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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

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

RESEARCH REPORT ABOUT KYBER NETWORK

RESEARCH REPORT ABOUT KYBER NETWORK
Author: Gamals Ahmed, CoinEx Business Ambassador

https://preview.redd.it/9k31yy1bdcg51.jpg?width=936&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=99bcb7c3f50b272b7d97247b369848b5d8cc6053

ABSTRACT

In this research report, we present a study on Kyber Network. Kyber Network is a decentralized, on-chain liquidity protocol designed to make trading tokens simple, efficient, robust and secure.
Kyber design allows any party to contribute to an aggregated pool of liquidity within each blockchain while providing a single endpoint for takers to execute trades using the best rates available. We envision a connected liquidity network that facilitates seamless, decentralized cross-chain token swaps across Kyber based networks on different chains.
Kyber is a fully on-chain liquidity protocol that enables decentralized exchange of cryptocurrencies in any application. Liquidity providers (Reserves) are integrated into one single endpoint for takers and users. When a user requests a trade, the protocol will scan the entire network to find the reserve with the best price and take liquidity from that particular reserve.

1.INTRODUCTION

DeFi applications all need access to good liquidity sources, which is a critical component to provide good services. Currently, decentralized liquidity is comprised of various sources including DEXes (Uniswap, OasisDEX, Bancor), decentralized funds and other financial apps. The more scattered the sources, the harder it becomes for anyone to either find the best rate for their trade or to even find enough liquidity for their need.
Kyber is a blockchain-based liquidity protocol that aggregates liquidity from a wide range of reserves, powering instant and secure token exchange in any decentralized application.
The protocol allows for a wide range of implementation possibilities for liquidity providers, allowing a wide range of entities to contribute liquidity, including end users, decentralized exchanges and other decentralized protocols. On the taker side, end users, cryptocurrency wallets, and smart contracts are able to perform instant and trustless token trades at the best rates available amongst the sources.
The Kyber Network is project based on the Ethereum protocol that seeks to completely decentralize the exchange of crypto currencies and make exchange trustless by keeping everything on the blockchain.
Through the Kyber Network, users should be able to instantly convert or exchange any crypto currency.

1.1 OVERVIEW ABOUT KYBER NETWORK PROTOCOL

The Kyber Network is a decentralized way to exchange ETH and different ERC20 tokens instantly — no waiting and no registration needed.
Using this protocol, developers can build innovative payment flows and applications, including instant token swap services, ERC20 payments, and financial DApps — helping to build a world where any token is usable anywhere.
Kyber’s fully on-chain design allows for full transparency and verifiability in the matching engine, as well as seamless composability with DApps, not all of which are possible with off-chain or hybrid approaches. The integration of a large variety of liquidity providers also makes Kyber uniquely capable of supporting sophisticated schemes and catering to the needs of DeFi DApps and financial institutions. Hence, many developers leverage Kyber’s liquidity pool to build innovative financial applications, and not surprisingly, Kyber is the most used DeFi protocol in the world.
The Kyber Network is quite an established project that is trying to change the way we think of decentralised crypto currency exchange.
The Kyber Network has seen very rapid development. After being announced in May 2017 the testnet for the Kyber Network went live in August 2017. An ICO followed in September 2017, with the company raising 200,000 ETH valued at $60 million in just one day.
The live main net was released in February 2018 to whitelisted participants, and on March 19, 2018, the Kyber Network opened the main net as a public beta. Since then the network has seen increasing growth, with network volumes growing more than 500% in the first half of 2019.
Although there was a modest decrease in August 2019 that can be attributed to the price of ETH dropping by 50%, impacting the overall total volumes being traded and processed globally.
They are developing a decentralised exchange protocol that will allow developers to build payment flows and financial apps. This is indeed quite a competitive market as a number of other such protocols have been launched.
In Brief - Kyber Network is a tool that allows anyone to swap tokens instantly without having to use exchanges. - It allows vendors to accept different types of cryptocurrency while still being paid in their preferred crypto of choice. - It’s built primarily for Ethereum, but any smart-contract based blockchain can incorporate it.
At its core, Kyber is a decentralized way to exchange ETH and different ERC20 tokens instantly–no waiting and no registration needed. To do this Kyber uses a diverse set of liquidity pools, or pools of different crypto assets called “reserves” that any project can tap into or integrate with.
A typical use case would be if a vendor allowed customers to pay in whatever currency they wish, but receive the payment in their preferred token. Another example would be for Dapp users. At present, if you are not a token holder of a certain Dapp you can’t use it. With Kyber, you could use your existing tokens, instantly swap them for the Dapp specific token and away you go.
All this swapping happens directly on the Ethereum blockchain, meaning every transaction is completely transparent.

1.1.1 WHY BUILD THE KYBER NETWORK?

While crypto currencies were built to be decentralized, many of the exchanges for trading crypto currencies have become centralized affairs. This has led to security vulnerabilities, with many exchanges becoming the victims of hacking and theft.
It has also led to increased fees and costs, and the centralized exchanges often come with slow transfer times as well. In some cases, wallets have been locked and users are unable to withdraw their coins.
Decentralized exchanges have popped up recently to address the flaws in the centralized exchanges, but they have their own flaws, most notably a lack of liquidity, and often times high costs to modify trades in their on-chain order books.

Some of the Integrations with Kyber Protocol
The Kyber Network was formed to provide users with a decentralized exchange that keeps everything right on the blockchain, and uses a reserve system rather than an order book to provide high liquidity at all times. This will allow for the exchange and transfer of any cryptocurrency, even cross exchanges, and costs will be kept at a minimum as well.
The Kyber Network has three guiding design philosophies since the start:
  1. To be most useful the network needs to be platform-agnostic, which allows any protocol or application the ability to take advantage of the liquidity provided by the Kyber Network without any impact on innovation.
  2. The network was designed to make real-world commerce and decentralized financial products not only possible but also feasible. It does this by allowing for instant token exchange across a wide range of tokens, and without any settlement risk.
  3. The Kyber Network was created with ease of integration as a priority, which is why everything runs fully on-chain and fully transparent. Kyber is not only developer-friendly, but is also compatible with a wide variety of systems.

1.1.2 WHO INVENTED KYBER?

Kyber’s founders are Loi Luu, Victor Tran, Yaron Velner — CEO, CTO, and advisor to the Kyber Network.

1.1.3 WHAT DISTINGUISHES KYBER?

Kyber’s mission has always been to integrate with other protocols so they’ve focused on being developer-friendly by providing architecture to allow anyone to incorporate the technology onto any smart-contract powered blockchain. As a result, a variety of different dapps, vendors, and wallets use Kyber’s infrastructure including Set Protocol, bZx, InstaDApp, and Coinbase wallet.
Besides, dapps, vendors, and wallets, Kyber also integrates with other exchanges such as Uniswap — sharing liquidity pools between the two protocols.
A typical use case would be if a vendor allowed customers to pay in whatever currency they wish, but receive the payment in their preferred token. Another example would be for Dapp users. At present, if you are not a token holder of a certain Dapp you can’t use it. With Kyber, you could use your existing tokens, instantly swap them for the Dapp specific token and away you go.
Limit orders on Kyber allow users to set a specific price in which they would like to exchange a token instead of accepting whatever price currently exists at the time of trading. However, unlike with other exchanges, users never lose custody of their crypto assets during limit orders on Kyber.
The Kyber protocol works by using pools of crypto funds called “reserves”, which currently support over 70 different ERC20 tokens. Reserves are essentially smart contracts with a pool of funds. Different parties with different prices and levels of funding control all reserves. Instead of using order books to match buyers and sellers to return the best price, the Kyber protocol looks at all the reserves and returns the best price among the different reserves. Reserves make money on the “spread” or differences between the buying and selling prices. The Kyber wants any token holder to easily convert one token to another with a minimum of fuss.

1.2 KYBER PROTOCOL

The protocol smart contracts offer a single interface for the best available token exchange rates to be taken from an aggregated liquidity pool across diverse sources. ● Aggregated liquidity pool. The protocol aggregates various liquidity sources into one liquidity pool, making it easy for takers to find the best rates offered with one function call. ● Diverse sources of liquidity. The protocol allows different types of liquidity sources to be plugged into. Liquidity providers may employ different strategies and different implementations to contribute liquidity to the protocol. ● Permissionless. The protocol is designed to be permissionless where any developer can set up various types of reserves, and any end user can contribute liquidity. Implementations need to take into consideration various security vectors, such as reserve spamming, but can be mitigated through a staking mechanism. We can expect implementations to be permissioned initially until the maintainers are confident about these considerations.
The core feature that the Kyber protocol facilitates is the token swap between taker and liquidity sources. The protocol aims to provide the following properties for token trades: ● Instant Settlement. Takers do not have to wait for their orders to be fulfilled, since trade matching and settlement occurs in a single blockchain transaction. This enables trades to be part of a series of actions happening in a single smart contract function. ● Atomicity. When takers make a trade request, their trade either gets fully executed, or is reverted. This “all or nothing” aspect means that takers are not exposed to the risk of partial trade execution. ● Public rate verification. Anyone can verify the rates that are being offered by reserves and have their trades instantly settled just by querying from the smart contracts. ● Ease of integration. Trustless and atomic token trades can be directly and easily integrated into other smart contracts, thereby enabling multiple trades to be performed in a smart contract function.
How each actor works is specified in Section Network Actors. 1. Takers refer to anyone who can directly call the smart contract functions to trade tokens, such as end-users, DApps, and wallets. 2. Reserves refer to anyone who wishes to provide liquidity. They have to implement the smart contract functions defined in the reserve interface in order to be registered and have their token pairs listed. 3. Registered reserves refer to those that will be cycled through for matching taker requests. 4. Maintainers refer to anyone who has permission to access the functions for the adding/removing of reserves and token pairs, such as a DAO or the team behind the protocol implementation. 5. In all, they comprise of the network, which refers to all the actors involved in any given implementation of the protocol.
The protocol implementation needs to have the following: 1. Functions for takers to check rates and execute the trades 2. Functions for the maintainers to registeremove reserves and token pairs 3. Reserve interface that defines the functions reserves needs to implement
https://preview.redd.it/d2tcxc7wdcg51.png?width=700&format=png&auto=webp&s=b2afde388a77054e6731772b9115ee53f09b6a4a

1.3 KYBER CORE SMART CONTRACTS

Kyber Core smart contracts is an implementation of the protocol that has major protocol functions to allow actors to join and interact with the network. For example, the Kyber Core smart contracts provide functions for the listing and delisting of reserves and trading pairs by having clear interfaces for the reserves to comply to be able to register to the network and adding support for new trading pairs. In addition, the Kyber Core smart contracts also provide a function for takers to query the best rate among all the registered reserves, and perform the trades with the corresponding rate and reserve. A trading pair consists of a quote token and any other token that the reserve wishes to support. The quote token is the token that is either traded from or to for all trades. For example, the Ethereum implementation of the Kyber protocol uses Ether as the quote token.
In order to search for the best rate, all reserves supporting the requested token pair will be iterated through. Hence, the Kyber Core smart contracts need to have this search algorithm implemented.
The key functions implemented in the Kyber Core Smart Contracts are listed in Figure 2 below. We will visit and explain the implementation details and security considerations of each function in the Specification Section.

1.4 HOW KYBER’S ON-CHAIN PROTOCOL WORKS?

Kyber is the liquidity infrastructure for decentralized finance. Kyber aggregates liquidity from diverse sources into a pool, which provides the best rates for takers such as DApps, Wallets, DEXs, and End users.

1.4.1 PROVIDING LIQUIDITY AS A RESERVE

Anyone can operate a Kyber Reserve to market make for profit and make their tokens available for DApps in the ecosystem. Through an open reserve architecture, individuals, token teams and professional market makers can contribute token assets to Kyber’s liquidity pool and earn from the spread in every trade. These tokens become available at the best rates across DApps that tap into the network, making them instantly more liquid and useful.
MAIN RESERVE TYPES Kyber currently has over 45 reserves in its network providing liquidity. There are 3 main types of reserves that allow different liquidity contribution options to suit the unique needs of different providers. 1. Automated Price Reserves (APR) — Allows token teams and users with large token holdings to have an automated yet customized pricing system with low maintenance costs. Synthetix and Melon are examples of teams that run APRs. 2. Fed Price Reserves (FPR) — Operated by professional market makers that require custom and advanced pricing strategies tailored to their specific needs. Kyber alongside reserves such as OneBit, runs FPRs. 3. Bridge Reserves (BR) — These are specialized reserves meant to bring liquidity from other on-chain liquidity providers like Uniswap, Oasis, DutchX, and Bancor into the network.

1.5 KYBER NETWORK ROLES

There Kyber Network functions through coordination between several different roles and functions as explained below: - Users — This entity uses the Kyber Network to send and receive tokens. A user can be an individual, a merchant, and even a smart contract account. - Reserve Entities — This role is used to add liquidity to the platform through the dynamic reserve pool. Some reserve entities are internal to the Kyber Network, but others may be registered third parties. Reserve entities may be public if the public contributes to the reserves they hold, otherwise they are considered private. By allowing third parties as reserve entities the network adds diversity, which prevents monopolization and keeps exchange rates competitive. Allowing third party reserve entities also allows for the listing of less popular coins with lower volumes. - Reserve Contributors — Where reserve entities are classified as public, the reserve contributor is the entity providing reserve funds. Their incentive for doing so is a profit share from the reserve. - The Reserve Manager — Maintains the reserve, calculates exchange rates and enters them into the network. The reserve manager profits from exchange spreads set by them on their reserves. They can also benefit from increasing volume by accessing the entire Kyber Network. - The Kyber Network Operator — Currently the Kyber Network team is filling the role of the network operator, which has a function to adds/remove Reserve Entities as well as controlling the listing of tokens. Eventually, this role will revert to a proper decentralized governance.

1.6 BASIC TOKEN TRADE

A basic token trade is one that has the quote token as either the source or destination token of the trade request. The execution flow of a basic token trade is depicted in the diagram below, where a taker would like to exchange BAT tokens for ETH as an example. The trade happens in a single blockchain transaction. 1. Taker sends 1 ETH to the protocol contract, and would like to receive BAT in return. 2. Protocol contract queries the first reserve for its ETH to BAT exchange rate. 3. Reserve 1 offers an exchange rate of 1 ETH for 800 BAT. 4. Protocol contract queries the second reserve for its ETH to BAT exchange rate. 5. Reserve 2 offers an exchange rate of 1 ETH for 820 BAT. 6. This process goes on for the other reserves. After the iteration, reserve 2 is discovered to have offered the best ETH to BAT exchange rate. 7. Protocol contract sends 1 ETH to reserve 2. 8. The reserve sends 820 BAT to the taker.

1.7 TOKEN-TO-TOKEN TRADE

A token-to-token trade is one where the quote token is neither the source nor the destination token of the trade request. The exchange flow of a token to token trade is depicted in the diagram below, where a taker would like to exchange BAT tokens for DAI as an example. The trade happens in a single blockchain transaction. 1. Taker sends 50 BAT to the protocol contract, and would like to receive DAI in return. 2. Protocol contract sends 50 BAT to the reserve offering the best BAT to ETH rate. 3. Protocol contract receives 1 ETH in return. 4. Protocol contract sends 1 ETH to the reserve offering the best ETH to DAI rate. 5. Protocol contract receives 30 DAI in return. 6. Protocol contract sends 30 DAI to the user.

2.KYBER NETWORK CRYSTAL (KNC) TOKEN

Kyber Network Crystal (KNC) is an ERC-20 utility token and an integral part of Kyber Network.
KNC is the first deflationary staking token where staking rewards and token burns are generated from actual network usage and growth in DeFi.
The Kyber Network Crystal (KNC) is the backbone of the Kyber Network. It works to connect liquidity providers and those who need liquidity and serves three distinct purposes. The first of these is to collect transaction fees, and a portion of every fee collected is burned, which keeps KNC deflationary. Kyber Network Crystals (KNC), are named after the crystals in Star Wars used to power light sabers.
The KNC also ensures the smooth operation of the reserve system in the Kyber liquidity since entities must use third-party tokens to buy the KNC that pays for their operations in the network.
KNC allows token holders to play a critical role in determining the incentive system, building a wide base of stakeholders, and facilitating economic flow in the network. A small fee is charged each time a token exchange happens on the network, and KNC holders get to vote on this fee model and distribution, as well as other important decisions. Over time, as more trades are executed, additional fees will be generated for staking rewards and reserve rebates, while more KNC will be burned. - Participation rewards — KNC holders can stake KNC in the KyberDAO and vote on key parameters. Voters will earn staking rewards (in ETH) - Burning — Some of the network fees will be burned to reduce KNC supply permanently, providing long-term value accrual from decreasing supply. - Reserve incentives — KNC holders determine the portion of network fees that are used as rebates for selected liquidity providers (reserves) based on their volume performance.

Finally, the KNC token is the connection between the Kyber Network and the exchanges, wallets, and dApps that leverage the liquidity network. This is a virtuous system since entities are rewarded with referral fees for directing more users to the Kyber Network, which helps increase adoption for Kyber and for the entities using the Network.
And of course there will soon be a fourth and fifth uses for the KNC, which will be as a staking token used to generate passive income, as well as a governance token used to vote on key parameters of the network.
The Kyber Network Crystal (KNC) was released in a September 2017 ICO at a price around $1. There were 226,000,000 KNC minted for the ICO, with 61% sold to the public. The remaining 39% are controlled 50/50 by the company and the founders/advisors, with a 1 year lockup period and 2 year vesting period.
Currently, just over 180 million coins are in circulation, and the total supply has been reduced to 210.94 million after the company burned 1 millionth KNC token in May 2019 and then its second millionth KNC token just three months later.
That means that while it took 15 months to burn the first million KNC, it took just 10 weeks to burn the second million KNC. That shows how rapidly adoption has been growing recently for Kyber, with July 2019 USD trading volumes on the Kyber Network nearly reaching $60 million. This volume has continued growing, and on march 13, 2020 the network experienced its highest daily trading activity of $33.7 million in a 24-hour period.
Currently KNC is required by Reserve Managers to operate on the network, which ensures a minimum amount of demand for the token. Combined with future plans for burning coins, price is expected to maintain an upward bias, although it has suffered along with the broader market in 2018 and more recently during the summer of 2019.
It was unfortunate in 2020 that a beginning rally was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic, although the token has stabilized as of April 2020, and there are hopes the rally could resume in the summer of 2020.

2.1 HOW ARE KNC TOKENS PRODUCED?

The native token of Kyber is called Kyber Network Crystals (KNC). All reserves are required to pay fees in KNC for the right to manage reserves. The KNC collected as fees are either burned and taken out of the total supply or awarded to integrated dapps as an incentive to help them grow.

2.2 HOW DO YOU GET HOLD OF KNC TOKENS?

Kyber Swap can be used to buy ETH directly using a credit card, which can then be used to swap for KNC. Besides Kyber itself, exchanges such as Binance, Huobi, and OKex trade KNC.

2.3 WHAT CAN YOU DO WITH KYBER?

The most direct and basic function of Kyber is for instantly swapping tokens without registering an account, which anyone can do using an Etheruem wallet such as MetaMask. Users can also create their own reserves and contribute funds to a reserve, but that process is still fairly technical one–something Kyber is working on making easier for users in the future.

2.4 THE GOAL OF KYBER THE FUTURE

The goal of Kyber in the coming years is to solidify its position as a one-stop solution for powering liquidity and token swapping on Ethereum. Kyber plans on a major protocol upgrade called Katalyst, which will create new incentives and growth opportunities for all stakeholders in their ecosystem, especially KNC holders. The upgrade will mean more use cases for KNC including to use KNC to vote on governance decisions through a decentralized organization (DAO) called the KyberDAO.
With our upcoming Katalyst protocol upgrade and new KNC model, Kyber will provide even more benefits for stakeholders. For instance, reserves will no longer need to hold a KNC balance for fees, removing a major friction point, and there will be rebates for top performing reserves. KNC holders can also stake their KNC to participate in governance and receive rewards.

2.5 BUYING & STORING KNC

Those interested in buying KNC tokens can do so at a number of exchanges. Perhaps your best bet between the complete list is the likes of Coinbase Pro and Binance. The former is based in the USA whereas the latter is an offshore exchange.
The trading volume is well spread out at these exchanges, which means that the liquidity is not concentrated and dependent on any one exchange. You also have decent liquidity on each of the exchange books. For example, the Binance BTC / KNC books are wide and there is decent turnover. This means easier order execution.
KNC is an ERC20 token and can be stored in any wallet with ERC20 support, such as MyEtherWallet or MetaMask. One interesting alternative is the KyberSwap Android mobile app that was released in August 2019.
It allows for instant swapping of tokens and has support for over 70 different altcoins. It also allows users to set price alerts and limit orders and works as a full-featured Ethereum wallet.

2.6 KYBER KATALYST UPGRADE

Kyber has announced their intention to become the de facto liquidity layer for the Decentralized Finance space, aiming to have Kyber as the single on-chain endpoint used by the majority of liquidity providers and dApp developers. In order to achieve this goal the Kyber Network team is looking to create an open ecosystem that garners trust from the decentralized finance space. They believe this is the path that will lead the majority of projects, developers, and users to choose Kyber for liquidity needs. With that in mind they have recently announced the launch of a protocol upgrade to Kyber which is being called Katalyst.
The Katalyst upgrade will create a stronger ecosystem by creating strong alignments towards a common goal, while also strengthening the incentives for stakeholders to participate in the ecosystem.
The primary beneficiaries of the Katalyst upgrade will be the three major Kyber stakeholders: 1. Reserve managers who provide network liquidity; 2. dApps that connect takers to Kyber; 3. KNC holders.
These stakeholders can expect to see benefits as highlighted below: Reserve Managers will see two new benefits to providing liquidity for the network. The first of these benefits will be incentives for providing reserves. Once Katalyst is implemented part of the fees collected will go to the reserve managers as an incentive for providing liquidity.
This mechanism is similar to rebates in traditional finance, and is expected to drive the creation of additional reserves and market making, which in turn will lead to greater liquidity and platform reach.
Katalyst will also do away with the need for reserve managers to maintain a KNC balance for use as network fees. Instead fees will be automatically collected and used as incentives or burned as appropriate. This should remove a great deal of friction for reserves to connect with Kyber without affecting the competitive exchange rates that takers in the system enjoy. dApp Integrators will now be able to set their own spread, which will give them full control over their own business model. This means the current fee sharing program that shares 30% of the 0.25% fee with dApp developers will go away and developers will determine their own spread. It’s believed this will increase dApp development within Kyber as developers will now be in control of fees.
KNC Holders, often thought of as the core of the Kyber Network, will be able to take advantage of a new staking mechanism that will allow them to receive a portion of network fees by staking their KNC and participating in the KyberDAO.

2.7 COMING KYBERDAO

With the implementation of the Katalyst protocol the KNC holders will be put right at the heart of Kyber. Holders of KNC tokens will now have a critical role to play in determining the future economic flow of the network, including its incentive systems.
The primary way this will be achieved is through KyberDAO, a way in which on-chain and off-chain governance will align to streamline cooperation between the Kyber team, KNC holders, and market participants.
The Kyber Network team has identified 3 key areas of consideration for the KyberDAO: 1. Broad representation, transparent governance and network stability 2. Strong incentives for KNC holders to maintain their stake and be highly involved in governance 3. Maximizing participation with a wide range of options for voting delegation
Interaction between KNC Holders & Kyber
This means KNC holders have been empowered to determine the network fee and how to allocate the fees to ensure maximum network growth. KNC holders will now have three fee allocation options to vote on: - Voting Rewards: Immediate value creation. Holders who stake and participate in the KyberDAO get their share of the fees designated for rewards. - Burning: Long term value accrual. The decreasing supply of KNC will improve the token appreciation over time and benefit those who did not participate. - Reserve Incentives:Value creation via network growth. By rewarding Kyber reserve managers based on their performance, it helps to drive greater volume, value, and network fees.

2.8 TRANSPARENCY AND STABILITY

The design of the KyberDAO is meant to allow for the greatest network stability, as well as maximum transparency and the ability to quickly recover in emergency situations. Initally the Kyber team will remain as maintainers of the KyberDAO. The system is being developed to be as verifiable as possible, while still maintaining maximum transparency regarding the role of the maintainer in the DAO.
Part of this transparency means that all data and processes are stored on-chain if feasible. Voting regarding network fees and allocations will be done on-chain and will be immutable. In situations where on-chain storage or execution is not feasible there will be a set of off-chain governance processes developed to ensure all decisions are followed through on.

2.9 KNC STAKING AND DELEGATION

Staking will be a new addition and both staking and voting will be done in fixed periods of times called “epochs”. These epochs will be measured in Ethereum block times, and each KyberDAO epoch will last roughly 2 weeks.
This is a relatively rapid epoch and it is beneficial in that it gives more rapid DAO conclusion and decision-making, while also conferring faster reward distribution. On the downside it means there needs to be a new voting campaign every two weeks, which requires more frequent participation from KNC stakeholders, as well as more work from the Kyber team.
Delegation will be part of the protocol, allowing stakers to delegate their voting rights to third-party pools or other entities. The pools receiving the delegation rights will be free to determine their own fee structure and voting decisions. Because the pools will share in rewards, and because their voting decisions will be clearly visible on-chain, it is expected that they will continue to work to the benefit of the network.

3. TRADING

After the September 2017 ICO, KNC settled into a trading price that hovered around $1.00 (decreasing in BTC value) until December. The token has followed the trend of most other altcoins — rising in price through December and sharply declining toward the beginning of January 2018.
The KNC price fell throughout all of 2018 with one exception during April. From April 6th to April 28th, the price rose over 200 percent. This run-up coincided with a blog post outlining plans to bring Bitcoin to the Ethereum blockchain. Since then, however, the price has steadily fallen, currently resting on what looks like a $0.15 (~0.000045 BTC) floor.
With the number of partners using the Kyber Network, the price may rise as they begin to fully use the network. The development team has consistently hit the milestones they’ve set out to achieve, so make note of any release announcements on the horizon.

4. COMPETITION

The 0x project is the biggest competitor to Kyber Network. Both teams are attempting to enter the decentralized exchange market. The primary difference between the two is that Kyber performs the entire exchange process on-chain while 0x keeps the order book and matching off-chain.
As a crypto swap exchange, the platform also competes with ShapeShift and Changelly.

5.KYBER MILESTONES

• June 2020: Digifox, an all-in-one finance application by popular crypto trader and Youtuber Nicholas Merten a.k.a DataDash (340K subs), integrated Kyber to enable users to easily swap between cryptocurrencies without having to leave the application. • June 2020: Stake Capital partnered with Kyber to provide convenient KNC staking and delegation services, and also took a KNC position to participate in governance. • June 2020: Outlined the benefits of the Fed Price Reserve (FPR) for professional market makers and advanced developers. • May 2020: Kyber crossed US$1 Billion in total trading volume and 1 Million transactions, performed entirely on-chain on Ethereum. • May 2020: StakeWith.Us partnered Kyber Network as a KyberDAO Pool Master. • May 2020: 2Key, a popular blockchain referral solution using smart links, integrated Kyber’s on-chain liquidity protocol for seamless token swaps • May 2020: Blockchain game League of Kingdoms integrated Kyber to accept Token Payments for Land NFTs. • May 2020: Joined the Zcash Developer Alliance , an invite-only working group to advance Zcash development and interoperability. • May 2020: Joined the Chicago DeFi Alliance to help accelerate on-chain market making for professionals and developers. • March 2020: Set a new record of USD $33.7M in 24H fully on-chain trading volume, and $190M in 30 day on-chain trading volume. • March 2020: Integrated by Rarible, Bullionix, and Unstoppable Domains, with the KyberWidget deployed on IPFS, which allows anyone to swap tokens through Kyber without being blocked. • February 2020: Popular Ethereum blockchain game Axie Infinity integrated Kyber to accept ERC20 payments for NFT game items. • February 2020: Kyber’s protocol was integrated by Gelato Finance, Idle Finance, rTrees, Sablier, and 0x API for their liquidity needs. • January 2020: Kyber Network was found to be the most used protocol in the whole decentralized finance (DeFi) space in 2019, according to a DeFi research report by Binance. • December 2019: Switcheo integrated Kyber’s protocol for enhanced liquidity on their own DEX. • December 2019: DeFi Wallet Eidoo integrated Kyber for seamless in-wallet token swaps. • December 2019: Announced the development of the Katalyst Protocol Upgrade and new KNC token model. • July 2019: Developed the Waterloo Bridge , a Decentralized Practical Cross-chain Bridge between EOS and Ethereum, successfully demonstrating a token swap between Ethereum to EOS. • July 2019: Trust Wallet, the official Binance wallet, integrated Kyber as part of its decentralized token exchange service, allowing even more seamless in-wallet token swaps for thousands of users around the world. • May 2019: HTC, the large consumer electronics company with more than 20 years of innovation, integrated Kyber into its Zion Vault Wallet on EXODUS 1 , the first native web 3.0 blockchain phone, allowing users to easily swap between cryptocurrencies in a decentralized manner without leaving the wallet. • January 2019: Introduced the Automated Price Reserve (APR) , a capital efficient way for token teams and individuals to market make with low slippage. • January 2019: The popular Enjin Wallet, a default blockchain DApp on the Samsung S10 and S20 mobile phones, integrated Kyber to enable in-wallet token swaps. • October 2018: Kyber was a founding member of the WBTC (Wrapped Bitcoin) Initiative and DAO. • October 2018: Developed the KyberWidget for ERC20 token swaps on any website, with CoinGecko being the first major project to use it on their popular site.

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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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Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi

Crypto-Powered: Understanding Bitcoin, Ethereum, and DeFi
Until one understands the basics of this tech, they won’t be able to grasp or appreciate the impact it has on our digital bank, Genesis Block.
https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/n0euarkifu951/player
This is the second 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.
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Our previous post set the stage for this series. We discussed the state of consumer finance and how the success of today’s high-flying fintech unicorns will be short-lived as long as they’re building on legacy finance — a weak foundation that is ripe for massive disruption.
Instead, the future of consumer finance belongs to those who are deeply familiar with blockchain tech & decentralized protocols, build on it as the foundation, and know how to take it to the world. Like Genesis Block.
Today we begin our journey down the crypto rabbit hole. This post will be an important introduction for those still learning about Bitcoin, Ethereum, or DeFi (Decentralized Finance). This post (and the next few) will go into greater detail about how this technology gives Genesis Block an edge, a superpower, and an unfair advantage. Let’s dive in…
https://preview.redd.it/1ugdxoqjfu951.jpg?width=650&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=36edde1079c3cff5f6b15b8cd30e6c436626d5d8

Bitcoin: The First Cryptocurrency

There are plenty of online resources to learn about Bitcoin (Coinbase, Binance, Gemini, Naval, Alex Gladstein, Marc Andreessen, Chris Dixon). I don’t wanna spend a lot of time on that here, but let’s do a quick overview for those still getting ramped up.
Cryptocurrency is the most popular use-case of blockchain technology today. And Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to be invented.
Bitcoin is the most decentralized of all crypto assets today — no government, company, or third party can control or censor it.
Bitcoin has two primary features (as do most other cryptocurrencies):
  1. Send Value You can send value to anyone, anywhere in the world. Nobody can intercept, delay or stop it — not even governments or financial institutions. Unlike with traditional money transfers or bank wires, there are no layers of middlemen. This results in a process that is much more cost-efficient. Some popular use-cases include remittances and cross-border payments.
  2. Store Value With nothing but a smartphone, you can become your own bank and store your own funds. Nobody can seize your assets. The funds are digital and stored on a blockchain. Your money no longer needs to be stored at a bank, in a vault, or under your mattress. I covered a few inspiring use-cases in a previous post. They include banking the unbanked, protecting assets from government seizure, mitigating the risk of a bank run, and protection against hyperinflation (like what recently happened in Venezuela).
The fact that there are so few things one can do with Bitcoin is one of its greatest strengths.
Its design is simple, elegant, and focused. It has been 10+ years since Satoshi’s white paper and no one has been able to crack or hack the Bitcoin network. With a market cap of $170B, there is plenty of incentive to try.
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Public Awareness

A few negative moments in Bitcoin’s history include the collapse of Mt. Gox — which resulted in hundreds of millions of customer funds being stolen — as well as Bitcoin’s role in dark markets like Silk Road — where Bitcoin arguably found its initial userbase.
However, like most breakthrough technology, Bitcoin is neither good nor bad. It’s neutral. People can use it for good or they can use it for evil. Thankfully, it’s being used less and less for illicit activity. Criminals are starting to understand that transactions on a blockchain are public and traceable — it’s exactly the type of system they usually try to avoid. And it’s true, at this point “a lot more” crimes are actually committed with fiat than crypto.
As a result, the perception of bitcoin and cryptocurrency has been changing over the years to a more positive light.
Bitcoin has even started to enter the world of media & entertainment. It’s been mentioned in Hollywood films like Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse and in songs from major artists like Eminem. It’s been mentioned in countless TV shows like Billions, The Simpsons, Big Bang Theory, Gray’s Anatomy, Family Guy, and more.
As covid19 has ravaged economies and central banks have been printing money, Bitcoin has caught the attention of many legendary Wall Street investors like Paul Tudor Jones, saying that Bitcoin is a great bet against inflation (reminding him of Gold in the 1970s).
Cash App already lets their 25M users buy Bitcoin. It’s rumored that PayPal and Venmo will soon let their 325M users start buying Bitcoin. Bitcoin is by far the most dominant cryptocurrency and is showing no signs of slowing down. For more than a decade it has delivered on its core use-cases — being able to send or store value.
At this point, Bitcoin has very much entered the zeitgeist of modern pop culture — at least in the West.
https://preview.redd.it/dnuwbw8mfu951.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=6f1f135e3effee4574b5167901b80ced2c972bda

Ethereum: Programmable Money

When Ethereum launched in 2015, it opened up a world of new possibilities and use-cases for crypto. With Ethereum Smart Contracts (i.e. applications), this exciting new digital money (cryptocurrency) became a lot less dumb. Developers could now build applications that go beyond the simple use-cases of “send value” & “store value.” They could program cryptocurrency to have rules, behavior, and logic to respond to different inputs. And always enforced by code. Additional reading on Ethereum from Linda Xie or Vitalik Buterin.
Because these applications are built on blockchain technology (Ethereum), they preserve many of the same characteristics as Bitcoin: no one can stop, censor or shut down these apps because they are decentralized.
One of the first major use-cases on Ethereum was the ability to mint and create your own token, your own cryptocurrency. Many companies used this as a way to fundraise from the public. This led to the 2017 ICO bubble (Initial Coin Offerings). Some tokens — and the apps/networks they powered — were fascinating and innovative. Most tokens were pointless. And many tokens were outright scams. Additional token reading from Fred Ehrsam, Balaji, and Naval.
https://reddit.com/link/ho4bif/video/b5b1jh9ofu951/player

Digital Gold Rush

Just as tokens grew in popularity in 2017–2018, so did online marketplaces where these tokens could be bought, sold, and traded. This was a fledgling asset class — the merchants selling picks, axes, and shovels were finally starting to emerge.
I had a front-row seat — both as an investor and token creator. This was the Wild West with all the frontier drama & scandal that you’d expect.
Binance — now the world’s largest crypto exchange —was launched during this time. They along with many others (especially from Asia) made it really easy for speculators, traders, and degenerate gamblers to participate in these markets. Similar to other financial markets, the goal was straightforward: buy low and sell high.
https://preview.redd.it/tytsu5jnfu951.jpg?width=600&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=fe3425b7e4a71fa953b953f0c7f6eaff6504a0d1
That period left an embarrassing stain on our industry that we’ve still been trying to recover from. It was a period rampant with market manipulation, pump-and-dumps, and scams. To some extent, the crypto industry still suffers from that today, but it’s nothing compared to what it was then.
While the potential of getting filthy rich brought a lot of fly-by-nighters and charlatans into the industry, it also brought a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs, and builders.
The launch and growth of Ethereum has been an incredible technological breakthrough. As with past tech breakthroughs, it has led to a wave of innovation, experimentation, and development. The creativity around tokens, smart contracts, and decentralized applications has been fascinating to witness. Now a few years later, the fruits of those labors are starting to be realized.

DeFi: Decentralized Finance

So as a reminder, tokens are cryptocurrencies. Cryptocurrencies can carry value. And value is a lot like money. Because tokens are natively integrated with Ethereum, it’s been natural for developers to build applications related to financial services — things like lending, borrowing, saving, investing, payments, and insurance. In the last few years, there has been a groundswell of developer momentum building in this area of financial protocols. This segment of the industry is known as DeFi (Decentralized Finance).
https://preview.redd.it/f0sjzqspfu951.png?width=461&format=png&auto=webp&s=8e0a31bf29250fc624918fbd8514b008762f379e
In Q2 of 2020, 97% of all Ethereum activity was DeFi-related. Total DeFi transaction volume has reached $11.5B. The current value locked inside DeFi protocols is approaching $2 Billion (double from a month ago). DeFi’s meteoric growth cannot be ignored.
Most of that growth can be attributed to exciting protocols like Compound, Maker, Synthetix, Balancer, Aave, dYdX, and Uniswap. These DeFi protocols and the financial services they offer are quickly becoming some of the most popular use-cases for blockchain technology today.
https://preview.redd.it/wn3phnkqfu951.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=02f56caa6b94aa59eadd6e368ef9346ba10c7611
This impressive growth in DeFi certainly hasn’t come without growing pains. Unlike with Bitcoin, there are near-infinite applications one can develop on Ethereum. Sometimes bugs (or typos) can slip through code reviews, testing, and audits — resulting in loss of funds.
Our next post will go much deeper on DeFi.

Wrap Up

I know that for the hardcore crypto people, what we covered today is nothing new. But for those who are still getting up to speed, welcome! I hope this was helpful and that it fuels your interest to learn more.
Until you understand the basics of this technology, you won’t be able to fully appreciate the impact that it has on our new digital bank, Genesis Block. You won’t be able to understand the implications, how it relates, or how it helps.
After today’s post, some of you probably have a lot more questions. What are specific examples or use-cases of DeFi? Why does it need to be on a blockchain? What benefits does it bring to Genesis Block and our users?
In upcoming posts, we answer these questions. Today’s post was just Level 1. It set the foundation for where we’re headed next: even deeper down the crypto rabbit hole.
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Other Ways to Consume Today's Episode:
We have a lot more content coming. Be sure to follow our channels: https://genesisblock.com/follow/
Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
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Cosmos — an early in-depth analysis at the ecosystem of connected blockchains — Part One

Cosmos — an early in-depth analysis at the ecosystem of connected blockchains — Part One
This is part one of three articles where i will discuss what i have learnt whilst looking into Cosmos. I will provide links throughout the article to provide reference to sections as well as a list of sources at the bottom of the article for you to look into specific areas in more detail if required. Hopefully it will be useful for those interested in learning more about the project.
Cosmos is still very early in development process with components such as IBC which connects two blockchains together currently in research / specification stage, as a result can change by the time its released.

What is Cosmos?

Cosmos is a network and a framework for interoperability between blockchains. The zones are powered by Tendermint Core, which provides a high-performance, consistent, secure PBFT-like consensus engine, where strict fork-accountabilityguarantees hold over the behaviour of malicious actors. Cosmos is not a product but an ecosystem built on a set of modular, adaptable and interchangeable tools.
In Tendermint, consensus nodes go through a multi-round voting proposal process first before coming to consensus on the contents of a block. When 2/3 of those nodes decide on a block, then they run it through the state transition logic providing instant finality. In current proof of work consensus for Ethereum, the consensus process is inverted, where miners pick the transactions to include in a block, run state updates, then do “work” to try and mine the block.
Tendermint BFT can handle up to thousands of transactions per second (depending on the number of validators). However, this only takes into account the consensus part, the application layer is the limiting factor though. Ethermint (described below) has achieved up to 200 tps to give you an idea of the speed available per blockchain which is significantly more than current versions of Ethereum and Bitcoin etc.
The Tendermint consensus is used in a wide variety of projects, some of the most notable include Binance Chain, Hyperledger Burrow. It’s important to note though that just using Tendermint consensus doesn’t mean they can connect to other chains with the cosmos ecosystem, they would need to fork their code to implement IBC as a native protocol to allow interoperability through IBC.
see https://raw.githubusercontent.com/devcorn/hackatom/mastetminfo.pdf for high res

The Tendermint consensus algorithm follows a traditional approach which relies on all validators to communicate with one another to reach consensus. Because of the communication overhead, it does not scale to 1000s of validators like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which can have an unlimited number of validators. Tendermint works when there are 100s of validators. (Cosmos Hub currently has a maximum of 100 validators and the maximum tested so far with Tendermint is 180 validators)
Therefore, one of the downsides of a blockchain built using Tendermint is that, unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, it requires the validators to be known ahead of time and doesn’t allow for miners to come and go as they please.Besides this, it also requires the system to maintain some notion of time, which is known to be a complex problem in theory. Although in practice, Tendermint has proven this can be done reasonably well if you use the timestamp aggregates of each node.
In this regard, one could argue that Tendermint consensus protocol is “less decentralized” than Bitcoin because there are fewer validators, and they must be known ahead of time.
Tendermint’s protocol guarantees safety and liveness, assuming more than 2/3 of the validators’ voting power is not Byzantine (i.e., malicious). In other words, if less than 1/3 of the network voting power is Byzantine, the protocol can guarantee safety and liveness (i.e., validators will never commit conflicting blocks at the same height and the blockchain continues to make progress).https://www.preethikasireddy.com/posts/how-does-cosmos-work-part1
To see the process of how Tendermint works please see this diagram as well as more info here

Sovereignty

Cosmos goal is to provide sovereignty through governance to developers by making it easy to build blockchains via the Cosmos SDK and provide interoperability between them, using Tendermint consensus. This is their main differentiator compared to competition like Polkadot and Ethereum 2.0. Ethereum 2.0 and Polkadot are taking a different approach by only using shared security, where there is a root chain which controls the security / prevents double spending for all connected blockchains.
In Hub governance all stakers vote, the validators vote is superseded if the delegator votes directly
Governance is where all stakers vote on proposals to determine what changes are implemented in the future for their own blockchain, stakers can either choose to delegate their vote to the validator or they can instead vote directly. Without sovereignty all DAPPs share the same underlying environment. If an application requires a new feature in the EVM it has to rely entirely on the governance of the Ethereum Platform to accept it for example. However, there are also tradeoffs to having sovereignty as each zone is going to need a way to incentivise others to validate / create blocks on the Zone by running Full Nodes. Whilst it may be easy to create a blockchain using the cosmos SDK and to mint a token, there are the legal costs / regulation associated with creating your own token. How are you going to distribute the tokens? How are you going to list them on exchanges? How are you going to incentivise others to use the token without being classed as a security? All of which have led to a significant reduction in the number of ICOs being done. With every zone needing their own validator set, there’s going to be a huge number of validators required each trying to persuade them to validate their zone with only a finite number of validators available.
Each Zone / App is essentially a mini DAO and not all are going to be comfortable about having their project progress been taken out of their hands and instead relying on the community to best decide on the future (unless they control 2/3 of the tokens). The Cosmos Hub has proved this can be successful, but others may be risk averse to having their application be a mini DAO. Should someone / competitor acquire 1/3 of the tokens of a zone then they could potentially prevent any further progress being made by rejecting all governance votes (this would be very costly to do on the Cosmos Hub due to its high amount staked, but for all the other less secure zones this potentially may be an issue).
Security for some zones will likely be a lot lower with every developer needing to validate their own blockchain and tokenise them with POS with no easy way to validate the setup of a validator to ensure its secure. Whilst the Cosmos hub is very secure with its current value staked, how secure zone’s will be with significantly less staked remains to be seen. Whilst providing soverignty was Cosmos’s main goal from the start, they are also looking at being able to provide shared security by having validators of a connected Hub also validate /create new blocks on the connected zone’s blockchain for them as well. They are still going to need some way to incentivise the validators to this. Another option is if the developers didn’t want to create a token, nor want sovereignty etc, then they could just build a DAPP on the EVM on a zone such as Ethermint.
As can be seen their are potential advantages and disadvantages to each method, but rather than forcing shared security like Ethereum and Polkadot, Cosmos is giving the developer the choice so will be interesting to see which they prefer to go for.

Layers of a blockchain

From an architecture standpoint, each blockchain can be divided into three conceptual layers:
  • Application: Responsible for updating the state given a set of transactions, i.e. processing transactions.
  • Networking: Responsible for the propagation of transactions and consensus-related messages.
  • Consensus: Enables nodes to agree on the current state of the system.
The state machine is the same as the application layer. It defines the state of the application and the state-transition functions. The other layers are responsible for replicating the state machine on all the nodes that connect to the network.
The Cosmos SDK is a generalized framework that simplifies the process of building secure blockchain applications on top of Tendermint BFT. The goal of the Cosmos SDK is to create an ecosystem of modules that allows developers to easily spin up application-specific blockchains without having to code each bit of functionality of their application from scratch. Anyone can create a module for the Cosmos SDK and using ready built modules in your blockchain is as simple as importing them into your application.
The Tendermint BFT engine is connected to the application by a socket protocol called the Application Blockchain Interface (ABCI). This protocol can be wrapped in any programming language, making it possible for developers to choose a language that fits their needs.

https://preview.redd.it/5vpheheqmba31.png?width=770&format=png&auto=webp&s=ec3c58fb7fafe10a512dbb131ecef6e841e6721c

Hub and Spoke Topology

Cosmos follows a hub and spoke topology as its not feasible to connect every zone together. If you were to connect every blockchain together the number of connections in the network would grow quadratically with the number of zones. So, if there are 100 zones in the network then that would equal 4950 connections.
Zones are regular heterogenous blockchains and Hubs are blockchains specifically designed to connect Zones together. When a Zone creates an IBC connection with a Hub, it can automatically access (i.e. send to and receive from) every other Zone that is connected to it. As a result, each Zone only needs to establish a limited number of connections with a restricted set of Hubs. Hubs also prevent double spending among Zones. This means that when a Zone receives a token from a Hub, it only needs to trust the origin Zone of this token and each of the Hubs in its path. Hubs do not verify or execute transactions committed on other zones, so it is the responsibility of users to send tokens to zones that they trust.
There will be many Hubs within Cosmos network the first Hub to launch was the Cosmos Hub whose native staking token is called ATOM. ATOM tokens are specific to just the Cosmos Hub which is one hub of many, each with their own token. Transaction fees for the Cosmos Hub will be payable in multiple tokens so not just ATOMs whereas other Hubs such as IRIS has made it so that all transaction fees are paid in IRIS for transactions on its hub.
As mentioned, the Cosmos Hub is one of many hubs in the network and currently has a staking ratio of around 70% with its token ATOM having a market cap of just over $800 million. IRISnet was the second Hub to launch which currently has around 28% bonded with its token IRIS which has a market cap of just under $17 million. The Third Hub about to be launched later this month has its token SENT which has a market cap of around $3.4 million. As you can see the security of these 3 hubs differ wildly and as more and more hubs and then zones are brought online there is going to need to be a lot of tokens / incentivisation for validators.
Ethermint
Standard Cosmos zones / hubs don’t have smart contract functionality and so to enable this, as the Application layer is abstracted from the consensus layer via ABCI API described earlier, it allows Cosmos to port the code over from other blockchains such as Ethereum and use it with the Tendermint Consensus to provide access to the Ethereum Virtual Machine. This is what is called Ethermint.
This allows developers to connect their zones to specialised zones such as Ethermint to build and run smart contracts based on Solidity, whilst benefiting from the faster performance of the tendermint Conensus over the existing POW implementation currently. Whereas a normal Go Ethereum process runs at ~12.5 transactions per second (TPS), Ethermint caps out at 200 TPS. This is a comparison against existing Ethereum speeds, whilst obviously Ethereum are working on their own scaling solutions with Ethereum 2.0 which will likely be ready around the same time. Existing tools / dapps used on ethereum should easily be able to be ported over to Ethermint by the developer if required.
In addition to vertical scaling (with the increase in tps by using Tendermint consensus), it can also have multiple parallel chains running the same application and operated by a common validator set. So if 1 Ethermint zone caps out at 200 TPS then 4 Ethermint zones running in parallel would theoretically cap out at 800 TPS for example.

https://preview.redd.it/e2pghr9smba31.png?width=554&format=png&auto=webp&s=a6e472a6e4a0f3845b03c36caef8b42d77125e46
There is a huge number of developers / apps currently built on Ethereum, should a developer choose to migrate their DAPP over to Ethermint they would lose native compatibility with those on Ethereum (except through Peg Zone), but would gain compatibility with those running on Ethermint and others in the cosmos ecosystem.
You can find out more about Ethermint here and here

IBC

IBC stands for inter-blockchain communication protocol and is an end-to-end, connection-oriented, stateful protocol for reliable, ordered, authenticated communication between modules on separate distributed ledgers. Ledgers hosting IBC must provide a certain set of functions for consensus transcript verification and cryptographic commitment proof generation, and IBC packet relayers (off-chain processes) are expected to have access to network protocols and physical datalinks as required to read the state of one ledger and submit data to another.
In the IBC architecture, modules are not directly sending messages to each other over networking infrastructure, but rather creating messages to be sent which are then physically relayed via “Relayers”. “Relayers” run off-chain and continuously scan the state of each ledger via a light client connected to each of the 2 chains and can also execute transactions on another ledger when outgoing datagrams have been committed. For correct operation and progress in a connection between two ledgers, IBC requires only that at least one correct and live relayer process exists which can relay between the ledgers. Relays will need to be incentivised to perform this task (the method to which hasn’t been established as of this writing)
The relay process must have access to accounts on both chains with sufficient balance to pay for transaction fees. Relayers may employ application-level methods to recoup these fees, such by including a small payment to themselves in the packet data. More information on Relayers can be found here

https://preview.redd.it/qr4k6cxtmba31.png?width=1100&format=png&auto=webp&s=d79871767ced4bcb0b2632cc137c118f70c3863a
A high-level overview of the process is that Zone 1 commits an outbound message on its blockchan about sending say 1 x Token A to Hub1 and puts 1 x Token A in escrow. Consensus is reached in Zone 1, and then it’s passed to the IBC module to create a packet which contains the reference to the committed block, source and destination channel/ connection and timeout details and is added to Zone 1’s outbound queue as proof.
All relayers (who run off-chain) are continuously monitoring the state of Zone 1 via the Zone 1 light client. A Relayer such as Relayer 1 is chosen and submits a proof to Hub1 that Zone 1.
Hub 1 then sends a receipt as proof that it has received the message from Zone 1, relayer1 sends it to Zone 1. Zone 1 then removes it from its outbound queue and sends proof via another receipt to Hub1. Hub1 verifies the proof and mints the token.

https://preview.redd.it/qn7895rumba31.png?width=770&format=png&auto=webp&s=96d9d808b2284f87d45fa0bd7b8bff297c86c2da
This video below explains the process in more detail as well as covers some of the other points i raise later in this article so worth a watch (time stamped from 22:24 to 32:25) and also here from 38:53 to 42:50
https://youtu.be/5h8DXul4lH0?t=1344
Whilst there is an option for UDP style transfer where a zone will send a message to a Hub and it doesn’t care whether it gets there or in any order etc, Token transfers are going to require the TCP style connections in IBC where there is a send, receipt and then another receipt as explained above. Each Send, receipt followed by another receipt is going to take at least 2 blocks and so using Cosmos Hub block times as an example with 6.88 second block times a transfer between one zone and hub could take a minimum of 41.28 seconds. You also then have to factor in the amount of other transactions going through those at that time and relevant gas price to see whether it is able to use 2 consecutive blocks or whether it may take more. This is also explained in this video “ILP Summit 2019 | Cosmos and Interledger | Sunny Aggarwal” (time stamped) from to 12:50 to 15:45

In Part Two we will look at potential issues with multi hop routing, token transfers across multiple routes and Peg Zones, whilst also looking at other interoperability solutions that would resolve some of these issues and compliment the cosmos ecosystem. Part Two can be found here
submitted by xSeq22x to cosmosnetwork [link] [comments]

Cosmos — an early in-depth analysis at the ecosystem of connected blockchains — Part One

Cosmos — an early in-depth analysis at the ecosystem of connected blockchains — Part One
This is part one of three articles where i will discuss what i have learnt whilst looking into Cosmos. I will provide links throughout the article to provide reference to sections as well as a list of sources at the bottom of the article for you to look into specific areas in more detail if required. Hopefully it will be useful for those interested in learning more about the project.
Cosmos is still very early in development process with components such as IBC which connects two blockchains together currently in research / specification stage, as a result can change by the time its released.

What is Cosmos?

Cosmos is a network and a framework for interoperability between blockchains. The zones are powered by Tendermint Core, which provides a high-performance, consistent, secure PBFT-like consensus engine, where strict fork-accountabilityguarantees hold over the behaviour of malicious actors. Cosmos is not a product but an ecosystem built on a set of modular, adaptable and interchangeable tools.
In Tendermint, consensus nodes go through a multi-round voting proposal process first before coming to consensus on the contents of a block. When 2/3 of those nodes decide on a block, then they run it through the state transition logic providing instant finality. In current proof of work consensus for Ethereum, the consensus process is inverted, where miners pick the transactions to include in a block, run state updates, then do “work” to try and mine the block.
Tendermint BFT can handle up to thousands of transactions per second (depending on the number of validators). However, this only takes into account the consensus part, the application layer is the limiting factor though. Ethermint (described below) has achieved up to 200 tps to give you an idea of the speed available per blockchain which is significantly more than current versions of Ethereum and Bitcoin etc.
The Tendermint consensus is used in a wide variety of projects, some of the most notable include Binance Chain, Hyperledger Burrow. It’s important to note though that just using Tendermint consensus doesn’t mean they can connect to other chains with the cosmos ecosystem, they would need to fork their code to implement IBC as a native protocol to allow interoperability through IBC.

see https://raw.githubusercontent.com/devcorn/hackatom/mastetminfo.pdf for high res

The Tendermint consensus algorithm follows a traditional approach which relies on all validators to communicate with one another to reach consensus. Because of the communication overhead, it does not scale to 1000s of validators like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which can have an unlimited number of validators. Tendermint works when there are 100s of validators. (Cosmos Hub currently has a maximum of 100 validators and the maximum tested so far with Tendermint is 180 validators)
Therefore, one of the downsides of a blockchain built using Tendermint is that, unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, it requires the validators to be known ahead of time and doesn’t allow for miners to come and go as they please.Besides this, it also requires the system to maintain some notion of time, which is known to be a complex problem in theory. Although in practice, Tendermint has proven this can be done reasonably well if you use the timestamp aggregates of each node.
In this regard, one could argue that Tendermint consensus protocol is “less decentralized” than Bitcoin because there are fewer validators, and they must be known ahead of time.
Tendermint’s protocol guarantees safety and liveness, assuming more than 2/3 of the validators’ voting power is not Byzantine (i.e., malicious). In other words, if less than 1/3 of the network voting power is Byzantine, the protocol can guarantee safety and liveness (i.e., validators will never commit conflicting blocks at the same height and the blockchain continues to make progress).https://www.preethikasireddy.com/posts/how-does-cosmos-work-part1
To see the process of how Tendermint works please see this diagram as well as more info here

Sovereignty

Cosmos goal is to provide sovereignty through governance to developers by making it easy to build blockchains via the Cosmos SDK and provide interoperability between them, using Tendermint consensus. This is their main differentiator compared to competition like Polkadot and Ethereum 2.0. Ethereum 2.0 and Polkadot are taking a different approach by only using shared security, where there is a root chain which controls the security / prevents double spending for all connected blockchains.
Governance is where all stakers vote on proposals to determine what changes are implemented in the future for their own blockchain, stakers can either choose to delegate their vote to the validator or they can instead vote directly. Without sovereignty all DAPPs share the same underlying environment. If an application requires a new feature in the EVM it has to rely entirely on the governance of the Ethereum Platform to accept it for example. However, there are also tradeoffs to having sovereignty as each zone is going to need a way to incentivise others to validate / create blocks on the Zone by running Full Nodes. Whilst it may be easy to create a blockchain using the cosmos SDK and to mint a token, there are the legal costs / regulation associated with creating your own token. How are you going to distribute the tokens? How are you going to list them on exchanges? How are you going to incentivise others to use the token without being classed as a security? All of which have led to a significant reduction in the number of ICOs being done. With every zone needing their own validator set, there’s going to be a huge number of validators required each trying to persuade them to validate their zone with only a finite number of validators available.
Each Zone / App is essentially a mini DAO and not all are going to be comfortable about having their project progress been taken out of their hands and instead relying on the community to best decide on the future (unless they control 2/3 of the tokens). The Cosmos Hub has proved this can be successful, but others may be risk averse to having their application be a mini DAO. Should someone / competitor acquire 1/3 of the tokens of a zone then they could potentially prevent any further progress being made by rejecting all governance votes (this would be very costly to do on the Cosmos Hub due to its high amount staked, but for all the other less secure zones this potentially may be an issue).
Security for some zones will likely be a lot lower with every developer needing to validate their own blockchain and tokenise them with POS with no easy way to validate the setup of a validator to ensure its secure. Whilst the Cosmos hub is very secure with its current value staked, how secure zone’s will be with significantly less staked remains to be seen. Whilst providing soverignty was Cosmos’s main goal from the start, they are also looking at being able to provide shared security by having validators of a connected Hub also validate /create new blocks on the connected zone’s blockchain for them as well. They are still going to need some way to incentivise the validators to this. Another option is if the developers didn’t want to create a token, nor want sovereignty etc, then they could just build a DAPP on the EVM on a zone such as Ethermint.
As can be seen their are potential advantages and disadvantages to each method, but rather than forcing shared security like Ethereum and Polkadot, Cosmos is giving the developer the choice so will be interesting to see which they prefer to go for.

Layers of a blockchain

From an architecture standpoint, each blockchain can be divided into three conceptual layers:
  • Application: Responsible for updating the state given a set of transactions, i.e. processing transactions.
  • Networking: Responsible for the propagation of transactions and consensus-related messages.
  • Consensus: Enables nodes to agree on the current state of the system.
The state machine is the same as the application layer. It defines the state of the application and the state-transition functions. The other layers are responsible for replicating the state machine on all the nodes that connect to the network.
The Cosmos SDK is a generalized framework that simplifies the process of building secure blockchain applications on top of Tendermint BFT. The goal of the Cosmos SDK is to create an ecosystem of modules that allows developers to easily spin up application-specific blockchains without having to code each bit of functionality of their application from scratch. Anyone can create a module for the Cosmos SDK and using ready built modules in your blockchain is as simple as importing them into your application.
The Tendermint BFT engine is connected to the application by a socket protocol called the Application Blockchain Interface (ABCI). This protocol can be wrapped in any programming language, making it possible for developers to choose a language that fits their needs.

https://preview.redd.it/go1bgareiba31.png?width=770&format=png&auto=webp&s=c9a2c9faa9c99dd8c7a7b6925c7ea281e203eb47

Hub and Spoke Topology

Cosmos follows a hub and spoke topology as its not feasible to connect every zone together. If you were to connect every blockchain together the number of connections in the network would grow quadratically with the number of zones. So, if there are 100 zones in the network then that would equal 4950 connections.
Zones are regular heterogenous blockchains and Hubs are blockchains specifically designed to connect Zones together. When a Zone creates an IBC connection with a Hub, it can automatically access (i.e. send to and receive from) every other Zone that is connected to it. As a result, each Zone only needs to establish a limited number of connections with a restricted set of Hubs. Hubs also prevent double spending among Zones. This means that when a Zone receives a token from a Hub, it only needs to trust the origin Zone of this token and each of the Hubs in its path. Hubs do not verify or execute transactions committed on other zones, so it is the responsibility of users to send tokens to zones that they trust.
There will be many Hubs within Cosmos network the first Hub to launch was the Cosmos Hub whose native staking token is called ATOM. ATOM tokens are specific to just the Cosmos Hub which is one hub of many, each with their own token. Transaction fees for the Cosmos Hub will be payable in multiple tokens so not just ATOMs whereas other Hubs such as IRIS has made it so that all transaction fees are paid in IRIS for transactions on its hub.
As mentioned, the Cosmos Hub is one of many hubs in the network and currently has a staking ratio of around 70% with its token ATOM having a market cap of just over $800 million. IRISnet was the second Hub to launch which currently has around 28% bonded with its token IRIS which has a market cap of just under $17 million. The Third Hub about to be launched later this month has its token SENT which has a market cap of around $3.4 million. As you can see the security of these 3 hubs differ wildly and as more and more hubs and then zones are brought online there is going to need to be a lot of tokens / incentivisation for validators.

Ethermint

Standard Cosmos zones / hubs don’t have smart contract functionality and so to enable this, as the Application layer is abstracted from the consensus layer via ABCI API described earlier, it allows Cosmos to port the code over from other blockchains such as Ethereum and use it with the Tendermint Consensus to provide access to the Ethereum Virtual Machine. This is what is called Ethermint.
This allows developers to connect their zones to specialised zones such as Ethermint to build and run smart contracts based on Solidity, whilst benefiting from the faster performance of the tendermint Conensus over the existing POW implementation currently. Whereas a normal Go Ethereum process runs at ~12.5 transactions per second (TPS), Ethermint caps out at 200 TPS. This is a comparison against existing Ethereum speeds, whilst obviously Ethereum are working on their own scaling solutions with Ethereum 2.0 which will likely be ready around the same time. Existing tools / dapps used on ethereum should easily be able to be ported over to Ethermint by the developer if required.
In addition to vertical scaling (with the increase in tps by using Tendermint consensus), it can also have multiple parallel chains running the same application and operated by a common validator set. So if 1 Ethermint zone caps out at 200 TPS then 4 Ethermint zones running in parallel would theoretically cap out at 800 TPS for example.

https://preview.redd.it/oboyonufiba31.png?width=554&format=png&auto=webp&s=18560aa44596fc2357590b54ddb39fd8ee1c8783
There is a huge number of developers / apps currently built on Ethereum, should a developer choose to migrate their DAPP over to Ethermint they would lose native compatibility with those on Ethereum (except through Peg Zone), but would gain compatibility with those running on Ethermint and others in the cosmos ecosystem.
You can find out more about Ethermint here and here
IBC
IBC stands for inter-blockchain communication protocol and is an end-to-end, connection-oriented, stateful protocol for reliable, ordered, authenticated communication between modules on separate distributed ledgers. Ledgers hosting IBC must provide a certain set of functions for consensus transcript verification and cryptographic commitment proof generation, and IBC packet relayers (off-chain processes) are expected to have access to network protocols and physical datalinks as required to read the state of one ledger and submit data to another.
In the IBC architecture, modules are not directly sending messages to each other over networking infrastructure, but rather creating messages to be sent which are then physically relayed via “Relayers”. “Relayers” run off-chain and continuously scan the state of each ledger via a light client connected to each of the 2 chains and can also execute transactions on another ledger when outgoing datagrams have been committed. For correct operation and progress in a connection between two ledgers, IBC requires only that at least one correct and live relayer process exists which can relay between the ledgers. Relays will need to be incentivised to perform this task (the method to which hasn’t been established as of this writing)
The relay process must have access to accounts on both chains with sufficient balance to pay for transaction fees. Relayers may employ application-level methods to recoup these fees, such by including a small payment to themselves in the packet data. More information on Relayers can be found here

https://preview.redd.it/twjzlc8hiba31.png?width=1100&format=png&auto=webp&s=2e546142573b61af031e27dac83ddca675a4b693
A high-level overview of the process is that Zone 1 commits an outbound message on its blockchan about sending say 1 x Token A to Hub1 and puts 1 x Token A in escrow. Consensus is reached in Zone 1, and then it’s passed to the IBC module to create a packet which contains the reference to the committed block, source and destination channel/ connection and timeout details and is added to Zone 1’s outbound queue as proof.
All relayers (who run off-chain) are continuously monitoring the state of Zone 1 via the Zone 1 light client. A Relayer such as Relayer 1 is chosen and submits a proof to Hub1 that Zone 1.
Hub 1 then sends a receipt as proof that it has received the message from Zone 1, relayer1 sends it to Zone 1. Zone 1 then removes it from its outbound queue and sends proof via another receipt to Hub1. Hub1 verifies the proof and mints the token.

https://preview.redd.it/d4dclm3iiba31.png?width=770&format=png&auto=webp&s=9ca521efc8580800067e1c4e3f74c0ab8df30555
This video below explains the process in more detail as well as covers some of the other points i raise later in this article so worth a watch (time stamped from 22:24 to 32:25) and also here from 38:53 to 42:50
https://youtu.be/5h8DXul4lH0?t=1344

Whilst there is an option for UDP style transfer where a zone will send a message to a Hub and it doesn’t care whether it gets there or in any order etc, Token transfers are going to require the TCP style connections in IBC where there is a send, receipt and then another receipt as explained above. Each Send, receipt followed by another receipt is going to take at least 2 blocks and so using Cosmos Hub block times as an example with 6.88 second block times a transfer between one zone and hub could take a minimum of 41.28 seconds. You also then have to factor in the amount of other transactions going through those at that time and relevant gas price to see whether it is able to use 2 consecutive blocks or whether it may take more. This is also explained in this video “ILP Summit 2019 | Cosmos and Interledger | Sunny Aggarwal” (time stamped) from to 12:50 to 15:45

In Part Two we will look at potential issues with multi hop routing, token transfers across multiple routes and Peg Zones, whilst also looking at other interoperability solutions that would resolve some of these issues and compliment the cosmos ecosystem. Part Two can be found here
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Binance giving America the cold shoulder? Or is Binance a blessing? Ionomy the peoples coin!

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