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Comparison between Avalanche, Cosmos and Polkadot

Comparison between Avalanche, Cosmos and Polkadot
Reposting after was mistakenly removed by mods (since resolved - Thanks)
A frequent question I see being asked is how Cosmos, Polkadot and Avalanche compare? Whilst there are similarities there are also a lot of differences. This article is not intended to be an extensive in-depth list, but rather an overview based on some of the criteria that I feel are most important.
For better formatting see https://medium.com/ava-hub/comparison-between-avalanche-cosmos-and-polkadot-a2a98f46c03b
https://preview.redd.it/e8s7dj3ivpq51.png?width=428&format=png&auto=webp&s=5d0463462702637118c7527ebf96e91f4a80b290

Overview

Cosmos

Cosmos is a heterogeneous network of many independent parallel blockchains, each powered by classical BFT consensus algorithms like Tendermint. Developers can easily build custom application specific blockchains, called Zones, through the Cosmos SDK framework. These Zones connect to Hubs, which are specifically designed to connect zones together.
The vision of Cosmos is to have thousands of Zones and Hubs that are Interoperable through the Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol (IBC). Cosmos can also connect to other systems through peg zones, which are specifically designed zones that each are custom made to interact with another ecosystem such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. Cosmos does not use Sharding with each Zone and Hub being sovereign with their own validator set.
For a more in-depth look at Cosmos and provide more reference to points made in this article, please see my three part series — Part One, Part Two, Part Three
(There's a youtube video with a quick video overview of Cosmos on the medium article - https://medium.com/ava-hub/comparison-between-avalanche-cosmos-and-polkadot-a2a98f46c03b)

Polkadot

Polkadot is a heterogeneous blockchain protocol that connects multiple specialised blockchains into one unified network. It achieves scalability through a sharding infrastructure with multiple blockchains running in parallel, called parachains, that connect to a central chain called the Relay Chain. Developers can easily build custom application specific parachains through the Substrate development framework.
The relay chain validates the state transition of connected parachains, providing shared state across the entire ecosystem. If the Relay Chain must revert for any reason, then all of the parachains would also revert. This is to ensure that the validity of the entire system can persist, and no individual part is corruptible. The shared state makes it so that the trust assumptions when using parachains are only those of the Relay Chain validator set, and no other. Interoperability is enabled between parachains through Cross-Chain Message Passing (XCMP) protocol and is also possible to connect to other systems through bridges, which are specifically designed parachains or parathreads that each are custom made to interact with another ecosystem such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. The hope is to have 100 parachains connect to the relay chain.
For a more in-depth look at Polkadot and provide more reference to points made in this article, please see my three part series — Part One, Part Two, Part Three
(There's a youtube video with a quick video overview of Polkadot on the medium article - https://medium.com/ava-hub/comparison-between-avalanche-cosmos-and-polkadot-a2a98f46c03b)

Avalanche

Avalanche is a platform of platforms, ultimately consisting of thousands of subnets to form a heterogeneous interoperable network of many blockchains, that takes advantage of the revolutionary Avalanche Consensus protocols to provide a secure, globally distributed, interoperable and trustless framework offering unprecedented decentralisation whilst being able to comply with regulatory requirements.
Avalanche allows anyone to create their own tailor-made application specific blockchains, supporting multiple custom virtual machines such as EVM and WASM and written in popular languages like Go (with others coming in the future) rather than lightly used, poorly-understood languages like Solidity. This virtual machine can then be deployed on a custom blockchain network, called a subnet, which consist of a dynamic set of validators working together to achieve consensus on the state of a set of many blockchains where complex rulesets can be configured to meet regulatory compliance.
Avalanche was built with serving financial markets in mind. It has native support for easily creating and trading digital smart assets with complex custom rule sets that define how the asset is handled and traded to ensure regulatory compliance can be met. Interoperability is enabled between blockchains within a subnet as well as between subnets. Like Cosmos and Polkadot, Avalanche is also able to connect to other systems through bridges, through custom virtual machines made to interact with another ecosystem such as Ethereum and Bitcoin.
For a more in-depth look at Avalanche and provide more reference to points made in this article, please see here and here
(There's a youtube video with a quick video overview of Avalanche on the medium article - https://medium.com/ava-hub/comparison-between-avalanche-cosmos-and-polkadot-a2a98f46c03b)

Comparison between Cosmos, Polkadot and Avalanche

A frequent question I see being asked is how Cosmos, Polkadot and Avalanche compare? Whilst there are similarities there are also a lot of differences. This article is not intended to be an extensive in-depth list, but rather an overview based on some of the criteria that I feel are most important. For a more in-depth view I recommend reading the articles for each of the projects linked above and coming to your own conclusions. I want to stress that it’s not a case of one platform being the killer of all other platforms, far from it. There won’t be one platform to rule them all, and too often the tribalism has plagued this space. Blockchains are going to completely revolutionise most industries and have a profound effect on the world we know today. It’s still very early in this space with most adoption limited to speculation and trading mainly due to the limitations of Blockchain and current iteration of Ethereum, which all three of these platforms hope to address. For those who just want a quick summary see the image at the bottom of the article. With that said let’s have a look

Scalability

Cosmos

Each Zone and Hub in Cosmos is capable of up to around 1000 transactions per second with bandwidth being the bottleneck in consensus. Cosmos aims to have thousands of Zones and Hubs all connected through IBC. There is no limit on the number of Zones / Hubs that can be created

Polkadot

Parachains in Polkadot are also capable of up to around 1500 transactions per second. A portion of the parachain slots on the Relay Chain will be designated as part of the parathread pool, the performance of a parachain is split between many parathreads offering lower performance and compete amongst themselves in a per-block auction to have their transactions included in the next relay chain block. The number of parachains is limited by the number of validators on the relay chain, they hope to be able to achieve 100 parachains.

Avalanche

Avalanche is capable of around 4500 transactions per second per subnet, this is based on modest hardware requirements to ensure maximum decentralisation of just 2 CPU cores and 4 GB of Memory and with a validator size of over 2,000 nodes. Performance is CPU-bound and if higher performance is required then more specialised subnets can be created with higher minimum requirements to be able to achieve 10,000 tps+ in a subnet. Avalanche aims to have thousands of subnets (each with multiple virtual machines / blockchains) all interoperable with each other. There is no limit on the number of Subnets that can be created.

Results

All three platforms offer vastly superior performance to the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum 1.0. Avalanche with its higher transactions per second, no limit on the number of subnets / blockchains that can be created and the consensus can scale to potentially millions of validators all participating in consensus scores ✅✅✅. Polkadot claims to offer more tps than cosmos, but is limited to the number of parachains (around 100) whereas with Cosmos there is no limit on the number of hubs / zones that can be created. Cosmos is limited to a fairly small validator size of around 200 before performance degrades whereas Polkadot hopes to be able to reach 1000 validators in the relay chain (albeit only a small number of validators are assigned to each parachain). Thus Cosmos and Polkadot scores ✅✅
https://preview.redd.it/2o0brllyvpq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=8f62bb696ecaafcf6184da005d5fe0129d504518

Decentralisation

Cosmos

Tendermint consensus is limited to around 200 validators before performance starts to degrade. Whilst there is the Cosmos Hub it is one of many hubs in the network and there is no central hub or limit on the number of zones / hubs that can be created.

Polkadot

Polkadot has 1000 validators in the relay chain and these are split up into a small number that validate each parachain (minimum of 14). The relay chain is a central point of failure as all parachains connect to it and the number of parachains is limited depending on the number of validators (they hope to achieve 100 parachains). Due to the limited number of parachain slots available, significant sums of DOT will need to be purchased to win an auction to lease the slot for up to 24 months at a time. Thus likely to lead to only those with enough funds to secure a parachain slot. Parathreads are however an alternative for those that require less and more varied performance for those that can’t secure a parachain slot.

Avalanche

Avalanche consensus scan scale to tens of thousands of validators, even potentially millions of validators all participating in consensus through repeated sub-sampling. The more validators, the faster the network becomes as the load is split between them. There are modest hardware requirements so anyone can run a node and there is no limit on the number of subnets / virtual machines that can be created.

Results

Avalanche offers unparalleled decentralisation using its revolutionary consensus protocols that can scale to millions of validators all participating in consensus at the same time. There is no limit to the number of subnets and virtual machines that can be created, and they can be created by anyone for a small fee, it scores ✅✅✅. Cosmos is limited to 200 validators but no limit on the number of zones / hubs that can be created, which anyone can create and scores ✅✅. Polkadot hopes to accommodate 1000 validators in the relay chain (albeit these are split amongst each of the parachains). The number of parachains is limited and maybe cost prohibitive for many and the relay chain is a ultimately a single point of failure. Whilst definitely not saying it’s centralised and it is more decentralised than many others, just in comparison between the three, it scores ✅
https://preview.redd.it/ckfamee0wpq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=c4355f145d821fabf7785e238dbc96a5f5ce2846

Latency

Cosmos

Tendermint consensus used in Cosmos reaches finality within 6 seconds. Cosmos consists of many Zones and Hubs that connect to each other. Communication between 2 zones could pass through many hubs along the way, thus also can contribute to latency times depending on the path taken as explained in part two of the articles on Cosmos. It doesn’t need to wait for an extended period of time with risk of rollbacks.

Polkadot

Polkadot provides a Hybrid consensus protocol consisting of Block producing protocol, BABE, and then a finality gadget called GRANDPA that works to agree on a chain, out of many possible forks, by following some simpler fork choice rule. Rather than voting on every block, instead it reaches agreements on chains. As soon as more than 2/3 of validators attest to a chain containing a certain block, all blocks leading up to that one are finalized at once.
If an invalid block is detected after it has been finalised then the relay chain would need to be reverted along with every parachain. This is particularly important when connecting to external blockchains as those don’t share the state of the relay chain and thus can’t be rolled back. The longer the time period, the more secure the network is, as there is more time for additional checks to be performed and reported but at the expense of finality. Finality is reached within 60 seconds between parachains but for external ecosystems like Ethereum their state obviously can’t be rolled back like a parachain and so finality will need to be much longer (60 minutes was suggested in the whitepaper) and discussed in more detail in part three

Avalanche

Avalanche consensus achieves finality within 3 seconds, with most happening sub 1 second, immutable and completely irreversible. Any subnet can connect directly to another without having to go through multiple hops and any VM can talk to another VM within the same subnet as well as external subnets. It doesn’t need to wait for an extended period of time with risk of rollbacks.

Results

With regards to performance far too much emphasis is just put on tps as a metric, the other equally important metric, if not more important with regards to finance is latency. Throughput measures the amount of data at any given time that it can handle whereas latency is the amount of time it takes to perform an action. It’s pointless saying you can process more transactions per second than VISA when it takes 60 seconds for a transaction to complete. Low latency also greatly increases general usability and customer satisfaction, nowadays everyone expects card payments, online payments to happen instantly. Avalanche achieves the best results scoring ✅✅✅, Cosmos with comes in second with 6 second finality ✅✅ and Polkadot with 60 second finality (which may be 60 minutes for external blockchains) scores ✅
https://preview.redd.it/kzup5x42wpq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=320eb4c25dc4fc0f443a7a2f7ff09567871648cd

Shared Security

Cosmos

Every Zone and Hub in Cosmos has their own validator set and different trust assumptions. Cosmos are researching a shared security model where a Hub can validate the state of connected zones for a fee but not released yet. Once available this will make shared security optional rather than mandatory.

Polkadot

Shared Security is mandatory with Polkadot which uses a Shared State infrastructure between the Relay Chain and all of the connected parachains. If the Relay Chain must revert for any reason, then all of the parachains would also revert. Every parachain makes the same trust assumptions, and as such the relay chain validates state transition and enables seamless interoperability between them. In return for this benefit, they have to purchase DOT and win an auction for one of the available parachain slots.
However, parachains can’t just rely on the relay chain for their security, they will also need to implement censorship resistance measures and utilise proof of work / proof of stake for each parachain as well as discussed in part three, thus parachains can’t just rely on the security of the relay chain, they need to ensure sybil resistance mechanisms using POW and POS are implemented on the parachain as well.

Avalanche

A subnet in Avalanche consists of a dynamic set of validators working together to achieve consensus on the state of a set of many blockchains where complex rulesets can be configured to meet regulatory compliance. So unlike in Cosmos where each zone / hub has their own validators, A subnet can validate a single or many virtual machines / blockchains with a single validator set. Shared security is optional

Results

Shared security is mandatory in polkadot and a key design decision in its infrastructure. The relay chain validates the state transition of all connected parachains and thus scores ✅✅✅. Subnets in Avalanche can validate state of either a single or many virtual machines. Each subnet can have their own token and shares a validator set, where complex rulesets can be configured to meet regulatory compliance. It scores ✅ ✅. Every Zone and Hub in cosmos has their own validator set / token but research is underway to have the hub validate the state transition of connected zones, but as this is still early in the research phase scores ✅ for now.
https://preview.redd.it/pbgyk3o3wpq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=61c18e12932a250f5633c40633810d0f64520575

Current Adoption

Cosmos

The Cosmos project started in 2016 with an ICO held in April 2017. There are currently around 50 projects building on the Cosmos SDK with a full list can be seen here and filtering for Cosmos SDK . Not all of the projects will necessarily connect using native cosmos sdk and IBC and some have forked parts of the Cosmos SDK and utilise the tendermint consensus such as Binance Chain but have said they will connect in the future.

Polkadot

The Polkadot project started in 2016 with an ICO held in October 2017. There are currently around 70 projects building on Substrate and a full list can be seen here and filtering for Substrate Based. Like with Cosmos not all projects built using substrate will necessarily connect to Polkadot and parachains or parathreads aren’t currently implemented in either the Live or Test network (Kusama) as of the time of this writing.

Avalanche

Avalanche in comparison started much later with Ava Labs being founded in 2018. Avalanche held it’s ICO in July 2020. Due to lot shorter time it has been in development, the number of projects confirmed are smaller with around 14 projects currently building on Avalanche. Due to the customisability of the platform though, many virtual machines can be used within a subnet making the process incredibly easy to port projects over. As an example, it will launch with the Ethereum Virtual Machine which enables byte for byte compatibility and all the tooling like Metamask, Truffle etc. will work, so projects can easily move over to benefit from the performance, decentralisation and low gas fees offered. In the future Cosmos and Substrate virtual machines could be implemented on Avalanche.

Results

Whilst it’s still early for all 3 projects (and the entire blockchain space as a whole), there is currently more projects confirmed to be building on Cosmos and Polkadot, mostly due to their longer time in development. Whilst Cosmos has fewer projects, zones are implemented compared to Polkadot which doesn’t currently have parachains. IBC to connect zones and hubs together is due to launch Q2 2021, thus both score ✅✅✅. Avalanche has been in development for a lot shorter time period, but is launching with an impressive feature set right from the start with ability to create subnets, VMs, assets, NFTs, permissioned and permissionless blockchains, cross chain atomic swaps within a subnet, smart contracts, bridge to Ethereum etc. Applications can easily port over from other platforms and use all the existing tooling such as Metamask / Truffle etc but benefit from the performance, decentralisation and low gas fees offered. Currently though just based on the number of projects in comparison it scores ✅.
https://preview.redd.it/4zpi6s85wpq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=e91ade1a86a5d50f4976f3b23a46e9287b08e373

Enterprise Adoption

Cosmos

Cosmos enables permissioned and permissionless zones which can connect to each other with the ability to have full control over who validates the blockchain. For permissionless zones each zone / hub can have their own token and they are in control who validates.

Polkadot

With polkadot the state transition is performed by a small randomly selected assigned group of validators from the relay chain plus with the possibility that state is rolled back if an invalid transaction of any of the other parachains is found. This may pose a problem for enterprises that need complete control over who performs validation for regulatory reasons. In addition due to the limited number of parachain slots available Enterprises would have to acquire and lock up large amounts of a highly volatile asset (DOT) and have the possibility that they are outbid in future auctions and find they no longer can have their parachain validated and parathreads don’t provide the guaranteed performance requirements for the application to function.

Avalanche

Avalanche enables permissioned and permissionless subnets and complex rulesets can be configured to meet regulatory compliance. For example a subnet can be created where its mandatory that all validators are from a certain legal jurisdiction, or they hold a specific license and regulated by the SEC etc. Subnets are also able to scale to tens of thousands of validators, and even potentially millions of nodes, all participating in consensus so every enterprise can run their own node rather than only a small amount. Enterprises don’t have to hold large amounts of a highly volatile asset, but instead pay a fee in AVAX for the creation of the subnets and blockchains which is burnt.

Results

Avalanche provides the customisability to run private permissioned blockchains as well as permissionless where the enterprise is in control over who validates the blockchain, with the ability to use complex rulesets to meet regulatory compliance, thus scores ✅✅✅. Cosmos is also able to run permissioned and permissionless zones / hubs so enterprises have full control over who validates a blockchain and scores ✅✅. Polkadot requires locking up large amounts of a highly volatile asset with the possibility of being outbid by competitors and being unable to run the application if the guaranteed performance is required and having to migrate away. The relay chain validates the state transition and can roll back the parachain should an invalid block be detected on another parachain, thus scores ✅.
https://preview.redd.it/li5jy6u6wpq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=e2a95f1f88e5efbcf9e23c789ae0f002c8eb73fc

Interoperability

Cosmos

Cosmos will connect Hubs and Zones together through its IBC protocol (due to release in Q1 2020). Connecting to blockchains outside of the Cosmos ecosystem would either require the connected blockchain to fork their code to implement IBC or more likely a custom “Peg Zone” will be created specific to work with a particular blockchain it’s trying to bridge to such as Ethereum etc. Each Zone and Hub has different trust levels and connectivity between 2 zones can have different trust depending on which path it takes (this is discussed more in this article). Finality time is low at 6 seconds, but depending on the number of hops, this can increase significantly.

Polkadot

Polkadot’s shared state means each parachain that connects shares the same trust assumptions, of the relay chain validators and that if one blockchain needs to be reverted, all of them will need to be reverted. Interoperability is enabled between parachains through Cross-Chain Message Passing (XCMP) protocol and is also possible to connect to other systems through bridges, which are specifically designed parachains or parathreads that each are custom made to interact with another ecosystem such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. Finality time between parachains is around 60 seconds, but longer will be needed (initial figures of 60 minutes in the whitepaper) for connecting to external blockchains. Thus limiting the appeal of connecting two external ecosystems together through Polkadot. Polkadot is also limited in the number of Parachain slots available, thus limiting the amount of blockchains that can be bridged. Parathreads could be used for lower performance bridges, but the speed of future blockchains is only going to increase.

Avalanche

A subnet can validate multiple virtual machines / blockchains and all blockchains within a subnet share the same trust assumptions / validator set, enabling cross chain interoperability. Interoperability is also possible between any other subnet, with the hope Avalanche will consist of thousands of subnets. Each subnet may have a different trust level, but as the primary network consists of all validators then this can be used as a source of trust if required. As Avalanche supports many virtual machines, bridges to other ecosystems are created by running the connected virtual machine. There will be an Ethereum bridge using the EVM shortly after mainnet. Finality time is much faster at sub 3 seconds (with most happening under 1 second) with no chance of rolling back so more appealing when connecting to external blockchains.

Results

All 3 systems are able to perform interoperability within their ecosystem and transfer assets as well as data, as well as use bridges to connect to external blockchains. Cosmos has different trust levels between its zones and hubs and can create issues depending on which path it takes and additional latency added. Polkadot provides the same trust assumptions for all connected parachains but has long finality and limited number of parachain slots available. Avalanche provides the same trust assumptions for all blockchains within a subnet, and different trust levels between subnets. However due to the primary network consisting of all validators it can be used for trust. Avalanche also has a much faster finality time with no limitation on the number of blockchains / subnets / bridges that can be created. Overall all three blockchains excel with interoperability within their ecosystem and each score ✅✅.
https://preview.redd.it/ai0bkbq8wpq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=3e85ee6a3c4670f388ccea00b0c906c3fb51e415

Tokenomics

Cosmos

The ATOM token is the native token for the Cosmos Hub. It is commonly mistaken by people that think it’s the token used throughout the cosmos ecosystem, whereas it’s just used for one of many hubs in Cosmos, each with their own token. Currently ATOM has little utility as IBC isn’t released and has no connections to other zones / hubs. Once IBC is released zones may prefer to connect to a different hub instead and so ATOM is not used. ATOM isn’t a fixed capped supply token and supply will continuously increase with a yearly inflation of around 10% depending on the % staked. The current market cap for ATOM as of the time of this writing is $1 Billion with 203 million circulating supply. Rewards can be earnt through staking to offset the dilution caused by inflation. Delegators can also get slashed and lose a portion of their ATOM should the validator misbehave.

Polkadot

Polkadot’s native token is DOT and it’s used to secure the Relay Chain. Each parachain needs to acquire sufficient DOT to win an auction on an available parachain lease period of up to 24 months at a time. Parathreads have a fixed fee for registration that would realistically be much lower than the cost of acquiring a parachain slot and compete with other parathreads in a per-block auction to have their transactions included in the next relay chain block. DOT isn’t a fixed capped supply token and supply will continuously increase with a yearly inflation of around 10% depending on the % staked. The current market cap for DOT as of the time of this writing is $4.4 Billion with 852 million circulating supply. Delegators can also get slashed and lose their DOT (potentially 100% of their DOT for serious attacks) should the validator misbehave.

Avalanche

AVAX is the native token for the primary network in Avalanche. Every validator of any subnet also has to validate the primary network and stake a minimum of 2000 AVAX. There is no limit to the number of validators like other consensus methods then this can cater for tens of thousands even potentially millions of validators. As every validator validates the primary network, this can be a source of trust for interoperability between subnets as well as connecting to other ecosystems, thus increasing amount of transaction fees of AVAX. There is no slashing in Avalanche, so there is no risk to lose your AVAX when selecting a validator, instead rewards earnt for staking can be slashed should the validator misbehave. Because Avalanche doesn’t have direct slashing, it is technically possible for someone to both stake AND deliver tokens for something like a flash loan, under the invariant that all tokens that are staked are returned, thus being able to make profit with staked tokens outside of staking itself.
There will also be a separate subnet for Athereum which is a ‘spoon,’ or friendly fork, of Ethereum, which benefits from the Avalanche consensus protocol and applications in the Ethereum ecosystem. It’s native token ATH will be airdropped to ETH holders as well as potentially AVAX holders as well. This can be done for other blockchains as well.
Transaction fees on the primary network for all 3 of the blockchains as well as subscription fees for creating a subnet and blockchain are paid in AVAX and are burnt, creating deflationary pressure. AVAX is a fixed capped supply of 720 million tokens, creating scarcity rather than an unlimited supply which continuously increase of tokens at a compounded rate each year like others. Initially there will be 360 tokens minted at Mainnet with vesting periods between 1 and 10 years, with tokens gradually unlocking each quarter. The Circulating supply is 24.5 million AVAX with tokens gradually released each quater. The current market cap of AVAX is around $100 million.

Results

Avalanche’s AVAX with its fixed capped supply, deflationary pressure, very strong utility, potential to receive air drops and low market cap, means it scores ✅✅✅. Polkadot’s DOT also has very strong utility with the need for auctions to acquire parachain slots, but has no deflationary mechanisms, no fixed capped supply and already valued at $3.8 billion, therefore scores ✅✅. Cosmos’s ATOM token is only for the Cosmos Hub, of which there will be many hubs in the ecosystem and has very little utility currently. (this may improve once IBC is released and if Cosmos hub actually becomes the hub that people want to connect to and not something like Binance instead. There is no fixed capped supply and currently valued at $1.1 Billion, so scores ✅.
https://preview.redd.it/mels7myawpq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=df9782e2c0a4c26b61e462746256bdf83b1fb906
All three are excellent projects and have similarities as well as many differences. Just to reiterate this article is not intended to be an extensive in-depth list, but rather an overview based on some of the criteria that I feel are most important. For a more in-depth view I recommend reading the articles for each of the projects linked above and coming to your own conclusions, you may have different criteria which is important to you, and score them differently. There won’t be one platform to rule them all however, with some uses cases better suited to one platform over another, and it’s not a zero-sum game. Blockchain is going to completely revolutionize industries and the Internet itself. The more projects researching and delivering breakthrough technology the better, each learning from each other and pushing each other to reach that goal earlier. The current market is a tiny speck of what’s in store in terms of value and adoption and it’s going to be exciting to watch it unfold.
https://preview.redd.it/dbb99egcwpq51.png?width=1388&format=png&auto=webp&s=aeb03127dc0dc74d0507328e899db1c7d7fc2879
For more information see the articles below (each with additional sources at the bottom of their articles)
Avalanche, a Revolutionary Consensus Engine and Platform. A Game Changer for Blockchain
Avalanche Consensus, The Biggest Breakthrough since Nakamoto
Cosmos — An Early In-Depth Analysis — Part One
Cosmos — An Early In-Depth Analysis — Part Two
Cosmos Hub ATOM Token and the commonly misunderstood staking tokens — Part Three
Polkadot — An Early In-Depth Analysis — Part One — Overview and Benefits
Polkadot — An Early In-Depth Analysis — Part Two — How Consensus Works
Polkadot — An Early In-Depth Analysis — Part Three — Limitations and Issues
submitted by xSeq22x to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

[ CryptoCurrency ] Comparison between Avalanche, Cosmos and Polkadot

[ 🔴 DELETED 🔴 ] Topic originally posted in CryptoCurrency by xSeq22x [link]
A frequent question I see being asked is how Cosmos, Polkadot and Avalanche compare? Whilst there are similarities there are also a lot of differences. This article is not intended to be an extensive in-depth list, but rather an overview based on some of the criteria that I feel are most important.
For better formatting see https://medium.com/ava-hub/comparison-between-avalanche-cosmos-and-polkadot-a2a98f46c03b
https://preview.redd.it/lg16iwk2dhq51.png?width=428&format=png&auto=webp&s=6c899ee69800dd6c5e2900d8fa83de7a43c57086

Overview

Cosmos

Cosmos is a heterogeneous network of many independent parallel blockchains, each powered by classical BFT consensus algorithms like Tendermint. Developers can easily build custom application specific blockchains, called Zones, through the Cosmos SDK framework. These Zones connect to Hubs, which are specifically designed to connect zones together.
The vision of Cosmos is to have thousands of Zones and Hubs that are Interoperable through the Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol (IBC). Cosmos can also connect to other systems through peg zones, which are specifically designed zones that each are custom made to interact with another ecosystem such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. Cosmos does not use Sharding with each Zone and Hub being sovereign with their own validator set.
For a more in-depth look at Cosmos and provide more reference to points made in this article, please see my three part series — Part One, Part Two, Part Three
https://youtu.be/Eb8xkDi_PUg

Polkadot

Polkadot is a heterogeneous blockchain protocol that connects multiple specialised blockchains into one unified network. It achieves scalability through a sharding infrastructure with multiple blockchains running in parallel, called parachains, that connect to a central chain called the Relay Chain. Developers can easily build custom application specific parachains through the Substrate development framework.
The relay chain validates the state transition of connected parachains, providing shared state across the entire ecosystem. If the Relay Chain must revert for any reason, then all of the parachains would also revert. This is to ensure that the validity of the entire system can persist, and no individual part is corruptible. The shared state makes it so that the trust assumptions when using parachains are only those of the Relay Chain validator set, and no other. Interoperability is enabled between parachains through Cross-Chain Message Passing (XCMP) protocol and is also possible to connect to other systems through bridges, which are specifically designed parachains or parathreads that each are custom made to interact with another ecosystem such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. The hope is to have 100 parachains connect to the relay chain.
For a more in-depth look at Polkadot and provide more reference to points made in this article, please see my three part series — Part One, Part Two, Part Three
https://youtu.be/_-k0xkooSlA

Avalanche

Avalanche is a platform of platforms, ultimately consisting of thousands of subnets to form a heterogeneous interoperable network of many blockchains, that takes advantage of the revolutionary Avalanche Consensus protocols to provide a secure, globally distributed, interoperable and trustless framework offering unprecedented decentralisation whilst being able to comply with regulatory requirements.
Avalanche allows anyone to create their own tailor-made application specific blockchains, supporting multiple custom virtual machines such as EVM and WASM and written in popular languages like Go (with others coming in the future) rather than lightly used, poorly-understood languages like Solidity. This virtual machine can then be deployed on a custom blockchain network, called a subnet, which consist of a dynamic set of validators working together to achieve consensus on the state of a set of many blockchains where complex rulesets can be configured to meet regulatory compliance.
Avalanche was built with serving financial markets in mind. It has native support for easily creating and trading digital smart assets with complex custom rule sets that define how the asset is handled and traded to ensure regulatory compliance can be met. Interoperability is enabled between blockchains within a subnet as well as between subnets. Like Cosmos and Polkadot, Avalanche is also able to connect to other systems through bridges, through custom virtual machines made to interact with another ecosystem such as Ethereum and Bitcoin.
For a more in-depth look at Avalanche and provide more reference to points made in this article, please see here and here
https://youtu.be/mWBzFmzzBAg

Comparison between Cosmos, Polkadot and Avalanche

A frequent question I see being asked is how Cosmos, Polkadot and Avalanche compare? Whilst there are similarities there are also a lot of differences. This article is not intended to be an extensive in-depth list, but rather an overview based on some of the criteria that I feel are most important. For a more in-depth view I recommend reading the articles for each of the projects linked above and coming to your own conclusions. I want to stress that it’s not a case of one platform being the killer of all other platforms, far from it. There won’t be one platform to rule them all, and too often the tribalism has plagued this space. Blockchains are going to completely revolutionise most industries and have a profound effect on the world we know today. It’s still very early in this space with most adoption limited to speculation and trading mainly due to the limitations of Blockchain and current iteration of Ethereum, which all three of these platforms hope to address. For those who just want a quick summary see the image at the bottom of the article. With that said let’s have a look

Scalability

Cosmos

Each Zone and Hub in Cosmos is capable of up to around 1000 transactions per second with bandwidth being the bottleneck in consensus. Cosmos aims to have thousands of Zones and Hubs all connected through IBC. There is no limit on the number of Zones / Hubs that can be created

Polkadot

Parachains in Polkadot are also capable of up to around 1500 transactions per second. A portion of the parachain slots on the Relay Chain will be designated as part of the parathread pool, the performance of a parachain is split between many parathreads offering lower performance and compete amongst themselves in a per-block auction to have their transactions included in the next relay chain block. The number of parachains is limited by the number of validators on the relay chain, they hope to be able to achieve 100 parachains.

Avalanche

Avalanche is capable of around 4500 transactions per second per subnet, this is based on modest hardware requirements to ensure maximum decentralisation of just 2 CPU cores and 4 GB of Memory and with a validator size of over 2,000 nodes. Performance is CPU-bound and if higher performance is required then more specialised subnets can be created with higher minimum requirements to be able to achieve 10,000 tps+ in a subnet. Avalanche aims to have thousands of subnets (each with multiple virtual machines / blockchains) all interoperable with each other. There is no limit on the number of Subnets that can be created.

Results

All three platforms offer vastly superior performance to the likes of Bitcoin and Ethereum 1.0. Avalanche with its higher transactions per second, no limit on the number of subnets / blockchains that can be created and the consensus can scale to potentially millions of validators all participating in consensus scores ✅✅✅. Polkadot claims to offer more tps than cosmos, but is limited to the number of parachains (around 100) whereas with Cosmos there is no limit on the number of hubs / zones that can be created. Cosmos is limited to a fairly small validator size of around 200 before performance degrades whereas Polkadot hopes to be able to reach 1000 validators in the relay chain (albeit only a small number of validators are assigned to each parachain). Thus Cosmos and Polkadot scores ✅✅
https://preview.redd.it/ththwq5qdhq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=92f75152c90d984911db88ed174ebf3a147ca70d

Decentralisation

Cosmos

Tendermint consensus is limited to around 200 validators before performance starts to degrade. Whilst there is the Cosmos Hub it is one of many hubs in the network and there is no central hub or limit on the number of zones / hubs that can be created.

Polkadot

Polkadot has 1000 validators in the relay chain and these are split up into a small number that validate each parachain (minimum of 14). The relay chain is a central point of failure as all parachains connect to it and the number of parachains is limited depending on the number of validators (they hope to achieve 100 parachains). Due to the limited number of parachain slots available, significant sums of DOT will need to be purchased to win an auction to lease the slot for up to 24 months at a time. Thus likely to lead to only those with enough funds to secure a parachain slot. Parathreads are however an alternative for those that require less and more varied performance for those that can’t secure a parachain slot.

Avalanche

Avalanche consensus scan scale to tens of thousands of validators, even potentially millions of validators all participating in consensus through repeated sub-sampling. The more validators, the faster the network becomes as the load is split between them. There are modest hardware requirements so anyone can run a node and there is no limit on the number of subnets / virtual machines that can be created.

Results

Avalanche offers unparalleled decentralisation using its revolutionary consensus protocols that can scale to millions of validators all participating in consensus at the same time. There is no limit to the number of subnets and virtual machines that can be created, and they can be created by anyone for a small fee, it scores ✅✅✅. Cosmos is limited to 200 validators but no limit on the number of zones / hubs that can be created, which anyone can create and scores ✅✅. Polkadot hopes to accommodate 1000 validators in the relay chain (albeit these are split amongst each of the parachains). The number of parachains is limited and maybe cost prohibitive for many and the relay chain is a ultimately a single point of failure. Whilst definitely not saying it’s centralised and it is more decentralised than many others, just in comparison between the three, it scores ✅
https://preview.redd.it/lv2h7g9sdhq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=56eada6e8c72dbb4406d7c5377ad15608bcc730e

Latency

Cosmos

Tendermint consensus used in Cosmos reaches finality within 6 seconds. Cosmos consists of many Zones and Hubs that connect to each other. Communication between 2 zones could pass through many hubs along the way, thus also can contribute to latency times depending on the path taken as explained in part two of the articles on Cosmos. It doesn’t need to wait for an extended period of time with risk of rollbacks.

Polkadot

Polkadot provides a Hybrid consensus protocol consisting of Block producing protocol, BABE, and then a finality gadget called GRANDPA that works to agree on a chain, out of many possible forks, by following some simpler fork choice rule. Rather than voting on every block, instead it reaches agreements on chains. As soon as more than 2/3 of validators attest to a chain containing a certain block, all blocks leading up to that one are finalized at once.
If an invalid block is detected after it has been finalised then the relay chain would need to be reverted along with every parachain. This is particularly important when connecting to external blockchains as those don’t share the state of the relay chain and thus can’t be rolled back. The longer the time period, the more secure the network is, as there is more time for additional checks to be performed and reported but at the expense of finality. Finality is reached within 60 seconds between parachains but for external ecosystems like Ethereum their state obviously can’t be rolled back like a parachain and so finality will need to be much longer (60 minutes was suggested in the whitepaper) and discussed in more detail in part three

Avalanche

Avalanche consensus achieves finality within 3 seconds, with most happening sub 1 second, immutable and completely irreversible. Any subnet can connect directly to another without having to go through multiple hops and any VM can talk to another VM within the same subnet as well as external subnets. It doesn’t need to wait for an extended period of time with risk of rollbacks.

Results

With regards to performance far too much emphasis is just put on tps as a metric, the other equally important metric, if not more important with regards to finance is latency. Throughput measures the amount of data at any given time that it can handle whereas latency is the amount of time it takes to perform an action. It’s pointless saying you can process more transactions per second than VISA when it takes 60 seconds for a transaction to complete. Low latency also greatly increases general usability and customer satisfaction, nowadays everyone expects card payments, online payments to happen instantly. Avalanche achieves the best results scoring ✅✅✅, Cosmos with comes in second with 6 second finality ✅✅ and Polkadot with 60 second finality (which may be 60 minutes for external blockchains) scores ✅
https://preview.redd.it/qe8e5ltudhq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=18a2866104590f81a818690337f9121161dda890

Shared Security

Cosmos

Every Zone and Hub in Cosmos has their own validator set and different trust assumptions. Cosmos are researching a shared security model where a Hub can validate the state of connected zones for a fee but not released yet. Once available this will make shared security optional rather than mandatory.

Polkadot

Shared Security is mandatory with Polkadot which uses a Shared State infrastructure between the Relay Chain and all of the connected parachains. If the Relay Chain must revert for any reason, then all of the parachains would also revert. Every parachain makes the same trust assumptions, and as such the relay chain validates state transition and enables seamless interoperability between them. In return for this benefit, they have to purchase DOT and win an auction for one of the available parachain slots.
However, parachains can’t just rely on the relay chain for their security, they will also need to implement censorship resistance measures and utilise proof of work / proof of stake for each parachain as well as discussed in part three, thus parachains can’t just rely on the security of the relay chain, they need to ensure sybil resistance mechanisms using POW and POS are implemented on the parachain as well.

Avalanche

A subnet in Avalanche consists of a dynamic set of validators working together to achieve consensus on the state of a set of many blockchains where complex rulesets can be configured to meet regulatory compliance. So unlike in Cosmos where each zone / hub has their own validators, A subnet can validate a single or many virtual machines / blockchains with a single validator set. Shared security is optional

Results

Shared security is mandatory in polkadot and a key design decision in its infrastructure. The relay chain validates the state transition of all connected parachains and thus scores ✅✅✅. Subnets in Avalanche can validate state of either a single or many virtual machines. Each subnet can have their own token and shares a validator set, where complex rulesets can be configured to meet regulatory compliance. It scores ✅ ✅. Every Zone and Hub in cosmos has their own validator set / token but research is underway to have the hub validate the state transition of connected zones, but as this is still early in the research phase scores ✅ for now.
https://preview.redd.it/0mnvpnzwdhq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=8927ff2821415817265be75c59261f83851a2791

Current Adoption

Cosmos

The Cosmos project started in 2016 with an ICO held in April 2017. There are currently around 50 projects building on the Cosmos SDK with a full list can be seen here and filtering for Cosmos SDK . Not all of the projects will necessarily connect using native cosmos sdk and IBC and some have forked parts of the Cosmos SDK and utilise the tendermint consensus such as Binance Chain but have said they will connect in the future.

Polkadot

The Polkadot project started in 2016 with an ICO held in October 2017. There are currently around 70 projects building on Substrate and a full list can be seen here and filtering for Substrate Based. Like with Cosmos not all projects built using substrate will necessarily connect to Polkadot and parachains or parathreads aren’t currently implemented in either the Live or Test network (Kusama) as of the time of this writing.

Avalanche

Avalanche in comparison started much later with Ava Labs being founded in 2018. Avalanche held it’s ICO in July 2020. Due to lot shorter time it has been in development, the number of projects confirmed are smaller with around 14 projects currently building on Avalanche. Due to the customisability of the platform though, many virtual machines can be used within a subnet making the process incredibly easy to port projects over. As an example, it will launch with the Ethereum Virtual Machine which enables byte for byte compatibility and all the tooling like Metamask, Truffle etc. will work, so projects can easily move over to benefit from the performance, decentralisation and low gas fees offered. In the future Cosmos and Substrate virtual machines could be implemented on Avalanche.

Results

Whilst it’s still early for all 3 projects (and the entire blockchain space as a whole), there is currently more projects confirmed to be building on Cosmos and Polkadot, mostly due to their longer time in development. Whilst Cosmos has fewer projects, zones are implemented compared to Polkadot which doesn’t currently have parachains. IBC to connect zones and hubs together is due to launch Q2 2021, thus both score ✅✅✅. Avalanche has been in development for a lot shorter time period, but is launching with an impressive feature set right from the start with ability to create subnets, VMs, assets, NFTs, permissioned and permissionless blockchains, cross chain atomic swaps within a subnet, smart contracts, bridge to Ethereum etc. Applications can easily port over from other platforms and use all the existing tooling such as Metamask / Truffle etc but benefit from the performance, decentralisation and low gas fees offered. Currently though just based on the number of projects in comparison it scores ✅.
https://preview.redd.it/rsctxi6zdhq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=ff762dea3cfc2aaaa3c8fc7b1070d5be6759aac2

Enterprise Adoption

Cosmos

Cosmos enables permissioned and permissionless zones which can connect to each other with the ability to have full control over who validates the blockchain. For permissionless zones each zone / hub can have their own token and they are in control who validates.

Polkadot

With polkadot the state transition is performed by a small randomly selected assigned group of validators from the relay chain plus with the possibility that state is rolled back if an invalid transaction of any of the other parachains is found. This may pose a problem for enterprises that need complete control over who performs validation for regulatory reasons. In addition due to the limited number of parachain slots available Enterprises would have to acquire and lock up large amounts of a highly volatile asset (DOT) and have the possibility that they are outbid in future auctions and find they no longer can have their parachain validated and parathreads don’t provide the guaranteed performance requirements for the application to function.

Avalanche

Avalanche enables permissioned and permissionless subnets and complex rulesets can be configured to meet regulatory compliance. For example a subnet can be created where its mandatory that all validators are from a certain legal jurisdiction, or they hold a specific license and regulated by the SEC etc. Subnets are also able to scale to tens of thousands of validators, and even potentially millions of nodes, all participating in consensus so every enterprise can run their own node rather than only a small amount. Enterprises don’t have to hold large amounts of a highly volatile asset, but instead pay a fee in AVAX for the creation of the subnets and blockchains which is burnt.

Results

Avalanche provides the customisability to run private permissioned blockchains as well as permissionless where the enterprise is in control over who validates the blockchain, with the ability to use complex rulesets to meet regulatory compliance, thus scores ✅✅✅. Cosmos is also able to run permissioned and permissionless zones / hubs so enterprises have full control over who validates a blockchain and scores ✅✅. Polkadot requires locking up large amounts of a highly volatile asset with the possibility of being outbid by competitors and being unable to run the application if the guaranteed performance is required and having to migrate away. The relay chain validates the state transition and can roll back the parachain should an invalid block be detected on another parachain, thus scores ✅.
https://preview.redd.it/7phaylb1ehq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=d86d2ec49de456403edbaf27009ed0e25609fbff

Interoperability

Cosmos

Cosmos will connect Hubs and Zones together through its IBC protocol (due to release in Q1 2020). Connecting to blockchains outside of the Cosmos ecosystem would either require the connected blockchain to fork their code to implement IBC or more likely a custom “Peg Zone” will be created specific to work with a particular blockchain it’s trying to bridge to such as Ethereum etc. Each Zone and Hub has different trust levels and connectivity between 2 zones can have different trust depending on which path it takes (this is discussed more in this article). Finality time is low at 6 seconds, but depending on the number of hops, this can increase significantly.

Polkadot

Polkadot’s shared state means each parachain that connects shares the same trust assumptions, of the relay chain validators and that if one blockchain needs to be reverted, all of them will need to be reverted. Interoperability is enabled between parachains through Cross-Chain Message Passing (XCMP) protocol and is also possible to connect to other systems through bridges, which are specifically designed parachains or parathreads that each are custom made to interact with another ecosystem such as Ethereum and Bitcoin. Finality time between parachains is around 60 seconds, but longer will be needed (initial figures of 60 minutes in the whitepaper) for connecting to external blockchains. Thus limiting the appeal of connecting two external ecosystems together through Polkadot. Polkadot is also limited in the number of Parachain slots available, thus limiting the amount of blockchains that can be bridged. Parathreads could be used for lower performance bridges, but the speed of future blockchains is only going to increase.

Avalanche

A subnet can validate multiple virtual machines / blockchains and all blockchains within a subnet share the same trust assumptions / validator set, enabling cross chain interoperability. Interoperability is also possible between any other subnet, with the hope Avalanche will consist of thousands of subnets. Each subnet may have a different trust level, but as the primary network consists of all validators then this can be used as a source of trust if required. As Avalanche supports many virtual machines, bridges to other ecosystems are created by running the connected virtual machine. There will be an Ethereum bridge using the EVM shortly after mainnet. Finality time is much faster at sub 3 seconds (with most happening under 1 second) with no chance of rolling back so more appealing when connecting to external blockchains.

Results

All 3 systems are able to perform interoperability within their ecosystem and transfer assets as well as data, as well as use bridges to connect to external blockchains. Cosmos has different trust levels between its zones and hubs and can create issues depending on which path it takes and additional latency added. Polkadot provides the same trust assumptions for all connected parachains but has long finality and limited number of parachain slots available. Avalanche provides the same trust assumptions for all blockchains within a subnet, and different trust levels between subnets. However due to the primary network consisting of all validators it can be used for trust. Avalanche also has a much faster finality time with no limitation on the number of blockchains / subnets / bridges that can be created. Overall all three blockchains excel with interoperability within their ecosystem and each score ✅✅.
https://preview.redd.it/l775gue3ehq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=b7c4b5802ceb1a9307bd2a8d65f393d1bcb0d7c6

Tokenomics

Cosmos

The ATOM token is the native token for the Cosmos Hub. It is commonly mistaken by people that think it’s the token used throughout the cosmos ecosystem, whereas it’s just used for one of many hubs in Cosmos, each with their own token. Currently ATOM has little utility as IBC isn’t released and has no connections to other zones / hubs. Once IBC is released zones may prefer to connect to a different hub instead and so ATOM is not used. ATOM isn’t a fixed capped supply token and supply will continuously increase with a yearly inflation of around 10% depending on the % staked. The current market cap for ATOM as of the time of this writing is $1 Billion with 203 million circulating supply. Rewards can be earnt through staking to offset the dilution caused by inflation. Delegators can also get slashed and lose a portion of their ATOM should the validator misbehave.

Polkadot

Polkadot’s native token is DOT and it’s used to secure the Relay Chain. Each parachain needs to acquire sufficient DOT to win an auction on an available parachain lease period of up to 24 months at a time. Parathreads have a fixed fee for registration that would realistically be much lower than the cost of acquiring a parachain slot and compete with other parathreads in a per-block auction to have their transactions included in the next relay chain block. DOT isn’t a fixed capped supply token and supply will continuously increase with a yearly inflation of around 10% depending on the % staked. The current market cap for DOT as of the time of this writing is $4.4 Billion with 852 million circulating supply. Delegators can also get slashed and lose their DOT (potentially 100% of their DOT for serious attacks) should the validator misbehave.

Avalanche

AVAX is the native token for the primary network in Avalanche. Every validator of any subnet also has to validate the primary network and stake a minimum of 2000 AVAX. There is no limit to the number of validators like other consensus methods then this can cater for tens of thousands even potentially millions of validators. As every validator validates the primary network, this can be a source of trust for interoperability between subnets as well as connecting to other ecosystems, thus increasing amount of transaction fees of AVAX. There is no slashing in Avalanche, so there is no risk to lose your AVAX when selecting a validator, instead rewards earnt for staking can be slashed should the validator misbehave. Because Avalanche doesn’t have direct slashing, it is technically possible for someone to both stake AND deliver tokens for something like a flash loan, under the invariant that all tokens that are staked are returned, thus being able to make profit with staked tokens outside of staking itself.
There will also be a separate subnet for Athereum which is a ‘spoon,’ or friendly fork, of Ethereum, which benefits from the Avalanche consensus protocol and applications in the Ethereum ecosystem. It’s native token ATH will be airdropped to ETH holders as well as potentially AVAX holders as well. This can be done for other blockchains as well.
Transaction fees on the primary network for all 3 of the blockchains as well as subscription fees for creating a subnet and blockchain are paid in AVAX and are burnt, creating deflationary pressure. AVAX is a fixed capped supply of 720 million tokens, creating scarcity rather than an unlimited supply which continuously increase of tokens at a compounded rate each year like others. Initially there will be 360 tokens minted at Mainnet with vesting periods between 1 and 10 years, with tokens gradually unlocking each quarter. The Circulating supply is 24.5 million AVAX with tokens gradually released each quater. The current market cap of AVAX is around $100 million.

Results

Avalanche’s AVAX with its fixed capped supply, deflationary pressure, very strong utility, potential to receive air drops and low market cap, means it scores ✅✅✅. Polkadot’s DOT also has very strong utility with the need for auctions to acquire parachain slots, but has no deflationary mechanisms, no fixed capped supply and already valued at $3.8 billion, therefore scores ✅✅. Cosmos’s ATOM token is only for the Cosmos Hub, of which there will be many hubs in the ecosystem and has very little utility currently. (this may improve once IBC is released and if Cosmos hub actually becomes the hub that people want to connect to and not something like Binance instead. There is no fixed capped supply and currently valued at $1.1 Billion, so scores ✅.
https://preview.redd.it/zb72eto5ehq51.png?width=1000&format=png&auto=webp&s=0ee102a2881d763296ad9ffba20667f531d2fd7a
All three are excellent projects and have similarities as well as many differences. Just to reiterate this article is not intended to be an extensive in-depth list, but rather an overview based on some of the criteria that I feel are most important. For a more in-depth view I recommend reading the articles for each of the projects linked above and coming to your own conclusions, you may have different criteria which is important to you, and score them differently. There won’t be one platform to rule them all however, with some uses cases better suited to one platform over another, and it’s not a zero-sum game. Blockchain is going to completely revolutionize industries and the Internet itself. The more projects researching and delivering breakthrough technology the better, each learning from each other and pushing each other to reach that goal earlier. The current market is a tiny speck of what’s in store in terms of value and adoption and it’s going to be exciting to watch it unfold.
https://preview.redd.it/fwi3clz7ehq51.png?width=1388&format=png&auto=webp&s=c91c1645a4c67defd5fc3aaec84f4a765e1c50b6
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Let's discuss some of the issues with Nano

Let's talk about some of Nano's biggest issues. I also made a video about this topic, available here: https://youtu.be/d9yb9ifurbg.
00:12 Spam
Issues
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
01:58 Privacy
Issues
  • Nano has no privacy. It is pseudonymous (like Bitcoin), not anonymous.
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues & Outstanding Issues*
  • Second layer solutions like mixers can help, but some argue that isn't enough privacy.
  • The current protocol design + the computational overhead of privacy does not allow Nano to implement first layer privacy without compromising it's other features (fast, feeless, and scalable transactions).
02:56 Decentralization
Issues
  • Nano is currently not as decentralized as it could be. ~25% of the voting weight is held by Binance.
  • Users must choose representatives, and users don't always choose the best ones (or never choose).
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • Currently 4 unrelated parties (who all have a verifiable interest in keeping the network running) would have to work together to attack the network
  • Unlike Bitcoin, there is no mining or fees in Nano. This means that there is not a strong incentive for emergent centralization from profit maximization and economies of scale. We've seen this firsthand, as Nano's decentralization has increased over time.
  • Nano representative percentages are not that far off from Bitcoin mining pool percentages.
  • In Nano, voting weight can be remotely re-delegated to anyone at any time. This differs from Bitcoin, where consensus is controlled by miners and requires significant hardware investment.
  • The cost of a 51% attack scales with the market cap of Nano.
06:49 Marketing & adoption
Issues
  • The best technology doesn't always win. If no one knows about or uses Nano, it will die.
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • I would argue that the best technology typically does win, but it needs to be best in every way (price, speed, accessbility, etc). Nano is currently in a good place if you agree with that argument.
  • Bitcoin started small, and didn't spend money on marketing. It takes time to build a community.
  • The developers have said they will market more once the protocol is where they want it to be (v20 or v21?).
  • Community marketing initiatives have started to form organically (e.g. Twitter campaigns, YouTube ads, etc).
  • Marketing and adoption is a very difficult problem to solve, especially when you don't have first mover advantage or consistent cashflow.
08:07 Small developer fund
Issues
  • The developer fund only has 3 million NANO left (~$4MM), what happens after that?
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • The goal for Nano is to be an Internet RFC like TCP/IP or SMTP - development naturally slows down when the protocol is in a good place.
  • Nano development is completely open source, so anyone can participate. Multiple developers are now familiar with the Nano protocol.
  • Businesses and whales that benefit from Nano (exchanges, remittances, merchant services, etc) are incentivized to keep the protocol developed and running.
  • The developer fund was only ~5% of the supply - compare that to some of the other major cryptocurrencies.
10:08 Node incentives
Issues
  • There are no transaction fees, why would people run nodes to keep the network running?
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • The cost of consensus is so low in Nano that the benefits of the network itself are the incentive: decentralized money with 0 transaction fees that can be sent anywhere in the world nearly instantly. Similar to TCP/IP, email servers, and http servers. Just like Bitcoin full nodes.
  • Paying $50-$100 a month for a high-end node is a lot cheaper for merchants than paying 1-3% in total sales.
  • Businesses and whales that benefit from Nano (exchanges, remittances, merchant services, etc) are incentivized to keep the protocol developed and running.
11:58 No smart contracts
Issues
  • Nano doesn't support smart contracts.
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • Nano's sole goal is to be the most efficient peer-to-peer value transfer protocol possible. Adding smart contracts makes keeping Nano feeless, fast, and decentralized much more difficult.
  • Other solutions (e.g. Ethereum) exist for creating and enforcing smart contracts.
  • Code can still interact with Nano, but not on the first layer in a decentralized matter.
  • Real world smart contract adoption and usage is pretty limited at the moment, but that might not always be the case.
13:20 Price stability
Issues
  • Why would anyone accept or spend Nano if the price fluctuates so much?
  • Why wouldn't people just use a stablecoin version of Nano for sending and receiving money?
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • With good fiat gateways (stable, low fees, etc), you can always buy back the fiat equivalent of what you've spent.
  • The hope is that with enough adoption, people and businesses will eventually skip the fiat conversion and use Nano directly.
  • Because Nano is so fast, volatility is less of an issue. Transactions are confirmed in <10 seconds, and prices change less in that timeframe (vs 10 minutes to hours for Bitcoin).
  • Stablecoins reintroduce trust. Stable against what? Who controls the supply, and how do you get people to adopt them? What happens if the assets they're stable against fail? Nano is pure supply and demand.
  • With worldwide adoption, the market capitalization of Nano would be in the trillions. If that happens, even millions of dollars won't move the price significantly.
15:06 Deflation
Issues
  • Nano's current supply == max supply. Why would people spend Nano today if it could be worth more tomorrow?
  • What happens to principal representatives and voting weight as private keys are lost? How do you know keys are lost?
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • Nano is extremely divisible. 1 NANO is 1030 raw. Since there are no transaction fees, smaller and smaller amounts of Nano could be used to transact, even if the market cap reaches trillions.
  • People will always buy things they need (food, housing, etc).
  • I'm not sure what the plan is to adjust for lost keys. Probably requires more discussion.
Long-term Scalability
Issue
  • Current node software and hardware cannot handle thousands of TPS (low-end nodes fall behind at even 50 TPS).
  • The more representatives that exist, the more vote traffic is required (network bandwidth).
  • Low-end nodes currently slow down the network significantly. Principal representatives waste their resources constantly bootstrapping these weak nodes during network saturation.
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • Even as is, Nano can comfortably handle 50 TPS average - which is roughly the amount of transactions per day PayPal was doing in 2011 with nearly 100 million users.
  • Network bandwidth increases 50% a year.
  • There are some discussions of prioritizing bootstrapping by vote weight to limit the impact of weak nodes.
  • Since Nano uses an account balance system, pruning could drastically reduce storage requirements. You only need current state to keep the network running, not the full transaction history.
  • In the future, vote stapling could drastically reduce bandwidth usage by collecting all representative signatures up front and then only sharing that single aggregate signature.
  • Nano has no artificial protocol-based limits (e.g. block sizes or block times). It scales with hardware.
Obviously there is still a lot of work to be done in some areas, but overall I think Nano is a good place. For people that aren't Nano fans, what are your biggest concerns?
submitted by Qwahzi to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

What are Nano's biggest issues? Let's talk about it!

Let's talk about some of Nano's biggest issues. I also made a video about this topic, available here: https://youtu.be/d9yb9ifurbg.
00:12 Spam
Issues
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
01:58 Privacy
Issues
  • Nano has no privacy. It is pseudonymous (like Bitcoin), not anonymous.
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues & Outstanding Issues*
  • Second layer solutions like mixers can help, but some argue that isn't enough privacy.
  • The current protocol design + the computational overhead of privacy does not allow Nano to implement first layer privacy without compromising it's other features (fast, feeless, and scalable transactions).
02:56 Decentralization
Issues
  • Nano is currently not as decentralized as it could be. ~25% of the voting weight is held by Binance.
  • Users must choose representatives, and users don't always choose the best ones (or never choose).
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • Currently 4 unrelated parties (who all have a verifiable interest in keeping the network running) would have to work together to attack the network
  • Unlike Bitcoin, there is no mining or fees in Nano. This means that there is not a strong incentive for emergent centralization from profit maximization and economies of scale. We've seen this firsthand, as Nano's decentralization has increased over time.
  • Nano representative percentages are not that far off from Bitcoin mining pool percentages.
  • In Nano, voting weight can be remotely re-delegated to anyone at any time. This differs from Bitcoin, where consensus is controlled by miners and requires significant hardware investment.
  • The cost of a 51% attack scales with the market cap of Nano.
06:49 Marketing & adoption
Issues
  • The best technology doesn't always win. If no one knows about or uses Nano, it will die.
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • I would argue that the best technology typically does win, but it needs to be best in every way (price, speed, accessbility, etc). Nano is currently in a good place if you agree with that argument.
  • Bitcoin started small, and didn't spend money on marketing. It takes time to build a community.
  • The developers have said they will market more once the protocol is where they want it to be (v20 or v21?).
  • Community marketing initiatives have started to form organically (e.g. Twitter campaigns, YouTube ads, etc).
  • Marketing and adoption is a very difficult problem to solve, especially when you don't have first mover advantage or consistent cashflow.
08:07 Small developer fund
Issues
  • The developer fund only has 3 million NANO left (~$4MM), what happens after that?
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • The goal for Nano is to be an Internet RFC like TCP/IP or SMTP - development naturally slows down when the protocol is in a good place.
  • Nano development is completely open source, so anyone can participate. Multiple developers are now familiar with the Nano protocol.
  • Businesses and whales that benefit from Nano (exchanges, remittances, merchant services, etc) are incentivized to keep the protocol developed and running.
  • The developer fund was only ~5% of the supply - compare that to some of the other major cryptocurrencies.
10:08 Node incentives
Issues
  • There are no transaction fees, why would people run nodes to keep the network running?
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • The cost of consensus is so low in Nano that the benefits of the network itself are the incentive: decentralized money with 0 transaction fees that can be sent anywhere in the world nearly instantly.
  • Paying $50-$100 a month for a high-end node is a lot cheaper for merchants than paying 1-3% in total sales.
  • Businesses and whales that benefit from Nano (exchanges, remittances, merchant services, etc) are incentivized to keep the protocol developed and running.
11:58 No smart contracts
Issues
  • Nano doesn't support smart contracts.
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • Nano's sole goal is to be the most efficient peer-to-peer value transfer protocol possible. Adding smart contracts makes keeping Nano feeless, fast, and decentralized much more difficult.
  • Other solutions (e.g. Ethereum) exist for creating and enforcing smart contracts.
  • Code can still interact with Nano, but not on the first layer in a decentralized matter.
  • Real world smart contract adoption and usage is pretty limited at the moment, but that might not always be the case.
13:20 Price stability
Issues
  • Why would anyone accept or spend Nano if the price fluctuates so much?
  • Why wouldn't people just use a stablecoin version of Nano for sending and receiving money?
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • With good fiat gateways (stable, low fees, etc), you can always buy back the fiat equivalent of what you've spent.
  • The hope is that with enough adoption, people and businesses will eventually skip the fiat conversion and use Nano directly.
  • Because Nano is so fast, volatility is less of an issue. Transactions are confirmed in <10 seconds, and prices change less in that timeframe (vs 10 minutes to hours for Bitcoin).
  • Stablecoins reintroduce trust. Stable against what? Who controls the supply, and how do you get people to adopt them? What happens if the assets they're stable against fail? Nano is pure supply and demand.
  • With worldwide adoption, the market capitalization of Nano would be in the trillions. If that happens, even millions of dollars won't move the price significantly.
15:06 Deflation
Issues
  • Nano's current supply == max supply. Why would people spend Nano today if it could be worth more tomorrow?
  • What happens to principal representatives and voting weight as private keys are lost? How do you know keys are lost?
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • Nano is extremely divisible. 1 NANO is 1030 raw. Since there are no transaction fees, smaller and smaller amounts of Nano could be used to transact, even if the market cap reaches trillions.
  • People will always buy things they need (food, housing, etc).
  • I'm not sure what the plan is to adjust for lost keys. Probably requires more discussion.
Long-term Scalability
Issue
  • Current node software and hardware cannot handle thousands of TPS (low-end nodes fall behind at even 50 TPS).
  • The more representatives that exist, the more vote traffic is required (network bandwidth).
  • Low-end nodes currently slow down the network significantly. Principal representatives waste their resources constantly bootstrapping these weak nodes during network saturation.
Potential Mitigations & Outstanding Issues
  • Even as is, Nano can comfortably handle 50 TPS average - which is roughly the amount of transactions per day PayPal was doing in 2011 with nearly 100 million users.
  • Network bandwidth increases 50% a year.
  • There are some discussions of prioritizing bootstrapping by vote weight to limit the impact of weak nodes.
  • Since Nano uses an account balance system, pruning could drastically reduce storage requirements. You only need current state to keep the network running, not the full transaction history.
  • In the future, vote stapling could drastically reduce bandwidth usage by collecting all representative signatures up front and then only sharing that single aggregate signature.
  • Nano has no artificial protocol-based limits (e.g. block sizes or block times). It scales with hardware.
submitted by Qwahzi to nanocurrency [link] [comments]

Technical: A Brief History of Payment Channels: from Satoshi to Lightning Network

Who cares about political tweets from some random country's president when payment channels are a much more interesting and are actually capable of carrying value?
So let's have a short history of various payment channel techs!

Generation 0: Satoshi's Broken nSequence Channels

Because Satoshi's Vision included payment channels, except his implementation sucked so hard we had to go fix it and added RBF as a by-product.
Originally, the plan for nSequence was that mempools would replace any transaction spending certain inputs with another transaction spending the same inputs, but only if the nSequence field of the replacement was larger.
Since 0xFFFFFFFF was the highest value that nSequence could get, this would mark a transaction as "final" and not replaceable on the mempool anymore.
In fact, this "nSequence channel" I will describe is the reason why we have this weird rule about nLockTime and nSequence. nLockTime actually only works if nSequence is not 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. final. If nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF then nLockTime is ignored, because this if the "final" version of the transaction.
So what you'd do would be something like this:
  1. You go to a bar and promise the bartender to pay by the time the bar closes. Because this is the Bitcoin universe, time is measured in blockheight, so the closing time of the bar is indicated as some future blockheight.
  2. For your first drink, you'd make a transaction paying to the bartender for that drink, paying from some coins you have. The transaction has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, and a starting nSequence of 0. You hand over the transaction and the bartender hands you your drink.
  3. For your succeeding drink, you'd remake the same transaction, adding the payment for that drink to the transaction output that goes to the bartender (so that output keeps getting larger, by the amount of payment), and having an nSequence that is one higher than the previous one.
  4. Eventually you have to stop drinking. It comes down to one of two possibilities:
    • You drink until the bar closes. Since it is now the nLockTime indicated in the transaction, the bartender is able to broadcast the latest transaction and tells the bouncers to kick you out of the bar.
    • You wisely consider the state of your liver. So you re-sign the last transaction with a "final" nSequence of 0xFFFFFFFF i.e. the maximum possible value it can have. This allows the bartender to get his or her funds immediately (nLockTime is ignored if nSequence is 0xFFFFFFFF), so he or she tells the bouncers to let you out of the bar.
Now that of course is a payment channel. Individual payments (purchases of alcohol, so I guess buying coffee is not in scope for payment channels). Closing is done by creating a "final" transaction that is the sum of the individual payments. Sure there's no routing and channels are unidirectional and channels have a maximum lifetime but give Satoshi a break, he was also busy inventing Bitcoin at the time.
Now if you noticed I called this kind of payment channel "broken". This is because the mempool rules are not consensus rules, and cannot be validated (nothing about the mempool can be validated onchain: I sigh every time somebody proposes "let's make block size dependent on mempool size", mempool state cannot be validated by onchain data). Fullnodes can't see all of the transactions you signed, and then validate that the final one with the maximum nSequence is the one that actually is used onchain. So you can do the below:
  1. Become friends with Jihan Wu, because he owns >51% of the mining hashrate (he totally reorged Bitcoin to reverse the Binance hack right?).
  2. Slip Jihan Wu some of the more interesting drinks you're ordering as an incentive to cooperate with you. So say you end up ordering 100 drinks, you split it with Jihan Wu and give him 50 of the drinks.
  3. When the bar closes, Jihan Wu quickly calls his mining rig and tells them to mine the version of your transaction with nSequence 0. You know, that first one where you pay for only one drink.
  4. Because fullnodes cannot validate nSequence, they'll accept even the nSequence=0 version and confirm it, immutably adding you paying for a single alcoholic drink to the blockchain.
  5. The bartender, pissed at being cheated, takes out a shotgun from under the bar and shoots at you and Jihan Wu.
  6. Jihan Wu uses his mystical chi powers (actually the combined exhaust from all of his mining rigs) to slow down the shotgun pellets, making them hit you as softly as petals drifting in the wind.
  7. The bartender mutters some words, clothes ripping apart as he or she (hard to believe it could be a she but hey) turns into a bear, ready to maul you for cheating him or her of the payment for all the 100 drinks you ordered from him or her.
  8. Steely-eyed, you stand in front of the bartender-turned-bear, daring him to touch you. You've watched Revenant, you know Leonardo di Caprio could survive a bear mauling, and if some posh actor can survive that, you know you can too. You make a pose. "Drunken troll logic attack!"
  9. I think I got sidetracked here.
Lessons learned?

Spilman Channels

Incentive-compatible time-limited unidirectional channel; or, Satoshi's Vision, Fixed (if transaction malleability hadn't been a problem, that is).
Now, we know the bartender will turn into a bear and maul you if you try to cheat the payment channel, and now that we've revealed you're good friends with Jihan Wu, the bartender will no longer accept a payment channel scheme that lets one you cooperate with a miner to cheat the bartender.
Fortunately, Jeremy Spilman proposed a better way that would not let you cheat the bartender.
First, you and the bartender perform this ritual:
  1. You get some funds and create a transaction that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig between you and the bartender. You don't broadcast this yet: you just sign it and get its txid.
  2. You create another transaction that spends the above transaction. This transaction (the "backoff") has an nLockTime equal to the closing time of the bar, plus one block. You sign it and give this backoff transaction (but not the above transaction) to the bartender.
  3. The bartender signs the backoff and gives it back to you. It is now valid since it's spending a 2-of-2 of you and the bartender, and both of you have signed the backoff transaction.
  4. Now you broadcast the first transaction onchain. You and the bartender wait for it to be deeply confirmed, then you can start ordering.
The above is probably vaguely familiar to LN users. It's the funding process of payment channels! The first transaction, the one that pays to a 2-of-2 multisig, is the funding transaction that backs the payment channel funds.
So now you start ordering in this way:
  1. For your first drink, you create a transaction spending the funding transaction output and sending the price of the drink to the bartender, with the rest returning to you.
  2. You sign the transaction and pass it to the bartender, who serves your first drink.
  3. For your succeeding drinks, you recreate the same transaction, adding the price of the new drink to the sum that goes to the bartender and reducing the money returned to you. You sign the transaction and give it to the bartender, who serves you your next drink.
  4. At the end:
    • If the bar closing time is reached, the bartender signs the latest transaction, completing the needed 2-of-2 signatures and broadcasting this to the Bitcoin network. Since the backoff transaction is the closing time + 1, it can't get used at closing time.
    • If you decide you want to leave early because your liver is crying, you just tell the bartender to go ahead and close the channel (which the bartender can do at any time by just signing and broadcasting the latest transaction: the bartender won't do that because he or she is hoping you'll stay and drink more).
    • If you ended up just hanging around the bar and never ordering, then at closing time + 1 you broadcast the backoff transaction and get your funds back in full.
Now, even if you pass 50 drinks to Jihan Wu, you can't give him the first transaction (the one which pays for only one drink) and ask him to mine it: it's spending a 2-of-2 and the copy you have only contains your own signature. You need the bartender's signature to make it valid, but he or she sure as hell isn't going to cooperate in something that would lose him or her money, so a signature from the bartender validating old state where he or she gets paid less isn't going to happen.
So, problem solved, right? Right? Okay, let's try it. So you get your funds, put them in a funding tx, get the backoff tx, confirm the funding tx...
Once the funding transaction confirms deeply, the bartender laughs uproariously. He or she summons the bouncers, who surround you menacingly.
"I'm refusing service to you," the bartender says.
"Fine," you say. "I was leaving anyway;" You smirk. "I'll get back my money with the backoff transaction, and posting about your poor service on reddit so you get negative karma, so there!"
"Not so fast," the bartender says. His or her voice chills your bones. It looks like your exploitation of the Satoshi nSequence payment channel is still fresh in his or her mind. "Look at the txid of the funding transaction that got confirmed."
"What about it?" you ask nonchalantly, as you flip open your desktop computer and open a reputable blockchain explorer.
What you see shocks you.
"What the --- the txid is different! You--- you changed my signature?? But how? I put the only copy of my private key in a sealed envelope in a cast-iron box inside a safe buried in the Gobi desert protected by a clan of nomads who have dedicated their lives and their childrens' lives to keeping my private key safe in perpetuity!"
"Didn't you know?" the bartender asks. "The components of the signature are just very large numbers. The sign of one of the signature components can be changed, from positive to negative, or negative to positive, and the signature will remain valid. Anyone can do that, even if they don't know the private key. But because Bitcoin includes the signatures in the transaction when it's generating the txid, this little change also changes the txid." He or she chuckles. "They say they'll fix it by separating the signatures from the transaction body. They're saying that these kinds of signature malleability won't affect transaction ids anymore after they do this, but I bet I can get my good friend Jihan Wu to delay this 'SepSig' plan for a good while yet. Friendly guy, this Jihan Wu, it turns out all I had to do was slip him 51 drinks and he was willing to mine a tx with the signature signs flipped." His or her grin widens. "I'm afraid your backoff transaction won't work anymore, since it spends a txid that is not existent and will never be confirmed. So here's the deal. You pay me 99% of the funds in the funding transaction, in exchange for me signing the transaction that spends with the txid that you see onchain. Refuse, and you lose 100% of the funds and every other HODLer, including me, benefits from the reduction in coin supply. Accept, and you get to keep 1%. I lose nothing if you refuse, so I won't care if you do, but consider the difference of getting zilch vs. getting 1% of your funds." His or her eyes glow. "GENUFLECT RIGHT NOW."
Lesson learned?

CLTV-protected Spilman Channels

Using CLTV for the backoff branch.
This variation is simply Spilman channels, but with the backoff transaction replaced with a backoff branch in the SCRIPT you pay to. It only became possible after OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY (CLTV) was enabled in 2015.
Now as we saw in the Spilman Channels discussion, transaction malleability means that any pre-signed offchain transaction can easily be invalidated by flipping the sign of the signature of the funding transaction while the funding transaction is not yet confirmed.
This can be avoided by simply putting any special requirements into an explicit branch of the Bitcoin SCRIPT. Now, the backoff branch is supposed to create a maximum lifetime for the payment channel, and prior to the introduction of OP_CHECKLOCKTIMEVERIFY this could only be done by having a pre-signed nLockTime transaction.
With CLTV, however, we can now make the branches explicit in the SCRIPT that the funding transaction pays to.
Instead of paying to a 2-of-2 in order to set up the funding transaction, you pay to a SCRIPT which is basically "2-of-2, OR this singlesig after a specified lock time".
With this, there is no backoff transaction that is pre-signed and which refers to a specific txid. Instead, you can create the backoff transaction later, using whatever txid the funding transaction ends up being confirmed under. Since the funding transaction is immutable once confirmed, it is no longer possible to change the txid afterwards.

Todd Micropayment Networks

The old hub-spoke model (that isn't how LN today actually works).
One of the more direct predecessors of the Lightning Network was the hub-spoke model discussed by Peter Todd. In this model, instead of payers directly having channels to payees, payers and payees connect to a central hub server. This allows any payer to pay any payee, using the same channel for every payee on the hub. Similarly, this allows any payee to receive from any payer, using the same channel.
Remember from the above Spilman example? When you open a channel to the bartender, you have to wait around for the funding tx to confirm. This will take an hour at best. Now consider that you have to make channels for everyone you want to pay to. That's not very scalable.
So the Todd hub-spoke model has a central "clearing house" that transport money from payers to payees. The "Moonbeam" project takes this model. Of course, this reveals to the hub who the payer and payee are, and thus the hub can potentially censor transactions. Generally, though, it was considered that a hub would more efficiently censor by just not maintaining a channel with the payer or payee that it wants to censor (since the money it owned in the channel would just be locked uselessly if the hub won't process payments to/from the censored user).
In any case, the ability of the central hub to monitor payments means that it can surveill the payer and payee, and then sell this private transactional data to third parties. This loss of privacy would be intolerable today.
Peter Todd also proposed that there might be multiple hubs that could transport funds to each other on behalf of their users, providing somewhat better privacy.
Another point of note is that at the time such networks were proposed, only unidirectional (Spilman) channels were available. Thus, while one could be a payer, or payee, you would have to use separate channels for your income versus for your spending. Worse, if you wanted to transfer money from your income channel to your spending channel, you had to close both and reshuffle the money between them, both onchain activities.

Poon-Dryja Lightning Network

Bidirectional two-participant channels.
The Poon-Dryja channel mechanism has two important properties:
Both the original Satoshi and the two Spilman variants are unidirectional: there is a payer and a payee, and if the payee wants to do a refund, or wants to pay for a different service or product the payer is providing, then they can't use the same unidirectional channel.
The Poon-Dryjam mechanism allows channels, however, to be bidirectional instead: you are not a payer or a payee on the channel, you can receive or send at any time as long as both you and the channel counterparty are online.
Further, unlike either of the Spilman variants, there is no time limit for the lifetime of a channel. Instead, you can keep the channel open for as long as you want.
Both properties, together, form a very powerful scaling property that I believe most people have not appreciated. With unidirectional channels, as mentioned before, if you both earn and spend over the same network of payment channels, you would have separate channels for earning and spending. You would then need to perform onchain operations to "reverse" the directions of your channels periodically. Secondly, since Spilman channels have a fixed lifetime, even if you never used either channel, you would have to periodically "refresh" it by closing it and reopening.
With bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels, you may instead open some channels when you first begin managing your own money, then close them only after your lawyers have executed your last will and testament on how the money in your channels get divided up to your heirs: that's just two onchain transactions in your entire lifetime. That is the potentially very powerful scaling property that bidirectional, indefinite-lifetime channels allow.
I won't discuss the transaction structure needed for Poon-Dryja bidirectional channels --- it's complicated and you can easily get explanations with cute graphics elsewhere.
There is a weakness of Poon-Dryja that people tend to gloss over (because it was fixed very well by RustyReddit):
Another thing I want to emphasize is that while the Lightning Network paper and many of the earlier presentations developed from the old Peter Todd hub-and-spoke model, the modern Lightning Network takes the logical conclusion of removing a strict separation between "hubs" and "spokes". Any node on the Lightning Network can very well work as a hub for any other node. Thus, while you might operate as "mostly a payer", "mostly a forwarding node", "mostly a payee", you still end up being at least partially a forwarding node ("hub") on the network, at least part of the time. This greatly reduces the problems of privacy inherent in having only a few hub nodes: forwarding nodes cannot get significantly useful data from the payments passing through them, because the distance between the payer and the payee can be so large that it would be likely that the ultimate payer and the ultimate payee could be anyone on the Lightning Network.
Lessons learned?

Future

After LN, there's also the Decker-Wattenhofer Duplex Micropayment Channels (DMC). This post is long enough as-is, LOL. But for now, it uses a novel "decrementing nSequence channel", using the new relative-timelock semantics of nSequence (not the broken one originally by Satoshi). It actually uses multiple such "decrementing nSequence" constructs, terminating in a pair of Spilman channels, one in both directions (thus "duplex"). Maybe I'll discuss it some other time.
The realization that channel constructions could actually hold more channel constructions inside them (the way the Decker-Wattenhofer puts a pair of Spilman channels inside a series of "decrementing nSequence channels") lead to the further thought behind Burchert-Decker-Wattenhofer channel factories. Basically, you could host multiple two-participant channel constructs inside a larger multiparticipant "channel" construct (i.e. host multiple channels inside a factory).
Further, we have the Decker-Russell-Osuntokun or "eltoo" construction. I'd argue that this is "nSequence done right". I'll write more about this later, because this post is long enough.
Lessons learned?
submitted by almkglor to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

My attempt at an ELI5 for cryptocurrency to help my friends.

This is a long one so fair warning and no there is no tl;dr. I've only been at this for about 6 months and worked up this paper the other day for my friends who are interested but know very little about this. Hopefully whoever reads this can make in corrections as I am far from an expert.
Blockchain
Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, Ether are all blockchains. Blockchains are basically a spreadsheet (LEDGER) that is duplicated multiple times across a network and updated regularly simultaneously. There is no centralized version of this ledger. It is hosted simultaneously by thousands/millions of computers. These ledgers will update on their own, Bitcoin as an example automatically checks itself every 10 minutes. Each of these 10-minute increment of transactions (in bitcoins case transactions would be sending or receiving bitcoins from one person to another for goods or services) are called BLOCKS. For these blocks to be confirmed, accepted, and updated to the ledger nodes are required.
Nodes (Mining/Forging)
A node is a computer running the blockchain software on the network. The blockchain software will automatically download the entire ledger of all transactions since its inception. At regular intervals, the software will take the transactions of a block (data on the ledger) and convert them into a mathematical puzzle to be solved by randomly chosen nodes (MINING). Mining requires powerful processors (typically GPUs) and substantial quantities of energy to receive mined tokens profitably. When a specific number of nodes solve the puzzle with the same answer they are basically confirming that the data on the block is accurate as multiple independent nodes found the same answer. When confirmed, the block gets added to the previous blocks making a chain of blocks aka a blockchain. As an incentive to run your computer as a node you are rewarded with TOKENS. If a single person or group of people wanted to manipulate the ledger, the amount of machinery and electricity used to achieve the majority of miners thus allowing you to manipulate the ledger is so exponentially expensive that it serves no reasonable purpose. This is an example of a Proof of Work Blockchain System (computer solves puzzle and rewarded with tokens)
Tokens
Tokens are part of the core of the blockchain. They are an incentive to validate transactions and create blocks. They gain intrinsic value based on the blockchain they are associated with. Some blockchains grant token holder’s different abilities. With Bitcoin, tokens are needed to pay for transaction fees. Others allow voting rights on how certain blockchain functions are managed. There is a limited amount of Bitcoin that will ever be released to nodes (21 million expected to be all be released by 2033) which also keep inflation from being a problem. Blockchains can create their platform with whatever number of tokens they would like and release them or create means to mine them as they see fit. Essentially, as with any other fiat money (currency that a government has declared to be legal tender NOT backed by a physical commodity), as adoption and trust increases the value of the token will increase. If most people accept Bitcoin for services and stores accept Bitcoin for goods than it is as good as the next currency.
Wallets
Whether you mine for tokens, are paid in tokens for goods or services or purchase tokens from a person or currency exchange you need a place to store them securely and a way to send and receive them. Cryptocurrency Wallets don’t store currency, they hold your public and private keys that interface with the blockchain so you can access your balance, send money and manage your funds. The public key allows others to send money to the public key only. A wallet that is "offline" (see Hardware or Paper below) cannot access funds or send money unless it is accessed with another form of wallet, either desktop, online, or mobile.
1) Desktop Wallet - Installed on your computer and are only accessible from that SINGLE computer. Very secure but if someone hacks your computer you are exposed. 2) Online Wallet - Run remotely (cloud based) and are far more convenient to access but make them more vulnerable as they are controlled by a third party and are also vulnerable to hacking attacks. Exchange wallets are online wallets but you are not in control of the private key. View it as a wallet that is lended to you so you can trade. The wallet is technically not yours. 3) Mobile - Ran on an app and are useful as they can be used anywhere including retail stores 4) Hardware - Private keys are stored on a tangible device like a USB drive. They can make transactions online but they are stored offline. Compatible with web interfaces and support many but not all currencies. To use, plug into a computer, enter a pin, send currency and confirm. Safest form of storage. 5) Paper - Basically a physical printout of your private and public keys. It is not stored online anywhere and the only way transactions can happen is if you transfer money with the help of an Online wallet.
Example of a Public Key = 1A684DbsHQKPVCWgaUsYdF4uQGwTiA9BFT Example of a Private Key = E9873D79C6D87DC0FB6A5778633389F4453213303DA61F20BD67FC233AA33262
Most wallets provide a Recovery Mnemonic Passcode that is a series of words (typically 12 to 24 words) in a specific order. If you lose your login information for your wallet you can supply the mnemonic passcode and retrieve your lost login information. If you lose your login information and your mnemonic passcode your wallet will be inaccessible and your tokens are lost to you. The above basically describes a first generation Blockchain Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin. It is used basically as currency with no centralized entity regulating the release of additional currency and keeping the ledger of where the money is going secure and extremely safe from manipulation.
Second Generation Blockchain
The second generation blockchains sprung out of this environment with something more valuable. Utilizing the blockchain system to allow applications to be ran on top of a decentralized secure system. Instead of just recording transactions, contracts could be transmitted the same way. More complex transactions (SMART CONTRACTS) allow for things such as: - Funds to be spent only when a required percentage of people agree - Manage agreements between users (such as insurance) - Provide utility to other contracts - Store information about an application such as domain registration information or membership records This basically can allow applications to be ran on top of the blockchain system. This can cut out the middleman for many real-world applications (mortgages, banking, communications, security confirmations etc.)
Proof of Work/Proof of Stake
As I mentioned earlier, Proof of Work (PoW) requires nodes to solve a mathematical puzzle which is rewarded with tokens. Proof of Stake (PoS) is different, the tokens with proof of stake systems are pre-mined meaning they are all created when the blockchain system is created. Blocks are not verified by the typical method. The block validator uses the blockchain software to stake their tokens and are chosen based on specific factors depending on how many tokens the person holds and for how long. Depending on how many tokens they hold will restrict the quantity of blocks they can validate. If they own more they can validate more often but all validators will be chosen randomly keeping the rewards fairly distributed (unlike PoW which typically reward the first completed.) The blockchain still requires a mathematical puzzle to be solved but it is much easier than PoW requiring far less time and energy. If the blockchain has premined all of their tokens then new tokens cannot be mined for rewards in PoS. The reward for staking your tokens to be a validator is a portion of the transaction fee that is charged as part of normal transactions on the blockchain. That is why PoS miners are called forgers. If manipulation is attempted than their stake can be taken from their wallet adding more motivation to prevent data manipulation.
Fork
Some cryptocurrencies may need to update or upgrade the coding of their blockchain software. When this happens usually a fork occurs. This basically means the cryptocurrency splits into two separate cryptocurrencies. Because the nature of blockchain technology, they are decentralized and autonomous so the older version cannot be deleted or removed. If people choose to continue using the old version they can. For mining/forging purposes the nodes will need to choose which they will mine/forge and download the blockchain software on their computer to proceed. When the fork occurs, anyone holding tokens in the original currency will be given the same number of tokens in the forked currency. (When Bitcoin forked to Bitcoin Cash, anyone holding x amount of Bitcoin would receive a new wallet for Bitcoin Cash also containing x amount of Bitcoin Cash.) This is called a Hard Fork and all previous transactions are made invalid. There are also Soft Forks, in this case it is backwards compatible and all previous transactions are valid. This can result in two currencies but in most cases, it doesn’t as it is usually accepted by most miners/forgers because it is backwards compatible.
Exchanges
Online currency exchanges allow you to buy, sell or exchange fiat money (USD, EUR, etc) with digital currencies or in most cases digital currencies for other digital currencies. There are a large variety of different exchanges that are operated in multiple countries but there are around a dozen that the majority of cryptocurrency trading volume are present on. Not all cryptocurrencies will be listed on all exchanges, some have specific prerequisites to be listed on their exchange and there may be fees associated as well. Once your account is set up you will have a list of all available cryptocurrencies to trade. Each currency will have an associated online wallet with the public key address allowing you to send that specific currency to that wallet. (Many exchanges are having delayed or canceled identity verification, currency transfers and lack sufficient customer support due to the influx of new traders) Examples of top exchanges: 1) Coinbase (trades fiat) 2) GDAX (trades fiat) 3) Gemini (trades fiat) 4) Changelly (trades fiat) 5) Bittrex 6) Binance 7) HitBTC 8) EtherDelta 9) Bitfinex 10) Kraken 11) Bithumb 12) Bitstamp 13) Poloniex 14) OKEx
Sending/Receiving Tokens
All wallets have the ability to send digital currency to other wallets. The function is relatively easy, make sure the currency you are sending is going to the appropriate wallet for that currency. Ethereum tokens cannot be sent to a Bitcoin wallet for example. (The tokens aren’t actually moving location; the list of transactions/ownership is what is stored in the wallet). Triple check the wallet private key you are sending the tokens to. If you type the wrong address the tokens will be lost in nearly all incidents. Some mobile wallets allow you to scan a QR code that will automatically enter the public key rather than copying/pasting or typing out the public key.
Taxes
As of January 1, 2018 it appears that taxing on digital currency has changed. Every trade between any digital currencies (Bitcoin to Ether, Ether to Litecoin etc) will be a taxable transaction. If you hold the currency for longer than one year than you will pay capital gain tax when it is traded or sold (15%-20%) and if you sell or trade in less than a year you will have to add the profit to your taxable income to adjust your tax bracket.
Altcoins
Altcoins are basically any coin that is not Bitcoin. Most cryptocurrencies do not have a native blockchain (their own independent dedicated blockchain). Bitcoin, Ether, Ripple, Waves, NXT, Cardano all have their own native blockchain. Many other cryptocurrencies run on other cryptocurrency’s blockchains. Litecoin runs on Bitcoins blockchain, hundreds run on the Ethereum blockchain. These currencies act as smart contracts running on the adopted blockchain.
DApps (Decentralized Applications)
For a blockchain application to be considered a DApp it must be 1) Open source, code available to all 2) Decentralized, uses blockchain cryptographic tech 3) Incentive, must have tokens to fuel itself 4) Algorithm/Protocol, generates tokens and has a built-in consensus mechanism (mining/forging.)
There are 3 types of DApps, each basically piggybacks off the platform of the previous Type 1 – Have their own blockchain (like bitcoin) Type 2 – Use the blockchain of Type 1 DApps Type 3 – Use the protocol of Type 2 DApps
ICO (Initial Coin Offering)
Much like an IPO (Initial Public Offering) that offers stock in a private company to the public, an ICO raises money for new Cryptocurrency ventures. Typically, a minimum investment is required in the form of a cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin or Ether and the investor is given tokens of the cryptocurrency at a reduced cost. Due to the fact that ICO’s are so new, government agencies have not begun regulating these ventures making them extremely risky as anyone with a competent coder can create and market a cryptocurrency that can be used to swindle investors who aren’t cautious. The US government no longer allows its citizens to participate in ICO’s and if you are using a computer with an IP address located in the United States, ICO’s websites will not allow you to invest.
Research
1) Whitepapers – Each cryptocurrency will have their own dedicated websites and most will have a whitepaper that has a description of what their cryptocurrency is designed to do. 2) Roadmaps – Also on each cryptocurrency’s website, they tend to have a roadmap or timeline as to when they are planning to complete certain milestones be it added features to the blockchain or wallet or any other important events. 3) Coinmarketcap.com – List of every available cryptocurrency, the exchanges they trade on, market cap, trade volume, available tokens, newly created tokens etc. 4) Reddit.com (cryptocurrency subreddit) – Subreddits focused on cryptocurrency as well as specific subreddits focused on individual cryptocurrencies. Be cautious as many people on these sites are uninformed and/or are trying to manipulate the market by fooling others to buy or sell based on fraudulent information. 5) Bitcointalk.org – Forums specific to individual cryptocurrencies. There is a lot of self-marketing (bounties) on this site. Take what they say with a grain of salt 6) TwitteFacebook (Social Media) – Many times news from team members or the cryptocurrency’s social media page will break news before it is listed on any of the above-mentioned outlets. Find out who is working for the cryptocurrency you are interested in and start following the team’s social media. Don’t forget to look at their linkedin accounts if available, previous employment and behavioral history to confirm they are competent. 7) Github - Code from projects can be uploaded here and reviewed for issues and revisions.
Common Terms/Slang
Shilling – covert advertising, personally endorsing a token so as to manipulate the price to either recoup a loss or increase gains on a token the individual owns. FUD – Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt; another method to manipulate the price of a token the person owns by making others second guess their investment decision on a specific token. FOMO – Fear Of Missing Out; buying a token (usually after the price has already increased) hoping they haven’t missed the majority of a price increase. Shitcoin – A cryptocurrency that has become worthless overtime or a scam operation. To the Moon – Massive increase in a token’s price.
I'm sure there are probably revisions to be done on this as I am still getting my head around all of the concepts. Any help to this would be appreciated.
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Blockchain Wallets

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What a Blockchain Wallet is? What is its purpose?
Find the answer after reading this article.
Public/Private Key
The public key is the digital code you give to someone that wants to transfer ownership of a unit of cryptocurrency to you; and a private key is what you need to be able to unlock your own wallet to transfer a unit of a cryptocurrency to someone else. The encoding of information within a wallet is done by the private and public keys. That is the main component of the encryption that maintains the security of the wallet. Both keys function in simultaneous encryption systems called symmetric and asymmetric encryption. The former, alternatively known as private key encryption, makes use of the same key for encryption and decryption. The latter, asymmetric encryption, utilizes two keys, the public and private key, wherein a message-sender encrypts the message with the public key, and the recipient decodes it with their private key. The public key uses asymmetric algorithms that convert messages into an unreadable format. A person who possesses a public key can encrypt the message for a specific receiver.
Accessing wallets
Methods of wallet access vary depending on the type of wallet being used. Various types of currency wallets on an exchange will normally be accessed via the exchange’s entrance portal, normally involving a combination of a username/password and optionally, 2FA (Two factor authentication, which we explain in more detail later). Whereas hardware wallets need to be connected to an internet enabled device, and then have a pin code entered manually by the user in possession of the hardware wallet in order for access to be gained. Phone wallets are accessed through the device on which the wallet application has been downloaded. Ordinarily, a passcode and/or security pattern must be entered before entry is granted, in addition to 2FA for withdrawals.
Satoshi Nakamoto built the Satoshi client which evolved into Bitcoin in 2009. This software allowed users to create wallets and send money to other addresses. However, it proved to be a nightmarish user experience, with many transactions being sent to incorrect addresses and private keys being lost. The MtGox (Magic the Gathering Online exchange, named after the original intended use of the exchange) incident, which will be covered in greater detail later, serves as a reminder of the dangers present in the cryptosphere regarding security, and the need to constantly upgrade your defenses against all potential hacks. The resulting loss of 850k BTC is a still unresolved problem, weighing heavily on the victims and the markets at large. This caused a huge push for a constantly evolving and improving focus on security. Exchanges that developed later, and are thus considered more legitimate and secure, such as Gemini and Coinbase, put a much greater emphasis on vigilance as a direct result of the MtGox hacking incident. We also saw the evolution of wallet security into the physical realm with the creation of hardware wallets, most notable among them the Ledger and Trezor wallets.
Types of Wallets & Storage Methods
The simplest way to sift through the dozens of cryptocurrency storage methods available today, is to divide them up into digital and non-digital, software and hardware wallets. There are also less commonly used methods of storage of private keys, like paper wallets and brain wallets. We will examine them all at least briefly, because in the course of your interaction with cryptocurrencies and Blockchain technology, it is essential to master all the different types of hardware and software wallets. Another distinction must be made between hot wallets and cold wallets. A hot wallet is one that is connected to the internet, and a cold wallet is one that is not. Fun fact: The level below cold storage, deep cold storage has just recently been implemented by the Regal RA DMCC, a subsidiary of an internationally renowned gold trading company licensed in the Middle East. After having been granted a crypto trading license, Regal RA launched their “deep cold” storage solution for traders and investors, which offers the ability to store crypto assets in vaults deep below the Almas Tower in Dubai. This storage method is so secure that at no point is the vault connected to a network or the internet; meaning the owners of the assets can be sure that the private keys are known only to the rightful owners.
Lets take a quick look at specific features and functionality of varieties of crypto wallets. Software wallets: wallet applications installed on a laptop, desktop, phone or tablet. Web Wallets: A hot wallet by definition. Web Wallets are accessible through the web browser on your phone or computer. The most important feature to recognize about any kind of web wallet, is that the private keys are held and managed by a trusted third party. MyEtherWallet is the most commonly used non-exchange web wallet, but it can only be used to store Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens.
Though the avenue of access to MEW is through the web, it is not strictly speaking a web wallet, though this label will suffice for the time being. The MEW site gives you the ability to create a new wallet so you can store your ETH yourself. All the data is created and stored on your CPU rather than their servers. This makes MEW a hybrid kind of web wallet and desktop wallet. Exchange Wallets: A form of Web Wallet contained within an exchange. An exchange will hold a wallet for each individual variety of cryptocurrency you hold on that exchange. Desktop Wallets: A software program downloaded onto your computer or tablet hard drive that usually holds only one kind of cryptocurrency. The Nano Wallet (Formerly Raiwallet) and Neon wallet for storage of NEO and NEP-5 tokens are notable examples of desktop wallets Phone Wallets: These are apps downloaded onto a mobile phone that function in the same manner as a desktop wallet, but actually can hold many different kinds of cryptocurrency. The Eidoo Wallet for storing Ethereum and its associated tokens and Blockchain Wallet which currently is configured to hold BTC, ETH and Bitcoin Cash, are some of the most widely used examples.
Hardware wallets — LedgeTrezoAlternatives
Hardware wallets are basically physical pathways and keys to the unique location of your crypto assets on the Blockchain. These are thought to be more secure than any variety of web wallet because the private key is stored within your own hard wallet, an actual physical device. This forcibly removes the risk your online wallet, or your exchange counter party, might be hacked in the same manner as MtGox. In hardware wallet transactions, the wallet’s API creates the transaction when a user requests a payment. An API is a set of functions that facilitates the creation of applications that interact and access features or data of an operating system. The hardware then signs the transaction, and produces a public key, which is given to the network. This means the signing keys never leave the hardware wallet. The user must both enter a personal identification number and physically press buttons on the hardware wallet in order to gain access to their Blockchain wallet address through this method, and do the same to initiate transfers.
Paper Wallets
Possibly the safest form of cryptocurrency storage in terms of avoiding hacking, Paper Wallets are an offline form of crypto storage that is free to set up, and probably the most secure way for users, from beginners to experts, to hold on to their crypto assets. To say it simply, paper wallets are an offline cold storage method of storing cryptocurrency. This includes actually printing out your public and private keys on a piece of paper, which you then store and save in a secure place. The keys are printed in the form of QR codes which you can scan in the future for all your transactions. The reason why it is so safe is that it gives complete control to you, the user. You do not need to worry about the security or condition of a piece of hardware, nor do you have to worry about hackers on the net, or any other piece of malware. You just need to take care of one piece of paper!
Real World Historical Examples of Different Wallet Types
Web Wallet: Blockchain.info Brief mechanism & Security Blockchain.info is both a cryptocurrency wallet, supporting Bitcoin, Ethereum and Bitcoin cash, and also a block explorer service. The wallet service provided by blockchain.info has both a Web Wallet, and mobile phone application wallet, both of which involve signing up with an email address, and both have downloadable private keys. Two Factor Authentication is enabled for transfers from the web and mobile wallets, as well as email confirmation (as with most withdrawals from exchanges). Phone Wallet: Eidoo The Eidoo wallet is a multi-currency mobile phone app wallet for storage of Ethereum and ERC-20 tokens. The security level is the standard phone wallet level of email registration, confirmation, password login, and 2 factor authentication used in all transfers out. You may find small volumes of different varieties of cryptocurrencies randomly turning up in your Eidoo wallet address. Certain projects have deals with individual wallets to allow for “airdrops” to take place of a particular token into the wallet, without the consent of the wallet holder. There is no need to be alarmed, and the security of the wallet is not in any way compromised by these airdrops.
Neon Wallet
The NEON wallet sets the standard for web wallets in terms of security and user-friendly functionality. This wallet is only designed for storing NEO, Gas, and NEP-5 tokens (Ontology, Deep Brain Chain, RPX etc.). As with all single-currency wallets, be forewarned, if you send the wrong cryptocurrency type to a wallet for which it is not designed, you will probably lose your tokens or coins. MyEtherWallet My Ether Wallet, often referred to as MEW, is the most widely used and highly regarded wallet for Ethereum and its related ERC-20 tokens. You can access your MEW account with a hardware wallet, or a different program. Or you can also get access by typing or copying in your private key. However, you should understand this method is the least safe way possible,and therefore is the most likely to result in a hack. Hardware: TrezoLedger Brief History Mechanism and Security A hardware wallet is a physical key to your on-chain wallet location, with the private keys contained within a secure sector of the device. Your private key never leaves your hardware wallet. This is one of the safest possible methods of access to your crypto assets. Many people feel like the hardware wallet strikes the right balance between security, peace of mind, and convenience. Paper Wallet Paper wallets can be generated at various websites, such as https://bitcoinpaperwallet.com/ and https://walletgenerator.net/. They enable wallet holders to store their private keys totally offline, in as secure a manner as is possible.
Real World Example — Poor Practices
MtGox Hack history effects and security considerations MtGox was the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world before it was hacked in 2014. They were handling over 70% of BTC transactions before they were forced to liquidate their business. The biggest theft of cryptocurrency in history began when the private keys for the hot wallets were stolen in 2011 from a wallet.dat file, possibly by hacking, possibly by a rogue employee. Over the course of the next 3 years the hot wallets were emptied of approximately 650000 BTC. The hacker only needed wallet.dat file to access and make transfers from the hot wallet, as wallet encryption was only in operation from the time of the Bitcoin 0.4.0 release on Sept 23rd 2011. Even as the wallets were being emptied, the employees at Mt Gox were apparently oblivious to what was taking place. It seems that Mt Gox workers were interpreting these withdrawals as large transfers being made to more secure wallets. The former CEO of the exchange, Mark Karpeles, is currently on trial for embezzlement and faces up to 5 years in prison if found guilty. The Mt Gox hack precipitated the acceleration of security improvements on other exchanges, for wallets, and the architecture of bitcoin itself. As a rule of thumb, no small-to-medium scale crypto holders should use exchange wallets as a long-term storage solution. Investors and experienced traders may do this to take advantage of market fluctuations, but exchange wallets are perhaps the most prone to hacking, and storing assets on exchanges for an extended time is one of the riskiest ways to hold your assets.
In a case strikingly similar to the MtGox of 2011–2014, the operators of the BitGrail exchange “discovered” that approximately 17 million XRB ($195 million worth in early 2018) were missing. The operators of the exchange were inexplicably still accepting deposits, long after they knew about the hack. Then they proceeded to block withdrawals from non-EU users. And then they even requested a hard fork of the code to restore the funds. This would have meant the entire XRB Blockchain would have had to accept all transactions from their first “invalid” transaction that were invalid, and rollback the ledger. The BitGrailexchange attempted to open operations in May 2018 but was immediately forced to close by order of the Italian courts. BitGrail did not institute mandatory KYC (Know your customer) procedures for their clients until after the theft had been reported, and allegedly months after the hack was visible. They also did not have 2 factor authentication mandatory for withdrawals. All big, and very costly mistakes.
Case Study: Good Practice Binance, the Attempted Hack
During the 2017 bull run, China-based exchange Binance quickly rose to the status of biggest altcoin exchange in the world, boasting daily volumes that surged to over $4 billion per day in late December. Unfortunately, this success attracted the attention of some crafty hackers. These hackers purchased domain names that were confusingly similar to “binance.com”. And then they created sufficiently convincing replica websites so they could phish traders for their login information. After obtaining this vital info, the scammers created API keys to place large buy orders for VIAcoin, an obscure, low volume digital currency. Those large buy orders spiked VIA’s price. Within minutes they traded the artificially high-priced VIA for BTC. Then they immediately made withdrawal requests from the hacked BTC wallets to wallets outside of the exchange. Almost a perfect fait accompli! But, Binance’s “automating risk management system” kicked in, as it should, and all withdrawals were temporarily suspended, resulting in a foiled hacking attempt.
Software Wallets Web/Desktop/Phone/Exchange Advantages and Limitations
As we said before, it is inadvisable to store crypto assets in exchange wallets, and, to a lesser extent, Web Wallets. The specific reason we say that is because you need to deliver your private keys into the hands of another party, and rely on that website or exchange to keep your private key, and thus your assets, safe. The advantages of the less-secure exchange or web wallets, are the speed at which you can transfer assets into another currency, or into another exchange for sale or for arbitrage purposes. Despite the convenience factor, all software wallets will at some point have been connected to the internet or a network. So, you can never be 100% sure that your system has not been infected with malware, or some kind of keylogging software, that will allow a third party to record your passwords or private keys. How well the type of storage method limits your contact with such hazards is a good way to rate the security of said variety of wallet. Of all the software wallets, desktop and mobile wallets are the most secure because you download and store your own private key, preferably on a different system. By taking the responsibility of private key storage you can be sure that only one person has possession of it, and that is you! Thereby greatly increasing the security of your crypto assets. By having their assets in a desktop wallet, traders can guard their private key and enjoy the associated heightened security levels, as well keep their assets just one swift transfer away from an exchange.
Hardware Wallets Advantages and Limitations
We briefly touched on the features and operation of the two most popular hardware wallets currently on the market, the Ledger and Trezor wallets. Now it will be helpful to take a closer look into the pros and cons of the hardware wallet storage method. With hardware wallets, the private keys are stored within a protected area of the microcontroller, and they are prevented from being exported out of the device in plain text. They are fortified with state-of-the-art cryptography that makes them immune to computer viruses and malware. And much of the time, the software is open source, which allows user validation of the entire performance of the device. The advantages of a hardware wallet over the perhaps more secure paper wallet method of crypto storage is the interactive user experience, and also the fact that the private key must at some stage be downloaded in order to use the paper wallet. The main disadvantage of a hardware wallet is the time-consuming extra steps needed to transfer funds out of this mode of storage to an exchange, which could conceivably result in some traders missing out on profits. But with security being the main concern of the vast majority of holders, investors and traders too, this slight drawback is largely inconsequential in most situations.
Paper Wallets Advantages and Limitations
Paper wallets are thought by some to be the safest way to store your crypto assets, or more specifically, the best method of guarding the pathways to your assets on the Blockchain. By printing out your private key information, the route to your assets on the Blockchain is stored 100% offline (apart from the act of printing the private key out, the entire process is totally offline). This means that you will not run the risk of being infected with malware or become the victim of keylogging scams. The main drawback of using paper wallets is that you are in effect putting all your eggs in one basket, and if the physical document is destroyed, you will lose access to your crypto assets forever.
Key things to keep in mind about your Wallet Security: Recovery Phrases/Private Key Storage/2FA/Email Security
Recovery phrases are used to recover the on-chain location for your wallet with your assets for hardware wallets like ledgers and Trezors that have been lost. When you purchase a new ledger for example, you just have to set it up again by entering the recovery phrase into the display and the lost wallets will appear with your assets intact. Private key storage is of paramount importance to maintain the safety of your on-chain assets! This should be done in paper wallet form, or stored offline on a different computer, or USB device, from the one you would typically use to connect to the 2 Factor Authentication (2FA) sometimes known as “two step authentication”. This feature offers an extra security layer when withdrawing funds from cryptocurrency wallets. A specialized app, most commonly Google Authenticator, is synced up to the exchange to provide a constantly changing code. This code must be entered within a short time window to initiate transfers, or to log into an exchange, if it has also been enabled for that purpose.
You must always consider the level of fees, or the amount of Gas, that will be needed to carry out the transaction. In times of high network activity Gas prices can be quite high. In fact, in December 2017 network fees became so high that some Bitcoin transactions became absolutely unfeasible. But that was basically due to the anomalous network congestion caused by frantic trading of Bitcoin as it was skyrocketing in value. When copying wallet addresses, double check and triple check that they are correct. If you make a mistake and enter an incorrect address, it is most likely your funds will be irretrievably lost; you will never see those particular assets again. Also check that you haven’t input the address of another one of your wallets that is designed to hold a different variety of cryptocurrency. You would similarly run the very great risk of losing your funds forever. Or, at the very least, if you have sent the wrong crypto to a large exchange wallet, for example on Coinbase, maybe you could eventually get those funds back, but it would still entail a long and unenjoyable wait.
How to Monitor Funds
There are two ways to monitor you funds and your wallets. The first is by searching for individual wallet addresses on websites specifically designed to let you view all the transactions on a particular Blockchain. The other is to store a copy of your wallet contents on an application that tracks the prices of all cryptocurrencies. Blockchain.info is the block explorer for Bitcoin, and it allows you to track all wallet movements so you can view your holdings and all the historical transactions within the wallet. The Ethereum blockchain’s block explorer is called Ether scanner, and it functions in the same way. There is a rival to Ether scanner produced by the Jibrel Network, called JSearch which will be released soon. JSearch will aim to offer a more streamlined and faster search method for Ethereum blockchain transactions. There are many different kinds of block explorer for each individual crypto currency, including nanoexplorer.io for Nano (formerly Rai Blocks) and Neotracker for NEO. If you simply want to view the value of your portfolio, the Delta and Blockfolio apps allow you to easily do that. But they are not actually linked to your specific wallet address, they just show price movements and total value of the coins you want to monitor.
That’s not all! You can learn how to transfer and monitor the funds in and out of your wallet by clicking on the link.
To be continued!
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