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

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

Users & Audience

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

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

Products in Market

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

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

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

Wrap Up

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

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

Crypto Banking Wars: Will Coinbase or Binance Become The Bank of The Future?
Can the early success of major crypto exchanges propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market?
https://reddit.com/link/i48t4q/video/v4eo10gom7f51/player
This is the first 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 powerful technology to reach the masses. We believe a crypto-native company, like Genesis Block, will become the bank of the future.
In an earlier series, Crypto-Powered, we laid out arguments for why crypto-native companies have a huge edge in the market. When you consider both the broad spectrum of financial use-cases and the enormous value unlocked through these DeFi protocols, you can see just how big of an unfair advantage blockchain tech becomes for companies who truly understand and leverage it. Traditional banks and fintech unicorns simply won’t be able to keep up.
The power players of consumer finance in the 21st century will be crypto-native companies who build with blockchain technology at their core.
The crypto landscape is still nascent. We’re still very much in the fragmented, unbundled phase of the industry lifecycle. Beyond what Genesis Block is doing, there are signs of other companies slowly starting to bundle financial services into what could be an all-in-one bank replacement.
So the key question that this series hopes to answer:
Which crypto-native company will successfully become the bank of the future?
We obviously think Genesis Block is well-positioned to win. But we certainly aren’t the only game in town. In this series, we’ll be doing an analysis of who is most capable of thwarting our efforts. We’ll look at categories like crypto exchanges, crypto wallets, centralized lending & borrowing services, and crypto debit card companies. Each category will have its own dedicated post.
Today we’re analyzing big crypto exchanges. The two companies we’ll focus on today are Coinbase (biggest American exchange) and Binance (biggest global exchange). They are the top two exchanges in terms of Bitcoin trading volume. They are in pole position to winning this market — they have a huge existing userbase and strong financial resources.
Will Coinbase or Binance become the bank of the future? Can their early success propel them to winning the broader consumer finance market? Is their growth too far ahead for anyone else to catch up? Let’s dive in.
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Binance

The most formidable exchange on the global stage is Binance (Crunchbase). All signs suggest they have significantly more users and a stronger balance sheet than Coinbase. No other exchange is executing as aggressively and relentlessly as Binance is. The cadence at which they are shipping and launching new products is nothing short of impressive. As Tushar Jain from Multicoin argues, Binance is Blitzscaling.
Here are some of the products that they’ve launched in the last 18 months. Only a few are announced but still pre-launch.
Binance is well-positioned to become the crypto-powered, all-in-one, bundled solution for financial services. They already have so many of the pieces. But the key question is:
Can they create a cohesive & united product experience?

Binance Weaknesses

Binance is strong, but they do have a few major weaknesses that could slow them down.
  1. Traders & Speculators Binance is currently very geared for speculators, traders, and financial professionals. Their bread-and-butter is trading (spot, margin, options, futures). Their UI is littered with depth charts, order books, candlesticks, and other financial concepts that are beyond the reach of most normal consumers. Their product today is not at all tailored for the broader consumer market. Given Binance’s popularity and strength among the pro audience, it’s unlikely that they will dumb down or simplify their product any time soon. That would jeopardize their core business. Binance will likely need an entirely new product/brand to go beyond the pro user crowd. That will take time (or an acquisition). So the question remains, is Binance even interested in the broader consumer market? Or will they continue to focus on their core product, the one-stop-shop for pro crypto traders?
  2. Controversies & Hot Water Binance has had a number of controversies. No one seems to know where they are based — so what regulatory agencies can hold them accountable? Last year, some sensitive, private user data got leaked. When they announced their debit card program, they had to remove mentions of Visa quickly after. And though the “police raid” story proved to be untrue, there are still a lot of questions about what happened with their Shanghai office shut down (where there is smoke, there is fire). If any company has had a “move fast and break things” attitude, it is Binance. That attitude has served them well so far but as they try to do business in more regulated countries like America, this will make their road much more difficult — especially in the consumer market where trust takes a long time to earn, but can be destroyed in an instant. This is perhaps why the Binance US product is an empty shell when compared to their main global product.
  3. Disjointed Product Experience Because Binance has so many different teams launching so many different services, their core product is increasingly feeling disjointed and disconnected. Many of the new features are sloppily integrated with each other. There’s no cohesive product experience. This is one of the downsides of executing and shipping at their relentless pace. For example, users don’t have a single wallet that shows their balances. Depending on if the user wants to do spot trading, margin, futures, or savings… the user needs to constantly be transferring their assets from one wallet to another. It’s not a unified, frictionless, simple user experience. This is one major downside of the “move fast and break things” approach.
  4. BNB token Binance raised $15M in a 2017 ICO by selling their $BNB token. The current market cap of $BNB is worth more than $2.6B. Financially this token has served them well. However, given how BNB works (for example, their token burn), there are a lot of open questions as to how BNB will be treated with US security laws. Their Binance US product so far is treading very lightly with its use of BNB. Their token could become a liability for Binance as it enters more regulated markets. Whether the crypto community likes it or not, until regulators get caught up and understand the power of decentralized technology, tokens will still be a regulatory burden — especially for anything that touches consumers.
  5. Binance Chain & Smart Contract Platform Binance is launching its own smart contract platform soon. Based on compatibility choices, they have their sights aimed at the Ethereum developer community. It’s unclear how easy it’ll be to convince developers to move to Binance chain. Most of the current developer energy and momentum around smart contracts is with Ethereum. Because Binance now has their own horse in the race, it’s unlikely they will ever decide to leverage Ethereum’s DeFi protocols. This could likely be a major strategic mistake — and hubris that goes a step too far. Binance will be pushing and promoting protocols on their own platform. The major risk of being all-in on their own platform is that they miss having a seat on the Ethereum rocket ship — specifically the growth of DeFi use-cases and the enormous value that can be unlocked. Integrating with Ethereum’s protocols would be either admitting defeat of their own platform or competing directly against themselves.

Binance Wrap Up

I don’t believe Binance is likely to succeed with a homegrown product aimed at the consumer finance market. Their current product — which is focused heavily on professional traders and speculators — is unlikely to become the bank of the future. If they wanted to enter the broader consumer market, I believe it’s much more likely that they will acquire a company that is getting early traction. They are not afraid to make acquisitions (Trust, JEX, WazirX, DappReview, BxB, CoinMarketCap, Swipe).
However, never count CZ out. He is a hustler. Binance is executing so aggressively and relentlessly that they will always be on the shortlist of major contenders.
https://preview.redd.it/mxmlg1zqm7f51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=2d900dd5ff7f3b00df5fe5a48305d57ebeffaa9a

Coinbase

The crypto-native company that I believe is more likely to become the bank of the future is Coinbase (crunchbase). Their dominance in America could serve as a springboard to winning the West (Binance has a stronger foothold in Asia). Coinbase has more than 30M users. Their exchange business is a money-printing machine. They have a solid reputation as it relates to compliance and working with regulators. Their CEO is a longtime member of the crypto community. They are rumored to be going public soon.

Coinbase Strengths

Let’s look at what makes them strong and a likely contender for winning the broader consumer finance market.
  1. Different Audience, Different Experience Coinbase has been smart to create a unique product experience for each audience — the pro speculator crowd and the common retail user. Their simple consumer version is at Coinbase.com. That’s the default. Their product for the more sophisticated traders and speculators is at Coinbase Pro (formerly GDAX). Unlike Binance, Coinbase can slowly build out the bank of the future for the broad consumer market while still having a home for their hardcore crypto traders. They aren’t afraid to have different experiences for different audiences.
  2. Brand & Design Coinbase has a strong product design team. Their brand is capable of going beyond the male-dominated crypto audience. Their product is clean and simple — much more consumer-friendly than Binance. It’s clear they spend a lot of time thinking about their user experience. Interacting directly with crypto can sometimes be rough and raw (especially for n00bs). When I was at Mainframe we hosted a panel about Crypto UX challenges at the DevCon4 Dapp Awards. Connie Yang (Head of Design at Coinbase) was on the panel. She was impressive. Some of their design philosophies will bode well as they push to reach the broader consumer finance market.
  3. USDC Stablecoin Coinbase (along with Circle) launched USDC. We’ve shared some stats about its impressive growth when we discussed DeFi use-cases. USDC is quickly becoming integrated with most DeFi protocols. As a result, Coinbase is getting a front-row seat at some of the most exciting things happening in decentralized finance. As Coinbase builds its knowledge and networks around these protocols, it could put them in a favorable position to unlock incredible value for their users.
  4. Early Signs of Bundling Though Coinbase has nowhere near as many products & services as Binance, they are slowly starting to add more financial services that may appeal to the broader market. They are now letting depositors earn interest on USDC (also DAI & Tezos). In the UK they are piloting a debit card. Users can now invest in crypto with dollar-cost-averaging. It’s not much, but it’s a start. You can start to see hints of a more bundled solution around financial services.

Coinbase Weaknesses

Let’s now look at some things that could hold them back.
  1. Slow Cadence In the fast-paced world of crypto, and especially when compared to Binance, Coinbase does not ship very many new products very often. This is perhaps their greatest weakness. Smaller, more nimble startups may run circles around them. They were smart to launch Coinbase Ventures where tey invest in early-stage startups. They can now keep an ear to the ground on innovation. Perhaps their cadence is normal for a company of their size — but the Binance pace creates quite the contrast.
  2. Lack of Innovation When you consider the previous point (slow cadence), it’s unclear if Coinbase is capable of building and launching new products that are built internally. Most of their new products have come through acquisitions. Their Earn.com acquisition is what led to their Earn educational product. Their acquisition of Xapo helped bolster their institutional custody offering. They acqui-hired a team to help launch their staking infrastructure. Their acquisition of Cipher Browser became an important part of Coinbase Wallet. And recently, they acquired Tagomi — a crypto prime brokerage. Perhaps most of Coinbase’s team is just focused on improving their golden goose, their exchange business. It’s unclear. But the jury is still out on if they can successfully innovate internally and launch any homegrown products.
  3. Talent Exodus There have been numerous reports of executive turmoil at Coinbase. It raises a lot of questions about company culture and vision. Some of the executives who departed include COO Asiff Hirji, CTO Balaji Srinivasan, VP & GM Adam White, VP Eng Tim Wagner, VP Product Jeremy Henrickson, Sr Dir of Eng Namrata Ganatra, VP of Intl Biz Dan Romero, Dir of Inst Sales Christine Sandler, Head of Trading Hunter Merghart, Dir Data Science Soups Ranjan, Policy Lead Mike Lempres, Sr Compliance Vaishali Mehta. Many of these folks didn’t stay with Coinbase very long. We don’t know exactly why it’s happening —but when you consider a few of my first points (slow cadence, lack of innovation), you have to wonder if it’s all related.
  4. Institutional Focus As a company, we are a Coinbase client. We love their institutional offering. It’s clear they’ve been investing a lot in this area. A recent Coinbase blog post made it clear that this has been a focus: “Over the past 12 months, Coinbase has been laser-focused on building out the types of features and services that our institutional customers need.” Their Tagomi acquisition only re-enforced this focus. Perhaps this is why their consumer product has felt so neglected. They’ve been heavily investing in their institutional services since May 2018. For a company that’s getting very close to an IPO, it makes sense that they’d focus on areas that present strong revenue opportunities — as they do with institutional clients. Even for big companies like Coinbase, it’s hard to have a split focus. If they are “laser-focused” on the institutional audience, it’s unlikely they’ll be launching any major consumer products anytime soon.

Coinbase Wrap Up

At Genesis Block, we‘re proud to be working with Coinbase. They are a fantastic company. However, I don’t believe that they’ll succeed in building their own product for the broader consumer finance market. While they have incredible design, there are no signs that they are focused on or capable of internally building this type of product.
Similar to Binance, I think it’s far more likely that Coinbase acquires a promising young startup with strong growth.

Honorable Mentions

Other US-based exchanges worth mentioning are Kraken, Gemini, and Bittrex. So far we’ve seen very few signs that any of them will aggressively attack broader consumer finance. Most are going in the way of Binance — listing more assets and adding more pro tools like margin and futures trading. And many, like Coinbase, are trying to attract more institutional customers. For example, Gemini with their custody product.

Wrap Up

Coinbase and Binance have huge war chests and massive reach. For that alone, they should always be considered threats to Genesis Block. However, their products are very, very different than the product we’re building. And their approach is very different as well. They are trying to educate and onboard people into crypto. At Genesis Block, we believe the masses shouldn’t need to know or care about it. We did an entire series about this, Spreading Crypto.
Most everyone needs banking — whether it be to borrow, spend, invest, earn interest, etc. Not everyone needs a crypto exchange. For non-crypto consumers (the mass market), the differences between a bank and a crypto exchange are immense. Companies like Binance and Coinbase make a lot of money on their crypto exchange business. It would be really difficult, gutsy, and risky for any of them to completely change their narrative, messaging, and product to focus on the broader consumer market. I don’t believe they would ever risk biting the hand that feeds them.
In summary, as it relates to a digital bank aimed at the mass market, I believe both Coinbase and Binance are much more likely to acquire a startup in this space than they are to build it themselves. And I think they would want to keep the brand/product distinct and separate from their core crypto exchange business.
So back to the original question, is Coinbase and Binance a threat to Genesis Block? Not really. Not today. But they could be, and for that, we want to stay close to them.
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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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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analysed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralised and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since end of January 2019 with daily transaction rate growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralised and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. Maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realised early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralised, secure and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralisation. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue disecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as:
“A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronise cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next he states that: >“blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”.* For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralised and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimisation on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (>66%) double spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralisation.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralised nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching their transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public.They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers.The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translates to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS & shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralised too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralised in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. Faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, R&D roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalised: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: > “all programmes have two basic components, data – what the programme knows – and behaviour – what the programme can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviours in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behaviour are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.”
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: > OCaml is a general purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognised by academics and won a so called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities safety is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa for Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue:
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships  
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organisations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggest that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already taking advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, AirBnB, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are build on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”*
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They dont just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities) also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiatives (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggest in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures & Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

Increasingly Sophisticated Crypto Attacks Require Increasingly Sophisticated Defenses

Increasingly Sophisticated Crypto Attacks Require Increasingly Sophisticated Defenses

https://preview.redd.it/5tef4jw4dyo31.png?width=679&format=png&auto=webp&s=fa9ebddb44e9097538a3ae81a8ed577b441ad690
As the value and visibility of cryptocurrencies continue to rise, the industry is gradually being exposed to increasingly sophisticated security issues. While institutional players typically have the resources and expertise to fortify their assets under multiple layers of defense, retail investors must take it upon themselves to learn about different types of attacks and determine how to mitigate these risks. To that end, we’ve compiled some of the most common yet devastating security risks below:
  • Traditional Web Infrastructure Attacks
Digital currency exchanges, like other industries, run end-applications on web services which are oftentimes not built from the ground up with security considerations in mind. As a result, the legacy infrastructure of many popular online service providers is not sufficiently future-proofed against evolving web security risks, which can allow external parties to take remote control of a company’s server or crash the intranet. Compromised systems are susceptible to SQL injections and other similar attacks, which can modify a transaction address and reconfigure critical user authorizations, much like the ComboJack malware.
Even if a digital platform is generally well-constructed, the way it is tethered to the internet can still be exploited. Web hosts which expose network services to the Internet are relentlessly attacked, and multiple studies indicate that a publicly exposed host is typically discovered and attacked within minutes of being placed on the network. From there, malicious actors would be able to directly attack the exposed host and re-appropriate it for their ends.
  • Front-running Risks
Traditionally, front-running occurs when traders use insider knowledge or high-frequency trading algorithms to detect orders from rival traders, then rapidly inject their order in front of that trade, leading the rival to buy at a higher cost and increasing the value of the front-runner’s newly purchased asset. This is an issue in both cryptocurrency trading and stock trading, but while front-running in traditional markets is restricted by a variety of regulations, the cryptocurrency market is far less regulated and therefore more susceptible to market manipulation.
Front-running within the cryptocurrency space is particularly egregious, as there have been multiple cases where attackers use their funds to open a low position for a particular cryptocurrency while using funds stolen from a large exchange account to artificially inflate the currency price, pulling the compromised user up to the high position. As a result, the attacker’s positions are sold first, and the stolen user’s funds are then transferred to out of their account through the secondary market for a quick profit. These attacks were commonplace during the ICO craze due to the overwhelming public interest in the potential windfall ICOs insinuated, with little attention paid to the dangers imposed by such attacks. Furthermore, few cryptocurrency exchanges are willing to proactively announce these attacks due to the reputational damage it could incur.
  • Phishing Attacks
Although they are relatively low-tech, phishing attacks have grown increasingly sophisticated and are notoriously hard to prevent since they exploit social behavior to achieve their goals. BitcoinTalk’s network service provider was compromised by a successful phishing attack in 2015, and even Binance was forced to deal with the aftermath of a widespread phishing scheme last year, during which attackers used stolen funds to artificially pump and dump a variety of altcoins for their own gain.
In these cases, anonymous groups were able to identify key individuals with access credentials to multiple databases or servers, then implement a coordinated, high-precision phishing attack to acquire those credentials. As a result, the damage resulting from phishing attacks oftentimes extends beyond the initial victim, reverberating negatively throughout an entire system.
  • Collision Attacks
As more people create online crypto-related accounts and transact digital assets, the volume of inadvertent user information disclosures skyrocketed. This is mainly because most people are accustomed to using a fixed set of account passwords, which provides attackers with an opening. Sophisticated attackers can simply parse through entire libraries of leaked data, obtain potentially relevant identification credentials or partial digital signature information which they can then use to access and empty a user’s account.
Even without a full user password, more tech-savvy attackers are also able to exploit hash function collisions to bypass protocols such as MD5 and SHA-1, which are widely used to build authentication and integrity mechanisms in cryptographic protocols.
  • Temporary Network Hijacking
Temporary network hijacking utilizes military-grade tactics to replace the target network of close contact with the target network to achieve further attacks. Attacks of this nature typically involve a Trojan malware component designed to spread internally within an infected system, moving laterally from an internet-connected remote monitoring server to other devices and systems that weren’t meant to be exposed.
To date, network hijacking malware has been found in everything from government servers in North America to an operational technology network controlling water utilities across Europe. While within the context of crypto, these attacks have only involved relatively benign crypto-mining malware, coupled with more disruptive cyberterrorism tactics which are capable of shutting down large-scale national targets. The effects of a temporary network hijacking could severely compromise the entire internet architecture upon which the bourgeoning crypto ecosystem relies on.
As crypto assets take up an increasingly large portion of many investors’ portfolio, there is also an increasing need to understand the underlying principles of the blockchain and appreciate the importance of private keys. Every crypto investor needs to take digital asset protection very seriously, and at Cobo, our central motivation is to support secure and streamlined blockchain development and make it easier to own and utilize the crypto tokens of your choice. To this end, Cobo Wallet’s Hardware Security Module technology ensures that the vast majority of our user assets are stored in a fully offline, globally distributed system, and are further protected by multiple software layer protocols and a multi-signature mechanism which prevents funds from getting lost due to a single point of failure.
Cybercrime will continue to evolve in tandem with the cryptocurrency sector and industry digitization, and many online exchanges and even hardware custodial solutions are not equipped to repel the full spectrum of approaches and tools malicious actors can implement. As you take steps to safeguard your digital assets, it is imperative that you thoroughly research your crypto custodianship options, avoid making purchases from third-party distributors, and ensure that your wallet’s security mechanisms are pressure-tested against the worst possible scenarios.
submitted by Floris-Jan to Cobo [link] [comments]

Daily analysis of cryptocurrencies 20191014(Market index 37 — Fear state)

Daily analysis of cryptocurrencies 20191014(Market index 37 — Fear state)

https://preview.redd.it/3ygnthtqths31.jpg?width=1200&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=e681b3df0e1fe4547fc85547b4d62e4c6bffa481
https://coin360.com/
UPbit Operator Dunamu To Launch Comprehensive OTC Platform Dunamu, an operator of global cryptocurrency exchange UPbit, announced Oct 14 that it planed to launch a comprehensive over-the-counter trading platform that deals with all types of unlisted stocks. According to the UPbit operator, it will jointly launch the platform, which will be available in the form of an App, with local brokerage Samsung Securities and big data analytics company Deep Search in the end of October.
FSB Chair Reports To G20 Finance Ministers And Central Bank Governors On Oct 13, the Financial Stability Board (FSB) published a letter from its Chair Randal K. Quarles to G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors ahead of their meetings in Washington D.C. this week. The letter highlights three areas of the FSB’s work, which include the potential financial stability issues from global stablecoins. It mentions that stablecoin projects of potentially global reach and magnitude must meet the highest regulatory standards and be subject to prudential supervision and oversight. “Possible regulatory gaps should be assessed and addressed as a matter of priority. The FSB has formed a working group, to inform regulatory policy approaches that harness the benefits of financial innovation, while containing associated risks for the financial system, and advise on multilateral responses as necessary. The FSB will submit a consultative report to the G20 in April and a final report in July 2020,” the report reads.
US Senators Threaten CEOs: Dump Libra Or Face Regulatory Wrath Facebook’s crypto woes are deepening as more partners are jumping the Libra ship before it even sets sail. It appears that US senators are urging them to do so as letters to CEOs have been leaked online. Some say the government is stifling innovation while others agree the crypto project is just dangerous. It seems that a number of US senators have been privately contacting Libra Association members urging them to dump the project like a hot rock. Letters shared online by VanEck digital asset strategist Gabor Gurbacs highlight the extent US politicians will go to in efforts to prevent Libra ever launching.
Report: G7 Says ‘Global Stablecoins’ Pose Threat To Financial Stability The G7 group of nations has reportedly drafted a report which says that “global stablecoins” pose a threat to the global financial system. According to the BBC on Oct 13, a draft report from the G7 outlined the various risks associated with digital currencies. It also said that, even if member firms of the governing Libra Association addressed regulatory concerns, it may not get approval from the necessary regulators, stating: “The G7 believe that no stablecoin project should begin operation until the legal, regulatory and oversight challenges and risks are adequately addressed. […] Addressing such risks is not necessarily a guarantee of regulatory approval for a stablecoin arrangement.”

Encrypted project calendar(October 14, 2019)

BCH/Bitcoin Cash: The ChainPoint 19 conference will be held in Armenia from October 14th to 15th. Veros (VRS): 14 October 2019 Launch of News Service “Launch of the VEROS NEWS service.” Skycoin (SKY): 14 October 2019 Hardware Release “New hardware product launch.” Bibox Token (BIX): 14 October 2019 Weekly Report “Check out Bibox Weekly Report (Vol. 67 2019.09.28–2019.10.11)”

Encrypted project calendar(October 15, 2019)

RUFF/RUFF Token: Ruff will end the three-month early bird program on October 15th KAT/Kambria: Kambria (KAT) exchanges ERC20 KAT for a 10% bonus on BEP2 KAT-7BB, and the token exchange reward will end on October 15. BTC/Bitcoin: The Blockchain Technology Investment Summit (CIS) will be held in Los Angeles from October 15th to 16th. OTOCASH (OTO): 15 October 2019 Escodex Shutdown “ All OTO HOLDERs who have assets on ESCODEX EXCHANGE to immediately withdraw your assets before October 15th, 2019 4:00 PM” (CRYPTO): 15 October 2019 Hard Fork Summit Hard Fork Summit 2019 by TNW . “Where finance and business meets tech.” Amsterdam, October 15–17. Cardano (ADA): 15 October 2019 NYC Meetup “Next week on October 15th Nathan Kaiser, Chairperson of the Cardano Foundation, will be in attendance to meet community members in NYC FunFair (FUN): 15 October 2019 Marketing AMA “The FunFair Marketing AMA… will be held on Tuesday the 15th of October at 2pm in the Live team chat channel on Discord Ark (ARK): 15 October 2019 ARK Core v2.6 on Devnet “We are very excited to announce #ARK Core v2.6 will be launching on #Devnet, October 15th, 2019! “ DigiByte (DGB): 15 October 2019 BitMart Listing DigiByte (DGB) will be listed on BitMart Exchange on October 15, 2019. The following trading pair will be available: DGB/BTC. ThoreNext (THX): 15 October 2019 Staking Goes Live “Staking live from 15 OCT 2019.”

Encrypted project calendar(October 16, 2019)

BTC/Bitcoin: The 2019 Blockchain Life Summit will be held in Moscow, Russia from October 16th to 17th. MIOTA/IOTA: IOTA (MIOTA) IOTA will host a community event on the theme of “Technology Problem Solving and Testing IoT Devices” at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on October 16. ETH/Ethereum: Ethereum launches Istanbul (Istanbul) main network upgrade, this main network upgrade involves 6 code upgrades. QTUM/Qtum: Qtum (QTUM) Qtum main network hard fork is scheduled for October 16. (CRYPTO): and 1 other 16 October 2019 Supply Chains Unblocked Supply Chains Unblocked in London from 9:30 AM — 6 PM. Binance Coin (BNB): 16 October 2019 Singapore Meetup “Bring your friends to come along with, & it will be FUN! With snacks and drinks.” IoTeX (IOTX): 16 October 2019 Mainet Beta “The next evolution of IoTeX blockchain, secure IoT hardware, and decentralized identity is coming October 16 — mark your calendars.” Selfkey (KEY): 16 October 2019 Corporate Wallet Release “Soon, wallet users will be able to manage corporate profiles and identity attributes.” Cardano (ADA): 16 October 2019 Washington D.C. Meetup “Nathan Kaiser, Chairperson of the Cardano Foundation, will join the community in Washington DC on Oct 16, and talk about the recent

Encrypted project calendar(October 17, 2019)

Holo (HOT): 17 October 2019 Redgrid AMA “Join us for the AMA with RedGrid on October 17th. Submit your questions before the AMA on our Holochain Dev Forum.” IOST (IOST): 17 October 2019 Breeding Competition Ends “Join IOST 2nd Breeding Competition by @FishChainGame now! The competition only lasts till 17 Oct” Aragon (ANT): 17 October 2019 Seoul Meetup “You are invited to join @licuende for a meetup and presentation on ‘Aragon and DAOs: What’s next after ICOs and DeFi?’” Skycoin (SKY): 17 October 2019 NYC Skywire Meetup NYC Skywire Mainnet Meetup in NYC from 6–8 PM. Horizen (ZEN): 17 October 2019 Weekly Insider Team updates at 3:30 PM UTC/ 11:30 AM EDT: Engineering, Node network, Product/UX, Helpdesk, Legal, BD, Marketing, CEO Closing thoughts, AMA.

Encrypted project calendar(October 18, 2019)

BTC/Bitcoin: The SEC will give a pass on the VanEck/SolidX ETF on October 18th and make a final decision HB/HeartBout: HeartBout (HB) will officially release the Android version of the HeartBout app on October 18. OKB (OKB): 18 October 2019 Rotterdam Meetup “Meet us in Rotterdam on 18 Oct as we partner up with Crypto010 Meetup to bring you a talk on ‘Decentralized Finance’.” HeartBout (HB): 18 October 2019 Android Version “18th of October 2019 will be officially released Android version of HeartBout app.” BTU Protocol (BTU): and 2 others 18 October 2019 Paris Blockchain Summit The event will gather major international key players of the Blockchain ecosystem including well-known influencers, investors, government…

Encrypted project calendar(October 19, 2019)

PI/PCHAIN Network: The PCHAIN (PI) backbone (Phase 5, 82 nodes, 164, 023, 802 $ PI, 7 candidates) will begin on October 19. LINK/ChainLink: Diffusion 2019 will be held in Berlin, Germany from October 19th to 20th DeepBrain Chain (DBC): 19 October 2019 (or earlier) Deploy Main Chain “Deploy Main Chain,” during the third week of October. General Event (CRYPTO): and 1 other 19 October 2019 Free State Blockchain “This “unconference” style event brings together some of the top financial tech innovators, researchers, company leaders, and other…” PCHAIN (PI): 19 October 2019 Main Chain Voting “Main chain: Epoch 5, 82 nodes, 164,023,802 $PI, 7 Candidates, voting will start on Oct. 19th.” Nash Exchange (NEX): 19 October 2019 Nash Anniversary Nash will present their work from the third quarter of 2019. Team members will be present and to answer your questions in person.

Encrypted project calendar(October 20, 2019)

GameCredits (GAME): 20 October 2019 (or earlier) Mining Reward Drop GameCredits mining reward will be cut in half at block 2519999 (~October 20). This will be the 4th halvening of the GAME mining reward! Aeternity (AE): 20 October 2019 Starfleet 3 App Deadline #Starfleet3 is happening in Malta and you have by October 20th to apply!

Encrypted project calendar(October 21, 2019)

KNC/Kyber Network: The official online hackathon of the Kyber Network (KNC) project will end on October 21st, with more than $42,000 in prize money. Horizen (ZEN): 21 October 2019 Sidechains Alpha Release Horizen releasing the alpha version of industry first decentralized and unfederated sidechains. Horizen (ZEN): 21 October 2019 Updated Whitepaper Horizen releasing an updated whitepaper.

Encrypted project calendar(October 22, 2019)

ZRX/0x: The 0x protocol (ZRX) Pantera blockchain summit will be held on October 22.

Encrypted project calendar(October 23, 2019)

MIOTA/IOTA: IOTA (MIOTA) IOTA will host a community event on October 23rd at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles with the theme “Connecting the I3 Market and Experiencing Purchase and Sales Data.” BTC/Bitcoin: The WBS World Blockchain Summit (Middle East) will be held in Dubai from October 23rd to 24th. Cardano (ADA) and 1 other: 23 October 2019 WBS Dubai “One of a kind gathering of 500+ curated & pre-qualified investors, CEOs, CIOs, CTOs, Heads of Blockchain, Chief Digital Officers

Encrypted project calendar(October 24, 2019)

BCN/Bytecoin: Bytecoin (BCN) released the hidden amount of the Bytecoin block network on October 24.

Encrypted project calendar(October 25, 2019)

ADA/Cardano: Cardano (ADA) The Ada community will host a community gathering in the Dominican Republic for the first time on October 25.

Encrypted project calendar(October 26, 2019)

KAT/Kambria: Kambria (KAT) Kambria will host the 2019 Southern California Artificial Intelligence and Data Science Conference in Los Angeles on October 26th with IDEAS. BTC/Bitcoin: CoinAgenda Global Summit will be held in Las Vegas from October 26th to 28th

Encrypted project calendar(October 28, 2019)

LTC/Litecoin: Litecoin (LTC) 2019 Litecoin Summit will be held from October 28th to October 29th in Las Vegas, USA BTC/Bitcoin: Mt.Gox changes the debt compensation plan submission deadline to October 28 ZEC/Zcash: Zcash (ZEC) will activate the Blossom Agreement on October 28th

Encrypted project calendar(October 29, 2019)

BTC/Bitcoin: The 2nd World Encryption Conference (WCC) will be held in Las Vegas from October 29th to 31st.

Encrypted project calendar(October 30, 2019)

MIOTA/IOTA: IOTA (MIOTA) IOTA will host a community event on October 30th at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles on the topic “How to store data on IOTA Tangle.”

Encrypted project calendar(November 1, 2019)

INS/Insolar: The Insolar (INS) Insolar wallet and the redesigned Insolar Block Explorer will be operational on November 1, 2019.

Encrypted project calendar(November 6, 2019)

STEEM/Steem: The Steem (STEEM) SteemFest 4 conference will be held in Bangkok from November 6th to 10th.

Encrypted project calendar(November 8, 2019)

BTC/Bitcoin: The 2nd Global Digital Mining Summit will be held in Frankfurt, Germany from October 8th to 10th.

Encrypted project calendar(November 9, 2019)

CENNZ/Centrality: Centrality (CENNZ) will meet in InsurTechNZ Connect — Insurance and Blockchain on October 9th in Auckland.
https://preview.redd.it/roxxrqbuths31.png?width=504&format=png&auto=webp&s=c94149f1d2f662508b925a59ec31d863731918fb

This past week, we saw a nasty decline from the $8,950 zone in bitcoin against the US Dollar. The price declined heavily and broke the key $8,500 support area. Moreover, there was a close below the $8,500 level and the 100 hourly simple moving average. It opened the doors for more losses below the $8,400 and $8,350 support levels. Recently, there was a recovery above the $8,400 level, but the price failed to gain pace above $8,450.
As a result, there was a fresh decline from the $8,472 high. During the decline, there was a break below a key ascending channel with support near $8,340 on the hourly chart of the BTC/USD pair. The pair traded as low as $8,146 and it is currently correcting higher. It broke the $8,200 level and the 23.6% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $8,472 high to $8,146 low.
At the moment, the price is testing the $8,300 area. Besides, it seems like the 50% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $8,472 high to $8,146 low is acting as a resistance. On the upside, there are many hurdles forming near the $8,350 and $8,400 levels. The key resistance is near the $8,400 level and the 100 hourly SMA. It also coincides with the 76.4% Fib retracement level of the recent decline from the $8,472 high to $8,146 low.
Therefore, a clear close above the $8,400 level might start a decent recovery. The next key resistance is near the $8,500 level, above which the price could test the $8,800 resistance. Conversely, if the price fails to recover above $8,350 or $8,400, it could resume its decline. An immediate support is near the $8,200 level.
Review previous articles: https://medium.com/@to.liuwen

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Cryptocurrency and Blockchain - Industry News (02.15.19 - 02.22.19)

Total Market Cap, as of 02.21.19 at 5:30pm (PST): $133,778,212,242 (+11.11% from last week)

Missed last week's update? Click here

STORY OF THE WEEK

•A developer in the community released Tippin.me, a Chrome and Firefox browser extension that enables Bitcoin (BTC) tipping on Twitter via the Lightning Network.

CRYPTOCURRENCY EXCHANGES

Binance launches the test-net of its allegedly decentralized exchange, Binance DEX. Users can now manage their own private keys and the associated wallet.
Binance de-lists 5 projects – CloakCoin (CLOAK), Modum (MOD), Salt (SALT), Substratum (SUB) and Wings (WINGS).
Huobi.com lists 3 projects – Stellar Lumens (XLM), Monero (XMR) and Steem (STEEM).
Coinmama, a Slovakian based exchange suffers a security breach which leaked 450,000 user email and passwords.
KuCoin releases version 2.0 of its platform. The update introduces new interfaces across the web and mobile applications, additional 2FA options and order types for users.

REGULATION

•The U.S. state of Wyoming passed 3 bills that involve digital assets. Digital assets owned by consumers are now categorized as intangible personal property. Banks can now issue digital custodial services and issue securities in tokenized forms, provided they comply with accounting, control and other standards.
•The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) settles unregistered securities charges against Gladius Network, whom have conducted an ICO near the end of 2017. There is no penalty as a result of self-reporting.
•$430,000 USD worth of cryptocurrencies seized by Belgian law enforcement will be auctioned off on Feb.28 at 12:00pm GMT by Wilsons Auctions – the largest auction company in the UK and Ireland.
•The Central Bank of Bahrain’s (CBB) is launching a regulatory sandbox for blockchain and crypto companies. This will allow firms to test solutions and expedite new companies entrance into the market.
•2 Bitcoin ETF’s registered by financial firms VanEck/SolidX and Bitwise await approval from the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). This kicks off a 45 day countdown to an initial decision.

TECHNOLOGY

Samsung’s flagship phone, the Galaxy S10 will introduce “Samsung Knox”, a hardware security feature to store private keys for blockchain applications.
Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg considers utilizing a blockchain to allow users to login to other sites without going through an intermediary on its existing “sign-in with Facebook” feature, dubbed Facebook Connect.

INSTITUTIONALIZATION

Eurex, a derivatives exchange operated by German financial giant Deutsche Boerse is looking to launch futures contracts tied to digital assets such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH) and Ripple (XRP).
•Latin America’s largest investment bank Banco BTG Pactual SA is releasing its own blockchain-based security token dubbed “ReitBZ”. The token’s value is backed by real estate assets within Brazil.

PEOPLE

Ethereum loses Afri Schoedon, a core developer for the open-sourced project since 2015.
TrueDigital, a provider of institutional products for digital assets hires Thomas Kim – previously COO of Bridgewater Associates. Bridgewater is a U.S based asset management firm with currently $124.7 billion USD under management.
Digital Asset, a distributed ledger company for financial services loses head of business for Europe, Oliver Hugh-Jones. Key executives continue to depart from the firm.

TWITTER

@jack – “I hooked [tippin.me] up and already got tipped some satoshi’s.”
@alecziupsnys – “Taxi reform didn't come from taxis, but from Uber. Hotel reform didn't come from hotels, but from AirBnB. Finance reform didn't come from banks, but from Bitcoin.“
@cryptoshillnye – “We are either really early or really stupid. $crypto”
@jackdwagner – “If your boyfriend needs to be taken down a notch just start casually asking him how his bitcoin is doing.”
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AMA with Wanchain VP Lini

AMA with Wanchain VP Lini
Original article here: https://medium.com/wanchain-foundation/ama-with-wanchain-vp-lini-58ada078b4fe

“What is unique about us is that we have actually put theory into practice.”
— Lini
https://preview.redd.it/n6lo2xcmtn621.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=281acce4b45eed8acf0c52b201d01cb6f0d13507
https://preview.redd.it/10aj3ointn621.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=6a187e8a6eb5ac0445ddc73d5b0f9077f12bce39
Wanchain’s Vice President of Business Development, Lini, sat down with blockchain media organization Neutrino for an AMA covering a wide range of topics concerning Wanchain’s development.
The following is an English translation of the original Chinese AMA which was held on December 13th, 2018:
Neutrino: Could you please first share with us a little basic background, what are the basic concepts behind cross chain technology? What are the core problems which are solved with cross-chain? In your opinion, what is the biggest challenge of implementing cross chain to achieve value transfer between different chains?
Lini: Actually, this question is quite big. Let me break it down into three smaller parts:
  1. First, what is the meaning of “cross-chain”?
https://preview.redd.it/cpui6t7qtn621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=86bc39d94b0713949c150598e2397a4f9d3ac491
In China, we like to use the word “cross-chain”, the term “interoperability” is used more frequently in foreign countries. Interoperability is also one of the important technologies identified by Vitalik for the development of a future blockchain ecosystem mentioned in the Ethereum white paper. So cross-chain is basically the concept of interoperability between chains.
  1. The core problem solved by cross chain is that of “multi-ledger” synchronous accounting
https://preview.redd.it/603dl86stn621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=425b827298ac919f8cf05909037458a173100cc4
In essence, blockchain is a distributed bookkeeping technique, also known as distributed ledger technology. Tokens are the core units of account on each chain, there currently exist many different chains, each with their own token. Of especial importance is the way in which each ledger uses tokens to interact with each other for the purpose of clearing settlements.
  1. The core purpose of the cross-chain technology is as one of the key infrastructures of the future economy based on digital currencies.
https://preview.redd.it/3d61f26utn621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=b735482c9734e1d32176e406adce1718be20583e
Cross chain technology is one of the foundational technological infrastructures that is necessary for the large scale application of blockchain technology.
Neutrino: As we all know, there are many different kinds of cross-chain technologies. Please give us a brief introduction to several popular cross-chain technologies on the market, and the characteristics of each of these technologies。
Lini: Before answering this question, it is very important to share two important concepts with our friends: heterogeneity and homogeneity, and centralization and decentralization.
https://preview.redd.it/n6wbs77wtn621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=83fcadd09afb214d2aa5a2a6deb6c24d0d4da671
These two points are especially important for understanding various cross-chain technologies, because there are many different technologies and terminologies, and these are some of the foundational concepts needed for understanding them.
There are also two core challenges which must be overcome to implement cross-chain:
https://preview.redd.it/84wqd28ytn621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=dafe1cd2993f853547b532421404e6ab86e185f1
Combining the above two points, we look at the exploration of some solutions in the industry and the design concepts of other cross-chain projects.
First I’d like to discuss the Relay solution.
https://preview.redd.it/qgcqiwlztn621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=0925d4221c9e92e365e150638c645bef8c609b3f
However the Relay solution must consume a relatively large amount of gas to read the BTC header. Another downside is that, as we all know, Bitcoin’s blocks are relatively slow, so the time to wait for verification will be long, it usually takes about 10 minutes to wait for one block to confirm, and the best practice is to wait for 6 blocks.
The next concept is the idea of Sidechains.
https://preview.redd.it/9cg79bl1un621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=1260e14213b1757eadc4b6141a365ed3b0e20316
This solution is good, but not all chains contain SPV, a simple verification method. Therefore, there are certain drawbacks. Of course, this two way peg way solves challenge beta very well, that is, the atomicity of the transaction.
These two technical concepts have already been incorporated into a number of existing cross chain projects. Let’s take a look at two of the most influential of these.
The first is Polkadot.
https://preview.redd.it/1o3xwz93un621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=249909a33b5420050a6010b961a944285fc94926
This is just a summary based on Polkadot’s whitepaper and most recent developments. The theoretical design is very good and can solve challenges alpha and beta. Last week, Neutrino organized a meetup with Polkadot, which we attended. In his talk, Gavin’s focus was on governance, he didn’t get into too much technical detail, but Gavin shared some very interesting ideas about chain governance mechanisms! The specific technical details of Polkadot may have to wait until after their main net is online before it can be analyzed.
Next is Cosmos.
https://preview.redd.it/5gtjf6x4un621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=94d6408ff65dc7041316f0130867888e108848b2
Cosmos is a star project who’s basic concept is similar to Polkadot. Cosmos’s approach is based on using a central hub. Both projects both take into account the issue of heterogeneous cross-chain transactions, and both have also taken into account how to solve challenges alpha and beta.
To sum up, each research and project team has done a lot of exploration on the best methods for implementing cross-chain technology, but many are still in the theoretical design stage. Unfortunately, since the main net has not launched yet, it is not possible to have a more detailed understanding of each project’s implementation. A blockchain’s development can be divided into two parts: theoretical design, and engineering implementation. Therefore, we can only wait until after the launch of each project’s main network, and then analyze it in more detail.
Neutrino: As mentioned in the white paper, Wanchain is a general ledger based on Ethereum, with the goal of building a distributed digital asset financial infrastructure. There are a few questions related to this. How do you solve Ethereum’s scaling problem? How does it compare with Ripple, which is aiming to be the standard trading protocol that is common to all major banks around the world? As a basic potential fundamental financial infrastructure, what makes Wanchain stand out?
Lini: This question is actually composed of two small questions. Let me answer the first one first.
  1. Considerations about TPS.
First of all, Wanchain is not developed on Ethereum. Instead, it draws on some of Ethereum’s code and excellent smart contracts and virtual machine EVM and other mature technical solutions to build the mainnet of Wanchain.
The TPS of Ethereum is not high at this stage, which is limited by various factors such as the POW consensus mechanism. However, this point also in part is due to the characteristics of Ethereum’s very distributed and decentralized features. Therefore, in order to improve TPS, Wanchain stated in its whitepaper that it will launch its own POS consensus, thus partially solving the performance issues related to TPS. Wanchain’s POS is completely different from the POS mechanism of Ethereum 2.0 Casper.
Of course, at the same time, we are also paying close attention to many good proposals from the Ethereum community, such as sharding, state channels, side chains, and the Raiden network. Since blockchain exists in the world of open source, we can of course learn from other technological breakthroughs and use our own POS to further improve TPS. If we have some time at the end, I’d love to share some points about Wanchain’s POS mechanism.
  1. Concerning, Ripple, it is completely different from what Wanchain hopes to do.
Ripple is focused on exchanges between different fiat pairs, the sharing of data between banks and financial institutions, as a clearing and settlement system, and also for the application of DLT, for example the Notary agent mechanism.
Wanchain is focused on different use cases, it is to act as a bridge between different tokens and tokens, and between assets and tokens. For various cross-chain applications it is necessary to consume WAN as a gas fee to pay out to nodes.
So it seems that the purpose Ripple and Wanchain serve are quite different. Of course, there are notary witnesses in the cross-chain mechanism, that is, everyone must trust the middleman. Ripple mainly serves financial clients, banks, so essentially everyone’s trust is already there.
Neutrino: We see that Wanchain uses a multi-party computing and threshold key sharing scheme for joint anchoring, and achieves “minimum cost” for integration through cross-chain communication protocols without changing the original chain mechanism. What are the technical characteristics of multi-party computing and threshold key sharing? How do other chains access Wanchain, what is the cross-chain communication protocol here? What is the cost of “minimum cost?
Lini: The answer to this question is more technical, involving a lot of cryptography, I will try to explain it in a simple way.
  1. About sMPC -
It stands for secure multi-party computation. I will explain it using an example proposed by the scholar Andrew Yao, the only Turing Award winner in China. The scenario called Yao’s Millionaire Problem. How can two millionaires know who is wealthier without revealing the details of their wealth to each other or a trusted third party? I’m not going to explain the answer in detail here, but those who are interested can do a web search to learn more.
In sMPC multiple parties each holding their own piece of private data jointly perform a calculation (for example, calculating a maximum value) and obtain a calculation result. However, in the process, each party involved does not leak any of their respective data. Essentially sMPC calculation can allow for designing a protocol without relying on any trusted third parties, since no individual ever has access to the complete private information.
Secure multiparty computing can be abstractly understood as two parties who each have their own private data, and can calculate the results of a public function without leaking their private data. When the entire calculation is completed, only the calculation results are revealed to both parties, and neither of them knows the data of the other party and the intermediate data of the calculation process. The protocol used for secure multiparty computing is homomorphic encryption + secret sharing + OT (+ commitment scheme + zero knowledge proofs, etc.)
Wanchain’s 21 cross chain Storeman nodes use sMPC to participate in the verification of a transaction without obtaining of a user’s complete private key. Simply put, the user’s private key will have 21 pieces given to 21 anonymous people who each can only get 1/21 part, and can’t complete the whole key.
  1. Shamir’s secret sharing
There are often plots in a movie where a top secret document needs to be handed over to, let’s say five secret agents. In order to protect against the chance of an agent from being arrested or betraying the rest, the five agents each hold only part of a secret key which will reveal the contents of the documents. But there is also a hidden danger: if one the agents are really caught, how can the rest of the agents access the information in the documents? At this point, you may wonder if there is any way for the agents to still recover the original text with only a portion of the keys? In other words, is there any method that allows a majority of the five people to be present to unlock the top secret documents? In this case, the enemy must be able to manipulate more than half of the agents to know the information in the secret documents.
Wanchain uses the threshold M<=N; N=21; M=16. That is to say, at least 16 Storeman nodes must participate in multi-party calculation to confirm a transaction. Not all 21 Storeman nodes are required to participate. This is a solution to the security problem of managing private keys.
Cross-chain communication protocols refers to the different communication methods used by different chains. This is because heterogeneous cross-chain methods can’t change the mechanism of the original chains. Nakamoto and Vitalik will not modify their main chains because they need BTC and ETH interoperability. Therefore, project teams that can only do cross-chain agreements to create different protocols for each chain to “talk”, or communicate. So the essence of a cross-chain protocol is not a single standard, but a multiple sets of standards. But there is still a shared sMPC and threshold design with the Storeman nodes.
The minimum cost is quite low, as can be shown with Wanchain 3.0’s cross chain implementation. In fact it requires just two smart contracts, one each on Ethereum and Wanchain to connect the two chains. To connect with Bitcoin all that is needed is to write a Bitcoin script. Our implementation guarantees both security and decentralization, while at the same time remaining simple and consuming less computation. The specific Ethereum contract and Bitcoin scripts online can be checked out by anyone interested in learning more.
Neutrino: What kind of consensus mechanism is currently used by Wanchain? In addition, what is the consensus and incentive mechanism for cross-chain transactions, and what is the purpose of doing so? And Wanchain will support cross-chain transactions (such as BTC, ETH) on mainstream public chains, asset cross-chain transactions between the alliance chains, and cross-chain transactions between the public and alliance chains, how can you achieve asset cross-chain security and privacy?
Lini: It is now PPOW (Permissioned Proof of Work), in order to ensure the reliability of the nodes before the cross-chain protocol design is completed, and to prepare to switch to POS (as according to the Whitepaper roadmap). The cross-chain consensus has been mentioned above, with the participation of a small consensus (at least 16 nodes) in a set of 21 Storeman nodes through sMPC and threshold secret sharing.
In addition, the incentive is achieved through two aspects: 1) 100% of the cross chain transaction fee is used to reward the Storeman node; 2) Wanchain has set aside a portion of their total token reserve as an incentive mechanism for encouraging Storeman nodes in case of small cross-chain transaction volume in the beginning.
It can be revealed that Storeman participation is opening gradually and will become completely distributed and decentralized in batches. The first phase of the Storeman node participation and rewards program is to be launched at the end of 2018. It is expected that the selection of participants will be completed within one quarter. Please pay attention to our official announcements this month.
In addition, for public chains, consortium chains, and private chains, asset transfer will also follow the cross-chain mechanism mentioned above, and generally follow the sMPC and threshold integration technology to ensure cross-chain security.
When it comes to privacy, this topic will be bigger. Going back to the Wanchain Whitepaper, we have provided privacy protection on Wanchain mainnet. Simply put, the principle is using ring signatures. The basic idea is that it mixes the original address with many other addresses to ensure privacy. We also use one-time address. In this mechanism a stamp system is used that generates a one-time address from a common address. This has been implemented since our 2.0 release.
But now only the privacy protection of native WAN transactions can be provided. The protection of cross-chain privacy and user experience will also be one of the important tasks for us in 2019.
Neutrino: At present, Wanchain uses Storeman as a cross-chain trading node. Can you introduce the Storeman mechanism and how to protect these nodes?
Lini: Let me one problem from two aspects.
  1. As I introduced before in my explanation of sMPC, the Storeman node never holds the user’s private key, but only calculates the transaction in an anonymous and secure state, and the technology prevents the Storeman nodes from colluding.
  2. Even after technical guarantees, we also designed a “double protection” against the risk from an economic point of view, that is, each node participating as a Storeman needs to pledge WAN in the contract as a “stake”. The pledge of WAN will be greater than the amount of any single transaction as a guarantee against loss of funds.
If the node is malicious (even if it is a probability of one in a billion), the community will be compensated for the loss caused by the malicious node by confiscation of the staked WAN. This is like the POS mechanism used by ETH, using staking to prevent bad behavior is a common principle.
Neutrino: On December 12th, the mainnet of Wanchain 3.0 was launched. Wanchain 3.0 opened cross-chain transactions between Bitcoin, Ethereum and ERC20 (such as MakerDao’s stable currency DAI and MKR). What does this version mean for you and the industry? This upgrade of cross-chain with Bitcoin is the biggest bright spot. So, if now you are able to use Wanchain to make transactions between what is the difference between tokens, then what is the difference between a cross chain platform like Wanchain and cryptocurrency exchanges?
Lini: The release of 3.0 is the industry’s first major network which has crossed ETH and BTC, and it has been very stable so far. As mentioned above, many cross-chain, password-protected theoretical designs are very distinctive, but for engineering implementation, the whether or not it can can be achieved is a big question mark. Therefore, this time Wanchain is the first network launched in the world to achieve this. Users are welcome to test and attack. This also means that Wanchain has connected the two most difficult and most challenging public networks. We are confident we will soon be connecting other well-known public chains.
At the same time of the release of 3.0, we also introduced cross chain integration with other ERC20 tokens in the 2.X version, such as MakerDao’s DAI, MKR, LRC, etc., which also means that more tokens of excellent projects on Ethereum will also gradually be integrated with Wanchain.
Some people will be curious, since Wanchain has crossed so many well-known public chains/projects; how is it different with crypto exchanges? In fact, it is very simple, one centralized; one distributed. Back to the white paper of Nakamoto, is not decentralization the original intention of blockchain? So what Wanchain has to do is essentially to solve the bottom layer of the blockchain, one of the core technical difficulties.
Anyone trying to create a DEX (decentralized exchange); digital lending and other application scenarios can base their application on Wanchain. There is a Wanchain based DEX prototype made by our community members Jeremiah and Harry, which quite amazing. Take a look at this video below.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=codcqb66G6Q
Neutrino: What are the specific application use cases after the launch of Wanchain 3.0? Most are still exploring small-scale projects. According to your experience, what are the killer blockchain applications of the future? What problems need to be solved during this period? How many years does it take?
Lini:
  1. Wanchain is just a technology platform rather than positioning itself as an application provider; that is, Wanchain will continue to support the community, and the projects which use cross-chain technology to promote a wide range of use cases for Wanchain.
  2. Cross-chain applications that we anticipate include things like: decentralized exchanges, digital lending, cross chain games, social networking dAPPs, gambling, etc. We also expect to see applications using non fungible tokens, for example exchange of real assets, STOs, etc.
  3. We recently proposed the WanDAPP solution. Simply speaking, a game developer for example has been developing on Ethereum, and ERC20 tokens have been issued, but they hope to expand the player base of their games to attract more people. To participate and make full use of their DAPP, you can consider using the WanDAPP solution to deploy the game DAPP on other common platforms, such as EOS, TRON, etc., but you don’t have to issue new tokens on these chains or use the previous ERC20 tokens. In this way the potential user population of the game can be increased greatly without issuing more tokens on a new chain, improving the real value of the original token. This is accomplished completely using the cross-chain mechanism of Wanchain.
  4. For large-scale applications, the infrastructure of the blockchain is not yet complete, there are issues which must first be dealt with such as TPS, sharding, sidechains, state channels, etc. These all must be solved for the large-scale application of blockchain applications. I don’t dare to guess when it will be completed, it depends on the progress of various different technical projects. In short, industry practitioners and enthusiasts need a little faith and patience.
Neutrino community member Block Venture Capital Spring: Will Wanchain be developing any more cross chain products aimed at general users? For example will the wallet be developed to make automatic cross chain transfers with other public chains? Another issue the community is concerned about is the currency issuance. Currently there are more than 100 million WAN circulating, what about the rest, when will it be released?
Lini: As a cross-chain public chain, we are not biased towards professional developers or ordinary developers, and they are all the same. As mentioned above, we provide a platform as infrastructure, and everyone is free to develop applications on us.
For example, if it is a decentralized exchange, it must be for ordinary users to trade on; if it is some kind of financial derivatives product, it is more likely to be used by finance professionals. As for cross-chain wallets which automatically exchange, I’m not sure if you are talking about distributed exchanges, the wallet will not be “automatic” at first, but you can “automatically” redeem other tokens.
Finally, the remaining WAN tokens are strictly in accordance with the plan laid out in the whitepaper. For example, the POS node reward mentioned above will give 10% of the total amount for reward. At the same time, for the community, there are also rewards for the bounty program. The prototype of the DEX that I just saw is a masterpiece of the overseas community developers, and also received tokens from our incentive program.
Neutrino community member’s question: There are many projects in the market to solve cross-chain problems, such as: Cosmos, Polkadot, what are Wanchain’s advantages and innovations relative to these projects?
Lini: As I mentioned earlier, Cosmos and pPolkadot all proposed very good solutions in theory. Compared with Wanchain, I don’t think that we have created anything particularly unique in our theory. The theoretical basis for our work is cryptography, which is derived from the academic foundation of scholars such as Yao Zhizhi and Silvio Micali. Our main strong point is that we have taken theory and put it into practice..
Actually, the reason why people often question whether a blockchain project can be realized or not is because the whitepapers are often too ambitious. Then when they actually start developing there are constant delays and setbacks. So for us, we focus on completing our very solid and realizable engineering goals. As for other projects, we hope to continue to learn from each other in this space.
Neutrino community member Amos from Huobi Research Institute question: How did you come to decide on 21 storeman nodes?
Lini: As for the nodes we won’t make choices based on quantity alone. The S in the POS actually also includes the time the tokens are staked, so that even if a user is staking less tokens, the amount of time they stake them for will also be used to calculate the award, so that is more fair. We designed the ULS (Unique Leader Selection) algorithm in order to reduce the reliance on the assumption of corruption delay (Cardano’s POS theory). which is used for ensuring fairness to ensure that all participants in the system can have a share of the reward, not only few large token holders.
Wu Di, a member of the Neutrino community: Many big exchanges have already begun to deploy decentralized exchanges. For example, Binance, and it seems that the progress is very fast. Will we be working with these influential exchanges in the future? We we have the opportunity to cooperate with them and broaden our own influence?
Lini: I also have seen some other exchange’s DEX. Going back the original point, distributed cross-chain nodes and centralized ones are completely different. I’m guessing that most exchanges use a centralized cross-chain solution, so it may not be the same as the 21 member Storeman group of Wanchain, but I think that most exchanges will likely be using their own token and exchange system. This is my personal understanding. But then, if you are developing cross chain technology, you will cooperate with many exchanges that want to do a DEX. Not only Binance, but also Huobi, Bithumb, Coinbase… And if there is anyone else who would like to cooperate we welcome them!
Neutrino community member AnneJiang from Maker: Dai as the first stable chain of Wanchain will open a direct trading channel between Dai and BTC. In relation to the Dai integration, has any new progress has been made on Wanchain so far?
Lini: DAI’s stable currency has already been integrated on Wanchain. I just saw it yesterday, let me give you a picture. It’s on the current 3.0 browser, https://www.wanscan.org/, you can take a look at it yourself.
This means that users with DAI are now free to trade for BTC, or ETH or some erc20 tokens. There is also a link to the Chainlink, and LRC is Loopring, so basically there are quite a few excellent project tokens. You may use the Wanchain to trade yourself, but since the DEX is not currently open, currently you can only trade with friends you know.
https://preview.redd.it/jme5s99bun621.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=7ba3d430ba3e7ddcab4dbcdedc05d596d832f5a7

About Neutrino

Neutrino is a distributed, innovative collaborative community of blockchains. At present, we have established physical collaboration spaces in Tokyo, Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and other places, and have plans to expand into important blockchain innovation cities such as Seoul, Thailand, New York and London. Through global community resources and partnerships, Neutrino organizes a wide range of online an offline events, seminars, etc. around the world to help developers in different regions better communicate and share their experiences and knowledge.

About Wanchain

Wanchain is a blockchain platform that enables decentralized transfer of value between blockchains. The Wanchain infrastructure enables the creation of distributed financial applications for individuals and organizations. Wanchain currently enables cross-chain transactions with Ethereum, and today’s product launch will enable the same functionalities with Bitcoin. Going forward, we will continue to bridge blockchains and bring cross-chain finance functionality to companies in the industry. Wanchain has employees globally with offices in Beijing (China), Austin (USA), and London (UK).
You can find more information about Wanchain on our website. Additionally, you can reach us through Telegram, Discord, Medium, Twitter, and Reddit. You can also sign up for our monthly email newsletter here.
https://preview.redd.it/w7ezx27dun621.png?width=720&format=png&auto=webp&s=6ef7a651a2d480658f60d213e1431ba636bfbd8c
submitted by maciej_wan to wanchain [link] [comments]

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