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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

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

Weekly Update: ParJar Swap private beta, Fantom Opera Network Special-fee Contract, SelfKey + ThreeFold, Open Staking live on Harmony…– 15 May - 21 May'20
Hey Parachuters! Seems like ages since I last posted a weekly update, right? Unfortunately, got super busy with IRL work and couldn’t keep up. But fret not! I finally scraped some time out today to get upto speed with all the news from the Parachute universe in May and June and organised them into a series of weekly updates like the ones I used to write earlier. But instead of posting them one by one everyday, thought it might be best to release them all at one go. So here's Part I of VI - All that happened at Parachute + partners from 15 May - 21 May'20:

The ParJar swap feature beta testing started this week with a call to testers far and wide. Click here for the latest update and stats on ParJar straight from Cap's mouth - "...it took almost two years of betas and growth to reach 1 million tips (March 7th) nd it’s taken 2 months to to add another 400k..". Amazing! The #par4par raffle continues with a 500k $PAR pool. Peace Love hosted a general knowledge trivia in TTR this week for 10k $PAR in prizes. Gamerboy’s random trivia and Victor’s “Big Trivia” in Tiproom were quite fun as well. Naj (who’s also this week’s Parena winner) hosted a six set quiz in TTR. Charlotte’s been hosting quizzes in a new format for quite some time now. This week too she held one in Tiproom. Jason started a #culturalweekend prompt with an invitation to Parachuters to share "about a cultural dance or ceremony" from their area. "Explain in detail about the dance and why it is important" for some cool $PAR. Among many of the cool stories shared by Parachuters included Nico’s Occitan music from Italy and Soleira’s Dancing Devils of Tinaquillo. Congratulations to Clinton’s FLI charity for partnering with Lumenthropy which is Stellar's philanthropic arm. Remember, all profits from the Parachute Shop go to FLI. Another crypto league with a 150k $PAR prize pot started this week. Gian’s Two-For-Tuesday was a free for all. To revisit all the awesome music posted for 2FT, check out the playlist made by Sebastian.
Naj came back from near certain defeat in the finale to win this week’s Parena
aXpire CEO Matthew Markham penned an article on remote work and billing software for legal firms. An updated e-flyer for Bilr was released as well. To track the latest $AXPR burn, click here. 2gether added customer support capabilities to their Twitter, Facebook and Discord. Plus, an incident tracker status page was added this week. The XIO dApp which is still in private beta has already seen 500k+ $XIO tokens locked into it. Awesome! To get a feel of how the dApp works, check out Dash’s latest video demo where he also shared some updates on tokenomics. Uptrennd founder Jeff Kirdeikis interviewed Dash over an hour long session to talk all things XIO. $XIO got listed on Idex. Click here to watch an update video on the latest developments. For XIO discussions this week, Citizens brainstormed over the base liquidity pair on Uniswap V2. DeFi Nation’s Clayton Roche wrote a detailed commentary on what XIO is doing right. Birdchain’s mid-May update came out this week. Voyager hosted a business update conference call this week. CEO Steve Ehrlich talked about the platform and crypto in general with Charlie Shrem on the Untold Stories podcast this week. Voyager’s Q3 2020 results were released. Still figuring out how to fund your Voyager wallet? Watch this video to find out. An upgrade to Fantom’s Opera Network was pushed which allows staking different amounts over time. For the latest project update, click here. A community AMA also happened this week where the team talked about a new staking proposal called Fluid Staking. Jeff from Uptrennd sat down to interview IOST co-founder Terry Wang this week. Uptrennd broke into the top 20k Alexa global rankings. Woohoo! GET Protocol’s GUTS Tickets app is now available in Italian as well. DoYourTip’s $DYT is now available on Uniswap V2.
What a welcome sight for support engineers. Source: https://2gether.statuspage.io/history
Switch’s $ESH token was listed on Stex, ProBit, Crex 24, Hotbit, Bilaxy and Bitcoin.com this week. Bitcoin.com also announced support for the $GHOST airdrop along with a deposit and trade competition. Continuing on its acquisition spree from last week, Switch acquired gaming platform Wavesbet and voting dApp ClearPoll. Whitepaper for the GHOST project by John McAfee was released. They will be airdropping their tokens 1:1 to $ESH HODLers on the 25th. The release of $GHOST has been contentious to say the least. Reflecting on some of the plagiarism allegations levelled against the project, the crew shared their side of the story. The team also sat down for an AMA with Coiner Vietnam. District0x’s latest weekly update talked about the upcoming DappDigest and new developments in Meme Factory among other news. The Q4 2019 quarterly report was released as well. Read all about Hydro’s Financial Offers framework here. If you are a graphic designer, don’t forget to check out this gig at Sentivate. US-residents only. OST’s Simona Pop will be attending a panel discussion by Outlier Ventures next week to talk about dev onboarding. P2P internet ecosystem ThreeFold announced a multi-faceted partnership with SelfKey for KYC and new user onboarding services. Following last week's community vote on the most attractive marketplaces, Passports Marketplace was found to be the most popular. This week, the community voted on their most preferred blockchain to be added to the app. Bank of Hodlers joined SelfKey's Loans Marketplace while Tokens.net joined the Exchanges Marketplace. COTI did a study on IoT payments and how it could offer a solution. The project was selected for the next listing vote on Gate.io. COTI community also got an opportunity to interact with the AtomicWallet team through an AMA this week.
Hydro has been constantly updating its dev tools to offer a seamless developer experience
Click here to read the latest Constellation Hypergraph mainnet stats. New features were added to the Molly wallet. Click here for steps to install the wallet. TheDailyChain expanded on how the $DAG ecosystem was growing. Pynk CEO Seth Ward wrote about the future of fintech in his EM360 article. Congratulations on crossing the 1k follower mark on Medium. In Shuffle Monster news, most of the $SHUF liquidity on Uniswap was moved to the V2 pool this week. New features were added to the Wibson app with the latest release giving more data control powers to the end user. Pre-staking started on the Harmony mainnet with the opening up of bids by validators followed by the election of the first batch of validators thereby marking the start of Open Staking. And just after, Harmony became the first ever blockchain to support sharded PoS. The news of Open Staking going live was covered by Coindesk and Cointelegraph. More details on what next was shared in a Coinspeaker article. How does a delegator fit into the overall scheme of things? Check out this video. Open staking noobs will find these 101 tutorials helpful. CTO Rongjian Lan also did a community call to explain about it. For the latest development updates otherwise known as #pow thread, click here. Harmony’s EPoS is designed to be fair to all stakers. So make sure to optimise your staking rewards. $ONE Binance wallets were taken down briefly for a temporary maintenance activity. They now support the mainnet coin. Hope you had a chance to participate in the guess-effective-median-stake contest to win some cool $ONE prizes. Click here for the latest staking stats. $ONE was added to Binance Savings which offers a fixed rate of return on locked savings. A minor bug in the staking bug was removed. The APR numbers should get calculated more accurately now. The crew appeared for an AMA with StakingHub. Congratulations to the winners of Stake Heist! Binance and BitMax announced support for staking with BItMax crew also appearing for an AMA. IntelliShare crew sat down for an AMA with CoinNess this week.

And with that, we have to close for this week in the Parachuteverse! See you again with another update. Ciao!
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Crypto Banking Wars: Can Non-Custodial Crypto Wallets Ever Replace Banks?

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

Users & Audience

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

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

Products in Market

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

Strengths

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

Weaknesses

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

Wrap Up

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

https://preview.redd.it/lp8dzxeh1lg51.png?width=800&format=png&auto=webp&s=03acdce545cd032f7e82b6665b001d7a06839557
The winning bank will be focused on solving real user problems and meeting user needs. Not slowed down by rigid idealism like censorship-resistance and absolute decentralization, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be a world-class product that’s smooth, performant, and accessible. Not sluggish and slow, as it is with most non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one where blockchain & crypto is mostly invisible to end-users. Not front-and-center as it is with non-custodial wallets. The winning bank will be one managed and run by professionals who know exactly what they’re doing. Not DIY (Do It Yourself), as it is with non-custodial wallets.
So are these non-custodial wallets a threat to Genesis Block in winning the broader consumer finance market, and becoming the bank of the future?
No. They are designed for a very different audience.
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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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Weekly Update: $WIB, $VID, $CHZ on ParJar, Pynk crushes Web Summit, XIO swap bridge, Sentivate reorg... – 1 Nov - 7 Nov'19

Weekly Update: $WIB, $VID, $CHZ on ParJar, Pynk crushes Web Summit, XIO swap bridge, Sentivate reorg... – 1 Nov - 7 Nov'19
Hi folks! We are catching up real quick. Here’s your week at Parachute + partners (1 Nov - 7 Nov'19):

Three new projects and their awesome communities joined the Parachute fam this week: Wibson, VideoCoin and Chiliz. Welcome! And if you missed, we also added Shuffle Monster, Harmony and CyberFM last week. #cryptoforeveryone is getting bigger by the day. Woot woot! In this week’s TTR trivias, we had Richi’s movie quiz qith a 25k $PAR pot. Charlotte's Rebus trivia in TTR on Tuesday had 25k $PAR in prizes for 10 Qs. Noice! Jason’s creative contest for this week was #artdeadmin: “draw/paint/sketch/whatever you imagine a group of the parachute admins doing together”. Click here to check out some of the entries of the TTR Halloween photo contest from last week. Doc Victor (from Cuba) hosted a Champions League wager round in tip room. And congrats to Victor (Anox) for passing his final Medical exams. We have 2 Doc Vics now. One from Cuba and the other from *redacted*.
Some of the top #artdeadmin submissions. Insane talent!
Jason’s running medal collection. Say what!
Andy shared the latest standings in the Parachute Fantasy Football League (#PFFL). Clinton (7-2) is on top followed by Chris (7-2) in second place and Hang (7-2) in third place. So close! As we rolled into November, Parachute crew signed up for Movember. So now we have 3 teams from the Parachute fold, doing a no-shave November for men’s health issues: Parachute (Tony, Cap, Alexis, Cuban Doc Vic, Richi), TTR (Vali, Ashok, Tavo, Alejandro, Marcos, PeaceLove) and TTR-Ladies (Mery, Martha, AngellyC, Liem, Durby, LeidyElena, Charlotte). Show them some support peeps! This is all for charity. Show them some support folks! This week’s #wholesomewed was about “your most precious possession and give us the story of why it is so precious to you”. A whole lot of $PAR was given out for some real wholesome life stories. Best. Community. Eva! Two-for-Tuesday theme for this week: colors! As always, a melodic Tuesday thanks to Gian! And thank you Borna for writing about Parachute and ParJar on the Blockchain Andy blog.
<- This is where Jose creates his magic. Respect / Cuban Doc Vic’s doggo, Symba, could easily be a TTR mascot. Good boi! ->
This week at aXpire there were two separate $AXPR burns: 20k of last week and 200k of this week. Last week’s news recap can be seen here. Congratulations to the team for being conferred the honour of being handed a key to Miami-Dade County by Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez at the 2019 Miami-Dade Beacon Council Annual Meeting & Key Ceremony. aXpire's disruptive solutions like Resolvr (expense allocation), Bilr (invoice management) and DigitalShares (deal marketplace) help hedge funds and PE firms scale through better profit margins. How? Read here. Did you know that the 2gether Ambassador Zone lets you customise referral messages with a #PicOfTheDay while you earn some sweet 2GT rewards? Super cool! There was an upgrade to the platform this week that might have led to a temporary deactivation in withdrawals while the update was being deployed. CEO Ramón Ferraz’s interview by BeInCrypto was released. Founder Salvador Algarra travelled to an ABANCA event for a keynote speech on Fintech innovation. Next week he will be at Rankia's Blockchain and Crypto Tech gathering to speak on "Blockchain, from predicting the future to building it". CardRates’ feature article on 2gether came out this week. The BOMBX:XIO token swap bridge went live. The swap will be open till 15th December. Plus, $XIO is now listed on DDEX and Switcheo. There were some disruptions in the bridge from time to time because of heavy traffic. Hence, the team also set up a manual swap page as an alternative solution. And please be wary of scammers posing as admins to help with the swap instructions. For any doubts, always reach out to accounts with admin tags on the official Telegram channel. The first set of incubated startups will be revealed on the 22nd of November. Ever wanted to find out about the people who frequent the BOMB token chat? Well, the BOMB Board is running a "Humans of Bomb" series to feature some of the most active members. This week, say Hello to Gustavo.
Key to Miami-Dade County awarded to aXpire. Cool!
WednesdayCoin’s founder Mike floated the idea of making WednesdayClub open on all days. The nature of the $WED token will not change on chain. Just that it will be usable inside the DApp everyday. What do you think? Let him know in the Reddit thread. Birdchain’s $BIRD token was listed on Mercatox this week. A new monthly referral contest was launched as well. 50k BIRD tokens to be won. Nice! Want the SMS feature to be released in your country? Start promoting! A featured article on Chainleak capped off the week perfectly for Birdchain. $ETHOS, $AXPR (aXpire), $HYDRO, $BNTY (Bounty0x) and $HST (Horizon State) were added to the eToro Wallet. The airdrops for Switch’s various token holders were distributed this week. As mentioned earlier as well, $ESH and $SDEX are revenue sharing tokens. Winners of the John McAfee contest and trading competition were announced. Congratulations! Tron blockchain support will be added to the Switch-based McAfeeDex next week. The news was covered by Beincrypto, U Today, Crypto Crunch, Altcoin Buzz and Tron’s Justin Sun as well. The Dex was featured in a Forbes article about John McAfee’s views on Libra. The latest community contest at Fantom involves writing educational articles on the platform. If you have been following Fantom developments, then this would be a breeze. Also, USD 100 in FTM tokens to be won. Sweet! Check out the cool $FTM merch on display at Odd Gems fashion. Even though these are not official gear, they have the blessings from the project. CMO Michael Chen sat down for an interview with Crypto Intelligence India to talk about the upcoming mainnet launch. The crew also appeared for an AMA with Atomic Wallet community. The latest technical update covers "Golang implementation of Lachesis consensus" or Go-Lachesis in short. Check out its demo with 7 nodes here.
Parachute presentation (WIP). That’s right. 500k transactions and counting. Wow!
While the Uptrennd Halloween contest got over last week, AltcoinBuzz made a friggin amazing graphic! Don’t forget to follow the Ann channel to stay up to date with the latest from Uptrennd. Founder Jeff Kirdeikis also announced that he will be working closely with PrefLogic on Security Tokens. Jeff’s interview with MakerDAO Biz Dev Gustav Arentoft came out. After some upgrades on Uptrennd, withdrawals are live again. Instead of the weekly meme contest, there was a flyer contest this week. 5k $1UP prize pool for winners. Wicked! The latest community picked TA report was on ETH. And the crew reached Malta for the AIBC Summit. More pics next week! Did you know that you can get Opacity Gift Codes for various plans at ShopOpacity.com? If not, make sure to read up on the Opacity October update. Catch up on the latest at District0x from the District weekly. The District Registry was live demo’ed. Looks cool! Hydro crew travelled to the Web Summit in Lisbon to spread word on the project. They were also represented at the Chicago fintech science fair this week. For a summary of the last few weeks gone by at Hydrogen, you can read the Project update and Hydro Labs update. We have covered most of these in previous posts. For the latest scoop on Hydro Labs, there’s always the Ann channel. Silent Notary’s Ubikiri wallet is undergoing upgrades. One of which is, wallets will be auto-named after creation. A ton more upgrades to be released. Sentivate announced a reorganisation in the company in order to devote full focus on Sentivate. The parent company will close and all resources will move to Sentivate. Here’s another use-case story to emphasise the potential of Universal Web. In the latest community vote on Blockfolio, folks voted overwhelmingly Yes on whether they would like to see more explainer articles on web tech. Also, the epic shoutout from Scott Melker (The Wolf Of All Streets) has to be the best thing ever!
Updated Sentivate roadmap for next 3 months
Pynk travelled to the Web Summit in Lisbon (wonder if they crossed paths with Hydro and SelfKey teams) as an official delegate of the Mayor's International Business Programme and were featured by KPMG. How to catch people’s eyes in a Summit where everyone is trying to grab your attention? With LED back packs. Genius! Such a lit idea, that even Web Summit tweeted it. Woohoo! And then they rocked a series of pitches to get to the big stage. Wins in Round 1 and quarter finals ensured an entry into the semi finals on the main stage. Click here to watch their presentation. Great job guys! Business Insider Poland included Pynk in their list of 12 Fintech companies worth following. The latest Pynk Tank episode delves into deep fakes in political advertising. One of the upcoming features on the platform will be the addition of gold to the daily price prediction tool. Pynk has "absolutely no interest in Bitcoin fanatics, ‘bagholders’ or ANYONE who mentions moons or Lamborghini’s. It’s tacky". This vibes perfectly with Parachute. Read more on Pynk's guide to becoming a super-predictor here. Horizon State announced that it will be resuming business under a new management. Welcome back! The original $HST token will not be supported anymore. The team will be looking into how the token holders are included in the new system. DENGfans, don’t forget to check the mini-projects posted by Mathew in the Telegram channel. Look up #getDENG in the channel. If you’re proficient in excel and VB, get in touch. Shuffle Monster’s $SHUF token is now listed on Dex.ag which acts as a decentralised price aggregator. CyberFM distributed the $CYFM payouts for October this week. Total payout as of 1st Nov is USD 266k+ in crypto. Say what!
Pynk’s LED back packs are a stroke of genius
OST’s Pepo was the 19th most popular dApp on State of the DApps last week. This week it climbed to the 16th position. Upcoming features on Pepo include video replies, threads and debates. Stay tuned! OST crew was at the Web3 UX Unconference in Toronto to talk all things UX. Next week they will be at ETHWaterloo to present and judge the UX award there. SelfKey’s $KEY token got listed on Hong Kong’s Lukki exchange. Like Hydro, the SelfKey team also attended the Web Summit in Lisbon for networking. If you were there, hope you said Hi. Ever wondered how Distributed Identity keeps your information private and safe when blockchains are supposed to be public? Click here to find out how SelfKey does this. More insight was shared into the Chainlink partnership this week by Constellation CEO Ben Jorgensen. The team attended the Air Force Space Pitch Day where it was selected to pitch the platform to attendees. Go get’em! How and why does Constellation do things? Check out the Constellation Principles. The October update for Yazom covers news such as alpha build of the app nearing completion, ongoing deal negotiation with clients etc.

And with that, we close for this week in Parachuteverse. See you again soon. Ciao!
submitted by abhijoysarkar to ParachuteToken [link] [comments]

The best Tezos Wallets

The best Tezos Wallets
Tezos is a decentralized blockchain that simplifies formal verification, a method that mathematically proves the accuracy of the code controlling transactions. The Tezos blockchain has its own cryptocurrency called Tezos (XTZ), a cryptocurrency with two main functions – a self-administration system and the ability to form launch contracts using its own programming language – Michelson.
If you decide to convert your fiat savings into Tezos or exchange other cryptocurrencies for XTZ, you may have to make a choice among reliable wallets for this. In this article we will look into the best Tezos Wallets so that can help you understand them better.

Hardware Wallets

Hardware wallets are not liable to spam, viruses, phishing attacks, or malicious of the system. Moreover, they provide a high degree of protection to the private keys. Below is the list of hardware wallets that can be used for XTZ.
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  • Ledger Nano S
Nano S is a hard wallet from the product line of Ledger, a French manufacturer company. As all other Ledger products, Nano S traditionally looks like a USB flash drive. But this time, you will need to use the USB cable that comes with the wallet to connect to a computer. Ledger Nano S has a chip that is similar with chips on bank cards or biometric passports. Your private key is stored in an isolated environment and is effectively protected. Ledger Nano S also has a screen on it where you can see each transaction made. In case you lose your Nano S wallet, the account can be easily restored on any other Ledger device. Ledger Nano S supports over 20 cryptocurrencies including Tezos (XTZ).
  • Trezor Model T
Trezor T is the flagship model from the well-known Czech manufacturer SatoshiLabs. Model T has a color Touch-Screen display, an SD port and a quantity of supported coins – XTZ is among those coins. When Trezor T is not connected to the computer, it turns off and disconnects from the Internet. Thus, user funds are stored on the device beyond the reach of attackers. Trezor hardware case is ultrasonically soldered, making it difficult to be restored after being damaged.

Web Wallets

Web wallets can be a simple way to get started investing in cryptocurrency. All web wallets can be used right from a browser without the need of downloading software. Beyond that, many of web wallets offer free mobile apps.
  • TezBox Wallet
TezBox was the first GUI released for Tezos. The wallet was developed by the Tezos community and released during the ICO period. TezBox is available for web, desktop and mobile wallets with its user-friendly interface. Users may be assured that all private keys will be stored on their devices safely due to the secured wallet interface. TexBox is the first wallet integrated with hardware wallets Trezor and Ledger Nano S that gives it the increased security.

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  • Guarda Wallet
Guarda Wallet is available as a Web, Mobile and Desktop Wallet and a Chrome extension. It supports more than 40 coins and 10,000 tokens as well as XTZ. The web wallet enables to access cryptocurrency from any modern browser, the website itself looks presentable and made convenient to use. Using the mobile wallet, you can create a new wallet or import an existing one. Besides the common functions such as storage, deposit/withdrawal of cryptocurrency, users can instantly buy the exact amount of cryptocurrency using a bank card or exchange coins and tokens.
  • Magnum Wallet
While Magnum is a multi-asset wallet, one of the best known assets it supports is Tezos (XTZ). Being a light wallet, you do not need to download the full blockchain of any of the cryptocurrencies it works with. The wallet does not keep users’ personal information. As Magnum is a web wallet, it has the extra benefit of being available for nearly any platform, easy of access from any kind of device with an internet browser. Magnum wallet also supports Ledger devices so those can be easily linked to the app.

Mobile Wallets

Mobile wallets are used on your smartphone via an app. Similar to Apple or Google Pay, you can use mobile wallets when shopping in physical shops as cryptocurrencies become more popular and acceptable. Mobile wallets may be safer compared to online wallets and also be easy to use on the go.
  • Trust Wallet
Trust is a wallet for tokens of ERC20 standard, tooled for mobile devices. It offers simple installation and affordable feature set, that does not require additional user skills and abilities. Trust Wallet and Binance are working on new features, including market monitoring, user networks, test networks, and deep integration with the Binance infrastructure. Trust Wallet already supports Tezos as well as other digital currencies.
https://preview.redd.it/ckrma5aueth31.png?width=1400&format=png&auto=webp&s=f37213bf83c82028b97837545536c353664a8368
  • AirGap Wallet
AirGap is a wallet, that allows you to keep your cryptocurrency securely on your mobile. AirGap is a system with two device access: you can use your old mobile device as a hardware wallet using the AirGap Vault app to keep the private key there; while your working smartphone will have the wallet itself. The connection occurs with QR codes, this ensures a genuine one-way communication between AirGap Wallet and AirGap Vault. This implies that no private information ever leaves the air-gapped old phone. Besides Tezos, AirGap supports diverse amount of cryptocurrencies.
  • Tezos.Blue Wallet
In spite of being a lightweight wallet, Tezos.Blue does not scant on security or its features. It is an original app and that is why it gets strong protection straight from the operating system. Using the Tezos.Blue you will have actual updates from the network for a truly live operational comfort. Tezos.Blue is also available in a desktop version. Tezos.Blue is also available in a desktop version.

Desktop Wallets

Desktop wallet can be downloaded and installed on a computer. Desktop wallets may be safer if your computer is not, or more preferably, has never used the Internet connection. Desktop Wallets are perfect for storing large amounts of crypto that you don’t want to use on an everyday basis.
  • Atomic Wallet
Atomic is a convenient, easy to use and safe cryptocurrency wallet, that receives the preferences of many users around the world. It is a decentralized multicurrency wallet that is known in the crypto community for supporting more than 500 cryptocurrencies including Tezos. The primary goal of Atomic Wallet is not just to store cryptocurrency, but also to create a strong ecosystem with many functions.

https://preview.redd.it/apv4gpe0fth31.png?width=1686&format=png&auto=webp&s=dc5602c0eda220594b427c0b42923b8bacd727ae
  • Atomix HD Tezos Wallet
HD wallets (hierarchical deterministic wallet) are the wallets that use a single 12 or 18-word mnemonic phrase that is used to identify following addresses and private keys in a wallet software. Atomix is HD wallet that supports Tezos, it merges benefits of decentralized and centralized exchanges. With Atomix, all private keys are kept encoded on the computer. No identity verification or registration is required to use the wallet.
  • Simplestaking
Simplestaking is Tezos focused wallet being a web app and desktop app with support for hardware wallet Trezor Model T. The wallet is developed using NgRx state management and Angular framework.
  • Galleon Tezos Wallet (Tezori)
Galleon is a smart open source wallet for XTZ that supports both hardware and software wallets on Windows, Linux and Mac. It was developed by Cryptonomic and funded by the Tezos Foundation.
  • Tezos CLI Wallet
The Tezos CLI wallet can be used by those users who have some coding understanding while it requires the use of command lines. Tezos has mentioned the wallet on its website and has been audited by an independent external security inspector. As the Tezos CLI needs some level of command line knowledge, it can be quite difficult to use.

How to keep your wallet safe

A cryptocurrency wallet can be regarded as a regular wallet with money, but it has advanced features, which increases the level of risk. Simple rules will help prevent the loss of your own savings:
  1. Do not store large amounts for long periods on wallets that do not provide full control. It is better to store large amounts for a long time only in wallets that provide full control over the private key and, accordingly, over digital assets. This will help protect your coins against fraud and cyber attacks.
  2. Encrypt information and back up private keys. In case of reinstalling the PC or the occurrence of force majeure situations, this will help to restore access to the wallet quickly.
  3. Store secret keys on an offline device. It is preferable to use a platform that is not accessible for hacking via the Internet.
  4. Use reliable antivirus software and update it regularly. This will prevent the leakage of personal data that hackers can use to crack passwords.
  5. Register several types of wallets. It will allow you to distribute your funds and use the most suitable wallet depending on the situation.
If you use your Tezos wallet wisely and do not neglect the precautions, the risk of funds loss will be minimized.

Feel free to follow our updates and news on Twitter, Facebook, Telegram and BitcoinTalk. Read what the customers say about SimpleSwap on Trustpilot. Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you may have via [[email protected]](mailto:supp[email protected]).
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Weekly Update: Bitcoin Pizza with 2gether, aXpire in India, BOMB stickers, Opacity beta... – 17 May - 23 May'19

Weekly Update: Bitcoin Pizza with 2gether, aXpire in India, BOMB stickers, Opacity beta... – 17 May - 23 May'19
Hiya everyone! Here’s your week at Parachute (17 May – 23 May’19):

This week’s Parena had a super long finale which saw FlareOfFlame beating Ketan 3:0 to take home the spoils from a 100k PAR pot. The Parachute Shop now has a twitter handle. Check it out now! Congratulations to fellow Parachuter Rene for becoming an admin at Wysker. The latest brainstorm session with Uptrennd revolved around how blockchains will affect our way of life in the near future. Well rounded discussion sesh with some pretty cool thoughts thrown in! We also got to see another gem from Gian’s collection of antiquities. Webster’s dictionaries from 1829 and 1851:

These beauts cost 2 bucks each
Bitcoin Pizza Day was this week. And 2gether had an amazing bounty for its community. Buy pizza with crypto using your 2gether card and share pics. Win 75 2GB in the process. Sweet! If you face trouble while using the app or the card or just have a question or a recommendation, this feature in the app allows to shake your phone and submit your doubt/suggestion. 2gether received the Finnovating FinTech Award for being the most innovative FinTech at Uconference Madrid 2019. Another feather in 2gether’s cap that is already teeming with feathers.

Yum!

Remember aXpire’s guerrilla marketing campaign at Consensus 2019 from last update? As promised, here’s some more pics from it. The team gave away some neat merch to attendees. CEO Gary’s article on how blockchain is impacting the Regulation Technology market was published on Datafloq. Rohit and I also wrote an article on crypto regulations in the EU which made it to Hackernoon. The weekly 10k AXPR burn can be tracked here. aXpire top management was in India this week. Here’s a few pics from their visit. Here’s looking at you aXpire crew:

The front desk looks fresh
The Horizon State community maintains an online repository of AMA reverts and FAQs. Click here to have a look. Q&A from May will be added soon. Horizon State was added to the Blockchain Impact Ledger which is a registry of blockchain projects that make positive social impact. The registry is maintained by Blockchain Trust Accelerator. WandX fans, lookout for the latest update which covers technical improvements (staking architecture, updated dex code) and upcoming milestones. 300 BOMB tokens were given out as part of the BOMB sticker contest. The winning entries came from JimPanze. BOMB was also listed on Coinmarketcap this week. Woot!

JimPanze’s winning sticker set
The Hydro team conducted an AMA with some of the team members answering Q’s on their way to the Malta Blockchain Summit. Biz Dev head Mark Anstead presented the project onstage at the event as part of the AI Startup Pitch. The team was also at the EthNewYork conference showcasing the Molecule platform. If you attended, hope you had a chance to say hi. Switch (ESH) was listed on a new exchange (Dobi) and they marked the occasion with an airdrop and trading competition. Switch’s feature docu on John McAfee will be releasing this August. The official trailer was released this week. Plus, a timely word of caution from the team that signing up for random exchanges is risky.

A few decks from Mark’s pitch on HYDRO
Opacity’s OPQ token was listed on Payfair. What’s OPQ’s utility you ask? This explainer video lays out the token’s use-case and benefits. Closed beta testing of the platform started this week. Sneak peak of the beta can be found in this article. Uptrennd founder Jeff was interviewed by Crypto-Current recently. Watch it here. Like Hydro, Birdchain was also in Malta for the blockchain summit. Click here and here to listen in to their CEO and Founder. WednesdayClub is already on imToken. With their latest submission, you will soon be able to see the full WED token profile on imToken as well. The weekly airdrop post, shares a few updates on the dApp. You can now post on WednesdayClub and share across other social media channels. Nice! As already mentioned in the last update, District0x’s Meme Factory went live. A flash sale for the dankest of memes was also conducted. Have a read of the introduction article to know what the Meme Factory is all about. Cryptoslate featured the platform in their news section. For more on District0x, check out the District Weekly.

The most expensive memes in the Meme Factory marketplace right now
Fantom announced a partnership with Fusion this week. As part of the agreement, Fantom will be using Fusion’s interoperability solution to enable cross chain accessibility for Fantom tech. In line with their interoperability push, Fantom also entered into a collaboration with Binance Chain. Ethos announced that its Bedrock platform (which provides enterprises easy access to blockchain) will be used by its partner Voyager to provide custody solutions in tandem with Ledger. Cointelegraph covered this news as well. As part of its ongoing community engagement, Ethos had an AMA in their Telegram channel and opened up a survey for feedback on upcoming product development. Hope you had a chance to take part. Cardrates’ interview of Bounty0x CEO Angelo came out recently. They discuss on a variety of topics including a details on how bounties work and future development. Tons of technical development have been happening on the platform. For example, faster automated tracking of tweet submissions, updated landing page, Bounty0x in Enjin dApp browser etc. Read more in their company update and micro update.

And with that, we close for this week at Parachute + partners. See you again soon with another update. Ciao!
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Weekly Update: 10k ParJar users, PAR on Mercatox, BOMB Announcement, FTM on OKEx... – 28 Jun - 4 Jul'19

Weekly Update: 10k ParJar users, PAR on Mercatox, BOMB Announcement, FTM on OKEx... – 28 Jun - 4 Jul'19
Hiya folks! With this update we will be totally caught up with the latest Parachute weekly. Whew! Told ya it will be fun. Thanks for sticking by. Here’s your week at Parachute (28 Jun – 4 Jul’19):

ParJar crossed 10k users this week (with 120k total transactions till now). The growth is real! PAR got listed on Mercatox as well. The first Cex listing. Woot! Remember how well researched Benjamin’s BOMB metrics reports were? You are in for a treat. He made a deep dive report on the PAR token metrics as well. Enjoy! CoinsOnFire’s review of Parachute is out too. Have a read! Cap’s Parachute journey article was translated to Spanish by Roberto. The milestone items for July are pargas, new projects, more coverage. Cap announced a competition to design a logo for the Parachute News/Announcement channel. Tons of solid entries. 300k PAR were given out to the top picks. Pedro’s logo was simple yet clear in its message and was the winner of the comp with it becoming the Ann channel logo.
Great work on the logos, guys! These look super fresh

Ice and Chris rocking that Parachute swag
The latest ParJar feature allows you to see price of any coin/token/USD/CAD/EUGBP/PLN/RUB amount to another coin/token/USD/CAD/EUGBP/PLN/RUB. So if you want to see price of 5000 PAR in AXPR or USD, just type /convert 5000 PAR AXPR or /convert 5000 PAR USD. Try it out in PM with the bot. Ketan won this week’s Parena and laid claim to the lion’s share of the 100k PAR pot. Victor’s trivia this week in ParJar was on Animals. 10 questions, 50k PAR. Dayum! Ian hosted an art quiz in ParJar as well. Another 50k PAR given out. The OG Parachute items were finally phased out of the parachute shop this week. Check out the latest gear that arrived in the shop.
The Big Chili Race Standings as on 2-July
Alexis receiving one of the last shipments of the OG gear
aXpire submitted its proposal to be listed on Binance Dex this week. The 100k monthly AXPR burn can be tracked here. Weekly update video is up as well. Have a look. Co-Founder of Huddl, Vishal Karir, wrote about BOMB as deflationary gold in an article on scarce assets. Jason Choi, researcher at The Spartan Group, talked about two "fascinating & underexposed economic experiments in crypto" in a tweet thread this week. One of them was BOMB. Benjamin’s latest BOMB Report is out as well. You can also watch him elaborate on it in this video. Remember, the BOMB video contest that has been ongoing for a few weeks now? Here’s a compilation of 100 submissions. The winners have been selected. A new market stats dashboard will be going live soon. And finally, don’t forget to mark your calendars for July 15th. Zachary will be announcing the next big step for BOMB.
This chart from Benjamin’s report seems to back up BOMB’s core idea
Horizon State was featured in the blockchain showcase series by Micky News with a detailed background on the project and where they are heading. HST got added to the FlashCoin mobile wallet and its P2P marketplace. The Hydro Pay app’s official video was released this week. Plus, check out the latest app updates here, here and here. The project was also covered in a publish0x article about 3 promising projects in H2 2019. HYDRO has taken the lead in a vote-for-listing competition to get listed on ChangeNOW. Read more about DeFi and how Molecule is a positive force in the DeFi space in Hydro’s article. In District0x-verse, read up on the latest from the District Weekly. Meme Factory’s newest meme contest is underway. Hearthstone fans, don’t forget to catch the gameplay recording of Game of Memes (which uses Meme Factory assets for game cards). Project Manager Alexander wrote about the journey of Meme Factory so far in his blog article.
Meme Factory's dankest meme as of 4th July :p
Fantom’s FTM token was listed on OKEx, OKEx Korea and Bittrex International this week. If you’ve been living under a rock for the first half of 2019, CMO Michael Chen’s got your back. His half yearly recap article covers all things Fantom. Michael's presentation at ZKLux#1 was featured in Sikoba's blog post. PaperCoins’ review of Fantom was published this week. Check it out! The team also had an AMA with the latest partner, Xangle. Click here for the transcript. Opacity (and Hydro Pay) were added to dApp browser on dapp.com. June recap for Opacity was out this week. Bounty hunters, have a read of the weekly Bounty0x distribution report. Bloom partnered with the platform to provide Bloom verified accounts for Bounty0x users. Bloom verified accounts are more trustworthy and hence get access to higher value bounties compared to unverified accounts.
Bloom takes data privacy seriously
1UP will be seeing a major burn of its tokens in the near future. Read more about the updated tokenomics here. Another project will get a chance to be reviewed in detail for free by Uptrennd. Voting started this week. Have a question to ask Enjin CTO Witek Radomski? Uptrennd will be interviewing him soon and your question could make it to the interview. The ETHOS Universal Wallet turned 1 this week. Happy Birthday! Switch’s press releases went live simultaneously on Reuters, The Merkle, Bitcoin PR Buzz, Coinspeaker, Blockmanity and ZyCrypto. ESH was listed on Mercatox and ZooomEx. One of the coolest features on Switch is the option to buy gift cards with altcoins. Catch up with the latest at Switch from their update article. In Birdchain news, get an early preview of the of the SMS feature on the app and its testing snapshots. Details of the 2gether referral program were released this week. Here’s a link for Spanish speakers.

And with that, it’s a wrap for the rapid catch up series and for this week at Parachute. Thank you again for being here and God Bless Parachute! See you again with another update. Ciao!
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Current State & The Future Of Digital Assets From Ariel Ling, BitMax COO.

Current State & The Future Of Digital Assets From Ariel Ling, BitMax COO.
Ariel Ling, co-founder and COO of BitMax, has shared her thoughts on the current state of digital assets and what to expect in the next years, what retail investor should take into account when buying any cryptocurrencie and the key factors that drive the value of the token/coin.
Ariel Ling, BitMax COO
Why, when and how have you started your crypto journey?
I started my crypto journey at the beginning of 2018 when my long-time friend, the co-founder and CEO of BitMax.io, Dr. George Cao “pulled” me out of the traditional Wall Street and asked me to join him in launching this exciting venture. Three main drivers are 1) to learn more about blockchain technology and its transformational applications in different industries; 2) to leverage in-depth traditional finance expertise to improve overall crypto trading and exchange market structure for better efficiency and transparency; 3) to have a chance to work with a talented and driven team who share similar vision, passion and conviction to build a top global digital asset trading platform as well as a wonderful organization from good to great!
If your friend will ask you: should I consider cryptocurrencies as investment opportunity? What will be your answer? Will you recommend any specific digital asset?
Coming from traditional finance perspective, I would explain my thoughts process from three angles — 1) types of crypto or digital assets as the foundation for understanding; 2) whether they, are more for short-term trading or mid-term investment 2) what are elements for investment valuation and decision-making so our friends can assess and make decision for themselves.
First, in general there are three types of digital assets:
  • Major currency / coin-type like Bitcoin, ETH, XRP, Litecoin, etc. and stable coins;
  • Security-type tokens representing some equity or debt rights of underlying projects;
  • Utility tokens for usage on specific blockchain platform or network.
Each type represents different type of opportunity and risk.
Second: is digital asset good for trading or investment? due to the nascent nature and very short history of market development with most of retail investors’ participation and lack of proper regulatory framework globally, there are quite some market manipulation, speculation and fraud activities in the current market, causing significant volatility and investors loss across all types within very short period of time. This made it very hard for any investors to assess the real valuation and momentum drivers behind those large swings. So at this point, I would think with its high volatility and risk, digital asset in general is more of very short-term trading product than investment vehicle. From liquidity perspective, major currency/coin-type will have more market depth across exchanges, hence more suitable for short-term trading-focused strategies.
Third, from traditional investment perspective, it is critical to assess digital asset investing from valuation and fundamental perspectives, such as business model, future growth, economic return vs. person’s risk tolerance and investment objectives. For major coins, especially Bitcoin itself with its longest history among all the digital assets, have started to provide certain payment function similar to fiat currencies in certain countries. Hence, there are more interesting dynamics to the Bitcoin investing based on one’s view of Bitcoin usage over mid-term horizon and the relative valuation vs its production (mining cost) especially with the price down to 3,500–3,650 USD. For security-type or utility tokens, the performance over short-to-medium term really comes down to combination of intrinsic value of underlying blockchain projects and token economics. Similar to Internet in 1990s, blockchain technology projects are still at the early stage of development and looking for meaningful and applicable use cases to bring real economic benefit from the economics and business model perspective, so it becomes very difficult to apply traditional finance valuation and assess the real intrinsic value of those projects. Recent market crash has brought many of those tokens down to near zero value. So the investment in those tokens are extremely high risk and everyone should be really careful and prudent in the evaluation of any specific projects for the decision-making and risk protection.
What is the story behind BitMax? Who are the foundefounders? When it was founded?
Q1 2018, Dr. George Cao and I founded Global Digital Mercantile (GDM), global operator of digital asset platforms, including BitMax.io based on Singapore for overseas markets and North America’s trading platform aiming for the first half of 2019. BitMax.io started public beta testing mid July, 2018, and was officially launched later mid August. On November 18th , we launched our mining mechanism, the industry very first transaction-mining & reverse-mining mechanism, which has made us the industry leading third-generation cryptocurrency exchange — after first generation of traditional exchanges like Binance, Gemini, Coinbase, etc. and 2nd generation of transaction-mining ones like FCoin, Bitthumb, etc.
Just a quick introduction of my partner. Dr. Cao studied Computer Science in the University of Science and Technology of China, and earned his PhD degree from the University of Chicago. Dr. Cao was the Founder and the Chief Investment Officer of Delpha Capital Management, LLC., New York, specializing in trading equity, ETFs and commodity future products in all major exchanges across the globe. He is also the founder and managing partner of Whitestone Investment Group, a New York based venture fund that invests in a large variety of startup companies that are in the high tech, fintech, big data and medical area. Before founding Delpha Capital, Mr. Cao worked at the Equity Division of Barclays Capital in both the New York and London offices. During that period, he oversaw equity electronic trading in the U.S., European and Asian markets. Prior to Barclays, he researched and traded U.S. equity as a Portfolio Manager at Knight Capital Group.
For me, I have built more than 18-year extensive experience in strategic planning, business development, financial risk management and regulatory implementation across major trading asset classes (Equity, FX, and Fixed Income) at several top global banks. Previous to jumping into digital asset trading, I ran USD liquidity and investment product for top financial institutions and corporate clients at tier-one global investment bank. Before that, I ran US Broker Dealer as COO and head of Business Development for Germany 2nd largest bank. Earlier from 2007 to 2012, I was global equity trading COO across Lehman Brothers and Barclays Capital, building out trading franchise and market making businesses globally. I have four degrees — graduated top of class from Nankai University with two Bachelor degrees in Finance and English Literature and got my MBA from NYU and Master of Mass Communication from University of Georgia.
Where is Bitmax located? Are you a distributed team or do you have an office to work together? How many people work for Bitmax?
Our global team of 50 members are based off two main location — New York with 20 members, including all the founding members, and Beijing with 30 members.
Would you be so kind to introduce briefly the core team members?
Both George and I are very proud of our 10-member founding team. Similar to us, they are all from Wall Street top firms like Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, and top high-frequency hedge funds with deep experience in the fields of financial engineering research and development of large-scale quant trading infrastructure. Our educational background span across multiple prestigious institutions including Columbia University, University of Chicago, Carnegie Mellon University, and New York University in the United States, as well as Peking University and Tsinghua University in China. So one special thing about BitMax.io is that very few exchanges in the crypto trading space are built by solid team like ours with strong traditional finance mindset and trading background.
You’ve started BitMax during market downtrend in pretty competitive environment. What is your value proposition? Why traders should switch to BitMax?
I think BitMax.io is actually very special in this market, and our team is very proud of what we have built in the short period of six months. There are at least three reasons I think traders should chooseBitMax.io:
  • It’s our real-word professional trading experience and expertise;
  • It’s is our platform, resilient, high volume quantitative-trading platform;
  • It’s is our top-quality customer-centric strategy.
First of all, as I mentioned in the last question, architected by a group of Wall Street veterans, BitMax.io builds upon the core value of blockchain, transparency and reliability, and delivers high-quality client services and trading experience through its innovative trading platform.
Second, our quant-driven tech platform. Our development members were all from high frequency and quantitative systematic trading shops. They definitely make sure the platform was resilient and it can actually handle billions of volume during the design and build. The platform resilience and scalability were fully being tested when we launched the transaction mining and reverse-mining. The first day, we actually had, within the first 24 hours, the trading volume of 1.6 billion in notional; and our system didn’t flinch, didn’t slow down, and didn’t shut down. This is very rare in any of today’s exchanges where you can frequently see the slowdown, the crash, and very slow user responses, especially with transaction mining exchanges.
Third, what we are extremely proud of and all the users can see, is our 24/7 customer services built upon the core Wall Street client-centric concept. Besides our customer support team who never sleep, George actually stands behind the platform almost 24/7 answering questions from the customers, seeking solutions for their issues, and providing the most responsive customer service for the entire crypto trading space.
BitMax CEO, George Cao, is often seen in official Telegram group answering different questions.
We constantly remind our team: customer first. When we design a product, when we launch a system, and when we look at user needs, we all look from customers’ perspective, from how we can protect the users. When we look at primary listing, we only select the high-quality projects because we want our users to have the best investment and trading experience on BitMax.io.
Are you satisfied with the current results of BitMax? Is transaction mining model giving expected volume? What is the % of traders using this model?
We are very pleased with current business development and delivery results from client acquisition and trading perspectives.
On the business development side, we completed the global setup for both 50-member team organization and comprehensive legal entity structure from Asia to North Americas in 2018, which laid down foundation and paved way for 2019 business expansion especially with US.
Since our platform launch in mid Aug, we successfully started Industry FIRST transaction mining and reverse-mining exchange and built out the most active global communities and users within four months in the bear market, with registered users more than 95k; average daily active traders more than quadrupled since the start of transaction mining; average daily trading volume of $465mm through the month of January and February in 2019. Those are extremely promising under this tough market condition.
From the composition of trading volumes, there are two parts — transaction mining which grows exponentially; second is organic, the regular trading which has experienced healthy increase as well because of all the listing activities and all the incentives we have. The regular trading takes about 5% of total trading volume, which is very good for an exchange which was launched in August and running right into the bear market.
What are the key factors that drive the value of the token/coin?
From traditional finance /investment view token economics is really a balance act between business / economic model and exchange market force, driven by three factors: intrinsic value and sustainability, supply and demand, and liquidity and depth.
First, from a traditional finance perspective, we need to look at the intrinsic value, the economic valuation behind a project. How does this project make money? Do they really have fundamentals? Do they really have a viable business model? Do they really have a solid user base for future growth? For example, our exchange business model is very simple. We are exchange; People trade on our platform. The more they trade, the more transaction fee the exchange collect — the revenue source. The exchange will last when people keep trading on the platform and the transaction revenue generated covers the operating cost of running an exchange.
Second, it is the supply and demand of token on the market — who will buy and for what purpose; who will sell and under what scenarios. For major currency coins like Bitcoin, people might buy and sell for potential investment or use in actual payment processing. For other types of token, it is more driven by short-term trading pattern and profit taking. So it is extremely important to set up certain token mechanism to support the equilibrium of supply and demand like how Central Banks manage the supply of currency in circulation through monetary policies.
Third, when the market force comes in, it comes down to the liquidity and depth. Exchange is about liquidity and market depth. That means there has to be enough of trading volumes at each pricing level for each token. For BitMax.io, we have very sophisticated market making model that is similar to Designated Market Maker model of New York Stock Exchange. We focus on providing liquidity and maintaining a fair and orderly market for those token listings who agree to engage our market making services.
Every exchange is looking for good projects in order to become a premiere market for this new asset. Can you name some projects that impressed you recently (even if you are not discussing possible listing with them)?
BitMax.io has strict listing requirements in order to identify high-quality projects for our users. Very proud that we have listed five industry star projects in the last several weeks, with more in the pipeline. All of them have the following attributes that made them successful — viable and profitable business model, growing user bases, strong community support, and comprehensive funding sources.
One of the shining examples is European project named LTO Network listed mid Jan. Its price has been steadily rising since then, as more and more people get to know their business model and more project support comes into the market place to buy the tokens — It uses blockchain technology to streamline a lot of legal processing for one of EU governments, which is very easy to understand its economic value from a revenue perspective. This is simply what people need to see eventually, clean and clear from business economic model perspective.
Let’s imagine a crypto market in 5 or 10 years. Can you make any prediction what the market will look like? What customers will expect from exchange in 5–10 years?
Based off my long-time experience in traditional trading, especially how equity market evolved last twenty years, I would imagine maturing market structure and entrance of institutional investors are key mandatory and healthy development of digital asset market.
First, As the market develops and expands globally, traditional institution participation is a must, in order to upgrade and strengthen the overall market structure and maturity, making it more transparent and resilient, and most importantly enabling the real broad-base adoption of digital assets. Most institutional investors, such as mutual fund, pension fund and other financial institutions, hold the majority of world investment assets, not individual retail investors. Only when those big guys join the market, will there be real revolutionary improvement and expansion of the digital asset just like any other financial markets.
Second, I would expect the market to become more structured with major building blocks for transparent trade life cycle processing and separate risk analytics supporting services. Current crypto trading market is very fragmented with exchanges taking on different roles of trading, wallet management, custodian, etc. Also the lack of clear and consistence regulation on market structure has led to many aspects of market inefficiency — inconsistent liquidity and depth, wide spread, high transaction cost, high volatility, speculation, etc. This definitely hampers the broader adoption of digital assets from institutional investors.
Forward looking, multi-tier structure under some level of regulatory framework with clear guidance is required for future maturing market. Similar to security market, there should be at least three layers of different and independent roles: the role of broker dealer to handle the client relationship with good KYC/ AML processes, retail clients, other financial institutions, blockchain players and to take client order as agent or dealer; the role of exchange to focus on listing and trading — liquidity provision and order matching; the role of clearing house to provide clearing and settlement and custodian on custody of assets with proper control and independence. It is very clean and clear with good check and balance in place.
What are the key challenges for 2019?
During our 2018 business planning, we clearly view 2019 to continue being full of challenges with market uncertainty from both asset price and valuation as well as regulatory development globally. In prep for that and further growth of our platform, we have laid out the following four main strategic objectives and they are all well underway:
  • To launch North America trading platform for high networth and institutional clients. With North America being heavily regulated market, there are two aspects of our plan — First is to leverage a trust structure to facilitate the major coin trading with fiat, and the second is broker-dealer license application with potential for securitized tokens pending regulatory guidance in place.
  • To enhance BitMax.io platform and reach global top-tier exchange. We will continue listening to our users and working hard to enhance user interface and experience by upgrading website vs. other competitors for better client retention.We will continue leading product innovation among the competitors with margin trading (successfully launched in mid Feb) and then derivative to attract new clients.
  • Relent focus on implementation and expansion of current business lines — listing, Market Making, marketing advisory services to grow current revenue base; and further seek new revenue opportunity through North America platform while maintaining cost discipline.
  • we are always on the lookout in terms of exchange alignments, acquisition target, and any business partnership from different aspects of the value chain.
When do you expect a market recovery or next bull run? What are the factors that will influence the start of the market recovery?
With current market crash or correction, there are two possibilities from trading perspective — recovery depending on whether this is a V down or U curve. The U curve occurs when the market collapses, it takes a longer time for market to find the bottom and struggle to rise up. The V down is like a quick collapse — dropping down very fast and reaching the bottom, and then, with some catalyst event, either catalyst from market structure, or catalyst from the market expansion itself, suddenly it gives a boost and bounces right back up.
For market recovery, besides all the investment and economics elements I’ve discussed above, I believe one critical factor is the regulatory development especially clear guidance from key regulatory bodies of those major financial markets such as US, UK, EU, etc. on those key building blocks I mentioned in the maturing market structure. Once those in place, more traditional institutional investors will be ready to get in and hence boost the liquidity and valuation of the digital assets. That is the new beginning of digital assets being accepted as part of Main Street investment globally.

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$30 Binance coin (BNB) incoming!

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