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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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Syscoin Platform’s Great Reddit Scaling Bake-off Proposal

Syscoin Platform’s Great Reddit Scaling Bake-off Proposal

https://preview.redd.it/rqt2dldyg8e51.jpg?width=1044&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=777ae9d4fbbb54c3540682b72700fc4ba3de0a44
We are excited to participate and present Syscoin Platform's ideal characteristics and capabilities towards a well-rounded Reddit Community Points solution!
Our scaling solution for Reddit Community Points involves 2-way peg interoperability with Ethereum. This will provide a scalable token layer built specifically for speed and high volumes of simple value transfers at a very low cost, while providing sovereign ownership and onchain finality.
Token transfers scale by taking advantage of a globally sorting mempool that provides for probabilistically secure assumptions of “as good as settled”. The opportunity here for token receivers is to have an app-layer interactivity on the speed/security tradeoff (99.9999% assurance within 10 seconds). We call this Z-DAG, and it achieves high-throughput across a mesh network topology presently composed of about 2,000 geographically dispersed full-nodes. Similar to Bitcoin, however, these nodes are incentivized to run full-nodes for the benefit of network security, through a bonded validator scheme. These nodes do not participate in the consensus of transactions or block validation any differently than other nodes and therefore do not degrade the security model of Bitcoin’s validate first then trust, across every node. Each token transfer settles on-chain. The protocol follows Bitcoin core policies so it has adequate code coverage and protocol hardening to be qualified as production quality software. It shares a significant portion of Bitcoin’s own hashpower through merged-mining.
This platform as a whole can serve token microtransactions, larger settlements, and store-of-value in an ideal fashion, providing probabilistic scalability whilst remaining decentralized according to Bitcoin design. It is accessible to ERC-20 via a permissionless and trust-minimized bridge that works in both directions. The bridge and token platform are currently available on the Syscoin mainnet. This has been gaining recent attention for use by loyalty point programs and stablecoins such as Binance USD.

Solutions

Syscoin Foundation identified a few paths for Reddit to leverage this infrastructure, each with trade-offs. The first provides the most cost-savings and scaling benefits at some sacrifice of token autonomy. The second offers more preservation of autonomy with a more narrow scope of cost savings than the first option, but savings even so. The third introduces more complexity than the previous two yet provides the most overall benefits. We consider the third as most viable as it enables Reddit to benefit even while retaining existing smart contract functionality. We will focus on the third option, and include the first two for good measure.
  1. Distribution, burns and user-to-user transfers of Reddit Points are entirely carried out on the Syscoin network. This full-on approach to utilizing the Syscoin network provides the most scalability and transaction cost benefits of these scenarios. The tradeoff here is distribution and subscription handling likely migrating away from smart contracts into the application layer.
  2. The Reddit Community Points ecosystem can continue to use existing smart contracts as they are used today on the Ethereum mainchain. Users migrate a portion of their tokens to Syscoin, the scaling network, to gain much lower fees, scalability, and a proven base layer, without sacrificing sovereign ownership. They would use Syscoin for user-to-user transfers. Tips redeemable in ten seconds or less, a high-throughput relay network, and onchain settlement at a block target of 60 seconds.
  3. Integration between Matic Network and Syscoin Platform - similar to Syscoin’s current integration with Ethereum - will provide Reddit Community Points with EVM scalability (including the Memberships ERC777 operator) on the Matic side, and performant simple value transfers, robust decentralized security, and sovereign store-of-value on the Syscoin side. It’s “the best of both worlds”. The trade-off is more complex interoperability.

Syscoin + Matic Integration

Matic and Blockchain Foundry Inc, the public company formed by the founders of Syscoin, recently entered a partnership for joint research and business development initiatives. This is ideal for all parties as Matic Network and Syscoin Platform provide complementary utility. Syscoin offers characteristics for sovereign ownership and security based on Bitcoin’s time-tested model, and shares a significant portion of Bitcoin’s own hashpower. Syscoin’s focus is on secure and scalable simple value transfers, trust-minimized interoperability, and opt-in regulatory compliance for tokenized assets rather than scalability for smart contract execution. On the other hand, Matic Network can provide scalable EVM for smart contract execution. Reddit Community Points can benefit from both.
Syscoin + Matic integration is actively being explored by both teams, as it is helpful to Reddit, Ethereum, and the industry as a whole.

Proving Performance & Cost Savings

Our POC focuses on 100,000 on-chain settlements of token transfers on the Syscoin Core blockchain. Transfers and burns perform equally with Syscoin. For POCs related to smart contracts (subscriptions, etc), refer to the Matic Network proposal.
On-chain settlement of 100k transactions was accomplished within roughly twelve minutes, well-exceeding Reddit’s expectation of five days. This was performed using six full-nodes operating on compute-optimized AWS c4.2xlarge instances which were geographically distributed (Virginia, London, Sao Paulo Brazil, Oregon, Singapore, Germany). A higher quantity of settlements could be reached within the same time-frame with more broadcasting nodes involved, or using hosts with more resources for faster execution of the process.
Addresses used: 100,014
The demonstration was executed using this tool. The results can be seen in the following blocks:
612722: https://sys1.bcfn.ca/block/6d47796d043bb4c508d29123e6ae81b051f5e0aaef849f253c8f3a6942a022ce
612723: https://sys1.bcfn.ca/block/8e2077f743461b90f80b4bef502f564933a8e04de97972901f3d65cfadcf1faf
612724: https://sys1.bcfn.ca/block/205436d25b1b499fce44c29567c5c807beaca915b83cc9f3c35b0d76dbb11f6e
612725: https://sys1.bcfn.ca/block/776d1b1a0f90f655a6bbdf559ff5072459cbdc5682d7615ff4b78c00babdc237
612726: https://sys1.bcfn.ca/block/de4df0994253742a1ac8ac9eec8d2a8c8b0a6d72c53d6f3caa29bb6c171b0a6b
612727: https://sys1.bcfn.ca/block/e5e167c52a9decb313fbaadf49a5e34cb490f8084f642a850385476d4ef10d70
612728: https://sys1.bcfn.ca/block/ab64d989edc71890e7b5b8491c20e9a27520dc45a5f7c776d3dae79057f59fe7
612729: https://sys1.bcfn.ca/block/5e8b7ecd0e36f99d07e4ea6e135fc952bf7ec30164ab6f4d1e98b0f2d405df6d
612730: https://sys1.bcfn.ca/block/d395df3d31dde60bbb0bece6bd5b358297da878f0beb96be389e5f0e043580a3
It is important to note that this POC is not focused on Z-DAG. The performance of Z-DAG has been benchmarked within realistic network conditions: Whiteblock’s audit is publicly available. Network latency tests showed an average TPS around 15k with burst capacity up to 61k. Zero-latency control group exhibited ~150k TPS. Mainnet testing of the Z-DAG network is achievable and will require further coordination and additional resources.
Even further optimizations are expected in the upcoming Syscoin Core release which will implement a UTXO model for our token layer bringing further efficiency as well as open the door to additional scaling technology currently under research by our team and academic partners. At present our token layer is account-based, similar to Ethereum. Opt-in compliance structures will also be introduced soon which will offer some positive performance characteristics as well. It makes the most sense to implement these optimizations before performing another benchmark for Z-DAG, especially on the mainnet considering the resources required to stress-test this network.

Cost Savings

Total cost for these 100k transactions: $0.63 USD
See the live fee comparison for savings estimation between transactions on Ethereum and Syscoin. Below is a snapshot at time of writing:
ETH price: $318.55 ETH gas price: 55.00 Gwei ($0.37)
Syscoin price: $0.11
Snapshot of live fee comparison chart
Z-DAG provides a more efficient fee-market. A typical Z-DAG transaction costs 0.0000582 SYS. Tokens can be safely redeemed/re-spent within seconds or allowed to settle on-chain beforehand. The costs should remain about this low for microtransactions.
Syscoin will achieve further reduction of fees and even greater scalability with offchain payment channels for assets, with Z-DAG as a resilience fallback. New payment channel technology is one of the topics under research by the Syscoin development team with our academic partners at TU Delft. In line with the calculation in the Lightning Networks white paper, payment channels using assets with Syscoin Core will bring theoretical capacity for each person on Earth (7.8 billion) to have five on-chain transactions per year, per person, without requiring anyone to enter a fee market (aka “wait for a block”). This exceeds the minimum LN expectation of two transactions per person, per year; one to exist on-chain and one to settle aggregated value.

Tools, Infrastructure & Documentation

Syscoin Bridge

Mainnet Demonstration of Syscoin Bridge with the Basic Attention Token ERC-20
A two-way blockchain interoperability system that uses Simple Payment Verification to enable:
  • Any Standard ERC-20 token to be moved from Ethereum to the Syscoin blockchain as a Syscoin Platform Token (SPT), and back to Ethereum
  • Any SPT to be moved from Syscoin to the Ethereum blockchain as an ERC-20 token, and back to Syscoin

Benefits

  • Permissionless
  • No counterparties involved
  • No trading mechanisms involved
  • No third-party liquidity providers required
  • Cross-chain Fractional Supply - 2-way peg - Token supply maintained globally
  • ERC-20s gain vastly improved transactionality with the Syscoin Token Platform, along with the security of bitcoin-core-compliant PoW.
  • SPTs gain access to all the tooling, applications and capabilities of Ethereum for ERC-20, including smart contracts.
https://preview.redd.it/l8t2m8ldh8e51.png?width=1180&format=png&auto=webp&s=b0a955a0181746dc79aff718bd0bf607d3c3aa23
https://preview.redd.it/26htnxzfh8e51.png?width=1180&format=png&auto=webp&s=d0383d3c2ee836c9f60b57eca35542e9545f741d

Source code

https://github.com/syscoin/?q=sysethereum
Main Subprojects

API

Tools to simplify using Syscoin Bridge as a service with dapps and wallets will be released some time after implementation of Syscoin Core 4.2. These will be based upon the same processes which are automated in the current live Sysethereum Dapp that is functioning with the Syscoin mainnet.

Documentation

Syscoin Bridge & How it Works (description and process flow)
Superblock Validation Battles
HOWTO: Provision the Bridge for your ERC-20
HOWTO: Setup an Agent
Developer & User Diligence

Trade-off

The Syscoin Ethereum Bridge is secured by Agent nodes participating in a decentralized and incentivized model that involves roles of Superblock challengers and submitters. This model is open to participation. The benefits here are trust-minimization, permissionless-ness, and potentially less legal/regulatory red-tape than interop mechanisms that involve liquidity providers and/or trading mechanisms.
The trade-off is that due to the decentralized nature there are cross-chain settlement times of one hour to cross from Ethereum to Syscoin, and three hours to cross from Syscoin to Ethereum. We are exploring ways to reduce this time while maintaining decentralization via zkp. Even so, an “instant bridge” experience could be provided by means of a third-party liquidity mechanism. That option exists but is not required for bridge functionality today. Typically bridges are used with batch value, not with high frequencies of smaller values, and generally it is advantageous to keep some value on both chains for maximum availability of utility. Even so, the cross-chain settlement time is good to mention here.

Cost

Ethereum -> Syscoin: Matic or Ethereum transaction fee for bridge contract interaction, negligible Syscoin transaction fee for minting tokens
Syscoin -> Ethereum: Negligible Syscoin transaction fee for burning tokens, 0.01% transaction fee paid to Bridge Agent in the form of the ERC-20, Matic or Ethereum transaction fee for contract interaction.

Z-DAG

Zero-Confirmation Directed Acyclic Graph is an instant settlement protocol that is used as a complementary system to proof-of-work (PoW) in the confirmation of Syscoin service transactions. In essence, a Z-DAG is simply a directed acyclic graph (DAG) where validating nodes verify the sequential ordering of transactions that are received in their memory pools. Z-DAG is used by the validating nodes across the network to ensure that there is absolute consensus on the ordering of transactions and no balances are overflowed (no double-spends).

Benefits

  • Unique fee-market that is more efficient for microtransaction redemption and settlement
  • Uses decentralized means to enable tokens with value transfer scalability that is comparable or exceeds that of credit card networks
  • Provides high throughput and secure fulfillment even if blocks are full
  • Probabilistic and interactive
  • 99.9999% security assurance within 10 seconds
  • Can serve payment channels as a resilience fallback that is faster and lower-cost than falling-back directly to a blockchain
  • Each Z-DAG transaction also settles onchain through Syscoin Core at 60-second block target using SHA-256 Proof of Work consensus
https://preview.redd.it/pgbx84jih8e51.png?width=1614&format=png&auto=webp&s=5f631d42a33dc698365eb8dd184b6d442def6640

Source code

https://github.com/syscoin/syscoin

API

Syscoin-js provides tooling for all Syscoin Core RPCs including interactivity with Z-DAG.

Documentation

Z-DAG White Paper
Useful read: An in-depth Z-DAG discussion between Syscoin Core developer Jag Sidhu and Brave Software Research Engineer Gonçalo Pestana

Trade-off

Z-DAG enables the ideal speed/security tradeoff to be determined per use-case in the application layer. It minimizes the sacrifice required to accept and redeem fast transfers/payments while providing more-than-ample security for microtransactions. This is supported on the premise that a Reddit user receiving points does need security yet generally doesn’t want nor need to wait for the same level of security as a nation-state settling an international trade debt. In any case, each Z-DAG transaction settles onchain at a block target of 60 seconds.

Syscoin Specs

Syscoin 3.0 White Paper
(4.0 white paper is pending. For improved scalability and less blockchain bloat, some features of v3 no longer exist in current v4: Specifically Marketplace Offers, Aliases, Escrow, Certificates, Pruning, Encrypted Messaging)
  • 16MB block bandwidth per minute assuming segwit witness carrying transactions, and transactions ~200 bytes on average
  • SHA256 merge mined with Bitcoin
  • UTXO asset layer, with base Syscoin layer sharing identical security policies as Bitcoin Core
  • Z-DAG on asset layer, bridge to Ethereum on asset layer
  • On-chain scaling with prospect of enabling enterprise grade reliable trustless payment processing with on/offchain hybrid solution
  • Focus only on Simple Value Transfers. MVP of blockchain consensus footprint is balances and ownership of them. Everything else can reduce data availability in exchange for scale (Ethereum 2.0 model). We leave that to other designs, we focus on transfers.
  • Future integrations of MAST/Taproot to get more complex value transfers without trading off trustlessness or decentralization.
  • Zero-knowledge Proofs are a cryptographic new frontier. We are dabbling here to generalize the concept of bridging and also verify the state of a chain efficiently. We also apply it in our Digital Identity projects at Blockchain Foundry (a publicly traded company which develops Syscoin softwares for clients). We are also looking to integrate privacy preserving payment channels for off-chain payments through zkSNARK hub & spoke design which does not suffer from the HTLC attack vectors evident on LN. Much of the issues plaguing Lightning Network can be resolved using a zkSNARK design whilst also providing the ability to do a multi-asset payment channel system. Currently we found a showstopper attack (American Call Option) on LN if we were to use multiple-assets. This would not exist in a system such as this.

Wallets

Web3 and mobile wallets are under active development by Blockchain Foundry Inc as WebAssembly applications and expected for release not long after mainnet deployment of Syscoin Core 4.2. Both of these will be multi-coin wallets that support Syscoin, SPTs, Ethereum, and ERC-20 tokens. The Web3 wallet will provide functionality similar to Metamask.
Syscoin Platform and tokens are already integrated with Blockbook. Custom hardware wallet support currently exists via ElectrumSys. First-class HW wallet integration through apps such as Ledger Live will exist after 4.2.
Current supported wallets
Syscoin Spark Desktop
Syscoin-Qt

Explorers

Mainnet: https://sys1.bcfn.ca (Blockbook)
Testnet: https://explorer-testnet.blockchainfoundry.co

Thank you for close consideration of our proposal. We look forward to feedback, and to working with the Reddit community to implement an ideal solution using Syscoin Platform!

submitted by sidhujag to ethereum [link] [comments]

Why Ethereum Problems Make UMI the Flagship Among the New Generation Cryptocurrencies

Why Ethereum Problems Make UMI the Flagship Among the New Generation Cryptocurrencies

https://preview.redd.it/8skuypxp9lj51.jpg?width=1023&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=ba5a38ba592428f92dc7c1943a780ff127132875
Ethereum cryptocurrency that comes second in terms of capitalization on the crypto market is traditionally seen as fast and profitable. However, over the last few weeks it's had a rough patch. Since early August, the network has had huge queues of transactions pending processing while fees have skyrocketed and surpassed the historical high.
The main issue though is that even fees of a few dollars per transfer don't help get rid of the“traffic jams”. The cause of this is numerous DeFi projects and a huge number of financial pyramids based on the Ethereum platform. Both generate excessive load on the network.
The situation is downright unpleasant, and our users might question whether the UMI network could face a similar challenge? We'd like to assure you it could not. The UMI network is by default protected against these problems — it cannot have “traffic jams”, fees or financial pyramids. But first things first.
How has the Ethereum network ground to a halt?
In its report dated August 4, Arcane Research that provides analysis within the field of cryptocurrency stated that over the previous week the daily size of transaction fees in the Ethereum network has surged up to a record high for over two and a half years. On August 3, the median value #%D0%9F%D1%80%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B5%D1%80_%D0%B8%D1%81%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%8C%D0%B7%D0%BE%D0%B2%D0%B0%D0%BD%D0%B8%D1%8F)of the fee amounted to $0.82, with the overall amount of transaction fees totaling $2 mln. However, it only signaled the start of real problems.
Over the next week, fees continued to grow and by August 11 the median fee value almost doubled equaling $1.57. Larry Cermak, an expert at a big analytical and news-making crypto portal The Block, wrote in his August 15 tweet that over a week the total amount of transaction fees in the Ethereum network totaled $34.5 mln, having surpassed its historical high. Meanwhile, in the Bitcoin network that is seen as too expensive the fees were almost four times lower at $9 mln.
The total fee amount paid by cryptocurrency users over a week:
  • Ethereum — $34.5 mln;
  • Bitcoin — $9 mln;
  • Monero — $2,240;
  • Tezos — $1,876;
  • Cardano — $1,615;
  • XRP — $1,138;
  • BSV — $1,102;
  • Stellar — $1,059;
  • Bitcoin Cash — $1,027;
  • UMI — $0. Let's talk about it a little later.

https://preview.redd.it/z9azd9v6alj51.png?width=1600&format=png&auto=webp&s=25c365d6e14665ecda4a2b8d19b2fc57dd5cde1e
Historical Growth Chart for Ethereum Fees. Source
The existing situation shows that Ethereum is actually not as fast and profitable as commonly cited. Additionally, this could happen to almost any cryptocurrency except UMI that charges no fees whatsoever. We will tell you why.
Why have these problems emerged?
There is nothing unoriginal: the Ethereum network simply can't handle an increased load. Arcane Research analysts consider that a principal cause of this situation is the constantly increasing number of the DeFi ecosystem projects built on the Ethereum blockchain. Their number is growing all the time which causes the overload of the network. As of August 12, the total amount of funds in DeFi applications reached $4.3 billion which is 19.5% higher than that in the past week. At the time of writing this article, the amount surged to $6.21 billion. You can see the current data here. What is the most unpleasant about DeFi protocols is that a lot of them are scam projects.
Which is not the worst part though. There is also another factor that significantly slows down the Ethereum network. There are a lot of pyramid-like projects that are built on the EOS platform and use smart contracts. One of them is SmartWay Forsage, which regularly overloads the network with a large number of transactions, causes traffic jams, and, consequently, leads to increased fees (keep in mind that Ethereum miners choose transactions with a higher commission). Vitalik Buterin, the co-founder of Ethereum, revealed his disapproval of the SmartWay Forsage methodology and asked them to "leave and not pollute Ethereum ecology in the future". However, the project is slow to do this — it continues to deceive users.
This is only the tip of the iceberg of scam projects which abounds on the EOS network –– they continually emerge, work for a while, then go down as scams and are replaced with new ones. This never-ending stream of "investment projects" based on the Ponzi scheme overloads the system. This is the reason why Adam Back, a pioneer of the crypto industry and founder of the technology company Blockstream, equated Ethereum with such infamous projects as Onecoin and Bitconnect. Adam Back's solid dig at Ethereum became the subject of much debate among crypto enthusiasts.
Of course, it all doesn't mean that Ethereum is a bad cryptocurrency. On the contrary, it has a lot of advantages over other coins. But all that has happened exposes Ethereum's faults which must be eliminated. The problem is that they may not be fixable. It is far from certain that the developers will be able to get rid of all the defects as the system has huge scalability problems.
The crypto community has to admit that Ethereum, like other first-generation cryptocurrencies, has issues with capacity, fees, and scalability and is gradually becoming obsolete.
2020 is the time for young innovative cryptocurrencies such as UMI.
UMI is the flagship of new-generation cryptocurrencies.
In real fact, any cryptocurrency could face it. Each cryptocurrency charges fees which typically surge when the network is overloaded or the price is going up. Everyone will remember 2017 when in line with price growth and the network's overload Bitcoin transaction fee reached a high of around $40.
But when it comes to UMI, it works the other way round. The UMI network's advantages are high capacity, no fees, and scaling possibilities. It uses the best and fastest crypto industry solutions and excludes all inefficient methods by default. Smart optimization in combination with the Proof-of-Authority technology operating on the master node basis enables almost instant payments.
At the stage of network testing, an incredibly high capacity was achieved:
  • up to 4,369 transactions per second;
  • up to 262,140 transactions per minute;
  • up to 15,728,400 transactions per hour;
  • up to 377,481,600 transactions per day.
Ethereum processes about 20 transactions per second. It means that the UMI network can process transactions that Ethereum processes over a year in 1 to 5 days — and with no fees.
https://preview.redd.it/rwohnov3alj51.png?width=1125&format=png&auto=webp&s=4329b75c0bd8b7a22276b529f5ca433d17a0874f
The UMI network can process transactions that Ethereum processes over a year in a few days and with no fees. More details
What is more important is that less than 0.001% of the network's overall potential is used now. The UMI network has a lot of reserve capacity and can handle hundreds of thousands of times heavier load. Moreover, with scaling possibilities, UMI can keep up with the times. The UMI code ensures the safe introduction of any upgrades — the network can be easily modified and scaled with cutting edge technology solutions. In other words, traffic jams will never pose a problem for us. UMI will instantly process all transactions, with no fees. Always.
https://preview.redd.it/t0068th0alj51.png?width=544&format=png&auto=webp&s=019f46ec8c093480c4638cf098312a5a146134a8
A real-time speedometer displays the number of transactions processed by the UMI network per second. Link
Additionally, unlike Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, the UMI's staking smart contract prevents possibilities of any pyramid schemes, meaning eliminates their negative influence. Our staking is completely safe and secured against scammers. Read more about this in our article. Any UMI staking structure could work forever. In other words, you can multiply your coins at a rate of up to 40% per month for an indefinitely long period of time.
UMI doesn't inherit the disadvantages of the first-generation cryptocurrencies. This is an innovative, carefully designed network based on state-of-the-art technologies. UMI is an ambitious step toward the future. And we're making it together right now!
Sincerely yours, UMI team
submitted by UMITop to u/UMITop [link] [comments]

Crypto Banking Wars: Can BlockFi & Celsius Disrupt Banking?

Crypto Banking Wars: Can BlockFi & Celsius Disrupt Banking?
These crypto lending & borrowing services found early traction. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market?
https://reddit.com/link/icps9l/video/98kl1y596zh51/player
This is the third 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?
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 a crypto-native company will ultimately become the bank of the future. We’re confident Genesis Block will have a seat at that table, but we aren’t the only game in town.
In the first post of this series, we did an analysis of big crypto exchanges like Coinbase & Binance. In our second episode, we looked at the world of non-custodial wallets.
Today we’re analyzing crypto lending & borrowing services. The Earn and Borrow use-case covers a lot of what traditional banks deliver today. This category of companies is a threat worth analyzing. As we look at this market, we’ll mostly be focused on custodial, centralized products like BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.
Many of these companies found early traction among crypto users. Are they capable of bundling more financial services and winning the broader consumer finance market? Let’s find out.

Institutional Borrowers

Because speculation and trading remains one of the most popular use-cases of crypto, a new crypto sub-industry around credit has emerged. Much of the borrowing demand has been driven by institutional needs.
For example, a Bitcoin mining company might need to borrow fiat to pay for operational costs (salaries, electricity). Or a crypto company might need to borrow USD to pay for engineering salaries. Or a crypto hedge fund needs to borrow for leverage or to take a specific market position. While all of these companies have sufficient crypto to cover the costs, they might not want to sell it — either for tax or speculative reasons (they may believe these crypto assets will appreciate, as with most in the industry).
Instead of selling their crypto, these companies can use their crypto as collateral for loans. For example, they can provide $1.5M in Bitcoin as collateral, and borrow $1M. Given the collateralization happening, the underwriting process becomes straightforward. Companies all around the world can participate — language and cultural barriers are removed.

https://preview.redd.it/z9pby83d6zh51.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=54bf425215c3ed6d5ff0ca7dbe571e735b994613
The leader (and one of our partners) in this space is Genesis Capital. While they are always the counterparty for both lenders and borrowers, they are effectively a broker. They are at the center of the institutional crypto lending & borrowing markets. Their total active loans as of March 2020 was $649M. That number shot up to $1.42B in active loans as of June 2020. The growth of this entire market segment is impressive and it’s what is driving this opportunity for consumers downstream.

Consumer Products

While most of the borrowing demand comes from institutional players, there is a growing desire from consumers to participate on the lend/supply side of the market. Crypto consumers would love to be able to deposit their assets with a service and watch it grow. Why let crypto assets sit on an exchange or in cold storage when it can be earning interest?
A number of consumer-facing products have emerged in the last few years to make this happen. While they also allow users to borrow (always with collateral), most of the consumer attraction is around growing their crypto, even while they sleep. Earning interest. These products usually partner with institutional players like Genesis Capital to match the deposits with borrowing demand. And it’s exactly part of our strategy as well, beyond leveraging DeFi (decentralized finance protocols).
A few of the most popular consumer services in this category include BlockFi, Nexo, and Celsius.

https://preview.redd.it/vptig5mg6zh51.png?width=1051&format=png&auto=webp&s=b5fdc241cb9b6f5b495173667619f8d2c93371ca

BlockFi

BlockFi (Crunchbase) is the leader in this category (at least in the West). They are well-capitalized. In August 2019, they raised $18.3M in their Series A. In Feb 2020, they raised $30M in their Series B. In that same time period, they went from $250M in assets under management to $650M. In a recent blog post, they announced that they saw a 100% revenue increase in Q2 and that they were on track to do $50M in revenue this year. Their growth is impressive.
BlockFi did not do an ICO, unlike Celsius, Nexo, Salt, and Cred. BlockFi has a lot of institutional backing so it is perceived as the most reputable in the space. BlockFi started with borrowing — allowing users to leverage their crypto as collateral and taking out a loan against it. They later got into Earning — allowing users to deposit assets and earn interest on it. They recently expanded their service to “exchange” functionality and say they are coming out with a credit card later this year.

https://preview.redd.it/byv2tbui6zh51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=bac080dcfc85e89574c30dfb396db0b537d46706
Security Woes
It’s incredible that BlockFi has been able to see such strong growth despite their numerous product and security woes. A few months ago, their systems were compromised. A hacker was able to access confidential data, such as names, dates of birth, postal addresses, and activity histories. While no funds were lost, this was a massive embarrassment and caused reputational damage.

https://preview.redd.it/lwmxbz5l6zh51.png?width=606&format=png&auto=webp&s=ebd8e6e5c31c56da055824254b35b218b49f80e0
Unrelated to that massive security breach and earlier in the year, a user discovered a major bug that allowed him to send the same funds to himself over and over again, ultimately accumulating more than a million dollars in his BlockFi account. BlockFi fortunately caught him just before withdrawal.
Poor Product Execution
Beyond their poor security — which they are now trying to get serious about — their products are notoriously buggy and hard-to-use. I borrowed from them a year ago and used their interest account product until very recently. I have first-hand experience of how painful it is. But don’t take my word for it… here are just a few tweets from customers just recently.

https://preview.redd.it/wcqu3icn6zh51.png?width=1055&format=png&auto=webp&s=870e2f06a6ec377a87e5d6d1f24579a901de66b5
For a while, their interest-earning product had a completely different authentication system than their loan product (users had two sets of usernames/passwords). Many people have had issues with withdrawals. The app is constantly logging people out, blank screens, ugly error messages. Emails with verification codes are sometimes delayed by hours (or days). I do wonder if their entire app has been outsourced. The sloppiness shines through.
Not only is their product buggy and UX confusing, but their branding & design is quite weak. To the left is a t-shirt they once sent me. It looks like they just found a bunch of quirky fonts, added their name, and slapped it on a t-shirt.

https://preview.redd.it/mi6yeppp6zh51.png?width=600&format=png&auto=webp&s=fd4cd8201ad0d5bc667498096388377895b72953
Culture
To the innocent bystander, many of these issues seem totally fixable. They could hire an amazing design agency to completely revamp their product or brand. They could hire a mercenary group of engineers to fix their bugs, etc. While it could stop the bleeding for a time, it may not solve the underlying issues. Years of sloppy product execution represents something much more destructive. It represents a top-down mentality that shipping anything other than excellence is okay: product experience doesn’t matter; design doesn’t matter; craftsmanship doesn’t matter; strong execution doesn’t matter; precision doesn’t matter. That’s very different from our culture at Genesis Block.
This cancerous mentality rarely stays contained within product & engineering — this leaks to all parts of the organization. No design agency or consulting firm will fix some of the pernicious values of a company’s soul. These are deeper issues that only leadership can course-correct.
If BlockFi’s sloppiness were due to constant experimentation, iteration, shipping, or some “move fast and break things” hacker culture… like Binance… I would probably cut them more slack. But there is zero evidence of that. “Move fast and break things” is always scary when dealing with financial products. But in BlockFi’s case, when it’s more like “move slow and break things,” they are really playing with fire. Next time a massive security breach occurs, like what happened earlier this year, they may not be so lucky.
Institutional Focus
Based on who is on their team, their poor product execution shouldn’t be a surprise. Their team comes mostly from Wall Street, not the blockchain community (where our roots are). Most of BlockFi’s blockchain/crypto integration is very superficial. They take crypto assets as deposits, but they aren’t leveraging any of the exciting, low-level DeFi protocols like we are.
While their Wall Street heritage isn’t doing them any favors on the product/tech side, it’s served them very well on winning institutional clients. This is perhaps their greatest strength. BlockFi has a strong institutional business. They recently brought on Three Arrows Capital as a strategic investor — a crypto hedge fund who does a lot of borrowing. In that announcement, BlockFi’s founder said that bringing them on “aligns well with our focus on international expansion of our institutional services offering.” They also recently brought someone on who will lead business development in Asia among institutional clients.
BlockFi Wrap Up
There are certainly BlockFi features that overlap with Genesis Block’s offering. It’s possible that they are angling to become the bank of the future. However, they simply have not proven they are capable of designing, building, and launching world-class consumer products. They’ve constantly had issues around security and poor product execution. Their company account and their founder’s account seem to only tweet about Bitcoin. I don’t think they understand, appreciate, or value the power of DeFi. It’s unlikely they’ll be leveraging it any time soon. All of these reasons are why I don’t see them as a serious threat to Genesis Block.
However, because of their strong institutional offering, I hope that Genesis Block will ultimately have a very collaborative and productive partnership with them. Assuming they figure out their security woes, we could park some of our funds with BlockFi (just as we will with Genesis Capital and others). I think what’s likely to happen is that we’ll corner the consumer market and we’ll work closely with BlockFi on the institutional side.
I’ve been hard on BlockFi because I care. I think they have a great opportunity at helping elevate the entire industry in a positive way. But they have a lot of issues they need to work through. I really don’t want to see users lose millions of dollars in a security breach. It could set back the entire industry. But if they do things well… a rising tide lifts all boats.

Honorable Mentions

Celsius (ICO Drops) raised $50M in an ICO, and is led by serial entrepreneur Alex Mashinsky. I’ve met him, he’s a nice guy. Similar to Binance, their biggest Achilles heel could be their own token. There are also a lot of unanswered questions about where their deposits go. They don’t have a record of great transparency. They recently did a public crowdraise which is a little odd given their large ICO as well as their supposed $1B in deposits. Are they running out of money, as some suggest? Unclear. One of their biggest blindspots right now is that Mashinsky does not understand the power of DeFi. He is frequently openly criticizing it.
Nexo (ICO Drops) is another similar service. They are European-based, trying to launch their own card (though they’ve been saying this forever and they still haven’t shipped it), and have a history in the payments/fintech space. Because they haven’t penetrated the US — which is a much harder regulatory nut to crack — they are unlikely to be as competitive as BlockFi. There were also allegations that Nexo was spreading FUD about Chainlink while simultaneously partnering with them. Did Nexo take out a short position and start spreading rumors? Never a dull moment in crypto.
Other players in the lending & borrowing space include Unchained Capital, Cred (ICO Drops), and Salt (ICO Drops).

https://preview.redd.it/9ts6m0qw6zh51.png?width=1056&format=png&auto=webp&s=dd8d368c1aa39994c6bc5e4baec10678d3bbba2d

Wrap Up

While many companies in this category seem to be slowly adding more financial services, I don’t believe any of them are focused on the broader consumer market like we are. To use services like BlockFi, Nexo, or Celsius, users need to be onboarded and educated on how crypto works. At Genesis Block, we don’t believe that’s the winning approach. We think blockchain complexity should be abstracted away from the end-user. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto.
For many of these services, there is additional friction due to ICO tokens that are forcefully integrated into the product (see NEXO token or CEL Token). None of these services have true banking functionality or integration with traditional finance —for example, easy offramp or spending methods like debit cards. None of them are taking DeFi seriously — they are leveraging crypto for only the asset class, not the underlying technology around financial protocols.
So are these companies potential competitors to Genesis Block? For the crypto crowd, yes. For the mass market, no. None of these companies are capable of reaching the billions of people around the world that we hope to reach at Genesis Block.
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Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
Follow our social channels: https://genesisblock.com/follow/
Download the app. We're a digital bank that's powered by crypto: https://genesisblock.com/download
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ColossusXT Q2 2020 AMA Ends!

Thank you for being a part of the ColossusXT Q2 2020 AMA! Below we will summarize the questions and answers. The team responded to 46 questions! If your question was not included, it may have been answered in a previous question or AMA. The ColossusXT team will do a Reddit AMA at the end of every quarter.
The winner of the AMA contest is: ookhimself
Congratulations. I will send you a DM on Reddit.
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Q: Why does your blockchain exist and what makes it unique?
A: ColossusXT exists to provide an energy-efficient method of supercomputing. ColossusXT is unique in many ways. Some coins have 1 layer of privacy. ColossusXT and the Colossus Grid will utilize 2 layers of privacy through Obfuscation Zerocoin Protocol, and I2P and these will protect users of the Colossus Grid as they utilize the grid resources. There are also Masternodes and Proof of Stake which both can contribute to reducing 51% attacks, along with instant transactions and zero-fee transactions. This protection is paramount as ColossusXT evolves into the Colossus Grid. Grid Computing will have a pivotal role throughout the world, and what this means is that users will begin to experience the Internet as a seamless computational universe. Software applications, databases, sensors, video, and audio streams-all will be reborn as services that live in cyberspace, assembling, and reassembling themselves on the fly to meet the tasks at hand. Once plugged into the grid, a desktop machine will draw computational horsepower from all the other computers on the grid.
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Q: What is the Colossus Grid?
A: ColossusXT is an anonymous blockchain through obfuscation, along with utilization of I2P (Armis). These features will protect end-user privacy as ColossusXT evolves into the Colossus Grid. The Colossus Grid will connect devices in a peer-to-peer network enabling users and applications to rent the cycles and storage of other users’ machines. This marketplace of computing power and storage will exclusively run on COLX currency. These resources will be used to complete tasks requiring any amount of computation time and capacity, or allow end-users to store data anonymously across the COLX decentralized network. Today, such resources are supplied by entities such as centralized cloud providers which are constrained by closed networks, proprietary payment systems, and hard-coded provisioning operations. Any user ranging from a single PC owner to a large data center can share resources through Colossus Grid and get paid in COLX for their contributions. Renters of computing power or storage space, on the other hand, may do so at low prices compared to the usual market prices because they are only using resources that already exist.
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Q: Is there any estimated date for the grid? What will set you apart from the opposition?
A: We are hoping to have something released for the community in Q4 this year. The difference between other competitors is that ColossusXT is putting consumer privacy first and we’re actively in the process of working with federal and state agencies in the United States.
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Q: How do you plan to get people to implement the technology? At your current rate of development, when do you foresee a minimum viable product being available?
A: We have been strategically networking with businesses, and we are currently undergoing the verification process in the United States to make bids on federal and state projects. We are working on an MVP and our goal is to have at least a portion of the Colossus Grid ready by Q4 2020.
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Q: When we can expect any use-case for COLX? A company or service that uses COLX for its activities/tasks.
A: We’re aiming for Q4 of this year to have an MVP, throughout 2021 we will be strategically making bids on federal and state contracts in the United States with a goal to expand operations exponentially.
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Q: Are there any plans to be listed on the more prominent exchanges e.g binance, kraken?
A: Yes, we have applied to some of these exchanges that are considered Tier 1 or Tier 2 exchanges. Many of them upfront will tell you there are no fees associated with the listing, that is not entirely true most of the time. Regardless, have applied and are awaiting more responses as we move forward. Listing on these exchanges often requires that we cannot announce this information until ColossusXT is live on its platform.
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Q: Partnerships are the norm these days in crypto world. Which partnership would you consider feasible, if any, in order to grow the Colossus Grid project?
A: The Colossus Grid is a huge undertaking both in development and business partnerships. We are moving in both these directions strategically. One of the most important partnerships is not really a partnership but approval to bid on state and federal contracts. Working with the governments around the world will be a big part of the Colossus Grid use-case.
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Q: If the ability to annonymise coins is turned off, can CLX still be marketed as a privacy coin? Do we have a date we can start using this feature again?
A: Yes and No. It’s frustrating right now having a lack of privacy for consumers as we don’t see privacy as a feature but a right. EVERY platform online should have some levels of privacy for their consumers, especially as technology continues to evolve and bad actors continue to use your personal information for their own nefarious purposes. Obfuscation will be implemented in the coming weeks, and Armis will follow suit shortly thereafter.
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Q: When can we expect the grid to come out?
A: We are looking at releasing an MVP towards the end of the year. Stay tuned during Q3 and Q4 as we ramp on technical and business developments.
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Q: Can you tell the current budget for development work?
A: Much of the development work budget comes from Core team member's disposable income, we also use the self-funding treasury that Masternode owners vote on each month.
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Q: Will cold staking be implemented somedays? I like the model of Cardano. Hope you will implement kind of Cardano staking in our wallet. I would love the easiness.
A: ColossusXT staking has been enabled since 2017. We have calculators on the website that will estimate your average staking returns and you can join numerous pools to increase your staking power within the pools. Cold staking is on our radar and will make it into the roadmap when our budget allows us.
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Q: Which part of grid technology are you planning first to go live? Storage/RAM/CPU/GPU/all at once? Separately?
A: We will be rolling the Colossus Grid out in two phases. The first phase will be storage, and then we will roll out computing power (RAM/CPU/GPU).
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Q: Is Armis I2P technology in development testphase I mean, I have read something like that… If Armis goes live, will there be some kind of option in deskopt wallet to transfer anonymous or will every transaction be fully anonymous like e.g. monero?
A: We recently had a testing phase with the community earlier this year, there will be another test phase with community participants who sign up. If you’re interested in this stay tuned on our socials and apply when the next testing phase happens All transactions will be fully anonymous behind Armis.
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Q: What programming languate is being used for developing COLX? How well this programming language do you think is more suitable for developing crypto, in comparison with other programing languages?
A: C++ is what we’re using at ColossusXT. Each crypto project is different but with what we're developing at ColossusXT. We are best suited to utilize C++.
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Q: What is the second biggest milestone other than launching the grid network for the team. What do you think of your competition like Golem network?
A: Armis will be a big milestone, and I don’t think we go back to our Polis partnership which allows users in Europe and Mexico (they do plan to expand to the US and other countries) the ability to spend their ColossusXT (COLX) wherever Mastercard is accepted. I don’t think the Golem network is taking consumer privacy far enough, in the blockchain industry I also see a lack of drive to push adoption within the United States. This is likely due to unclear regulations right now. ColossusXT is at the forefront of these issues and we intend to lead blockchain through these somewhat murky waters.
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Q: I don’t have a lot of knowledge about crypto-technology… but are there any risks of sensitive data-hijacks through Colx infrastructure? Will the Colx-grid be available for individuals or only larger corporations, and how would one get access to the computing power?
A: There are always risks with technology. We are doing extensive testing and more testing prior to releasing anything. Consumer privacy is apart of the foundation of what we’re building at ColossusXT and we want to ensure any and all of your personal information is secure and private. As technology evolves, we will be right here evolving with it to ensure that consumer privacy protections are always in place.
The Colossus Grid will be available to anyone with a computer. You will access it through the desktop wallet.
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Q: Do you have any new exchange listings planned in the near future?
A: Yes, but unfortunately with these things, every day it’s not something we can often say before the exchange makes their own announcements. If you have certain exchanges that you prefer, do not be shy and tag us on Twitter letting us and the exchange know. You can also reach us everyday at all hours of the day and night on Discord and Telegram.
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Q: Given that Colx had no ICO, are we able to ramp development efforts in case we have potential partnership deal on the table?
A: It really depends. We strategically spend every dime we spend on development. We do not like even a single penny to be waisted, so we don’t move as fast as the projects that raised millions of dollars, but we continue moving none the less. Ramping up our development is something we are working on by securing additional funding and we’re currently working on securing funding. 😊
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Q: How is the project development advancing? What are your plans for the next 5 years and what more can we expect from ColossusXT?
A: Our development is continuing on at a steady pace, we’re looking to ramp this up over the next year as the Colossus Grid will take much of our time but we’re excited. Over the next 5 years, you can expect the Colossus Grid to be live in all forms (storage and computing power), Armis will be released and we will share many technical details on how this consumer privacy protection rivals some of the other privacy protections in the blockchain industry. We expect to be verified and approved to work with the agencies in the United States long before then as well and will be aggressively pursuing federal contracts to utilize the computing power of the Colossus Grid. In 5 years, we plan to be a key player not just in the blockchain industry, but throughout the world. If you do not know ColossusXT now, expect to in 5 years or less.
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Q: Users often care less about technology, but rather the value of the token. How do you manage to strike a balance between developing the technology and also improving the value of COLX? There are so many privacy coins now, all of them claiming to have better features that ColossusXT. Moving forward, what do the next 10 years look like for ColossusXT in navigating the wave of privacy projects coming. How can ColossusXT continue to shine in the midst of seemingly legit projects that have come to challenge ColossusXT like mimblewimble projects and Monero, Zcoin, ect.?

A: The Colossus Grid and Masternodes will have a strong relationship with each other. When the Colossus Grid goes live we expect the masternode demand to continue to rise. Masternodes are a great incentive mechanism to increase network strength and will play an important role within the Colossus Grid. The more masternodes online, the less available coins in the circulating supply; which we expect will eventually reflect ColossusXT (COLX) coin value.
Over the next 10 years, ColossusXT (COLX) will solidify itself as a key player in the blockchain industry, and outside the blockchain industry. Following our strategic business plans, we intend to be one of the first, if not the first to truly bring government and other businesses into the blockchain industry through the Colossus Grid. Armis will be our defining privacy feature, which we expect in time will begin to be adopted by other projects. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Q: How have the number of Masternodes (MNs) increased/decreased over time/in the past few years? What proportion (%) of MNs actively take part in Governance? How do you see the number of MNs increasing/decreasing in the next couple of years? Is there a trend upwards or downwards?
Is there a specific number (or range) of MNs the team would like to attain ideally? Is it better to have as many MNs as possible or is there a point at which too many MNs start to have an adverse effect on the performance of the blockchain?
Hope this wasn’t too many questions in one :), Ahmed

A: The number of masternodes in the active network is more or less the same, fluctuating around 200-220. About 40% - 50% of masternodes participate actively in governance (see https://governance.colossusxt.io). We expect a number of masternodes to grow as they will have additional benefits with Colossus Grid (see business plan: http://bit.ly/COLXBPLive).
As the team had no premines, only the dev fund can be used for masternodes which is hard to maintain due to actual budget flow. It’s better to have as many masternodes as possible for the network, there is no adverse effect.
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Q: Of all the milestones that $COLX has achieved since your humble beginnings, which do you consider to be the best of it all? What achievements do you feel proud most?
A: It’s often not mentioned but I’m very proud of our partnership with PolisPay, which allows ColossusXT community members to purchase Amazon, Spotify, and other gift cards with ColossusXT (COLX) through the Polis platform. You are also able to spend your COLX anywhere Mastercard is accepted, the card is available only for EU citizens right now and the Polis team hopes to bring in other countries in the future.
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Q: There are problems that can slow down the course of a project such as the emergence of globalization, given the tighter budget, shorter implementation time requirements. My question is, How does $COLX resolve the issue?

A: Given the current situations around the world the Colossus Grid has more value than it ever has, and that value will continue to grow once we have released the Colossus Grid for consumers to share and utilize resources. You can already see from the [email protected] initiative that people are eager to share their computing resources to help researchers simulate different COVID19 simulations. We’ve always worked on a very small budget at ColossusXT starting with 0$ in funding and no pre-mine or ICO/IEO. This project was built for the community by the community, and as of lately we’ve actually been ramping up our business strategies and developments. Since we have all already worked remotely before the COVID19 pandemic, it interestingly allowed us more time to focus and achieve these goals as our day jobs allowed us to spend more time on ColossusXT.
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Q: How will you fight with regulators who are trying to stop privacy coins?

A: We have an amazing legal team at ColossusXT, and they are on top of any new law or regulation that comes out. We’re not afraid of regulators and our legal team makes sure that everything we do for ColossusXT is law-abiding. It's time the world stops looking at privacy as a feature and as a right, especially when you read about different applications and platforms using your personal DATA for their benefit. ColossusXT will continue to push this, and we're prepared to lobby this to lawmakers. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Q: What type of utilities can $COLX give to users over its competitors like GOLM (computation) or STORJ (Data)?

A: The Colossus Grid has some major differences between Golem and Storj. One we’re a privacy-focused project. If you take a look at many of these applications and platforms today, in some way or another you’re giving up personal information, and/or geographic information. ColossusXT is focused on protecting consumer information, we do not look at privacy as a feature, we see privacy as a right, especially in the tech world today.
The second part of this question is that we’re currently in the verification process of registering with the United States federal and state governments so that we can legally bid on federal and state projects and work with different agencies. This will ensure that as the community members are sharing their idle resources, large corporations and businesses are using it. I’m not aware of the mentioned projects being registered in the United States or taking steps to work with the United States government.
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Q: How will computing power and storage sharing look like, for an average user (marketplace, program download)? What are you currently working on, when can we expect MVP? TY
A: The marketplace and Colossus Grid will be inside the ColossusXT desktop wallet that you currently have now. The UI/UX will change some to allow the additional settings and tabs that will become available and we’re preparing an MVP right now and we hope to share those details with you over the next few months, ask us again in the Q3 AMA if you haven’t seen anything yet :)
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Q: What would you say is the $COLX killer feature that sets it apart from the rest of the competition.
A: We believe that Armis is our killer feature. We recently had a beta this year with the community and will be moving forward later this year with Armis. ColossusXT consumers will have their geographic location and IP fully hidden behind the Armis layer for further security and anonymity for the transactions which will also take place in the Colossus Grid resource marketplace in the future.
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Q: I have been a silent follower of $COLX and I must say that I'm truly impressed with how the team has been diligently working on the project. It'd be nice to have the community be part of something like a bounty or a social awareness contest. As this will not only attract more users to the platform but would also strengthen the bond within the community. When can we possibly expect a community project of this level? #spreadthegrid
A: We currently have a Gleam competition ongoing for social awareness, and we just hired a community manager to spread more community awareness and will be rolling on competitions more regularly. Every quarter we have an AMA on Reddit for the community to ask questions, or just gripe at us, and one person each quarter is awarded 100,000 COLX for participating in the AMA. As we deliver our targets and grow, we will shift more funds from development funds to marketing funds to raise further awareness.
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Q: "Our main competitor is crypto adoption. We are all here to make it happen together.", this is quoted from a founder of a known crypto wallet. Do you see competition as something that strengthens the project as a whole or as a possible distraction due to pressure to be at the top of the crypto ecosystem?

A: This is a two scenario situation. Competition is good for ColossusXT, and we look at our main competitor in blockchain as Golem (GNT), having said that though too much competition or sometimes maximalist behavior isn’t good for crypto, many of these projects should be coming together to lobby lawmakers for laws and regulations that are good for the blockchain industry, as this is still an emerging market and the laws and regulations aren’t exactly in place at this time.
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Q: "For people to believe in crypto, they need to understand the tangible benefits it offers to our society.", a remark made by a crypto project in the past. What exactly would be $COLX real life global benefits? And how do you plan on achieving this?
A: ColossusXT vision will be achievable when the Colossus Grid is released. We are currently in the process of registering with state and federal agencies in the United States, once we are registered to work with these agencies we will pursue contracts with the government, cybersecurity firms and colleges all around the United States, and the world to utilize the resources on the Colossus Grid. We’ve already started building business relationships for this very purpose.
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Q: According to you how much time will it take for $COLX to get into mainstream adoption and execute all the plans set for this project?
A: It’s almost impossible to set a timeline on when the world/people will begin to adopt ColossusXT (COLX) and the Colossus Grid. We don’t believe that adoption for ColossusXT will happen before the Colossus Grid is live, and if I gave you an exact timeline for when or how long it will take you for the Colossus Grid to be adopted I would be lying to you, but we are already forming business relationships and making strategic moves to be able to bid, and work with state and federal agencies in the United States.
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Q: Does Tokens.net plan any kind of staking ($COLX or other coins)?
A: We will reach out to the tokens.net team and see if they have any plans to allow staking.
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Q: How will you try to boost adoption of #COLX, how do you think you will motivate programmers to join opensource project?
A: The Colossus Grid will be available for anyone to use, or share their idle resources for other consumers to use. We will be focusing on providing these resources to state and federal governments, cybersecurity firms, and researchers all across the world. Certainly, we expect some community members to use these resources to mine different PoW cryptocurrencies, but the team at ColossusXT will be focused on bringing in large colleges and universities as well as big cybersecurity businesses that may need supercomputing power at 1/10th of the current prices. Our programmers are our only paid team members, and we pay them at a competitive rate. We’re looking to bring in some more programmers later this year.
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Q: Do you have any special development funds for programmers?
A: Sometimes we pay our programmers out of our own pocket, sometimes we pay them in ColossusXT. It really depends on what kind of agreements have been made. We have been aggressively pursuing different funding opportunities throughout 2020 so that we can expand our development team and in the future, we may have incentives to drive programmers into joining our team. Right now we just stick to a competitive pay scale within the industry.
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Q: Why Android Wallet Revision hasn't been done? Any problems?
A: The Android wallet revision took some time to be approved in the Google Playstore, but it has been released and live since June 15, 2020.
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Q: Whats the second biggest milestone other than the grid network for COLX team?
A: Armis is likely to be considered our second biggest milestone this year, although as I mentioned above this can easily be overshadowed by our Polis partnership which allows you to spend ColossusXT (COLX) anywhere Mastercard is accepted. Although the epay debit card ownership is currently restricted to certain countries (EU zone only), these restrictions will lift in time.
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Q: How is COLX team going to contribute to crypto adoption, other than building a robust network?
A: We’re already in the process of verification to work with state and federal agencies. Adoption for blockchain projects isn’t going to move fast. I read a report just a few days ago about how scammers in the crypto industry stole over 2 million dollars worth of crypto just from the “Elon Musk” impersonations on Twitter.
We will continue to build our network, and seek out state and federal agencies as well as private cybersecurity firms that can utilize the Colossus Grid, we’re not just focused on making noise on social media, we intend to make noise throughout the entire world.
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Q: Are their industry partners to COLX that are awaiting your network to go live?
A: Yes, although I hesitate to go into too much detail here. We are talking with business leaders.
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Q: The ongoing crisis affected the market badly, making many projects far from their targets. What is $COLX strategy in order to survive and pass through this crisis?
A: I agree it affected the market badly, especially the projects that raised hundreds of millions of dollars in crypto and held it through the entire market correction. ColossusXT strategy is different from those affected, we’ve always had a smaller budget than these large projects. We spend the money we have available very wisely, and we’re not in a hurry to grab something that sounds good without doing our due diligence. We make our moves very strategically.
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Q: I gotta ask, what made $COLX decide to get listed on Tokens.net? What beneficial advantage does $COLX get in doing so? How about Tokens.net?
A: Tokens.Net is one of the best exchanges ColossusXT is listed at the moment in comparison to others in terms of volume.
  1. Tokens.net is one of the most secure and transparent exchanges out there, registered in the UK.
  2. The team behind the exchange has deep roots in the crypto/blockchain space, it was co-founded by Damian Merlak, a crypto-pioneer and co-founder of Bitstamp.
  3. Tokens.net provides free auto-trading tool / Market Making Bot. Their Dynamic Trading Rights concept adds transparency to trading volumes.
  4. They allow the community voting option of only truly decentralized projects after a thorough screening.
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Q: Hey everyone! What is the main purpose of the coin $COLX, does it have its own chain or is it some sort of an ERC-20 token? Thank you for the answers.
A: ColossusXT has never been an ERC-20 coin. We have been operating on our own mainnet since 2017. The purpose of ColossusXT (COLX) is to be the native currency of the Colossus Grid. This will allow users to share their idle resources on their computers, and consumers will rent/buy those resources to complete whatever they intend to use them for, from processing large DATA to running scientific simulations, to even mining PoW cryptocurrencies.
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Q: When we can expect any usecase for COLX? A company or service that uses colx for its activities / tasks.
A: There are currently use cases now if your location allows you to utilize the Polis Pay app, or if you have a Polis Pay card you can buy things with ColossusXT (COLX). I myself have tested the card buying gas at a gas station. These are not ColossusXT’s primary focus though and much of our use case will not start until the Colossus Grid is live.
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Q: What pairs will colx have to trade with on tokens.net // Will you connect #COLX with USDT EURS or BTC?
A: ColossusXT will be initially paired with Bitcoin (BTC). If the community would like different pairs, they can certainly request them and we will reach out to tokens.net and work to facilitate requests.
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Q: Will you try to convince users to trade on tokens.net if so how will you do it?
A: There is currently a gleam competition for users to sign up and trade on tokens.net. We “shill” tokens.net accordingly through social media to the ColossusXT community, but can’t really convince anyone to use a certain exchange, although we will try to push as many members to tokens.net as we can. We have many masternode holders who reside in the United States and they are not yet allowed to trade on tokens.net.
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Q: How will you try to create liquidity for your pairs?
A: We would like to increase the adoption rate with real-world partnerships such as our partnership with PolisPay for the use of gift/debit cards. As the liquidity is linked with the use cases, supply/demand mechanics, we are also preparing to provide additional use cases of COLX for the crypto world in an innovative & pioneering way; for the time being, we can hint this as a side business till we deliver fully operational Colossus Grid.
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Q: How big is a development team of #COLX?
A: The ColossusXT team is probably bigger than some people realize, partly because many of the team members are very private. We have 9 core members, 2 in-house developers, 3 Colossus Grid architects, and 2 Colossus Grid developers.
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Q: Do you have some security guys in the team?
A: Yes, although I’m hesitant to share too many personal details about team members. We have core team members who have been working in different fields of IT security for several years.
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Q: Since #COLX is planning on having some sort of a marketplace where you can take advantage of computing resources and the blockchain as well, are there any plans on introducing smart contracts? Will it help the grid? Is there a place for it?
A: This has been mentioned a few times in the past so it’s something on our radar, it’s currently not in the development timeline as the Colossus Grid is a massive amount of work. There may be a place for it as the blockchain industry evolves, and I can certainly see some cases where a smart contract can add some value to the Colossus Grid.
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Important Information:
Website
Whitepaper
Roadmap
Business Plan
Wiki
Governance
Partners
GitHub
What is ColossusXT? (YouTube)
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Follow ColossusXT on:
Twitter
Facebook
Telegram
Discord
Forums
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AMA History:
2018 Q1 2018 Q2 2018 Q3 2018 Q4
2019 Q1 2019 Q2 2019 Q3 2019 Q4
2020 Q1
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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!
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Will 0x Protocol Become the Next Binance? Token Metrics AMA

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