Bitcoin is not ruled by miners - Bitcoin Wiki

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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The Bitcoin Conspiracy (an enthusiast's perspective)

I keep coming across comments, especially in this sub, from people claiming that Bitcoin was created by the CIA or some government agency as part of the plan for the NWO and cashless society. I want to share my experience and try to clear up the confusion surrounding this topic.
I first got involved with Bitcoin in late 2016 when I heard about it and got some while at a libertarian festival. Back then it was still very popular among the agorist community and was being promoted as THE silver bullet that was going to disrupt the global fiat banking system.
Putting preconceptions aside, a new user might ask, "what's so special about Bitcoin? We already have digital currencies."
Well, you only need to read the first page of the whitepaper to discover what the original intent of Bitcoin was. It most definitely was not intended to be a tool for central banks to subjugate the world to a centralized global currency. Quite the opposite in fact. Read the full whitepaper here.
When I first learned about Bitcoin, it forced me to learn about economics, then the Federal Reserve, then one by one the dominoes fell and down the conspiracy rabbit hole I went. In 2017 (actually it started a few years earlier, but I wasn't paying attention back then) there was a very heated debate in the Bitcoin community regarding scaling.
I'll try to break it down simply:
In the very early days, when Bitcoin was just a project being worked on by a few very technical people, no one knew about it. All it took was a handful of people running the software on their laptops to mine new coins. Since there was not much computing power on the network, it meant there could easily be a spam attack where a malicious user could join the network and generate many gigabytes of spam transactions that would overload and crash the network. To prevent this, Satoshi implemented a limit of 1MB per block, to protect the network until there was enough computing power to be able to handle larger blocks.
This measure worked, and Bitcoin grew exponentially.
Satoshi vanished in 2010, after WikiLeaks attracted unwanted attention to the project by accepting Bitcoin donations. He left clear instructions for his successors that the 1MB block size limit was meant to be increased once the network could support high levels of user traffic. At the time, there still was not much use, so it wasn't until around 2014 that blocks started hitting the 1MB cap and all of a sudden users had to compete (by paying higher transaction fees) in order to get their transaction mined into the next block.
Up until then, sending a Bitcoin transaction would cost $0.0001 (hundredth of a penny) or less, no matter if you were sending $0.10 or $1,000,000. Now, since block space was limited, fees started to rise, as miners would only include the transactions with the highest fees. Over the next couple years, transaction fees went up dramatically, at times reaching as high as $100 to send a single transaction.
The solution was obvious - raise the block size limit.
But this led to a heated debate, and this is where the conspiracy became obvious to those who were paying attention. Since Bitcoin was decentralized and open source, anyone could contribute, but certain people controlled the commit access to the github repo, and it became apparent that those individuals had been compromised, as any and all mention of increasing the block size was met with fierce resistance.
There was a misinformation campaign to discredit anyone arguing for larger blocks. The argument was that larger blocks would mean users could not run the software on their low-power personal devices and laptops; that by increasing the block size it would lead to mining centralization. Well, if you read the whitepaper linked above, you'll see that Satoshi predicted this. He knew mining would eventually be left to "specialized server farms" while normal users could use what he termed Simplified Payment Verification (SPV) wallets.
But this point was consistently shot down in the community, and especially on /bitcoin. There was a MASSIVE censorship campaign in the bitcoin subreddit that continues to this day where anyone who questions the official narrative or even asks a basic technical question is immediately banned. /bitcoin today is nothing but a cesspit of price memes and misinformation. Go to /btc for the uncensored discussions (but beware of trolls).
In 2017 the debate was finally settled, sort of. Now known as "Bitcoin Core" (the name of the official Bitcoin software), the developers implemented a change known as SegWit (Segregated Witness) which fundamentally altered the way the software validates transactions. It was implemented as a "soft fork" rather than a "hard fork".
I'll explain the difference.
In a fork, the network comes to a consensus on new rules that all participants must follow. In a hard fork, the changes are non-backwards compatible, so all users must update their software or else be left behind on a dead network. Hard forks happen all the time in software development, but in the case of SegWit, the developers refused to make any non-backwards compatible changes for fear it might alienate users. Again, another unfounded fear. "We can't ever upgrade the technical capabilities of the network (such as the block size) because some people might not go along with it."
All kinds of mental gymnastics were performed to justify their refusal to increase the block size, and there was nothing anyone could do about it except fork as an independent project. The 1MB block limit is now essentially set in stone for BTC. So in August 2017, Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard forked by increasing the block size limit to 8MB, along with some other changes.
Fast forward to December 2017 and Bitcoin was at its all time high of nearly $20,000. But fees were also astronomical and because of the 1MB block size limit, a huge backlog formed, and some people had to wait days or even weeks for their transaction to confirm. If anyone was trying to cash out into fiat and didn't want to pay a $100 transaction fee, by the time their transaction got confirmed the price had already crashed.
This event was largely responsible for the bear market of 2018. Everything that happened was predicted by those who knew what was going on.
A company called Blockstream had essentially wrestled control of Bitcoin from the original developers and shut them out or gained control over them, and started working on turning Bitcoin into a settlement layer for their product called Lightning Network.
LN is a complicated topic that I don't want to get into, but essentially it's a framework that recreates all the same problems inherent in the banking system that Bitcoin was meant to solve. Blockstream's goal is to profit from creating, and then "solving" those problems by charging users fees for all kinds of custodial services.
In my personal opinion, it's obvious that the original Bitcoin project has been hijacked and repurposed into a tool for the central banks. The propaganda is being pushed in some conspiracy circles that Bitcoin was created BY the central banks in order to discourage people from researching the true history. What is now commonly called "Bitcoin" is not the original project, but a Trojan horse.
The project that most closely follows the original design is Bitcoin Cash, and that is where almost all organic development is happening, and personally I feel that it's picking up steam lately as more people wake up to what's happening in the economy right now. Unfortunately most people are still unaware of how fundamentally broken BTC is now and so as new users run toward cryptocurrency to escape the dollar collapse, most will fall straight into the trap and be stuck with BTC that they won't be able to use without paying exorbitant fees and/or submitting to the very same tracking system they are trying to get away from.
This is a very deep rabbit hole but I think I've written enough for now. I hope this info helps people make sense of what's going on with Bitcoin. I know it's confusing enough even without so much deception taking place so hopefully this helps.
Read the Bitcoin FAQ over on /btc.
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Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)

Crypto-Powered - The Most Promising Use-Cases of Decentralized Finance (DeFi)
A whirlwind tour of Defi, paying close attention to protocols that we’re leveraging at Genesis Block.
https://reddit.com/link/hrrt21/video/cvjh5rrh12b51/player
This is the third post of Crypto-Powered — a new series that examines what it means for Genesis Block to be a digital bank that’s powered by crypto, blockchain, and decentralized protocols.
Last week we explored how building on legacy finance is a fool’s errand. The future of money belongs to those who build with crypto and blockchain at their core. We also started down the crypto rabbit hole, introducing Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi (decentralized finance). That post is required reading if you hope to glean any value from the rest of this series.
97% of all activity on Ethereum in the last quarter has been DeFi-related. The total value sitting inside DeFi protocols is roughly $2B — double what it was a month ago. The explosive growth cannot be ignored. All signs suggest that Ethereum & DeFi are a Match Made in Heaven, and both on their way to finding strong product/market fit.
So in this post, we’re doing a whirlwind tour of DeFi. We look at specific examples and use-cases already in the wild and seeing strong growth. And we pay close attention to protocols that Genesis Block is integrating with. Alright, let’s dive in.

Stablecoins

Stablecoins are exactly what they sound like: cryptocurrencies that are stable. They are not meant to be volatile (like Bitcoin). These assets attempt to peg their price to some external reference (eg. USD or Gold). A non-volatile crypto asset can be incredibly useful for things like merchant payments, cross-border transfers, or storing wealth — becoming your own bank but without the stress of constant price volatility.
There are major governments and central banks that are experimenting with or soon launching their own stablecoins like China with their digital yuan and the US Federal Reserve with their digital dollar. There are also major corporations working in this area like JP Morgan with their JPM Coin, and of course Facebook with their Libra Project.
Stablecoin activity has grown 800% in the last year, with $290B of transaction volume (funds moving on-chain).
The most popular USD-pegged stablecoins include:
  1. Tether ($10B): It’s especially popular in Asia. It’s backed by USD in a bank account. But given their lack of transparency and past controversies, they generally aren’t trusted as much in the West.
  2. USDC ($1B): This is the most reputable USD-backed stablecoin, at least in the West. It was created by Coinbase & Circle, both well-regarded crypto companies. They’ve been very open and transparent with their audits and bank records.
  3. DAI ($189M): This is backed by other crypto assets — not USD in a bank account. This was arguably the first true DeFi protocol. The big benefit is that it’s more decentralized — it’s not controlled by any single organization. The downside is that the assets backing it can be volatile crypto assets (though it has mechanisms in place to mitigate that risk).
Other notable USD-backed stablecoins include PAX, TrueUSD, Binance USD, and Gemini Dollar.
tablecoins are playing an increasingly important role in the world of DeFi. In a way, they serve as common pipes & bridges between the various protocols.
https://preview.redd.it/v9ki2qro12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=dbf591b122fc4b3d83b381389145b88e2505b51d

Lending & Borrowing

Three of the top five DeFi protocols relate to lending & borrowing. These popular lending protocols look very similar to traditional money markets. Users who want to earn interest/yield can deposit (lend) their funds into a pool of liquidity. Because it behaves similarly to traditional money markets, their funds are not locked, they can withdraw at any time. It’s highly liquid.
Borrowers can tap into this pool of liquidity and take out loans. Interest rates depend on the utilization rate of the pool — how much of the deposits in the pool have already been borrowed. Supply & demand. Thus, interest rates are variable and borrowers can pay their loans back at any time.
So, who decides how much a borrower can take? What’s the process like? Are there credit checks? How is credit-worthiness determined?
These protocols are decentralized, borderless, permissionless. The people participating in these markets are from all over the world. There is no simple way to verify identity or check credit history. So none of that happens.
Credit-worthiness is determined simply by how much crypto collateral the borrower puts into the protocol. For example, if a user wants to borrow $5k of USDC, then they’ll need to deposit $10k of BTC or ETH. The exact amount of collateral depends on the rules of the protocol — usually the more liquid the collateral asset, the more borrowing power the user can receive.
The most prominent lending protocols include Compound, Aave, Maker, and Atomic Loans. Recently, Compound has seen meteoric growth with the introduction of their COMP token — a token used to incentivize and reward participants of the protocol. There’s almost $1B in outstanding debt in the Compound protocol. Mainframe is also working on an exciting protocol in this area and the latest iteration of their white paper should be coming out soon.
There is very little economic risk to these protocols because all loans are overcollateralized.
I repeat, all loans are overcollateralized. If the value of the collateral depreciates significantly due to price volatility, there are sophisticated liquidation systems to ensure the loan always gets paid back.
https://preview.redd.it/rru5fykv12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=620679dd84fca098a042051c7e7e1697be8dd259

Investments

Buying, selling, and trading crypto assets is certainly one form of investing (though not for the faint of heart). But there are now DeFi protocols to facilitate making and managing traditional-style investments.
Through DeFi, you can invest in Gold. You can invest in stocks like Amazon and Apple. You can short Tesla. You can access the S&P 500. This is done through crypto-based synthetics — which gives users exposure to assets without needing to hold or own the underlying asset. This is all possible with protocols like UMA, Synthetix, or Market protocol.
Maybe your style of investing is more passive. With PoolTogether , you can participate in a no-loss lottery.
Maybe you’re an advanced trader and want to trade options or futures. You can do that with DeFi protocols like Convexity, Futureswap, and dYdX. Maybe you live on the wild side and trade on margin or leverage, you can do that with protocols like Fulcrum, Nuo, and DDEX. Or maybe you’re a degenerate gambler and want to bet against Trump in the upcoming election, you can do that on Augur.
And there are plenty of DeFi protocols to help with crypto investing. You could use Set Protocol if you need automated trading strategies. You could use Melonport if you’re an asset manager. You could use Balancer to automatically rebalance your portfolio.
With as little as $1, people all over the world can have access to the same investment opportunities and tools that used to be reserved for only the wealthy, or those lucky enough to be born in the right country.
You can start to imagine how services like Etrade, TD Ameritrade, Schwab, and even Robinhood could be massively disrupted by a crypto-native company that builds with these types of protocols at their foundation.
https://preview.redd.it/agco8msx12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=3bbb595f9ecc84758d276dbf82bc5ddd9e329ff8

Insurance

As mentioned in our previous post, there are near-infinite applications one can build on Ethereum. As a result, sometimes the code doesn’t work as expected. Bugs get through, it breaks. We’re still early in our industry. The tools, frameworks, and best practices are all still being established. Things can go wrong.
Sometimes the application just gets in a weird or bad state where funds can’t be recovered — like with what happened with Parity where $280M got frozen (yes, I lost some money in that). Sometimes, there are hackers who discover a vulnerability in the code and maliciously steal funds — like how dForce lost $25M a few months ago, or how The DAO lost $50M a few years ago. And sometimes the system works as designed, but the economic model behind it is flawed, so a clever user takes advantage of the system— like what recently happened with Balancer where they lost $500k.
There are a lot of risks when interacting with smart contracts and decentralized applications — especially for ones that haven’t stood the test of time. This is why insurance is such an important development in DeFi.
Insurance will be an essential component in helping this technology reach the masses.
Two protocols that are leading the way on DeFi insurance are Nexus Mutual and Opyn. Though they are both still just getting started, many people are already using them. And we’re excited to start working with them at Genesis Block.
https://preview.redd.it/wf1xvq3z12b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=70db1e9587f57d0c470a4f9f4523c216929e1876

Exchanges & Liquidity

Decentralized Exchanges (DEX) were one of the first and most developed categories in DeFi. A DEX allows a user to easily exchange one crypto asset for another crypto asset — but without needing to sign up for an account, verify identity, etc. It’s all via decentralized protocols.
Within the first 5 months of 2020, the top 7 DEX already achieved the 2019 trading volume. That was $2.5B. DeFi is fueling a lot of this growth.
https://preview.redd.it/1dwvq4e022b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=97a3d756f60239cd147031eb95fc2a981db55943
There are many different flavors of DEX. Some of the early ones included 0x, IDEX, and EtherDelta — all of which had a traditional order book model where buyers are matched with sellers.
Another flavor is the pooled liquidity approach where the price is determined algorithmically based on how much liquidity there is and how much the user wants to buy. This is known as an AMM (Automated Market Maker) — Uniswap and Bancor were early leaders here. Though lately, Balancer has seen incredible growth due mostly to their strong incentives for participation — similar to Compound.
There are some DEXs that are more specialized — for example, Curve and mStable focus mostly only stablecoins. Because of the proliferation of these decentralized exchanges, there are now aggregators that combine and connect the liquidity of many sources. Those include Kyber, Totle, 1Inch, and Dex.ag.
These decentralized exchanges are becoming more and more connected to DeFi because they provide an opportunity for yield and earning interest.
Users can earn passive income by supplying liquidity to these markets. It usually comes in the form of sharing transaction fee revenue (Uniswap) or token rewards (Balancer).
https://preview.redd.it/wrug6lg222b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9c47a3f2e01426ca87d84b92c1e914db39ff773f

Payments

As it relates to making payments, much of the world is still stuck on plastic cards. We’re grateful to partner with Visa and launch the Genesis Block debit card… but we still don’t believe that's the future of payments. We see that as an important bridge between the past (legacy finance) and the future (crypto).
Our first post in this series shared more on why legacy finance is broken. We talked about the countless unnecessary middle-men on every card swipe (merchant, acquiring bank, processor, card network, issuing bank). We talked about the slow settlement times.
The future of payments will be much better. Yes, it’ll be from a mobile phone and the user experience will be similar to ApplePay (NFC) or WePay (QR Code).
But more importantly, the underlying assets being moved/exchanged will all be crypto — digital, permissionless, and open source.
Someone making a payment at the grocery store check-out line will be able to open up Genesis Block, use contactless tech or scan a QR code, and instantly pay for their goods. All using crypto. Likely a stablecoin. Settlement will be instant. All the middlemen getting their pound of flesh will be disintermediated. The merchant can make more and the user can spend less. Blockchain FTW!
Now let’s talk about a few projects working in this area. The xDai Burner Wallet experience was incredible at the ETHDenver event a few years ago, but that speed came at the expense of full decentralization (can it be censored or shut down?). Of course, Facebook’s Libra wants to become the new standard for global payments, but many are afraid to give Facebook that much control (newsflash: it isn’t very decentralized).
Bitcoin is decentralized… but it’s slow and volatile. There are strong projects like Lightning Network (Zap example) that are still trying to make it happen. Projects like Connext and OmiseGo are trying to help bring payments to Ethereum. The Flexa project is leveraging the gift card rails, which is a nice hack to leverage existing pipes. And if ETH 2.0 is as fast as they say it will be, then the future of payments could just be a stablecoin like DAI (a token on Ethereum).
In a way, being able to spend crypto on daily expenses is the holy grail of use-cases. It’s still early. It hasn’t yet been solved. But once we achieve this, then we can ultimately and finally say goodbye to the legacy banking & finance world. Employees can be paid in crypto. Employees can spend in crypto. It changes everything.
Legacy finance is hanging on by a thread, and it’s this use-case that they are still clinging to. Once solved, DeFi domination will be complete.
https://preview.redd.it/svft1ce422b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=9a6afc9e9339a3fec29ee2ae743c07c3042ea4ce

Impact on Genesis Block

At Genesis Block, we’re excited to leverage these protocols and take this incredible technology to the world. Many of these protocols are already deeply integrated with our product. In fact, many are essential. The masses won’t know (or care about) what Tether, USDC, or DAI is. They think in dollars, euros, pounds and pesos. So while the user sees their local currency in the app, the underlying technology is all leveraging stablecoins. It’s all on “crypto rails.”
https://preview.redd.it/jajzttr622b51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=fcf55cea1216a1d2fcc3bf327858b009965f9bf8
When users deposit assets into their Genesis Block account, they expect to earn interest. They expect that money to grow. We leverage many of these low-risk lending/exchange DeFi protocols. We lend into decentralized money markets like Compound — where all loans are overcollateralized. Or we supply liquidity to AMM exchanges like Balancer. This allows us to earn interest and generate yield for our depositors. We’re the experts so our users don’t need to be.
We haven’t yet integrated with any of the insurance or investment protocols — but we certainly plan on it. Our infrastructure is built with blockchain technology at the heart and our system is extensible — we’re ready to add assets and protocols when we feel they are ready, safe, secure, and stable. Many of these protocols are still in the experimental phase. It’s still early.
At Genesis Block we’re excited to continue to be at the frontlines of this incredible, innovative, technological revolution called DeFi.
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None of these powerful DeFi protocols will be replacing Robinhood, SoFi, or Venmo anytime soon. They never will. They aren’t meant to! We’ve discussed this before, these are low-level protocols that need killer applications, like Genesis Block.
So now that we’ve gone a little deeper down the rabbit hole and we’ve done this whirlwind tour of DeFi, the natural next question is: why?
Why does any of it matter?
Most of these financial services that DeFi offers already exist in the real world. So why does it need to be on a blockchain? Why does it need to be decentralized? What new value is unlocked? Next post, we answer these important questions.
To look at more projects in DeFi, check out DeFi Prime, DeFi Pulse, or Consensys.
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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

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

How the problems of 2020 demonstrated to the world the “anti-fragility” of the crypto industry
How the problems of 2020 demonstrated to the world the “anti-fragility” of the crypto industry
2020 will be remembered for a long time: the threat of the third world war, the coronavirus pandemic, the global economic crisis and riots. And this is only six months. It is noteworthy, but while the global economy is in decline, the crypto industry, on the contrary, is accelerating the pace of development. Bitcoin has become for many a safe haven during the crisis, and the entire industry — the hope of salvation. Crypto companies have confirmed the growth in demand for goods and services related to digital assets, and it seems that the cryptosphere is fully consistent with the term “anti-fragility”, introduced by Nassim Taleb (author of the Black Swan economic bestseller) to identify systems that can benefit from unpredictable and stressful situations in the world. At least, the head of ScopeLift Ben DiFrancesco is sure of this.

What is anti-fragility

To begin with, we will deal with the concept of anti-fragility. This term was introduced by the famous professor, economist and trader Nassim Nicholas Taleb, who first voiced it in 2012 — in a book dedicated to the term “Anti-Fragility. How to capitalize on chaos.” Prior to this, Taleb gained special popularity and authority thanks to the introduction of the term “Black Swan”, which turned the perception of the economy over by many minds.
By anti-fragility, a professor refers to the ability of a system to capitalize on negative trends. Anti-fragile systems become better after a “collision with chaos”, which can mean various world disasters, stressful situations, shocking events, information noises, failures, attacks, malfunctions, and so on.
Many mistakenly confuse the concepts of anti-fragility and invulnerability, but there is a fundamental difference between them:
• Invulnerability is the ability to withstand stressful situations. World cataclysm will not affect invulnerable systems, but will not make them better.
• Anti-fragility is the ability to benefit from stressful situations. Anti-fragile systems are not just immune to disasters. In difficult conditions, they “harden” and become better.
Ben DiFrancesco, the founder of ScopeLift (a crypto project software development consulting company) and concurrently the author of the Buil Blockchain Tech portal, considers the crypto market an ideal example of anti-fragility.
Against the backdrop of all the negative shocks and tremendous changes in society that occurred in the first half of 2020, the crypto industry began to develop even faster. Blockchain technology more and more fits into our world as a solution to many problems, which were especially acute at the beginning of this year. Among them are the endless press of unsecured money, worsening international relations and increasing censorship on the Internet. Let’s go in an order.

Crypto-market versus money printing machine

The coronavirus pandemic caused an economic crisis around the planet. Both developed and developing countries faced massive unemployment, falling markets, and declining population returns. One way or another, the virus has affected everyone.
The states rushed to solve these problems by the old and “tested” method — by printing new money. China and the USA were especially distinguished in this field — the former introduced an injection of about $250 billion in the stock market in February, and the second poured into the economy a record for the planet $ 2.3 trillion (2.5 times more than during the 2008 crisis).
Alas, as a rule, when the state creates new money, the population pays for it. A sharp release to the market of unsecured money at the direction of management is fraught with serious consequences. The main one is the risk of mass inflation and the collapse of national currencies. Many complain about the Fed, which began in 2020 to print non-stop US dollars.

The number of dollars in circulation rose sharply in 2020. Source.
However, even such a sharp release to the market of new dollars is not the worst. It is much more dangerous that the Fed follows central banks of other countries, which also massively print unsecured national currencies in attempts to support the economy. If the dollar is somehow protected by the strong US position in the international arena, reduced credit and increased demand for American currency around the world, then most other countries cannot boast of such flexibility.
States that print money with a heap of economic problems run the risk of hyperinflation and fall victim to their own decisions. The scale of the problem is aggravated by the fact that during the crisis in such countries, the demand for dollars among the population is growing, so the thread on which the sword of Damocles hangs hanging over national currencies is very thin today.
Realizing the seriousness of the situation, many countries, such as Argentina, limit the ability of people and companies to buy dollars by introducing limits and various requirements. As a result, citizens begin to look for an alternative on the black market, buying dollars at a double rate, and also increasingly turn their attention to dollar stablecoins, which no one can forbid and for which you do not have to overpay. In the conditions of the crisis, the demand for stable coins began to grow at an accelerated pace, which is one of the brightest signs of the anti-fragility of the crypto industry, which has begun to squeeze benefits out of the negative situation in the world.
The demand for traditional cryptocurrencies, especially for bitcoin, is also growing. One of the main reasons is the protection against inflation, provided by limited emissions, strictly following clearly established rules. No one at the direction of the government or anyone else can “print” more bitcoins than is laid down in the code of his protocol. Many people saw in the cryptocurrency market a real alternative to national currencies, which fell under significant risks in 2020.

Protection against ethnic issues

The coronacrisis brought with it many other global problems. In particular, it undermined the confidence of the population and governments of many states in the so-called “new world order)”. Unhappy with the way the world is coping with the pandemic, people intend to end globalization, so anti-globalist ideas began to spread en masse. There is every reason to believe that such movements will receive political support in many regions.
Naturally, this carries enormous risks. But one cannot say that these moods arise without reason. Recent months have clearly demonstrated the extreme fragility of global supply chains. Nearly all countries in the world, including the United States, fought to import critical materials needed to fight the pandemic. Many people have a logical question in their heads: should countries with incompatible value systems be interconnected, especially if they have to suffer from this interconnectedness themselves, constantly giving way to richer states?
On this basis, interethnic relations between peoples and leaderships of countries have worsened. If the trend continues in the coming years, then humanity will have no choice but to resort to massively using cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.
If people cannot rely on reliable institutions as an intermediary for cross-border cooperation, the value of decentralized networks will significantly increase as an alternative that does not require trust. Each decision by world states aimed at weakening alliances with other countries, including reducing the flow of people or physical goods across borders, accelerates the development of the limitless digital economy of the Internet.
Digital assets combined with smart contracts can play a key role in ensuring the transition of the world to new international relations. They are able to serve as a guarantor that does not require trust in the other side and even once again contact it.

Fighting Internet Censorship

In the past few years, social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have gained tremendous opportunities to shape the flow of information in the modern world. With their help, information is distributed faster than any media, and the conclusions that people make on social networks often become decisive. This gives the giants in this field enormous power, which for many years has not been controlled (and by anyone) in any way. This issue has been ignored for a long time, but the situation has changed over the past two years.
Previously, large corporations themselves determined censored content. Companies could mark posts as “unacceptable” if they, in their opinion, do not comply with any laws, call for aggression, contradict moral principles, and so on. However, at the end of May, the US President Donald Trump decided to significantly narrow the powers of the media giants and issued an appropriate order, citing user complaints for blocking allegedly non-violating messages. By the way, Trump’s own tweet, where he called particularly active protesters “thugs,” and threatened: “When looting begins, shootings begin,” was not complete.
Perhaps an additional reason for the desire to narrow the powers of media giants was the fact that on the eve of the election, the president wanted to become “closer to the people”, appealing that everyone is free to express their opinion. Be that as it may, the invariable fact is that in this way he inserted the sticks into the wheels of Big Tech corporations. Moreover, based on Trump’s message, only governments should determine what can and cannot be blocked.
In fact, any form of concentrated power in social networks can be dangerous for both private and legal entities. If media companies become almost monopolies, they can control the opinion of the population and block any content that is objectionable to them. But power over social media in the hands of states is no less dangerous because the government can do the same. After all, it is not known who and what decides to block tomorrow. Suddenly it will be cryptocontent, especially since the prerequisites have already arisen repeatedly, or the statements of people dissatisfied with social injustice.
Social media executives want to be able to censor and edit the content that their users generate, while remaining protected from liability for it. The state wants to be able to apply its own standards of “neutrality” on these platforms, without specifying that such powers may end with even greater inequality and censorship.
The war for censorship generates the interest of ordinary citizens in decentralized social networks and media platforms. More and more people are expressing a desire to get a decent alternative, where no one will be able to control their opinion and will not forbid them to express it. Due to the anti-fragility of the crypto industry, the chances of success of blockchain platforms are significantly increasing. Yes, they have not yet become mainstream, but interesting experiments, for example, with the Hive platform or decentralized twitter, show their great potential. With each censored post, they are one step closer to widespread use.

What will the anti-fragility of the crypto industry lead to?

Ben DiFrancesco is far from the first to notice the anti-fragility of the crypto industry. Talk about this has been going on for several years. Experts have repeatedly recorded various moments when the industry managed to squeeze the positive out of one or another negative situation in the world. Just now, against the background of the extremely difficult first half of 2020, this has become especially noticeable.
Bitcoin has been “buried” already 380 times, but it, like the whole industry, continues to develop rapidly step by step, despite external world instability and internal cryptozymes. And if the assumptions about antifragility are true, the industry will become even stronger with each new world cataclysm.
Humanity is tired of the problems caused by the current world system. People want freedom and openness.
They get tired of concentrated power, unfair economic relations and censorship. The crypto industry offers an alternative and has every chance to solve these problems. To become, if not a panacea, then at least “the power of good,” as DiFrancesco claims. There are no guarantees, but there is faith and hope. And they are capable of anything.
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Benefits of Blockchain Technology in the Banking Industry

Benefits of Blockchain Technology in the Banking Industry
Link to original article: https://block.co/benefits-of-blockchain-technology-in-the-banking-industry/
The rapidly growing interest around blockchain is creating an increased amount of use cases across multiple industries, and a high demand for adoption by many governments. Banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) industry is predicted to be drastically transformed by this disruptive technology. According to Allied Market Research 2019, the blockchain value in the BFSI market reached $277.1 million in 2018 and is projected to reach $22.46 billion by 2026. Blockchain technology has the potential to solve the pain points of the current banking systems and operations including security, transparency, trust, privacy, programmability, and performance.
What is Blockchain?
Blockchain is the technology behind the Bitcoin cryptocurrency, that was proposed by Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008, as a response to the failing financial system during the crisis. It is often associated and confused with Bitcoin, but the scope of the technology is much wider. It is also important to differentiate between the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and blockchain, as the terms often used interchangeably. All blockchains are DLT, but not all DLTs are blockchains. DLT is simply a decentralized database managed on a peer-to-peer basis.
“Blockchain is a type of DLT, a subcategory of a more broad definition, much like how the word ‘car’ falls under the umbrella term ‘vehicles’ and ‘Satoshi Nakamoto’ falls under ‘geniuses’.”
In essence, blockchain is a continuous sequential chain of records (‘blocks’) that are chronologically linked together with the aid of cryptography, to ensure immutability. These records are immutable, as any change to the information recorded in a particular block is stored in a new block. Moreover, the use of modern encryption algorithms enables the security of all the records from copying or editing by other users of the system. Blockchain can be programmed to record not only financial transactions as cryptocurrency but almost anything of value (Deloitte Insights, 2019).

https://preview.redd.it/k76j8u5401751.png?width=940&format=png&auto=webp&s=e7f6573a230c816a112ae4bf561f3501c353ad32
How Blockchain Can Improve Banking Industry?
The modern banking system is not perfect and commercial banks have not changed a lot to their servicing structure since the 1970s (Haycock & Richmond, 2015). Running a bank still requires large numbers of the workforce, reliance on quite outdated systems, bloated structures with high probabilities of human error, and manual work. There are several aspects, which could be improved by the application of blockchain technology in banking operations:
1) Security Enhancement
In the UK the overall value of the financial fraud losses (e.g. payment cards, remote banking, cheques) equaled £844.8 million in 2018. The situation is even worse in the US — $170 billion average yearly losses in the financial sector. According to KPMG’s Global Banking Fraud Survey 2019 the total volume, number, and value of the fraudulent activities are drastically increasing every year.
The nature of banking operations dictates the need for centralized systems, which proved to be vulnerable and subject to cyber and hack attacks. Now, the blockchain is immutable as it operates on the principles of decentralization and transparency, and all the network participants get an identical copy of the distributed ledger of transactions. Thus, if applied in banking, blockchain can increase the validity and security of the financial transactions, eliminate the need for third-party authentication, and solve the issue of a single point of failure and hacks.
Moreover, since each transaction on the blockchain has its unique fingerprint (hash) it can be easily traced and verified. Such functionality makes blockchain a great tool to combat money laundering and reduce fraudulent or illegal transactions (Guo & Liang, 2016).
2) Improving Financial Transactions Efficiency
As we mentioned previously, the utilization of obsolete mechanisms and operational systems slows down the performance of banking institutions and provides ground for human error, delays, and system failures. All these inefficiencies could be solved by applying blockchain technology. Take for example the time-consuming bilateral exchange. The process of data reconciliation needed for it could be simplified, as on the blockchain, it is inherently part of a transaction (IBM, 2016).
Blockchain and its decentralized nature eliminate intermediaries in banking operations, which significantly cuts transaction costs and boosts efficiency (Cocco et al., 2017). Blockchain does not require intermediaries, enables cross-border transfers and micro-payments, while drastically decreasing operational costs. Such transactions in the traditional banking environment are expensive (from 1% of the amount), and constitute a huge expense on a global scale. In cryptocurrency networks, transfers may range from a few minutes down to milliseconds, and the transaction fees are decided by the market forces, meaning users have the option to set their transaction fees (Deloitte, 2017).
3) Workflow Simplification
Blockchain can simplify the current complex workflow in banking institutions. As any operation can be traced, the ability to automate processes significantly reduces costs and the need for manual work. Moreover, it is impossible to make retroactive changes on the blockchain. This guarantees data immutability and excludes the human factor, thus the probability of error, data tampering, or even leakage. Using blockchain in banking operations will digitize and automate tons of manual work, greatly boost the productivity of the financial institutions and eliminate the probability of mistakes, delays, and errors.
4) Enhanced KYC & AML
Some financial institutions find it difficult to deal with problems related to policies such as Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC). Numerous organizations are not able to solve these problems, due to the rapidly escalating costs. The adoption of the blockchain technology will enable the creation of a system where all clients’ information may be stored safely, making the independent verification an easy process or even automated securely. In this way, both AML and KYC processes will become simpler and easier, as all involved organizations will share the same system and the information will be updated in real-time, perhaps through the use of Digital Identities. In addition to this, blockchain technology will assist the organizations to minimize their administrative costs and reduce the workload.

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5) Smart Contracts
Smart contracts are an innovative development of blockchain technology which enables for time and resources saving, as they do not require a third-party interaction. Traditional contracts do not differ a lot from smart contracts, however, their key benefit is that obligations are automatically enforced and cannot be avoided by anyone.
When smart contracts are integrated with blockchain technology, we enjoy benefits such as security, automation, immutability, and transparency. The integration of smart contracts in the financial sector will provide opportunities for transparent auditing and real-time remittances. Traditional contracts are paper-based and require financial institutions to invest money in paperwork and maintain records. These records can be easily manipulated as they are on paper. Smart contracts offer bank tools for bookkeeping based on blockchain. Smart contracts have already been applied to the financial industry to gain greater automation.
6) Decentralized Finance
Another application of blockchain is Decentralized Finance, also known as DeFi. This application is at an early stage but its disruptiveness enables millions of people across the world to have access to financial services. DeFi refers to decentralized applications, financial smart contracts, digital assets as well as protocols popular as DApps, which are built on public blockchains such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. The aim of DeFi is the creation of a decentralized financial system that will not depend on the traditional banking system.
Decentralized Finance offers numerous benefits to the users as it eliminates middlemen, enables everyone who does not has access to financial services to enter the global economy as it is a permission-less technology, and enables innovation with the combination of DeFi products. Besides, the use of decentralized finance increases the symmetry of information and democratizes financial services in this sense. The evolution of DeFi over the years means that most people around the world are only limited by their imagination when considering how to gain benefits from the financial ecosystem. However, there are still many complexities that need addressing to further expand the full extent of the possibilities of DeFi.
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A Brief History of BitCoin

A Brief History of BitCoin


What is Bitcoin? | How It Work?

A Brief History of BitCoin

The virtual currency was intended to develop peer-to-peer transactions; it doesn’t need a go-between, the exchange of private information, or transaction fees.

What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is virtual money or cryptocurrency, that’s measured by a decentralized network of operators and isn’t straight subject to the impulses of central banking decisions or national governments. There are hundreds of cryptocurrencies in lively use today, Bitcoin is through far the most general and widely used – the nearby cryptocurrency equal to traditional, state-minted coins.

How Bitcoin Works

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency since it’s supported by source code that customs highly composite procedures to prevent illegal duplication or creation of Bitcoin elements. The code’s fundamental principles, known as cryptography, are based on innovative scientific and computer engineering values. It’s practically impossible to stop Bitcoin’s source code and operate the currency’s supply.
Though it was headed by other virtual coins, Bitcoin is identified as the first modern cryptocurrency. That’s since Bitcoin is the initial to blend some key structures shared by most after created cryptocurrencies.

User Anonymity

Intense privacy safeties are seared into Bitcoin’s source code. The method is intended to openly record Bitcoin dealings and other related data without revealing the individuality of the groups involved. As a substitute, Bitcoin users are recognized by public keys or numerical codes that find them to additional users, and occasionally pseudonymous handles or usernames.

Bitcoin Exchanges

Bitcoin exchanges permit users to change Bitcoin parts for authorization currencies, such as the U.S. dollar and euro, at flexible exchange charges. Many Bitcoin relations also exchange Bitcoin components for other cryptocurrencies, with less popular substitutes that can’t straight be replaced for fiat coins. Most Bitcoin exchanges take a cut, naturally less than 1%, of each deal’s value.
Bitcoin exchanges certify that the Bitcoin market leftovers liquid, set their value qualified to traditional money – and allowing pouches to profit from the assumption on variations in that value.

BlockChain

Bitcoin’s blockchain is dynamic to its function. The blockchain is a public, spread record of all prior Bitcoin communications, which are kept in collections known as blocks. Each node of Bitcoin’s network – the server farms and positions, run by individuals or sets known as miners, whose hard work to produce new Bitcoin elements product in the recording and verification of Bitcoin dealings, and the episodic creation of new blocks – holds an identical record of Bitcoin’s blockchain.
Private Keys
Every Bitcoin handler has at smallest one private key, which is an entire number between 1 and 78 numbers in length. Separate users can have many unnamed handles, each with its private key. Private keys approve their owners’ characters and permit them to occupy or receive Bitcoin. Without them, handlers can’t whole transactions – they can’t access their properties until they improve the matching key. When a key is misplaced for good, the matching holdings change into a sort of everlasting limbo and can’t be improved.

Wallets

Real Bitcoin units are kept in “wallets” – secure cloud storing locations with superior information approving their owners (Bitcoin users) as the protectors of the Bitcoin units controlled within. However wallets like Coinbase, in theory, defend against the stealing of Bitcoin elements that aren’t currently being used, they’re exposed to hacking – mainly public wallets used by Bitcoin connections, online marketplaces, and specific websites that occur exclusively to store Bitcoin wallets known as “wallet services.”
Miners
Miners play an important role in the Bitcoin environment. As guards of the blockchain, they save the entire Bitcoin community truthful and indirectly provide the currency’s value. Miners are entities or cooperative governments with access to influential computers, often kept at remote, secretly owned “farms.” They do incredibly complex scientific tasks to new Bitcoin, which they then keep or change for fiat currency.

Modes of Bitcoin

  • Theft Private Keys.
  • Misusing Wallet Vulnerabilities
  • Functioning Fraudulent Exchanges and Savings Funds.
  • Attacking Authentic Exchanges Directly.
  • Aggressive Dark Web Marketplaces.

How to Get Bitcoin

There are three key ways people get Bitcoins.
  • You can purchase Bitcoins using ‘real’ money.
  • You can retail things and let persons pay with Bitcoins.
  • Developed using a computer.

Advantages of Using Bitcoin

  • Better Fluidity Comparative to Other currencies
  • Increasing the payment method
  • Worldwide Transactions Easier Than Even Currencies
  • Usually Lower Transaction Charges
  • Secrecy and Privacy Relative to Old Currencies
  • Individuality from Politically aware Agents and Creators
  • In-built Shortage

Disadvantages of Using Bitcoin

  • Exposure to Bitcoin-specific Tricks and Fraud
  • Black Market Motion May Damage Repute and Usefulness
  • Vulnerable to High Price Instability
  • No Chargebacks or Repayments
  • Possible to Be Replaced by Greater Cryptocurrency
  • Environmental Ills of Bitcoin Mining
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Webcast Insights -Blockchain for the Legal Industry: How Is the Coronavirus Crisis Making Adoption More Imminent?

Webcast Insights -Blockchain for the Legal Industry: How Is the Coronavirus Crisis Making Adoption More Imminent?
Notoriously, the legal industry has always been slow at following technology innovations and adjusting to up to date digitally performed processes. By tracing the different steps of the legal industry evolution, we find that Kleroterion was a sophisticated innovative system used in ancient Athens that allowed citizens to participate in the lawmaking process by a random selection of jurors, as a way to circumvent manipulation and corruption of the system. Modern justice systems, established in the 17th and 18th centuries, provided regulations for the new industrial and economic development. However, with the start of the 21st century, they began to show their limits mostly within their structure built on papers.
The advent of the internet further highlighted these cracks, even though there have been signs more recently that times may be mature for disruptive technologies to finally enter the legal space too. The EU and its member states like Estonia, along with the US, Australia, China, have been pioneers in developing advanced Information Technology systems that led to the creation of an e-justice structure. They paved the way to other countries to embrace Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, and the Internet of Things, which are now identified as the best technologies enabling a more efficient, secure, and faster legal system worldwide. In Estonia, e-filing was first considered back in 2005 and since then it’s been developed to become a central point for the exchange of information between authorities, from the police to prosecution offices, courts, prisons, tax and customs board, lawyers and citizens. Thus saving money and time by reducing the entanglements of bureaucracy.

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In Canada, the cases of British Columbia and Ontario set as examples for exploring the electronic documentation system as opposed to paper, already back in 1996. Initially, it brought to little implementation due to the high costs, scaling, and complexity of the matter at the time. It was only in 2009 that Ontario’s Ministry of the Attorney General approved $10 million in funding to create a system intended to permit enhanced functionality such as e-document management, court scheduling, financial and automated workflow capabilities, and the introduction of online services to the public.
British Columbia’s case was more straightforward than Ontario. In the early 2000s, the Canadian Court Administrative Technology Suite drafted a program to integrate a system of connection of e-documents between law offices, the registry, the judicial, and the courtroom. It would include e-Courtrooms, provided they had implemented e-court files and links to the civil and criminal court information systems.
In the last couple of years, along with electronic improvements to the legal system, countries have looked at ways to use blockchain smart contracts in disputes, ownership of intellectual property, and any time of the agreement, to save money and time while offering more reliable and secure processes.
In the first webcast around blockchain technology, its impact on the world and the benefits it may bring to society, Block.co CEO Alexis Nicolaou discussed the legal industry and its reaction to the current coronavirus crisis with two prominent guests, legal practitioners Christiana Aristidou and Yiannos Georgiades.
Both members of the Cyprus Bar Association (and the Cyprus Blockchain Association), Christiana Aristidou has her own legal practice as Christiana Aristodou LLC, she is the Co-founder and Vice President of the Cyprus Blockchain Association, an International Business and Technology Lawyer and an ISO/TC 307 Blockchain Committee National Delegate. Yiannos Georgiades is a Commercial and Corporate Lawyer, also the founding partner of Georgiades & Associates. Yiannos is also a member of the Law Society in the UK as a European Registered Lawyer and President of the Cyprus Chapter of the European Court of Arbitration and Mediation for commercial disputes (CEAM).
Christiana was first introduced to Bitcoin while studying for a degree in technology law at the Queen’s Mary University of London in 2009. “The white paper was given to us by our professors for study,” recalls Christiana. “The fact that it had just been invented made me more curious about it. When Ethereum and its smart contracts were launched in 2014, I realized the tech could have a real disruptive nature, especially with regards to trust. As lawyers, we base legal services on trust. Then, you can imagine how relevant this tech had become for me”.
Nowadays, blockchain is in 2020 top tech trends and the first of LinkedIn’s most in-demand hard skills for 2020. “Compound annual spending growth for blockchain is established in the range of 62% during the years from 2018 to 2023, led by the banking industry followed by manufacturing, process manufacturing, and professional services -continues Christiana- Why these industries? Because they are distinctively transactional industries and blockchain, of course, disrupts transactional businesses”.
“In relation to the current Covid-19 situation, the first semester of 2020 has revealed a strong increase in the use of the technology, therefore it may have contributed to its adoption but its growth this year was already predicted, regardless of the crisis ”.
Coronavirus has promoted the necessity for companies to further investigate digital work to satisfy future demand for a remote working style.
How could the judicial system become more efficient with the adoption of advanced technologies?
Yiannos believes that “Due to the current restrictions everyone rushed to use the existing technology. Those who already used it did not have a problem in adapting, the others just realized how important and urgent it has become to be more digitized.
Introducing e-justice in our lives will reduce costs, time, it will safeguard security, establish transparency, and the authenticity of transactions. We can also reduce the disputes by introducing e-justice together with blockchain through smart contracts”.

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In line with the progress made within the EU e-justice system, Cyprus Minister of Justice, Mr. George Savvides, wants to introduce e-justice in the frame of other reforms, supported by Deputy Minister of Research and Innovation Mr. Kyriakos Kokkinos.
Meanwhile, in China, three provinces have introduced blockchain within their judicial system highlighting the reduction of the carbon footprint as one of the benefits since physically traveling to the courts would be avoided.
China is a pioneer in the introduction of e-justice combined with blockchain. Some courts developed their own platforms and introduced the first internet court as an incubator to develop and implement it in the normal physical courts and using blockchain as a way to authenticate documents was so useful during the coronavirus crisis” — continues Yiannos.
Yiannos is also co-founder of the Metropole Alliance, the European association of lawyers.
“There is a strong collaboration among members to promote e-justice via education. Every member country can influence their own local authorities to implement e-justice as fast as possible. The EU has committed to speed adoption of the technologies for over a decade and as the world becomes more digitized, now is the time to implement them in the legal system also. Validation of documentation through blockchain would make processes faster and would be a real benefit for justice”.
Christiana believes that remote work is here to stay, it’s one of the crucial steps to business digital transformation and needs to be implemented strategically and seen as a part of a whole plan.
“Home office and cloud are not enough, we need to make sure that all systems allow us to stay connected in remote and not remote with instant communication, and be able to track work progress continuously. The ability to develop new leadership skills becomes another factor in times like these. Leaders should further improve the way they relate to their teams, they need to be able to identify talents, technical skills, the personalities of teams, they’re all important aspects of our projects.
Lawyers should also start learning how technologies like blockchain, AI, and IoT can improve our services. My advice is to partner with companies like Block.co because it helped me serve my clients more securely and efficiently. Before blockchain and Block.co, registering intellectual property was a lengthy, tedious, and tiresome process. Witnesses were needed, declarations of every movement were required and legal documentation ended up being kept in a fireproof safe corner of the office. I don’t do that anymore because Block.co simply gives me a hash and that way the intellectual property and the copyright owner are protected forever on the blockchain”.

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Yiannos reinforces the concept: “As a company, we are doing well due to another crisis that made me wiser. A few years ago we were victims of electronic fraud when our emails were hacked and attackers asked for money from our clients. One client alerted us whereas another did not and paid the money to the hackers. So I decided to improve our security and look at ways to tackle the issue digitally. We were also victims of a ransomware attack but it turned out to make me more aware and educated about security. That was the time I learned about bitcoin as those hackers wanted some BTC to unlock our server”.
While full implementation of blockchain in the legal system is still regarded with skepticism by many lawyers that believe it will take some of their work away, Yiannos reckons it will actually be an opportunity to access new and increased streams of revenues. “Lawyers can easily generate money by learning how to transform normal contracts and codify them into smart contracts” while Christiana points out that “In a blockchain-based future, enabled by the Internet of Value, lawyers will be service providers on a programmable society infrastructure”.
Don’t miss Block.co next webcast regarding Blockchain in Education: Remote Learning, Social Distancing, and the Certification Case. Professor George Giaglis and Dr. Maria Papadaki join forces to discuss the quickly changing education industry, and the measures taken towards remote learning, social distancing, and blockchain. Join us for a free 60-minute session, moderated by Catalina Castro (Tech con Catalina), a specialist in cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and open blockchains, with two highly distinguished experts in the educational industry ecosystem.
To register, click here.
For more info, contact Block.co directly or email at [[email protected]](mailto:[email protected]).
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What is Quant Networks Blockchain Operating System, Overledger? And why are Enterprises adopting it at mass scale?

What is Quant Networks Blockchain Operating System, Overledger? And why are Enterprises adopting it at mass scale?
Overledger is the world’s first blockchain operating system (OS) that not only inter-connects blockchains but also existing enterprise platforms, applications and networks to blockchain and facilitates the creation of internet scale multi-chain applications otherwise known as mApps.
In less than 10 months since launching Overledger they have provided interoperability with the full range of DLT technologies from all the leading Enterprise Permissioned blockchains such as Hyperledger, R3’s Corda, JP Morgan’s Quorum, permissioned variants of Ethereum and Ripple (XRPL) as well as the leading Public Permissionless blockchains / DAGs such as Bitcoin, Stellar, Ethereum, IOTA and EOS as well as the most recent blockchain to get added Binance Chain. In addition, Overledger also connects to Existing Networks / Off Chain / Oracle functionality and it does all of this in a way that is hugely scalable, without imposing restrictions / requiring blockchains to fork their code and can easily integrate into existing applications / networks by just adding 3 lines of code.

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What is a blockchain Operating system?

You will be familiar with Operating systems such as Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac OS, Google’s Android etc but these are all Hardware based Operating Systems. Hardware based Operating Systems provide a platform to build and use applications that abstracts all of the complexities involved with integrating with all the hardware resources such as CPU, Memory, Storage, Mouse, Keyboard, Video etc so software can easily integrate with it. It provides interoperability between the Hardware devices and Software.
Overledger is a Blockchain Operating System, it provides a platform to build and use applications that abstracts all of the complexities involved with integrating with all the different blockchains, different OP_Codes being used, messaging formats etc as well as connecting to existing non-blockchain networks. It provides interoperability between Blockchains, Existing Networks and Software / MAPPs

How is Overledger different to other interoperability projects?

Other projects are trying to achieve interoperability by adding another blockchain on top of existing blockchains. This adds a lot of overhead, complexity, and technical risk. There are a few variants but essentially they either need to create custom connectors for each connected blockchain and / or require connected chains to fork their code to enable interoperability. An example of the process can be seen below:
User sends transaction to a multi sig contract on Blockchain A, wait for consensus to be reached on Blockchain A
A custom connector consisting of Off Chain Relay Nodes are monitoring transactions sent to the smart contract on Blockchain A. Once they see the transaction, they then sign a transaction on the Interoperability blockchain as proof the event has happened on Blockchain A.
Wait for consensus to be reached on the Interoperability Blockchain.
The DAPP running on the Interoperability Blockchain is then updated with the info about the transaction occurring on Blockchain A and then signs a transaction on the Interoperability blockchain to a multi sig contract on the Interoperability Blockchain.
Wait for consensus to be reached on the interoperability Blockchain.
A different custom connector consisting of Off Chain Relay Nodes are monitoring transactions sent to the Smart Contract on the Interoperability Blockchain which are destined for Blockchain B. Once they see the transaction, they sign a transaction on Blockchain B. Wait for consensus to be reached on Blockchain B.

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Other solutions require every connecting blockchain to fork their code and implement their Interoperability protocol. This means the same type of connector can be used instead of a custom one for every blockchain however every connected blockchain has to fork their code to implement the protocol. This enforces a lot of restrictions on what the connected blockchains can implement going forward.

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Some problems with these methods:
  • They add a lot of Overhead / Latency. Rather than just having the consensus of Blockchain A and B, you add the consensus mechanism of the Interoperability Blockchain as well.
  • Decentralisation / transaction security is reduced. If Blockchain A and Blockchain B each have 1,000 nodes validating transactions, yet the Interoperability Blockchain only has 100 nodes then you have reduced the security of the transaction from being validated by 1000 to validated by 100.
  • Security of the Interoperability Blockchain must be greater than the sum of all transactions going through it. JP Morgan transfer $6 Trillion every day, if they move that onto blockchain and need interoperability between two Permissioned blockchains that have to connect via a public Interoperability blockchain, then it would always have to be more costly to attack the blockchain than the value from stealing the funds transacted through the blockchain.
  • Imposes a lot of limitations on connected blockchains to fork their code which may mean they have to drop some existing functionality as well as prevent them from adding certain features in the future.
  • Creates a single point of failure — If the Interoperability blockchain or connector has an issue then this affects each connected blockchain.
  • It doesn’t scale and acts as a bottleneck. Not only does building complex custom connectors not scale but the Interoperability blockchain that they are forcing all transactions to go through has to be faster than the combined throughput of connected blockchains. These Interoperability blockchains have limited tps, with the most being around 200 and is a trade off between performance and decentralisation.

But some Interoperability blockchains say they are infinitely scalable?

If the interoperability blockchain is limited to say 200 tps then the idea is to just have multiple instances of the blockchain and run them in parallel, so you benefit from the aggregated tps, but just how feasible is that? Lets say you want to connect Corda (capable of 2000+ tps) to Hyperledger (capable of up to 20,000 tps with recent upgrade). (Permissioned blockchains such as Hyperledger and Corda aren’t one big blockchain like say Bitcoin or Ethereum, they have separate instances for each consortium and each is capable of those speeds). So even when you have just 1 DAPP from one consortium that wants to connect Corda to Hyperledger and use 2000 tps for their DAPP, you would need 100 instances of the Interoperability blockchain, each with their own validators (which maybe 100–200 nodes each). So, 1 DAPP would need to cover the costs for 100 instances of the blockchain and running costs for 10,000 nodes…This is just one DAPP connected to one instance of a two permissioned blockchains, which are still in the early stages. Other blockchains such as Red Belly Blockchain can achieve 440,000 tps, and this will surely increase as the technology matures. There is also the added complexity of then aggregating the results / co-coordinating between the different instances of the blockchain. Then there are the environmental concerns, the power required for all of these instances / nodes is not sustainable.

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It’s not just transactions per second of the blockchain as well, its the latency of all these added consensuses along the path to reach to the destination and not knowing whether the security of each of the hops is sufficient and can be trusted. To see examples of how this potential issue as well as others effect Cosmos you can see my article here. I recommend also reading a blog done by the CEO of Quant, Gilbert Verdian, which explains how Overledger differs here as well as detailed in the whitepaper here.

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Overledger’s approach

In 1973 Vint Cerf invented the protocol that rules them all: TCP/IP. Most people have never heard of it. But it describes the fundamental architecture of the internet, and it made possible Wi-Fi, Ethernet, LANs, the World Wide Web, e-mail, FTP, 3G/4G — as well as all of the inventions built upon those inventions.
Wired: So from the beginning, people, including yourself, had a vision of where the internet was going to go. Are you surprised, though, that at this point the IP protocol seems to beat almost anything it comes up against?Cerf: I’m not surprised at all because we designed it to do that.This was very conscious. Something we did right at the very beginning, when we were writing the specifications, we wanted to make this a future-proof protocol. And so the tactic that we used to achieve that was to say that the protocol did not know how — the packets of the internet protocol layer didn’t know how they were being carried. And they didn’t care whether it was a satellite link or mobile radio link or an optical fiber or something else.We were very, very careful to isolate that protocol layer from any detailed knowledge of how it was being carried. Plainly, the software had to know how to inject it into a radio link, or inject it into an optical fiber, or inject it into a satellite connection. But the basic protocol didn’t know how that worked.And the other thing that we did was to make sure that the network didn’t know what the packets had in them. We didn’t encrypt them to prevent it from knowing — we just didn’t make it have to know anything. It’s just a bag of bits as far as the net was concerned.We were very successful in these two design features, because every time a new kind of communications technology came along, like frame relay or asynchronous transfer mode or passive optical networking or mobile radio‚ all of these different ways of communicating could carry internet packets.We would hear people saying, ‘The internet will be replaced by X25,’ or ‘The internet will be replaced by frame relay,’ or ‘The internet will be replaced by APM,’ or ‘The internet will be replaced by add-and-drop multiplexers.’Of course, the answer is, ‘No, it won’t.’ It just runs on top of everything. And that was by design. I’m actually very proud of the fact that we thought of that and carefully designed that capability into the system.
This is the approach Quant have taken with their Blockchain OS, Overledger to solve Blockchain interoperability. Compared to other Interoperability platforms that are trying to achieve interoperability at the transaction layer by connecting two blockchains via another blockchain, these will be ultimately be made redundant once faster methods are released. Overledger is designed to be future proof by isolating the layers so it doesn’t matter whether it’s a permissioned blockchain, permissionless, DAG, Legacy network, POW, POS etc because it abstracts the transaction layer from the messaging layer and runs on top of blockchains. Just as the Internet wasn’t replaced by X25, frame relay, APM etc, Overledger is designed to be future proof as it just runs on top of the Blockchains rather than being a blockchain itself. So, if a new blockchain technology comes out that is capable of 100,000 TPS then it can easily be integrated as Overledger just runs on top of it.
Likewise, with protocols such as HTTPS, SSH etc these will also emerge for blockchains such as ZK-Snarks and other privacy implementations as well as other features made available, all will be compatible with Overledger as its just sitting on top rather than forcing their own implementation for all.
It doesn’t require blockchains to fork their code to make it compatible, it doesn’t add the overhead of adding another blockchain with another consensus mechanism (most likely multiple as it has to go through many hops). All of this adds a lot of latency and restrictions which isn’t needed. The developer can just choose which blockchains they want to connect and use the consensus mechanisms of those blockchains rather than forced to use one.
Overledger can provide truly internet scale to meet whatever the demands may be, whether that be connecting multiple red belly blockchains together with 440,000 tps it doesn’t matter as it doesn’t add its consensus mechanism and uses proven internet scale technology such as that based on Kubernetes, which is where each task is split up into a self-contained container and each task is scaled out by deploying more to meet demand. Kubernetes is what runs Google Search engine where they scale up and down billions of containers every week.
Due to this being more of a summary, I strongly recommend you read this article which goes into detail about the different layers in Overledger.

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But how does it provide the security of a blockchain if it doesn’t add its own blockchain?

This is often misunderstood by people. Overledger is not a blockchain however it still uses a blockchain for security, immutability, traceability etc, just rather than force people to use their own blockchain, it utilises the source and destination blockchains instead. The key thing to understand is the use of its patented technology TrustTag, which was made freely available to anyone with the Overledger SDK.
Please see this article which explains TrustTag in detail with examples showing how hashing / digital signatures work etc
A quick overview is if i want to send data from one blockchain to another the Overledger SDK using Trusttag will put the data through a hashing algorithm. The Hash is then included in digital signature as part of the transaction which is signed by the user’s private key and then validated through normal consensus and stored as metadata on the source blockchain. The message is then sent to the MAPP off chain. The MAPP periodically scans the blockchains and puts the received message through a hashing algorithm and compares the Hash to the one stored as metadata on the blockchain. This ensures that the message hasn’t been modified in transit, the message is encrypted and only the Hash is stored on chain so completely private, provides immutability as it was signed by the user’s private key which only they have and is stored on the blockchain for high availability and secure so that it can’t be modified, with the ability to refer back to it at any point in time.
Despite Overledger being a very secure platform, with the team having a very strong security background such as Gilbert who was chief security information officer for Vocalink (Bank of England) managing £6 trillion of payments every year and classified as national critical security (highest level you can get), ultimately you don’t need to trust Overledger. Transactions are signed and encrypted at client side, so Overledger has no way of being able to see the contents. It can’t modify any transaction as the digital signature which includes a hash of the transaction would be different so would get rejected. Transaction security isn’t reduced as it is signed at source using however many nodes the source blockchain has rather than a smaller amount of nodes with an interoperability blockchain in the middle.

Patents

The core code of Overledger is closed source and patented, one of the recent patents can be seen here, along with TrustTag and further ones are being filed. The Overledger SDK is open source and is available in Java and Javascript currently, with plans to support Pyhton and Ruby in the near future. Java and Javascript are the most popular programming languages used today.
The Blockchain connectors are also open source and this allows the community to create connectors to connect their favourite blockchain so that it can benefit from blockchain interoperability and making it available to all enterprises / developers currently utilising Overledger. Creating is currently taking around a week to implement and so far, have been added based upon client demand.

Multi Chain Applications (MAPPs)

Multi Chain Applications (MAPPs) enable an application to use multiple blockchains and interoperate between them. Treaty Contracts enable a developer to build a MAPP and then change the underlying blockchain it uses with just a quick change of couple of lines of code. This is vital for enterprises as it’s still early days in Blockchian and we don’t know which are going to be the best blockchain in the future. Overledger easily integrates into existing applications using the Overledger SDK by just adding 3 lines of code. They don’t need to completely rewrite the application like you do with the majority of other projects and all existing java / javascript apps on Windows / Mobile app stores / business applications etc can easily integrate with overledger with minimal changes in just 8 minutes.

Treaty Contracts

What Overledger will allow with Treaty contracts is to use popular programming languages such as Java and create a smart contract in Overledger that interacts with all of the connected blockchains. Even providing Smart contract functionality to blockchains that don’t support them such as Bitcoin. This means that developers don’t have to create all the smart contracts on each blockchain in all the different programming languages but instead just create them in Overledger using languages such as Java that are widely used today. If they need to use a different blockchain then it can be as easy as changing a line of code rather than having to completely rewrite the smart contracts.
Overledger isn’t a blockchain though, so how can it trusted with the smart contract? A Hash of the smart contract is published on any blockchain the MAPP developer requires and when called the smart contract is run its run through a hashing function to check that it matches the Hash value stored on the blockchain, ensuring that it has not been modified.
By running the Smart contract off chain this also increases Scalability enormously. With a blockchain all nodes have to run the smart contract one after another rather than in parallel. Not only do you get the performance benefit of not having to run the code against every single node but you can also run them in parallel to others executing smart contracts.
You can read more about Treaty Contracts here

The different versions of Overledger

Enterprise version

The current live version is the Enterprise version as that is where most of the adoption is taking place in blockchain due to permissioned blockchains being preferred until permissionless blockchains resolve the scalability, privacy and regulatory issues. Please see this article which goes into more details about Entereprise blockchain / adoption. The Enterprise version connects to permissioned blockchains as well as additional features / support suited for Enterprises.

Community version

The community version is due to be released later this year which will allow developers to benefit from creating MAPPs across permissionless blockchains. Developers can publish their MAPPs on the MAPP Store to create additional revenue streams for developers.

Where does Overledger run from? Is it Centralised?

Overledger can run from anywhere. The community version will have instances across multiple public clouds, Enterprises / developers may prefer to host the infrastructure themselves within a consortium which they can and are doing. For example SIA is the leading private Financial Network provider in Europe, it provides a dedicated high speed network which connects all the major banks, central banks, trading venues etc. SIA host Overledger within their private network so that all of those clients can access it in the confinement of their heavily regulated, secure, fast network. AUCloud / UKCLoud host Overledger in their environment to offer as a service to their clients which consist of Governments and critical national infrastructure.
For Blockchain nodes that interact with Overledger the choice is entirely up to the developer. Each member within a consortium may choose to host a node, some developers may prefer to use 3rd party hosting providers such as Infura, or Quant can also host them if they prefer, its entirely their choice.
Overledger allows for higher levels of decentralisation by storing the output across multiple blockchains so you not only benefit from the decentralisation of one blockchain but the combination of all of them. Ultimately though decentralisation is thrown around too much without many actually understanding what it means. It’s impossible to have complete decentralisation, when you sign a transaction to be added to a blockchain ultimately you still connect through a single ISP, connect through a single router, or the input into a transaction is done through a piece of software etc. What matters to be decentralised is where trust is involved. As i have mentioned before you don’t need to trust the OS, it’s just providing instructions on how to interact with the blockchains, the end user is signing the transactions / encrypting at client side. Nothing can be seen or modified with the OS. Even if somehow the transaction did get modified then it would get rejected when consensus is done as the hash / digital signature won’t match at the destination blockchain. Where the transaction actually gets put onto the blockchain is where decentralisation matters, because thats what needs to be trusted and conensus is reached and Overledger enables this to be written across multiple blockchains at the same time.

The Team

The team are very well connected with a wealth of experience at very senior roles at Global enterprises which I will include a few examples below. Gilbert Verdian the CEO was the Head of security for the payment infrastructure for the Bank of England through his CISO role with Vocalink (Mastercard)managing £6 trillion every year. This is treated by the government as critical national infrastructure which is the highest level of criticallity because its so fundamental to the security of the country. They have experience and know what it takes to run a secure financial infrastructure and meeting requirements of regulators. Gilbert was director for Cybersecurity at PWC, Security for HSBC and Ernst & Young as well as various government roles such as the CISO for the Australian NSW Health, Head of Security at the UK government for Ministry of Justice and HM Treasury in addition to being part of the committee for the European Commission, US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.
Cecilia Harvey is the Chief Operating Officer, where she was previously a Director at HSBC in Global Banking and Markets and before that Director at Vocalink. Cecilia was also Chief Operating Officer at Citi for Markets and Securities Services Technology as well as working for Barclays, Accenture, IBM and Morgan Stanley.
Vijay Verma is the Overledger platform lead with over 15 years of developer experience in latest technologies like Java, Scala, Blockchain & enterprise technology solutions. Over the course of his career, he has worked for a number of prestigious organisations including J&J, Deutsche, HSBC, BNP Paribas, UBS Banks, HMRC and Network Rail.
Guy Dietrich, the managing director of Rockefeller Capital (manages $19 Billion in assets) has joined the board of Quant Network, and has recently personally attended meetings with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with Gilbert

https://preview.redd.it/1x25xg78efl31.png?width=566&format=png&auto=webp&s=abea981ff40355eed2d0e3be1ca414c5b1b8573c
As well as advisors such as Paolo Tasca, the founder and Executive Director of the Centre for Blockchain Technologies (UCL CBT) at University College Londonfounder and executive director as well as Chris Adelsbach, Managing Director at Techstars, the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars has partners such as Amazon, Barclays, Boeing, Ford, Google, Honda, IBM, Microsoft, PWC, Sony, Target, Total, Verizon, Western Union etc.
Due to client demand they are expanding to the US to setup a similar size office where board members such as Guy Dietrich will be extremely valuable in assisting with the expansion.
https://twitter.com/gverdian/status/1151549142235340800
The most exciting part about the project though is just how much adoption there has been of the platform, from huge global enterprises, governments and cloud providers they are on track for a revenue of $10 million in their first year. I will go through these in the next article, followed by further article explaining how the Token and Treasury works.
You can also find out more info about Quant at the following:
Part One — Blockchain Fundamentals
Part Two — The Layers Of Overledger
Part Three — TrustTag and the Tokenisation of data
Part Four — Features Overledger provides to MAPPs
Part Five — Creating the Standards for Interoperability
Part Six — The Team behind Overledger and Partners
Part Seven — The QNT Token
Part Eight — Enabling Enterprise Mass Adoption
Quant Network Enabling Mass Adoption of Blockchain at a Rapid Pace
Quant Network Partner with SIA, A Game Changer for Mass Blockchain Adoption by Financial Institutions
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Bitcoin 101 - The Nightmare of a 51% Attack - Part 2 - How to Destroy Bitcoin Bitcoin Evolution Review – Scam or Legit? The Bitcoin Standard  Saifedean Ammous THE END OF BITCOIN YOUTUBE!? WHO IS BEHIND THE ATTACKS!!? What is Bitcoin?  MineBest

Central banks and other financial market occultists destroyed honest markets and valuations. Bitcoin, Central Banks Telecom Argentina S.A has been hit by a ransomware attack and the cyber For more Research, please visit R3’s Wiki here . Contents 1. Summary, 2 2. The search for a stable cryptocurrency, 3 3. To what degree should the public have access to central bank non-tangible money?, 8 4. Further design questions about a potential Fedcoin, 19 5. Conclusion, 27 51% attack vulnerability is a kind of cryptocuurency's sickness and a terminal one at that. When a new cryptocurrency isn't trusted it's network's power is poor so enough power for an attack can be accumulated easily. Of course there's no economical gain to be yielded at this stage but an attacker could, for example "kill off" a rising competitor. of “whether central banks should themselves make use of such technology to issue digital currencies.” Indeed, as Bitcoin becomes increasingly widespread, we expect that this will be a question of interest to many central banks around the world. RSCoin’s radical shift from traditional cryptocurrencies is to centralize the monetary supply. One is to consider bitcoin a store of value and add a layer atop it for transactions, much the way a quiescent base of vault currency and Federal Reserve deposits supports a torrent of checks and

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Bitcoin 101 - The Nightmare of a 51% Attack - Part 2 - How to Destroy Bitcoin

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