Placeholder VC partner Joel Monegro, in his formative article on value captured by protocols, explained that shared data layers in decentralized networks and limited supply cryptographic access tokens (i.e., cryptocurrencies) make blockchain protocols valuable and accessible for all. The proliferation of blockchains has led to an influx of these “fat” protocols, which are capturing more […]
Placeholder VC partner Joel Monegro, in his formative article on value captured by protocols, explained that shared data layers in decentralized networks and limited supply cryptographic access tokens (i.e., cryptocurrencies) make blockchain protocols valuable and accessible for all.
The proliferation of blockchains has led to an influx of these “fat” protocols, which are capturing more value than the leaner application layers on top vis-à-vis thin ones in traditional internet stacks such as TCP/IP. As a result, decentralized protocol solutions looking to solve various problems have come to the fore.
Some of these problems being the disadvantages in traditional internet communication, centralized control over web accessibility, and mass surveillance. Blockchain-based VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) are a solution to this problem. Two major companies that are working on products in this space are Orchid and Tachyon Protocol. With their VPN services going live this month, let’s compare how the two match up.
An Introduction to Orchid and Tachyon
Orchid is building an open-source internet protocol on top of the internet stack to allow anonymous web access in order to circumvent surveillance states.
It does so by incentivizing users to share bandwidth with others in a marketplace setting. This breaks up traffic and directs it over Orchid’s network of distributed nodes. Kind of a decentralized alternative to TOR (The Onion Router). Launched back in 2017, Orchid has so far raised USD 48M from marquee investors such as Sequoia, DFJ, Andreessen Horowitz, Polychain Capital, Box Group, Blockchain Capital, etc.
Tachyon Protocol is building an alternate stack to disrupt traditional communication protocols over the internet in order to eliminate drawbacks in TCP/IP. It is a collaboration between X-VPN and V Systems. X-VPN is a renowned VPN service provider used by 50 million + people worldwide. V Systems is a blockchain database cloud project that uses a unique Supernode-Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism for security. Tachyon brings to fruition years of experience and research by Sunny King (inventor of Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism), Peerchemist (Peercoin Project Leader, and President of the Peercoin Foundation) and FinTech investor Alex Yang. More on the collaborators and team members later.
With a focus on VPN, both platforms are built on public blockchains (Ethereum and V Systems). Nodes on each network need to stake tokens for verification before they can offer traffic to users. In return, they receive crypto payments (in the respective tokens) through smart contracts. However, there are major differences between the two projects that set them apart.
Orchid vs. Tachyon Protocol
Orchid Protocol works on top of traditional internet protocols and creates a privacy layer using blockchain. This is done by using the open-source WebRTC for transmission to perform preliminary data obfuscation and multi-hop to reduce the chances of data theft. Data obfuscation makes Orchid traffic look like normal internet traffic with no identifier to detect that Orchid is being used.
However, this also leads to the possibility of deterioration in the transmission quality of data being moved. In normal practice, data obfuscation has been seen to have adverse impacts on network security and firewall identification. Similarly, multi-hop, while hiding original nodes, does not mask individual node activity in a P2P network. As a result, source nodes can be tracked using traffic analysis. For storage and routing, Orchid uses IPFS and Ethereum’s DHT, respectively.
In comparison, Tachyon Protocol’s approach has been to disrupt the core transmission protocols themselves, thereby providing a more comprehensive solution. It is reconstructing the TCP/IP model using its own iterations of proven P2P technologies – DHT, blockchain, UDP, and encryption.
As opposed to WebRTC, it uses its own Booster UDP to improve network connection success rates and transmission quality. The Tachyon Security Protocol is designed for end-to-end encryption and protocol imitation. With respect to multi-hop, the Tachyon Anti-analysis helps multi-relay forwarding to reduce the risk of information exposure after a single node is attacked. Tachyon also uses its own DHT for routing.
Orchid is built on Ethereum, which is a mature ecosystem with thousands of dApps and platforms built over it. However, in its current state, the Ethereum chain is limited in terms of TPS (transactions per second) and hence leads to performance bottlenecks during times of high traffic.
Orchid Protocol’s whitepaper mentions that if it were to rely on Ethereum solely, the network would allow up to 7 million users only. Comparatively, V Systems, the blockchain on which Tachyon is based, has much higher TPS and hence can theoretically support a billion users. However, it is a smaller ecosystem compared to Ethereum and is relatively newer.
For verification, Orchid Protocol uses a stake weighting plan for nodes with staking time as the adjustable parameter. The initial staking period is set at 30 days, which is good for network security but increases the barrier to entry for user participation since they need to bear more opportunity costs from higher risks of price fluctuations. To solve this issue, Orchid lets nodes with higher/longer stakes to get more traffic.
This, however, runs the risk of Matthew effect: “rich get richer, poor get poorer.” In Tachyon Protocol, staking amounts and staking periods are both adjustable parameters, thereby allowing more parameters to be tweaked in the event of an early-stage attack. The initial staking time is set to 7 days in Tachyon. In order to make up for the opportunity costs of users, the system provides fixed staking rewards to participants.
Key team members of Orchid Protocol are:
CEO Dr. Steven “Seven” Waterhouse who co-founded RPX Corp and was a project lead at Fortress, Pantera Capital and Sun Microsystems. Steven has extensive experience in the blockchain industry, with key connections in the VC investment space.
Co-Founder Brian J. Fox who was the first employee of the Free Software Foundation and is the author of the GNU Bash shell. Brian has a rich experience in open source community development.
Co-Founder Jay Freeman who developed the popular Cydia software.
Co-Founder Gustav Simonsson, who helped launch Ethereum and is an authority figure in blockchain security.
Key Tachyon people include:
Founding Member Sunny King who invented the Proof of Stake consensus mechanism and is the founder of V Systems blockchain project. Sunny is a cult hero figure in the cryptocurrency space making rare appearances in public to maintain his anonymity.
Founding Member Peerchemist who is a project leader at Peercoin. As an OG crypto developer, he is highly regarded in the developer community and maintains a global developer network influence.
Founding Member Alex Yang who is a FinTech investor and entrepreneur with over 14 years of experience in banking and finance including Nomura as an Executive Director and UBS as a VP. He is also a Co-Founder of Beam Capital.
For making settlements, Orchid uses nano payments, which is also one of its major points of focus. Nano payments allow for a large number of small transactions at low transaction costs. However, nano payments aren’t completely untraceable, and as mentioned earlier, individual node traffic can be tracked to identify source nodes.
In comparison, Tachyon has a unique mainchain payment channel. In addition to allowing for a large number of small transactions, the transaction fees in the sidechain are nil. Payments using this sidechain method are anonymous since they use payment pools. But the implementation complexity is high.
Having analyzed both projects at length, there are certainly pros and cons to both platforms. However, one major advantage that Tachyon has over Orchid is that it is backed by established brands like X-VPN and V Systems, which have been battle-tested by millions of users. As the war of the VPN protocols heats up, it will be interesting to see how these two platforms grow and influence the segment and each other over time.
A South Korean court dismisses a lawsuit brought by Bithumb investor over a data breach. – Coinnounce
A South Korean court denied relief to an investor who claims to have lost some $400,000 due to the negligence of cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb.
According to the Yonhap news agency report, the investor, known as Mr. A, had taken Bithumb to court in connection with the losses, which he alleges were the result of a significant data breach at the exchange back in 2017. However, a judge in the high court refused the case and dismissed liability after Mr. A failed to sufficiently prove that the exchange’s negligence had caused his losses. Following the ruling, the crypto exchange will not be required to compensate Mr. A. Crypto news aggregator platforms like cryptopanic can help you keep up with the crypto industry.
The losses were from the data breach prior to 2017.
According to the plaintiff, the losses came from Korean won stored on the exchange prior to a data breach in 2017. Hackers had allegedly gained unlawful access to the won and bought Ethereum tokens with it through the Bithumb exchange, before converting these back into fiat at four separate intervals. The case against the South Korean exchange was only the latest to have been raised by investors concerned about losses emerging after the 2017 data breach. This month, two of these claims were dismissed for $126,000 and $38,000, respectively, while a third was awarded just $5,000 in a partial settlement.
South Korean court had ordered to seize investors’ shares of Bithumb.
South Korea’s leading cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb came under inspection of Seoul Police due to certain accusations earlier this year. The chairman of Bithumb was found defrauding Bithumb’s customers by fooling them into buying fake tokens. Bithumb was accused of dumping its customers by selling an unlisted token. Bithumb has been a hot topic among the crypto community as it was the second cryptocurrency exchange to come under police scrutiny. The Seoul Central District Court passed an order to seize Bithumb investors’ share last month.
The Australian Securities Exchange will delay its blockchain-based CHESS replacement after huge trading volumes due to the pandemic required a massive expansion of capacity. The DLT- based system had been scheduled for official trials in December, with a planned launch window of early 2022.
At its annual meeting this year, ASX chief executive Dominic Stevens told shareholders they were looking to triple the capacity of its planned DLT system based on the surge in trade volumes seen earlier in March.
He also said that the firm was looking into how much further the timeline needed to be extended to accommodate “demand for significant additional capacity and functionality from the day it goes live.”
The ASX has been working on the CHESS-replacement for the last four years, which has become the subject of much debate.
Last year, the CHESS Replacement Stakeholder Group, a group of financial market firms consisting of over 6 million “mum and dad investors,” raised concerns about the ASX’s potential to entrench its monopoly position. According to the CRSG, the integration of the DLT system could lead to hampering competition in key market segments, “damaging, or even threatening the long-term survival of brokers, share registries, and other stakeholders.”
ASX chairman Rick Holliday-Smith claims that the DLT platform will open up new paths for competition, and make clearance and settlement much simpler for market participants.
Cardano Gets a Boost on SingularityNET Collaboration Proposal
Artificial Intelligence platform SingularityNET is planning a partial move away from Ethereum citing speed and cost issues. Cardano has been chosen as the blockchain platform of choice for the project’s full-stack AI services platform. SingularityNET has just announced a collaboration with IOHK, the firm run by Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson. The announcement added that IOHK […]
Artificial Intelligence platform SingularityNET is planning a partial move away from Ethereum citing speed and cost issues. Cardano has been chosen as the blockchain platform of choice for the project’s full-stack AI services platform.
SingularityNET has just announced a collaboration with IOHK, the firm run by Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson. The announcement added that IOHK and SingularityNET teams have been ‘seriously discussing’ what it would take to port a significant portion of the decentralized AI protocol from Ethereum to Cardano.
Ethereum Speed and Cost Issues
The move has been driven by escalating Ethereum network fees and scaling concerns. The DeFi boom this year has caused several spikes in gas fees with averages surging above $15 on a number of occasions.
CEO and founder of the SingularityNET Foundation, Dr. Ben Goertzel, stated;
“Current speed and cost issues with the Ethereum blockchain have increased the urgency of exploring alternatives for SingluarityNET’s blockchain underpinning,”
In an interview with IOHK’s Charles Hoskinson, Goertzel added that he believes in a multi-chain future and that there is a possibility that they might not completely move away from Ethereum.
The announcement added that Cardano and SingularityNET share a culture and development style centered on advanced computer science and mathematics. The Cardano ecosystem is also in a period of rapid growth with expected future launches of a number of key features such as the Plutus smart contract framework.
If the migration proceeds, it would involve a transition of SingularityNET’s native AGI token from ERC-20 to Cardano and the adoption of Plutus to create smart contracts. Final decisions and details regarding porting of a portion of the network to Cardano have not yet been made and that more community discussion needs to take place.
The AI firm is also behind the most sophisticated and expressive AI robot ever made, Sophia.
Cardano (ADA) Sees Some Relief
Cardano (ADA) prices have reacted positively to the collaboration announcement. ADA is currently trading for $0.104, up 7% since from a low of $0.096 on Sept 30.
The move has taken ADA back to a $3.2 billion market cap, squeezing Crypto.com (CRO) out of the top-ten rankings.
Over the past week, ADA has made even more progress with a 37% increase from a three-month low of $0.075. Its highest level this year came in late July when ADA reached a two-year high of $0.15.
Like most altcoins though, it is still way down from its all-time high of over $1.15 during the January 2018 crypto bubble.