrowed directly from Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is one of those things that you look into only to discover you have more questions than answers, and right as you’re starting to wrap your head around the technology; you discover the fact that Bitcoin has six other variants (forks), the amount of politics at hand, or that there are over a thousand different cryptocurrencies just as complex if not even more complex than Bitcoin.
We are currently in the infancy of blockchain technology and the effects of this technology will be as profound as the internet. This isn’t something that’s just going to fade away into history as you may have been led to believe. I believe this is something that will become an integral part of our society, eventually embedded within our technology. If you’re a crypto-newbie, be glad that you're relatively early to the industry. I hope this post will put you on the fast-track to understanding Bitcoin, blockchain, and how a large percentage of cryptocurrencies work.

Community Terminology

Altcoin: Short for alternative coin. There are over 1,000 different cryptocurrencies. You’re probably most familiar with Bitcoin. Anything that isn’t Bitcoin is generally referred to as an altcoin.
HODL: Misspelling of hold. Dank meme accidentally started by this dude. Hodlers are much more interested in long term gains rather than playing the risky game of trying to time the market.
TO THE MOON: When a cryptocurrency’s price rapidly increases. A major price spike of over 1,000% can look like it’s blasting off to the moon. Just be sure you’re wearing your seatbelt when it comes crashing down.
FUD: Fear. Uncertainty. Doubt.
FOMO: Fear of missing out.
Bull Run: Financial term used to describe a rising market.
Bear Run: Financial term used to describe a falling market.

What Is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin (BTC) is a decentralized digital currency that uses cryptography to secure and ensure validity of transactions within the network. Hence the term crypto-currency. Decentralization is a key aspect of Bitcoin. There is no CEO of Bitcoin or central authoritative government in control of the currency. The currency is ran and operated by the people, for the people. One of the main development teams behind Bitcoin is blockstream.
Bitcoin is a product of blockchain technology. Blockchain is what allows for the security and decentralization of Bitcoin. To understand Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, you must understand to some degree, blockchain. This can get extremely technical the further down the rabbit hole you go, and because this is technically a beginners guide, I’m going to try and simplify to the best of my ability and provide resources for further technical reading.

A Brief History

Bitcoin was created by Satoshi Nakamoto. The identity of Nakamoto is unknown. The idea of Bitcoin was first introduced in 2008 when Nakamoto released the Bitcoin white paper - Bitcoin: A Peer-to-Peer Electronic Cash System. Later, in January 2009, Nakamoto announced the Bitcoin software and the Bitcoin network officially began.
I should also mention that the smallest unit of a Bitcoin is called a Satoshi. 1 BTC = 100,000,000 Satoshis. When purchasing Bitcoin, you don’t actually need to purchase an entire coin. Bitcoin is divisible, so you can purchase any amount greater than 1 Satoshi (0.00000001 BTC).

What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a distributed ledger, a distributed collection of accounts. What is being accounted for depends on the use-case of the blockchain itself. In the case of Bitcoin, what is being accounted for is financial transactions.
The first block in a blockchain is referred to as the genesis block. A block is an aggregate of data. Blocks are also discovered through a process known as mining (more on this later). Each block is cryptographically signed by the previous block in the chain and visualizing this would look something akin to a chain of blocks, hence the term, blockchain.
For more information regarding blockchain I’ve provided more resouces below:

What is Bitcoin Mining

Bitcoin mining is one solution to the double spend problem. Bitcoin mining is how transactions are placed into blocks and added onto the blockchain. This is done to ensure proof of work, where computational power is staked in order to solve what is essentially a puzzle. If you solve the puzzle correctly, you are rewarded Bitcoin in the form of transaction fees, and the predetermined block reward. The Bitcoin given during a block reward is also the only way new Bitcoin can be introduced into the economy. With a halving event occurring roughly every 4 years, it is estimated that the last Bitcoin block will be mined in the year 2,140. (See What is Block Reward below for more info).
Mining is one of those aspects of Bitcoin that can get extremely technical and more complicated the further down the rabbit hole you go. An entire website could be created (and many have) dedicated solely to information regarding Bitcoin mining. The small paragraph above is meant to briefly expose you to the function of mining and the role it plays within the ecosystem. It doesn’t even scratch the surface regarding the topic.

How do you Purchase Bitcoin?

The most popular way to purchase Bitcoin through is through an online exchange where you trade fiat (your national currency) for Bitcoin.
Popular exchanges include:
  • Coinbase
  • Kraken
  • Cex
  • Gemini
There’s tons of different exchanges. Just make sure you find one that supports your national currency.

Volatility

Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are EXTREMELY volatile. Swings of 30% or more within a few days is not unheard of. Understand that there is always inherent risks with any investment. Cryptocurrencies especially. Only invest what you’re willing to lose.

Transaction & Network Fees

Transacting on the Bitcoin network is not free. Every purchase or transfer of Bitcoin will cost X amount of BTC depending on how congested the network is. These fees are given to miners as apart of the block reward.
Late 2017 when Bitcoin got up to $20,000USD, the average network fee was ~$50. Currently, at the time of writing this, the average network fee is $1.46. This data is available in real-time on BitInfoCharts.

Security

In this new era of money, there is no central bank or government you can go to in need of assistance. This means the responsibility of your money falls 100% into your hands. That being said, the security regarding your cryptocurrency should be impeccable. The anonymity provided by cryptocurrencies alone makes you a valuable target to hackers and scammers. Below I’ve detailed out best practices regarding securing your cryptocurrency.

Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)

Two-factor authentication is a second way of authenticating your identity upon signing in to an account. Most cryptocurrency related software/websites will offer or require some form of 2FA. Upon creation of any crypto-related account find the Security section and enable 2FA.

SMS Authentication

The most basic form of 2FA which you are probably most familiar with. This form of authentication sends a text message to your smartphone with a special code that will allow access to your account upon entry. Note that this is not the safest form of 2FA as you may still be vulnerable to what is known as a SIM swap attack. SIM swapping is a social engineering method in which an attacker will call up your phone carrier, impersonating you, in attempt to re-activate your SIM card on his/her device. Once the attacker has access to your SIM card he/she now has access to your text messages which can then be used to access your online accounts. You can prevent this by using an authenticator such as Google Authenticator.

Authenticator

The use of an authenticator is the safest form of 2FA. An authenticator is installed on a seperate device and enabling it requires you input an ever changing six digit code in order to access your account. I recommend using Google Authenticator.
If a website has the option to enable an authenticator, it will give you a QR code and secret key. Use Google Authenticator to scan the QR code. The secret key consists of a random string of numbers and letters. Write this down on a seperate sheet of paper and do not store it on a digital device.
Once Google Authenticator has been enabled, every time you sign into your account, you will have to input a six-digit code that looks similar to this. If you happen to lose or damage the device you have Google Authenticator installed on, you will be locked out of your account UNLESS you have access to the secret key (which you should have written down).

Hardware Wallets

A wallet is what you store Bitcoin and cryptocurrency on. I’ll provide resources on the different type of wallets later but I want to emphasize the use of a hardware wallet (aka cold storage).
Hardware wallets are the safest way of storing cryptocurrency because it allows for your crypto to be kept offline in a physical device. After purchasing crypto via an exchange, I recommend transferring it to cold storage. The most popular hardware wallets include the Ledger Nano S, and Trezor.
Hardware wallets come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key as well as any other sensitive information in a safety deposit box.
I know this all may seem a bit manic, but it is important you take the necessary security precautions in order to ensure the safety & longevity of your cryptocurrency.

Technical Aspects of Bitcoin

TL;DR
  • Address: What you send Bitcoin to.
  • Wallet: Where you store your Bitcoin
  • Max Supply: 21 million
  • Block Time: ~10 minutes
  • Block Size: 1-2 MB
  • Block Reward: BTC reward received from mining.

What is a Bitcoin Address?

A Bitcoin address is what you send Bitcoin to. If you want to receive Bitcoin you’d give someone your Bitcoin address. Think of a Bitcoin address as an email address for money.

What is a Bitcoin Wallet?

As the title implies, a Bitcoin wallet is anything that can store Bitcoin. There are many different types of wallets including paper wallets, software wallets and hardware wallets. It is generally advised NOT to keep cryptocurrency on an exchange, as exchanges are prone to hacks (see Mt. Gox hack).
My preferred method of storing cryptocurrency is using a hardware wallet such as the Ledger Nano S or Trezor. These allow you to keep your crypto offline in physical form and as a result, much more safe from hacks. Paper wallets also allow for this but have less functionality in my opinion.
After I make crypto purchases, I transfer it to my Ledger Nano S and keep that in a safe at home. Hardware wallets also come with a special key so that if it gets lost or damaged, you can recover your crypto. I recommend keeping your recovery key in a safety deposit box.

What is Bitcoins Max Supply?

The max supply of Bitcoin is 21 million. The only way new Bitcoins can be introduced into the economy are through block rewards which are given after successfully mining a block (more on this later).

What is Bitcoins Block Time?

The average time in which blocks are created is called block time. For Bitcoin, the block time is ~10 minutes, meaning, 10 minutes is the minimum amount of time it will take for a Bitcoin transaction to be processed. Note that transactions on the Bitcoin network can take much longer depending on how congested the network is. Having to wait a few hours or even a few days in some instances for a transaction to clear is not unheard of.
Other cryptocurrencies will have different block times. For example, Ethereum has a block time of ~15 seconds.
For more information on how block time works, Prabath Siriwardena has a good block post on this subject which can be found here.

What is Bitcoins Block Size?

There is a limit to how large blocks can be. In the early days of Bitcoin, the block size was 36MB, but in 2010 this was reduced to 1 MB in order to prevent distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), spam, and other malicious use on the blockchain. Nowadays, blocks are routinely in excess of 1MB, with the largest to date being somewhere around 2.1 MB.
There is much debate amongst the community on whether or not to increase Bitcoin’s block size limit to account for ever-increasing network demand. A larger block size would allow for more transactions to be processed. The con argument to this is that decentralization would be at risk as mining would become more centralized. As a result of this debate, on August 1, 2017, Bitcoin underwent a hard-fork and Bitcoin Cash was created which has a block size limit of 8 MB. Note that these are two completely different blockchains and sending Bitcoin to a Bitcoin Cash wallet (or vice versa) will result in a failed transaction.
Update: As of May 15th, 2018 Bitcoin Cash underwent another hard fork and the block size has increased to 32 MB.
On the topic of Bitcoin vs Bitcoin Cash and which cryptocurrency is better, I’ll let you do your own research and make that decision for yourself. It is good to know that this is a debated topic within the community and example of the politics that manifest within the space. Now if you see community members arguing about this topic, you’ll at least have a bit of background to the issue.

What is Block Reward?

Block reward is the BTC you receive after discovering a block. Blocks are discovered through a process called mining. The only way new BTC can be added to the economy is through block rewards and the block reward is halved every 210,000 blocks (approximately every 4 years). Halving events are done to limit the supply of Bitcoin. At the inception of Bitcoin, the block reward was 50BTC. At the time of writing this, the block reward is 12.5BTC. Halving events will continue to occur until the amount of new Bitcoin introduced into the economy becomes less than 1 Satoshi. This is expected to happen around the year 2,140. All 21 million Bitcoins will have been mined. Once all Bitcoins have been mined, the block reward will only consist of transaction fees.

Technical Aspects Continued

Understanding Nodes

Straight from the Bitcoin.it wiki
Any computer that connects to the Bitcoin network is called a node. Nodes that fully verify all of the rules of Bitcoin are called full nodes.
In other words, full nodes are what verify the Bitcoin blockchain and they play a crucial role in maintaining the decentralized network. Full nodes store the entirety of the blockchain and validate transactions. Anyone can participate in the Bitcoin network and run a full node. Bitcoin.org has information on how to set up a full node. Running a full node also gives you wallet capabilities and the ability to query the blockchain.
For more information on Bitcoin nodes, see Andreas Antonopoulos’s Q&A on the role of nodes.

What is a Fork?

A fork is a divergence in a blockchain. Since Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer network, there’s an overall set of rules (protocol) in which participants within the network must abide by. These rules are put in place to form network consensus. Forks occur when implementations must be made to the blockchain or if there is disagreement amongst the network on how consensus should be achieved.

Soft Fork vs Hard Fork

The difference between soft and hard forks lies in compatibility. Soft forks are backwards compatible, hard forks are not. Think of soft forks as software upgrades to the blockchain, whereas hard forks are a software upgrade that warrant a completely new blockchain.
During a soft fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules. Nodes that do not upgrade will still accept the new blockchain.
Examples of Bitcoin soft forks include:
A hard fork can be thought of as the creation of a new blockchain that X percentage of the community decides to migrate too. During a hard fork, miners and nodes upgrade their software to support new consensus rules, Nodes that do not upgrade are invalid and cannot accept the new blockchain.
Examples of Bitcoin hard forks include:
  • Bitcoin Cash
  • Bitcoin Gold
Note that these are completely different blockchains and independent from the Bitcoin blockchain. If you try to send Bitcoin to one of these blockchains, the transaction will fail.

A Case For Bitcoin in a World of Centralization

Our current financial system is centralized, which means the ledger(s) that operate within this centralized system are subjugated to control, manipulation, fraud, and many other negative aspects that come with this system. There are also pros that come with a centralized system, such as the ability to swiftly make decisions. However, at some point, the cons outweigh the pros, and change is needed. What makes Bitcoin so special as opposed to our current financial system is that Bitcoin allows for the decentralized transfer of money. Not one person owns the Bitcoin network, everybody does. Not one person controls Bitcoin, everybody does. A decentralized system in theory removes much of the baggage that comes with a centralized system. Not to say the Bitcoin network doesn’t have its problems (wink wink it does), and there’s much debate amongst the community as to how to go about solving these issues. But even tiny steps are significant steps in the world of blockchain, and I believe Bitcoin will ultimately help to democratize our financial system, whether or not you believe it is here to stay for good.

Final Conclusions

Well that was a lot of words… Anyways I hope this guide was beneficial, especially to you crypto newbies out there. You may have come into this realm not expecting there to be an abundance of information to learn about. I know I didn’t. Bitcoin is only the tip of the iceberg, but now that you have a fundamental understanding of Bitcoin, learning about other cryptocurrencies such as Litecoin, and Ethereum will come more naturally.
Feel free to ask questions below! I’m sure either the community or myself would be happy to answer your questions.
Thanks for reading!

Related Links

Guides

Exchanges

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