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Ethereum on ARM. New Eth2.0 Raspberry Pi 4 image for joining the Medalla multi-client testnet. Step-by-step guide for installing and activating a validator (Prysm, Teku, Lighthouse and Nimbus clients included)
TL;DR: Flash your Raspberry Pi 4, plug in an ethernet cable, connect the SSD disk and power up the device to join the Eth2.0 medalla testnet. The image takes care of all the necessary steps to join the Eth2.0 Medalla multi-client testnet , from setting up the environment and formatting the SSD disk to installing, managing and running the Eth1.0 and Eth2.0 clients. You will only need to choose an Eth2.0 client, start the beacon chain service and activate / run the validator. Note: this is an update for our previous Raspberry Pi 4 Eth2 image  so some of the instructions are directly taken from there.
Based on Ubuntu 20.04 64bit.
Automatic USB disk partitioning and formatting
Adds swap memory (ZRAM kernel module + a swap file)
Changes the hostname to something like “ethnode-e2a3e6fe” based on MAC hash
Automatically syncs Eth1 Goerli testnet (Geth)
Includes an APT repository for installing and upgrading Ethereum software
Includes 4 Eth2.0 clients
Includes EF eth2.0-deposit-cli tool
Includes 5 monitoring dashboards based on Grafana / Prometheus
Geth: 1.9.20  (official binary) configured for syncing Goerli Testnets
Eth2.0-deposit-cli: 0.2.1 (bundled) 
Prysm: 1.0.0alpha24 
Beacon Chain (official binary)
Validator binary (official binary)
Teku: 0.12.4alpha+20200821 (compiled) 
Lighthouse 0.2.8 (official binary) 
Nimbus 0.5.0 (compiled) 
Grafana 7.0.4 (official package) 
INSTALLATION GUIDE AND USAGE
RECOMMENDED HARDWARE AND SETUP
Raspberry 4 (model B) - 4GB or 8GB (8 GB RAM highly recommended)
MicroSD Card (16 GB Class 10 minimum)
SSD USB 3.0 disk (see storage section)
A case with heatsink and fan (Optional but strongly recommended)
USB keyboard, Monitor and HDMI cable (micro-HDMI) (Optional)
STORAGE You will need an SSD to run the Ethereum clients (without an SSD drive there’s absolutely no chance of syncing the Ethereum blockchain). There are 2 options: Use an USB portable SSD disk such as the Samsung T5 Portable SSD. Use an USB 3.0 External Hard Drive Case with a SSD Disk. In our case we used a Inateck 2.5 Hard Drive Enclosure FE2011. Make sure to buy a case with an UASP compliant chip, particularly, one of these: JMicron (JMS567 or JMS578) or ASMedia (ASM1153E). In both cases, avoid getting low quality SSD disks as it is a key component of your node and it can drastically affect the performance (and sync times). Keep in mind that you need to plug the disk to an USB 3.0 port (in blue). IMAGE DOWNLOAD AND INSTALLATION 1.- Download the image: http://www.ethraspbian.com/downloads/ubuntu-20.04.1-preinstalled-server-arm64+raspi-eth2-medalla.img.zip SHA256 149cb9b020d1c49fcf75c00449c74c6f38364df1700534b5e87f970080597d87 2.- Flash the image Insert the microSD in your Desktop / Laptop and download the file. Note: If you are not comfortable with command line or if you are running Windows, you can use Etcher  Open a terminal and check your MicroSD device name running: sudo fdisk -l You should see a device named mmcblk0 or sdd. Unzip and flash the image: unzip ubuntu-20.04.1-preinstalled-server-arm64+raspi-eth2-medalla.img.zip sudo dd bs=1M if=ubuntu-20.04.1-preinstalled-server-arm64+raspi.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 conv=fdatasync status=progress 3.- Insert de MicroSD into the Raspberry Pi 4. Connect an Ethernet cable and attach the USB SSD disk (make sure you are using a blue port). 4.- Power on the device The Ubuntu OS will boot up in less than one minute but you will need to wait approximately 7-8 minutes in order to allow the script to perform the necessary tasks to install the Medalla setup (it will reboot again) 5.- Log in You can log in through SSH or using the console (if you have a monitor and keyboard attached)
User: ethereum Password: ethereum
You will be prompted to change the password on first login, so you will need to log in twice. 6.- Forward 30303 port in your router (both UDP and TCP). If you don’t know how to do this, google “port forwarding” followed by your router model. You will need to open additional ports as well depending on the Eth2.0 client you’ve chosen. 7.- Getting console output You can see what’s happening in the background by typing: sudo tail -f /valog/syslog 8.- Grafana Dashboards There are 5 Grafana dashboards available to monitor the Medalla node (see section “Grafana Dashboards” below).
The Medalla Eth2.0 multi-client testnet
Medalla is the official Eth2.0 multi-client testnet according to the latest official specification for Eth2.0, the v0.12.2  release (which is aimed to be the final) . In order to run a Medalla Eth 2.0 node you will need 3 components:
An Eth1.0 node running the Goerli testnet in sync . Geth in our case.
An Eth2.0 Beacon Chain connected to the Eth1.0 node. You will need to choose a client here (Prysm, Lighthouse, Teku or Nimbus)
An Eth2.0 Validator connected to the Beacon Chain (same client as the Beacon Chain)
The image takes care of the Eth1.0 setup. So, once flashed (and after a first reboot), Geth (Eth1.0 client) starts to sync the Goerli testnet. Follow these steps to enable your Eth2.0 Ethereum node: CREATE THE VALIDATOR KEYS AND MAKE THE DEPOSIT We need to get 32 Goerli ETH (fake ETH) ir order to make the deposit in the Eth2.0 contract and run the validator. The easiest way of getting ETH is by joining Prysm Discord's channel. Open Metamask , select the Goerli Network (top of the window) and copy your ETH Address. Go to: https://discord.com/invite/YMVYzv6 And open the “request-goerli-eth” channel (on the left) Type: !send $YOUR_ETH_ADDRESS (replace it with the one copied on Metamask) You will receive enough ETH to run 1 validator. Now it is time to create your validator keys and the deposit information. For your convenience we’ve packaged the official Eth2 launchpad tool . Go to the EF Eth2.0 launchpad site: https://medalla.launchpad.ethereum.org/ And click “Get started” Read and accept all warnings. In the next screen, select 1 validator and go to your Raspberry Pi console. Under the ethereum account run: cd && deposit --num_validators 1 --chain medalla Choose your mnemonic language and type a password for keeping your keys safe. Write down your mnemonic password, press any key and type it again as requested. Now you have 2 Json files under the validator_keys directory. A deposit data file for sending the 32 ETH along with your validator public key to the Eth1 chain (goerli testnet) and a keystore file with your validator keys. Back to the Launchpad website, check "I am keeping my keys safe and have written down my mnemonic phrase" and click "Continue". It is time to send the 32 ETH deposit to the Eth1 chain. You need the deposit file (located in your Raspberry Pi). You can, either copy and paste the file content and save it as a new file in your desktop or copy the file from the Raspberry to your desktop through SSH. 1.- Copy and paste: Connected through SSH to your Raspberry Pi, type: cat validator_keys/deposit_data-$FILE-ID.json (replace $FILE-ID with yours) Copy the content (the text in square brackets), go back to your desktop, paste it into your favourite editor and save it as a json file. Or 2.- Ssh: From your desktop, copy the file: scp [email protected]$YOUR_RASPBERRYPI_IP:/home/ethereum/validator_keys/deposit_data-$FILE_ID.json /tmp Replace the variables with your data. This will copy the file to your desktop /tmp directory. Upload the deposit file Now, back to the Launchpad website, upload the deposit_data file and select Metamask, click continue and check all warnings. Continue and click “Initiate the Transaction”. Confirm the transaction in Metamask and wait for the confirmation (a notification will pop up shortly). The Beacon Chain (which is connected to the Eth1 chain) will detect this deposit (that includes the validator public key) and the Validator will be enabled. Congrats!, you just started your validator activation process. CHOOSE AN ETH2.0 CLIENT Time to choose your Eth2.0 client. We encourage you to run Lighthouse, Teku or Nimbus as Prysm is the most used client by far and diversity is key to achieve a resilient and healthy Eth2.0 network. Once you have decided which client to run (as said, try to run one with low network usage), you need to set up the clients and start both, the beacon chain and the validator. These are the instructions for enabling each client (Remember, choose just one Eth2.0 client out of 4): LIGHTHOUSE ETH2.0 CLIENT 1.- Port forwarding You need to open the 9000 port in your router (both UDP and TCP) 2.- Start the beacon chain Under the ethereum account, run: sudo systemctl enable lighthouse-beacon sudo systemctl start lighthouse-beacon 3.- Start de validator We need to import the validator keys. Run under the ethereum account: lighthouse account validator import --directory=/home/ethereum/validator_keys Then, type your previously defined password and run: sudo systemctl enable lighthouse-validator sudo systemctl start lighthouse-validator The Lighthouse beacon chain and validator are now enabled PRYSM ETH2.0 CLIENT 1.- Port forwarding You need to open the 13000 and 12000 ports in your router (both UDP and TCP) 2.- Start the beacon chain Under the ethereum account, run: sudo systemctl enable prysm-beacon sudo systemctl start prysm-beacon 3.- Start de validator We need to import the validator keys. Run under the ethereum account: validator accounts-v2 import --keys-dir=/home/ethereum/validator_keys Accept the default wallet path and enter a password for your wallet. Now enter the password previously defined. Lastly, set up your password and start the client: echo "$YOUR_PASSWORD" > /home/ethereum/validator_keys/prysm-password.txt sudo systemctl enable prysm-validator sudo systemctl start prysm-validator The Prysm beacon chain and the validator are now enabled. TEKU ETH2.0 CLIENT 1.- Port forwarding You need to open the 9151 port (both UDP and TCP) 2.- Start the Beacon Chain and the Validator Under the Ethereum account, check the name of your keystore file: ls /home/ethereum/validator_keys/keystore* Set the keystore file name in the teku config file (replace the $KEYSTORE_FILE variable with the file listed above) sudo sed -i 's/changeme/$KEYSTORE_FILE/' /etc/ethereum/teku.conf Set the password previously entered: echo "yourpassword" > validator_keys/teku-password.txt Start the beacon chain and the validator: sudo systemctl enable teku sudo systemctl start teku The Teku beacon chain and validator are now enabled. NIMBUS ETH2.0 CLIENT 1.- Port forwarding You need to open the 19000 port (both UDP and TCP) 2.- Start the Beacon Chain and the Validator We need to import the validator keys. Run under the ethereum account: beacon_node deposits import /home/ethereum/validator_keys --data-dir=/home/ethereum/.nimbus --log-file=/home/ethereum/.nimbus/nimbus.log Enter the password previously defined and run: sudo systemctl enable nimbus sudo systemctl start nimbus The Nimbus beacon chain and validator are now enabled. WHAT's NEXT Now you need to wait for the Eth1 blockchain and the beacon chain to get synced. In a few hours the validator will get enabled and put into a queue. These are the validator status that you will see until its final activation:
DEPOSITED (the beacon chain detected the 32 ETH deposit with your validator public key)
PENDING (you are in a queue for being activated)
Finally, it will get activated and the staking process will start. Congratulations!, you join the Medalla Eth2.0 multiclient testnet!
We configured 5 Grafana Dashboards to let users monitor both Eth1.0 and Eth2.0 clients. To access the dashboards just open your browser and type your Raspberry IP followed by the 3000 port:
Lots of info here. You can see for example if Geth is in sync by checking (in the Blockchain section) if Headers, Receipts and Blocks fields are aligned or find Eth2.0 chain info.
Updating the software
We will be keeping the Eth2.0 clients updated through Debian packages in order to keep up with the testnet progress. Basically, you need to update the repo and install the packages through the apt command. For instance, in order to update all packages you would run: sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install geth teku nimbus prysm-beacon prysm-validator lighthouse-beacon lighthouse-validator Please follow us on Twitter in order to get regular updates and install instructions. https://twitter.com/EthereumOnARM
Necessary Disclaimer: no rule breaking intended. No price manipulation intended. I only want to share verifiable facts/links and my analysis. If I am doing anything against the rules please let me know and I will do my best to fix it ASAP. I trade crypto, including LINK, and I am currently short on LINK. This is not financial advice; this is just for my own record and to start a discussion for anyone who might want more transparency around LINK.
I believe there is a lot of misinformation, uncertainty, and unanswered questions about the LINK token, the Chainlink ecosystem, the SmartContract parent company. I also believe that LINK's current price is unjustified based on fundamental factors like usage/business case/current customers/future potential. So I'm raising some points and asking some questions. What is this post? Why should I care? How do I use it? Read or skim it. It's about the LINK token, the Chainlink ecosystem, and the parent company SmartContract. It's about why I believe the price of the LINK token may be currently driven mostly by hype and not backed by standard market fundamentals like usage/economics. Update 9 AUG: reorganizing, rewriting this post and moving supporting data/sources into "appendix" comments below on this post. The previous versions of this post and my comments elsewhere were too emotionally charged and caused more division rather than honest, evidence-based, productive discussion and I sincerely apologize for that. I have now rewritten it and will continue to update it.
Threshold signatures, staking, on-chain SLAs: How real are these, is there a roadmap, how will this benefit users, is there any evidence of users currently *wanting* to use chainlink but needing these features and actively waiting for Chainlink to launch these? Staking: for there to be a valid incentive for users to stake LINK, it has to return around 5% annually because anything substantially under that would have users putting their money elsewhere (https://www.stakingrewards.com/cryptoassets) (not counting speculative capital gains in terms of LINK's price, but price gain per token/coin applies to all other crypto projects as well). Currently, for stakable cryptos, around 30-80% of their total supply is staked, and a good adjusted reward is on the order of 5% as well (some actually negative, some 10%+). The promise of staking incentivises people to buy and hold more LINK tokens (again, many other crypto projects have staking already live). That 5% reward will ultimately have to come from the customers who pay Chainlink oracle nodes to use their services, so it's an extra 5% fee for them. Of course, in the near future, the staking rewards *could* be subsidized by the founders' reserve wallets. Threshold signatures: addressed below in a comment. On-chain SLAs: [TODO] Here's supposedly Chainlink's agile/project planning board. (TODO: verify that it is indeed Chainlink's, and then analyse it) https://www.pivotaltracker.com/n/projects/2129823
I manually traced EVERY single inbound transaction/source of funds for the above 4 (not counting #1 as 10 LINK is negligible). 2 & 3 are 99.99%+ genesis-funded, being ACTIVELY topped up by a genesis wallet, last tx 4 days ago, 500,000 LINK. #4 has been funded 36 times over the past year and a half (that's 36 manual exports and I did them all). They all come from the 0x27158..., 0x2f0acb..., and https://etherscan.io/token/0x514910771af9ca656af840dff83e8264ecf986ca?a=0x1f9e26f1c050b5c018ab0e66fcae8e4394eb0165 (another address like the 0x2f0acb that I went through and checked EVERY SINGLE inbound source of funds, and it's also >99.9% genesis-funded - one tx from Binance for 6098 LINK out of a total ~6,560,000 inbound LINK from genesis wallets), and two other addresses linked to Binance (0x1b185c8611d157a67d9a9d5261b0d2bd52c0bb78, 10,000 LINK and 0x039ac18afe298747c51c85e7c8f0d67c327f3883, 1,000,000 LINK) The 0x039ac... address funded the "Chainlink: Aggregator" address with 127,900 LINK, and the 0x1b185... with about ~9,600 LINK). So yes, it's technically possible that someone not related to Chainlink paid for the ETH / USD price feed because some funds do come from Binance. However, they only come from two distinct addresses. Surely for "240+" claimed partnerships, more than TWO would pay to use Chainlink's MOST POPULAR price feed? That is, unless they don't pay directly but to another address and then Chainlink covers this one from their own wallets. I will check if that's in line with Chainlink's whitepaper, but doesn't that throw doubt on the whole model of end-users paying to use oracles/aggregators, even if it's subsidized? I provide you this much detail not to bore you but to show you that I went through BY HAND and checked every single source (detailed sources in Appendix B) of funds for the OFFICIAL, Chainlink-listed "ETH/USD" aggregator that's supposedly sponsored by 10 DeFi partners (Synthetix, LoopSpring, OpenLaw, 1inch, ParaSwap, MCDEX, FuturesSwap, DMM, Aave, The Force Protocol). Yet where are the transactions showing that those 10 partners have EVER paid for this ETH/USD oracle? Perhaps the data is there so what am I missing? This ETH/USD aggregator has transferred out ~76,000 LINK to I guess the data providers in increments of .33 LINK. It has 21 data providers responding. I will begin investigating the data providers themselves soon. And those middle addresses like 0x1f9e26... and 0x2f0acb...? They have transferred out hundreds of thousands if not millions of LINK to exchanges. And that's just ONE price pair aggregator. Chainlink has around 40 of these (albeit this one's one of the more popular ones). SNX / ETH aggregator is funded 100% by genesis-sourced wallets, only 3 inbound transactions: https://etherscan.io/token/0x514910771af9ca656af840dff83e8264ecf986ca?a=0xe23d1142de4e83c08bb048bcab54d50907390828 Some random examples (for later, ignore these for now) *********** https://etherscan.io/token/0x514910771af9ca656af840dff83e8264ecf986ca?a=0x039ac18afe298747c51c85e7c8f0d67c327f3883 bought 1,000,000 LINK from Binance in Sept 12 & 15, 2019. (one of the possible funding sources for the ETH / USD aggregator example above) This address got 500,000 LINK from 0x27158... and has distributed them into ~5-10,000 LINK wallets that haven't had any out transactions yet https://etherscan.io/token/0x514910771af9ca656af840dff83e8264ecf986ca?a=0x5bcf3edc0bb7119e35f322ba40793b99d4620f1e ************** Another example with an unnamed aggregator-node-like wallet that was only spun up 5 days ago, Aug 5: https://etherscan.io/token/0x514910771af9ca656af840dff83e8264ecf986ca?a=0x2cbfd29947f774b8cf338f776915e6fee052f236 It was funded 2,000 LINK SOLELY by the 0x27158... wallet and has so far paid out ~500 LINK in 0.43 LINK amounts to 9 wallets at a time. For example, this is one of the wallets it cashes out to: https://etherscan.io/token/0x514910771af9ca656af840dff83e8264ecf986ca?a=0x64fe692be4b42f4ac9d4617ab824e088350c11c2#tokenAnalytics That wallet extremely consistently collects small amounts of LINK since Oct 2019. It must be a data provider because a lot of Chainlink named wallets pay it small amounts of LINK regularly. It has transferred out 20 times. The most recent transfer out: https://etherscan.io/token/0x514910771af9ca656af840dff83e8264ecf986ca?a=0xc8c30fa803833dd1fd6dbcdd91ed0b301eff87cf which then immediately transferred to the named "1inch.exchange" wallet, so I assume this was a "cash-out" transaction. It has cashed out via this address a lot. Granted, it also has transfer-out transactions that haven't (yet) ended up in an exchange wallet, eg https://etherscan.io/token/0x514910771af9ca656af840dff83e8264ecf986ca?a=0x88e5353a73f38f25a9611e6083de6f361f9b537b with a current balance of 3000 LINK. This could be a user's exchange wallet, ready to be sold, or could be something else. No way for me to tell as there are no out txs from it.
LINK overall transaction, volume, and tx fees
This is to understand how much $ moves through the LINK ecosystem through: nodes, data providers, reserve wallets, wallets linked to exchanges, others. A typical aggregator node tx (payout?): https://etherscan.io/tx/0xef9e8e6dd94ebe9bbac8866f18c2ea0a07408ced1aa77fa04826043eaa55e772 This is their ETH/USD aggregator paying out 1 LINK to each of 21 addresses. Value of 21 LINK ~= $210. Total eth tx fees: .233 ETH (~$88.5, ~42% of the total tx value. If LINK was $4.2 instead of $10, the tx fees would be 100% of the value of the tx). Transactions like this happen every few minutes, and the payout amounts are most often 0.16, 0.66, 1.0, and 2.0 Link. Chainlink’s node/job listing site, https://market.link, lists 86 nodes, 195 feeds, 801 jobs, ~1,080,000 job runs (I can’t tell if this is over the past 2 months or 1.5 years). Only 20 nodes have over 1000 job runs, and 62 nodes have ZERO runs. Usual job cost is listed as 0.1 link, but the overall payout to the nodes is 10-20 times this. The nodes then cash out usually through a few jump addresses to exchanges. Some quick maths: (being generous and assuming it’s 1mil jobs every 2 months = ~6mil link/year = $60,000,000 revenue a year. This is the most generous estimate towards link’s valuation I’ve found so far. If we ignore the below examples where on multi-node payouts the tx fees are more than the node revenue itself, then it’s almost in line with an over-valued (but real) big tech company. For example, one of the latest CHF/USD job runs paid 0.1 LINK to 9 addresses (data providers?) - total $14.4 payout - and paid 0.065 ETH ($24.5) in fees. That’s a $10.1 LOSS on a $14.4 revenue: https://etherscan.io/tx/0xa6351bab810b6864bfebb0f6e1e3bde3c8856f8aac3ba769dd2e6d1a39c0d23f Linkpool’s (one of the biggest node operators) “ETH-USD CryptoCompare” job costs 0.1 link and has 33 runs in the past 24 hours (once every ~44min), total ~78,000 runs since May 30 2019 (once every ~8min). https://market.link/jobs/64bb0845-c4e1-4681-8853-0b5aa7366101/runs (PS cryptocompare has a free API that does this. Not sure why it costs $1 at current link prices to access an API once)
Top 100 wallets (0.05% of ~186,000 total) hold 83% of tokens. 8 wallets each hold over 1% of total, 58 hold over 0.1%. Of these 58, 9 are named exchange/lending pool wallets. For comparison, for Tether (TUSD), the top 100 wallets (0.006% of ~1,651,000 total) hold 35.9% of the supply. 3 addresses hold over 1% of the supply and 135 hold over 0.1%. Of these 135, at least 15 are named exchange/lending pool wallets. LINK’s market cap is $3.5B (or $10B fully diluted, if we count the foundedev-controlled tokens, which we should as there's nothing preventing them from being moved at a moment's notice). Tether’s is $6.9B. Tether has 10 times more addresses and less distribution inequality. Both LINK and Tether are ERC20 tokens, and even if we temporarily ignore any arguments related to management/roadmap/teams etc, Tether has a clear, currently functional, single use case: keep 1 USDT = $1 USD by printing/burning USDT (and yet as of April 2019, only 74% of Tether's market cap is backed by real funds - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tether_(cryptocurrency))). Given that Chainlink's market cap is now 50% bigger than Tether's, surely by now there's AT LEAST one clear, currently functional use case for LINK? What is it? Can we *see* it happening on-chain?
Chainlink’s actual deliverable products
"What do I currently get for my money if I buy LINK 1) as an investor and 2) as a tech business/startup thinking of using oracles?” Codebase (Chainlink’s github has around 140-200,000 lines of code (not counting html/css). What else is not counted in this? Town crier? Proprietary code that we don't know about yet? How much CODING has Chainlink done other than what's on github? Current network of oracles - only ~20 active nodes - are there many more than the ones listed on market.link and reputation.link? If so, would be nice to know about these if we're allowed! Documentation - they have what seems like detailed instructions on how to launch and use oracle nodes (and much more, I haven't investigated yet) (TODO this part more - what else do they offer to me as an end consumer, and eg as a tech startup needing oracle services that I can’t code myself?)
Network utilization statistics:
Etherscan.io allows csv export of the first 5000 txs from each day. From Jul 31 to Aug 6 2020, I thus downloaded 30,000 tx from midnight every day to an average of 7:10am (so 24 hour totals are 3.34x these numbers if we assume the same network utilization throughout the day). (Summary of all LINK token activity on the ETH blockchain from 31.07 to 06.08, first 5000 txs of each day (30k total) shown Appendix A comment below this post.) If we GENEROUSLY assume that EVERY SINGLE transaction under 10.0 LINK is ACTUAL chainlink nodes doing ACTUAL work, that’s still under 0.1% of the LINK network’s total volume being used for ACTUAL ecosystem functioning. The rest is speculation, trading, node funding by foundedev wallets, or dumping to exchanges (anything I missed?) Assuming the above, the entire turnover of the actual LINK network is currently (18,422 LINK) * ($10/LINK) * (3.34 as etherscan.io’s data only gives first 5000 tx per day which averages to 7:10am) * (52 wk/year) = USD $31,995,329 turnover a year. Note: the below paragraph is old analysis using traditional stock market Price/Earnings ratios which several users have now pointed out isn't really applicable in crypto. I leave it for the record. Assuming all of that is profit (which it’s not given tx fees at the very least), LINK would need a PE ratio (Price/Earnings) of 100 times to justify its current (undiluted) valuation of $3.5 billion of 300 if you count the other 65% of tokens that haven’t been dumped by the founders/devs yet. For comparison, common PE ratios are 32 (facebook), 29 (google), 37 (uber), 20 (twitter on a good year), 10 (good hedge fund returning 10% annual).
Thoughts on DeFi & yield-farming - [TODO]
Why would exchanges who do their due diligence list LINK, let alone at a leverage? 1) that's their business, they take a cut of every transaction, overhyped or not, 2) they're not safe from listing openly bearish tokens like EIDOS (troll token that incentivized users to make FAKE transactions, response to EOS) https://www.coindesk.com/defi-yield-farming-comp-token-explained The current ANNUAL yield on liquidity/yield farming is something like 2% on STABLE tokens like USDC and TETHER which at least have most of their supply backed by real-world assets. If Chainlink LINK staking is to be successful, they'll have to achieve at LEAST that same 2% at end-state. IF LINK is in bubble territory and drops, that's a lot of years at 2% waiting to recoup losses.
SmartContract Team & Past Projects
Normally I don't like focussing on people because it leads too easily to ad-hominem attacks on personality rather than on technology/numbers as I've done above, but I came across this and didn't like what I saw. Steve Ellis, SmartContract's current CTO, co-founded and worked in "Secure Asset Exchange" from 2014 to 2016. They developed the NXT blockchain, issued 1,000,000,000 NXT tokens (remind you of anything?), NXT was listed end of 2013 and saw 3 quick 500%-1000% pumps and subsequent dumps in early in mid 2014, and then declined to . SecureAE officially shut down in Jan 2016. Then at some point a company called Jelurida acquired the rights to NXT (presumably after SecureAE?), then during the 2017 altcoin craze NXT pumped 300 times to a market cap of $1.8 BILLION and then dumped back down 100 times and now it's a dead project with a market cap of $13 million. https://www.linkedin.com/in/steveellis0606/ https://trade.secureae.com/ https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/nxt/ https://www.jelurida.com/news/lawsuit-against-apollo-license-violations As an investor or business owner, would you invest/hire a company whose co-founders/CTO's last project was a total flop with a price history chart that's textbook pump-and-dump behaviour? (and in this case, we KNOW the end result - 99% losses for investors) If you're Google/Oracle/SWIFT/Intel, would you partner with them?
Open questions for the Chainlink community and investors:
Network activity: Are there any other currently active chainlink nodes other than those listed on market.link and reputation.link? If so, is there a list of them with usage statistics? Do they use some other token than LINK and thus making simple analytics of the LINK ERC20 token not an accurate representation of Chainlink’s actual activity? If the nodes listed on the two sites above ARE currently the main nodes, then
PR, partnership announcements: Why is the google tweet still pinned to the top of Chainlink’s twitter? Due to the frequently circulated Chainlink promotion material (https://chainlinkecosystem.com/) that lists Google as one of the key partners, this tweet being pinned is potentially misleading as there isn't anything in there to merit calling Google a "collaborator" or "partner" - just that blockchains/oracles *can* use Google's APIs (but so can most software in the world). Is there something else going on with the SmartContract-Google relationship that warrants calling Google a partner that we're simply not aware of yet?
By buying LINK, what backs YOUR money: If you have bought and currently hold LINK tokens, how comfortable are you that the future promise of your investment growing is supported on verifiable business and technological grounds versus pure, parabolic hype? If after reading this post you still are, I kindly ask you to reply and show how even one of the points I provided is either incorrect or not applicable, and I will edit my post and include your feedback in the relevant section as I have already done from other users.
What have I missed? Of course not 100% of what I've said is infallible truth. I am a real human, and I have plenty of biases and blind spots. Even if what I've provided is technically correct, there may be other much more important info that I've missed that eclipses what I've provided here. Ask yourself: if the current hype around LINK is indeed valid and points to a $100/$1000 future LINK price, then Where’s Chainlink’s missing financial/performance/usage evidence to justify LINK’s current valuation of $10+?
For your consideration, I have provided evidence with links that you can follow and verify, and draw your own conclusions. I have made my case as to why I believe the LINK token is currently priced much higher than evidence supports, and I ask you to peer-review my analysis and share your thoughts with me and with the wider LINK/crypto community. Thank you for your time, I realize this is a long post. All questions and feedback welcome, feel free to comment or PM. I won't delete/censoblock (except for personal threats, safety considerations etc). I am a real human but I am not revealing my true identity for obvious privacy/harassment reasons. (If anyone is wondering about my credentials ability to add 2+2 and work with basic spreadsheets: I have previously won a math competition in a USA state, I won an English-speaking country's physics olympiad, my university education is in mathematical physics/optimization engineering, and I worked for a few years in a global manufacturing company doing data analytics, obviously I'm not posting my CV here to verify that but I promise you it's the truth) I’m not looking to spread neither FUD, nor blind faith, nor pure hype, and I want an honest transparent objective discussion. I personally believe more that LINK is overvalued, but my beliefs have evolved and may continue to do so as I research more and understand more about Chainlink, LINK, Ethereum, DeFi, and other related topics, and as I incorporate YOUR feedback. If you think I haven't disclosed something, ask. As always, this is not financial advice and I am not liable for anything that may happen as a result of you reading this!
Fantom (FTM) will be the next possible 1 billion+ marketcap. I am well aware that many members of the crypto community consider Fantom a scam but please don't sleep on this one. Here's why: Fantom offers a DAG-based blockchain protocol for instant transactions and infinite scalability at near zero costs. Fantom is the first fully decentralized layer 1 solution with an aBFT consensus model called lachesis. https://fantom.foundation/lachesis-consensus-algorithm/ Fantoms Opera chain, released in December 2019 is capable of 3k tps with a finality between 1 and 2 seconds with transaction costs way below 1 cent. It is secured via proof of stake. The tps are currently limited by the Ethereum virtual machine (EVM). Fantom is developing its own VM which will solve the bottleneck and expand the tps beyond 20k tps. Opera Chain will be used by the Afghan Government to track drugs to prevent them from counterfeiting. https://www.forbes.com/sites/lukefitzpatrick/2020/07/06/fantoms-blockchain-tech-is-being-trialed-in-afghanistan-to-solve-a-surprising-world-health-organization-who-problem/amp/ Opera Chain has full smart contract support in solidity and thus existing dAPPS can easily ported from the Ethereum Blockchain within minutes. https://fantom.foundation/what-is-fantom-opera/ Fantom is building the first fully functioning DeFi suite outside of the Ethereum ecosystem with lending, borrowing and synthetic trading with over 170 assets on Opera chain and almost zero fees with near instant transaction settlements. https://fantom.foundation/defi/ They are continuosly adding different tokens to the ecosystem, which can be used as collateral to mint the stablecoin fUSD which can be used to trade synthetic assets. Already announced supported tokens are: Ethereum Classic (ETC), Okex Token (OKB), Ontology (ONT) and Tokoin (TOKO) and of course Fantoms own token FTM. This is the chance for all existing tokens to get their share in DeFi and brings a lot of awareness for Fantom in the different communities. See announcements here: https://fantom.foundation/blog/ FTM is also the only government token of the Opera chain. They recently used the token to let the community vote for the staking model which will be changed in a few weeks due to that vote which cuts the inflation rate significantly. Look here for more info: https://fantom.foundation/fluid-staking-a-staking-proposal/ More than 75% of the total supply are already minted and almost 70% are being staked and therefore off the exchanges already. One of the best things: The founder of Yearn Finance (YFI) Andre Cronje has been involved in the project for more than 2 years and is still the lead technical advisor. This guy actively was involved in building the consensus + DeFi module. The DeFi stack called Fantom Finance is expected to launch anytime in the coming weeks. Don't miss out in this one. It has a current marketcap of just 40 million. Therefore FTM is still trading below ICO price! Website: https://fantom.foundation/ Team: https://fantom.foundation/about/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/FantomFDN?s=09https://twitter.com/FantomFinance?s=09 Coingecko: https://www.coingecko.com/de/munze/fantom Telegram: https://t.me/FantomTrading Traded on big exchanges like Binance, Kucoin, etc.
The Acala team recently announced support for EVM-based smart contracts in their parachain. In short, this means that smart contracts that run on Ethereum can be run on their parachain. As they are targetting DeFi use case, I think that’s a great way to garner adoption. It’s also a bold strategy as I will outline below.
Some background on the Acala team The team is actually composed to two teams who were already building for the Polkadot ecosystem. Those teams are PolkaWallet and Laminar. The latter focus on runtime engineering (“building chains”), while PolkaWallet is a mobile-first wallet for Polkadot (and Kusama). These teams, both as separate entities and together as Acala, applied for grants in the Web3 Foundation grant program Each application was successful too. I know this since I prepared their contracts. 😉 In my dealings with them they were always professional and honest, plus their enthusiasm and dedication to Polkadot is unsurpassed.
What is Acala? In their own words: “A decentralized stablecoin platform powering cross-blockchain open finance applications.” (Source) The team are aiming to be the “decentralized financial hub of Polkadot” with “a suite of financial primitives: a multi-collateralized stablecoin backed by cross-chain assets like Bitcoin, a trustless staking derivative, and a decentralized exchange.” (Source) Add in wallet support and you have a very compelling package that should entice both builders and users to the project. Merely building a blockchain doesn’t guarantee wallet support from day one, nor does it guarantee developers will want to build for it, but this is where Acala is making great headway to overcome those challenges. For users, having access to a stablecoin is a big must and is something that I was personally wrong about. I didn’t think they would be so useful (+1 XP for me). Moreover, I suspect there could be a governance token coming too, one which is also the fuel for the contracts. I can see these features intertwining into some interesting token economics.
A bold strategy A strong team announcing support for EVM-flavoured smart contracts is great for Polkadot, but I think it may ruffle a few feathers with other teams who are also planning to offer EVM compatibility. This is a bold move, but one that makes sense. Being able to attract DeFi developers to Polkadot is easier if there is a nice migration path from Ethereum to Polkadot. It feels like a competitive move as EVM-compatible parachains will have an overlap in target audience. This is one of the interesting aspects of the blockchain space: you have open-source software and a general design principle of interconnectivity such that collaboration is highly encouraged, yet there is a limited number of developers. Acala is collaboratively in the sense that it should offer a stablecoin. That said, there is some natural differentiation between the projects too. Should DeFi projects naturally adopt Acala, then I see this as an opportunity for non-DeFi projects to migrate to the other parachains (e.g. Plasm and Moonbeam). Ultimately, that may not be such a bad thing. Less projects on the same chain (“shard”) means less congestion. The launching of the new parachains is something to watch closely over the next year or so; however, that is the subject of a future blog!
Acala Tokens At the moment Acala are not selling any tokens to the public. If you see anything listed on Uniswap or elsewhere in the Ethereum ecosystem (e.g. as an ERC-20) then be very skeptical. There has been some private sales to professional investors, but nothing public. There is no published date for a token sale, so currently there is no known way for small investors to get involved. Although I believe it could happen before launch. The team have a roadmap on their website which suggests a potential parachain launch of Q3 2020, but I do fear that timeline might slip. Personally, I’d really like to buy some but as a non-professional investor of only modest means I will be waiting like everyone else in the community. While I believe Acala is a strong team I think everyone should do their own research and make up their own mind.
Disclaimer: Polkadot Market provides opinions, news, aggregated content and the occassional financial data. Polkadot Market is not a broker / dealer and is not a registered professional advisor. No information on this site should be taken as a solicitation to buy or sell financial assets.
Crypto trading, finance & payment platform @cryptocom is now using Chainlink's Price Reference Data directly in their DeFi wallet. They will also be consuming two price feeds for their native asset CRO, to improve their platform's decentralization and transparency.
@baselineproto is using Chainlink to add additional validated data to their approach for creating a single on-chain record across multiple enterprise databases. We're excited to be working with them around adding additional off-chain data to baselined records.
Global trade finance platform @XinFin_Official plans to integrate Chainlink to enable a more seamless contract experience for users. They will start by launching decentralized FX rates to calculate cross-border trade financing more accurately.
Security auditor @hackenclub will make its audit data available across numerous blockchain environments using Chainlink. This data on penetration testing, proof of funds & more enables users to check if a DeFi contract is audited before sending it funds.
DeFi dashboard @zapper_fi is using Chainlink's gas price oracle live on mainnet to help users calculate the opportunity costs of portfolio decisions. Chainlink's on-chain oracle provides Zapper with an accurate, available and easily verifiable price feed.
Layer-2 scaling platform @maticnetwork is currently integrating Chainlink into its mainnet, enabling Ethereum developers to build highly scalable, universally connected smart contracts. Stay tuned for upcoming dev workshops on how to start building.
Trading platform @SpectreAI is now using eight Chainlink Price Reference Data feeds in its DeFi Boost wallet to further decentralize its operations. This allows users to properly manage their portfolios based on accurate, decentralized & transparent data.
DeFi platform @TrustSwap is live on mainnet using Chainlink's ETH/USD Price Reference Data to calculate fees for its SmartLock & SmartEscrow products. This ensures that users always pay the fair market price when leveraging TrustSwap services.
Learn how to build a DeFi yield farming dApp today that pays out rewards to liquidity providers based on Chainlink's Price Reference Data. Chainlink oracles provide reliable exchange rates for issuing rewards based on the valuation of staked collateral.
Learn how Chainlink Price Feeds provide developers with a decentralized, accurate & available source of price data to power their applications, already in use by DeFi leaders like @AaveAave & @synthetix_io. Learn how to integrate them in your smart contract today.
Polyient Games, the NFT-focused investment firm and startup ecosystem is launching the Polyient Games Founder's Key (PGFK). The PGFK is a unique membership and rewards NFT that will be leveraging Chainlink VRF to support on-chain perks including collectibles airdrops for holders. This AMA features Craig Russo of Polyient Game to learn about all that the firm has planned to promote the use and adoption of Chainlink VRF technology. Chainlink Hackathon Workshops:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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