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Helium partners with Dish Network to expand its crypto-based distributed 5G platform

Helium announces a new partnership with Dish Network, which will further extend its 5G network in exchange for HNT rewards.

The ultimate goal of any cryptocurrency project is to achieve widespread adoption by offering a use case that offers real-world value that can be applied in every home across the globe. 

 Thanks to its user-run wireless network, Helium, a 5G Internet-of-Things-focused project, made a significant stride towards greater adoption as it revealed a new partnership with Dish Network on Oct. 26.

According to the announcement, the partnership will offer Dish Network subscribers the opportunity to run Helium nodes and earn HNT token rewards for sharing their 5G wireless service with those in their area.

This marks the first major carrier to integrate the Helium 5G network into its ecosystem and is a significant sign of validation for the project and its technology.

In comments with Decrypt media, Helium COO Frank Mong elaborated on the partnership and what it means for the future of the Helium network. 

Mong said,

“Dish understands the potential blockchain can have on the wireless industry, and as the first major carrier to join The People's Network, this partnership is real validation that the HNT incentive model is a powerful tool for deploying infrastructure at scale. Together with Dish and FreedomFi, Helium 5G will have a much broader reach where the customer benefits from the flywheel of network incentives and the applications it enables.”

The Helium network sees exponential growth

The Dish Network partnership is the latest in a busy year of growth for the Helium network, which now has more than 256,000 individual nodes around the world operated by 93,561 users.

Helium network hotspot statistics. Source: Helium

This partnership with Dish Network was made possible by a community vote in April which approved the addition of a second 5G capable network to the protocol through a partnership with FreedomFi. This will allow Helium to offer support for devices like smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Helium has also received increasing support from multiple hardware manufacturers that have begun making hotspots compatible with the Helium network and this is expected to expand the network’s reach.

Related: Successful smart cities will be impossible without decentralized techs

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView shows that since hitting a low of $16.45 on Sept. 29, the price of HNT has swelled 42.2% to a daily high at $23.50 on Oct. 26 as its 24-hour trading volume spiked 162.75% to $35 million.

HNT/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView

VORTECS™ data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro also began to detect a bullish outlook for HNT on Oct. 20, prior to the recent price rise.

The VORTECS™ Score, exclusive to Cointelegraph, is an algorithmic comparison of historical and current market conditions derived from a combination of data points including market sentiment, trading volume, recent price movements and Twitter activity.

VORTECS™ Score (green) vs. HNT price. Source: Cointelegraph Markets Pro

As seen in the chart above, the VORTECS™ Score for HNT began to pick up on Oct. 20 and hit a high of 78 around 93 hours before the price began to increase by 15.6% over the next two days.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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Ampleforth integrates with Avalanche to introduce stablecoin alternative

The integration will allow users of the blockchain to access algorithmic language AMPL for stabilized contract interaction.

Fragments Inc., the team responsible for developing the Ampleforth protocol, has announced that Ampleforth will be integrated into popular blockchain Avalanche to facilitate the introduction of AMPL, a fully decentralized unit-of-account that can be used to denominate stable contracts.

The Ampleforth protocol holds promise as a decentralized alternative to stablecoins that can be used in core functionalities in the DeFi space such as lending, borrowing and the deployment of on-chain derivatives.

Ampleforth’s rebasing mechanism of daily adjusted supply levels enables the metric measurement of price value for users’ token accumulation, as opposed to the traditional method of price-tracked volatility. These systemic rules are then encoded on Ethereum via smart contracts. 

For instance, if a user engages in a speculative prediction that Bitcoin (BTC) will reach $100,000 by the end of the year, and it comes true, they will be granted 5 AMPL tokens. However, if the leading asset falls short of the noted target, five tokens will be deducted. In this sense, if the AMPL ecosystem grows, the user attains more tokens and vice versa.

Establishing a dependable consistency in price levels and a fluidity in supply mechanics, all the while being a non-governed decentralized model, implies that AMPL could pose an alternative challenger to the hackneyed stablecoin model.

Related: Cointelegraph Consulting: How Avalanche is reimagining DeFi

Evan Kuo, CEO of Fragments Inc., spoke of the importance of ensuring true decentralization throughout DeFi’s burgeoning ecosystems:

“It is ironic that the DeFi ecosystem currently relies so heavily on centralized stablecoins for liquidity and lending collateral. With the changing regulatory landscape and uncertainty around what the verdict around stablecoins will be, it’s important for DeFi to have a financial building block that’s decentralized, uncensorable and has some aspect of price predictability or stability.”

In late December 2018, the Fragment protocol rebranded its identity into what we know today as Ampleforth. The title was inspired by a poetic character working in the Ministry of Truth in George Orwell’s classically acclaimed novel 1984.

Analytical data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView reveals that Avalanche’s native token, AVAX, has encountered bullish momentum over the past seven days, rising 28% to $71.30.

According to technical data from DeFi Llama, the blockchain network hosts 52 decentralized protocols amassing $8.62 billion in total value locked (TVL), the largest being Trader Joe, which comprises 30% of its market share.

Avalanche’s TVL figure has risen substantially since early August when it was trading in consolidation around the $200 million mark.

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Fear not, investor: Finding stability amid crypto market volatility

Volatility in the crypto markets is here to stay. Thus, understanding the utility, necessity and long-term viability of projects is crucial.

In a calendar year, the total crypto market capitalization more than quadrupled from $361 billion to more than $1 trillion in January — reaching an all-time high of around $2.6 trillion in May. Just weeks later, more than $800 million was wiped off of the total crypto market cap, representing a decrease of over 33%.

Volatility of this magnitude in the crypto markets is nothing new, especially for those battle-tested by market cycles of years past. However, research indicates that the global number of blockchain wallet users increased by more than 25 million since March 2020, meaning this is just the first roller coaster ride for 25 million new entrants.

For newcomers, volatility can be downright terrifying — but it doesn’t have to be. With well-researched positions and a long-term outlook, volatility can instead serve as an opportunity to gain exposure to assets with high upside potential at a discounted price.

Related: VORTECS Report: How volatility drove one crypto trading strategy to 280x Bitcoin's gains

Volatility breeds vulnerability

When the market is green across the board, everyone is a genius — lulling most into a false sense of invincibility and Warren Buffet-like investing acumen.

On the flipside, however, bleeding markets not only make us doubt where we stack up in relation to Elon Musk, but they really make us feel vulnerable. Downtrends expose the trader, the level of research and, most importantly, the conviction for the projects invested in. When green candles aren’t there to obscure judgement, projects are stripped down to their component parts and exposed for what they truly are. This initiates a moment of introspection for the trader, demanding a reevaluation of the overall investment thesis. If a project’s strength and competitive edge remains clear following a sell-off, this volatility should be viewed as a buying opportunity.

Conversely, if the first inclination amid a price correction is to panic-sell then, perhaps, conviction was tied more to price action than a project’s strengths and innovations.

Project utility and community

Always ask: Is the project useful, and who supports it? Few things are more telling about a project than its proposed utility and the community behind it.

One interesting example to highlight is everyone’s favorite: Dogecoin (DOGE). A quick stroll down memory lane reminds us that the controversial currency, which now trades at roughly $0.26 cents, was worth $0.002 in September 2019 despite having no perceived value. The critical word here is “perceived.”

Related: Building a better stock market: Tokenized shares bridge trading gap on blockchain

Although “crypto purists” fall into fits of rage defending the honor of “real” cryptocurrencies with “real” utility, Dogecoin did something far more innovative than most give it credit for: It leveraged the community as its utility. You read that right. Those who have invested in the currency did so for three primary reasons:

  • To profit out of speculation.
  • A shared community experience.
  • To share in the joke.

Although the utility of Dogecoin is simple, don’t confuse it for having no utility. With simplicity comes ease of understanding, which has garnered DOGE massive mainstream appeal — a feat that many cryptocurrency projects still struggle to achieve even with strong utility. There’s a low barrier to entry in terms of understanding and price, and it’s easier to invest in a joke when Elon Musk and Mark Cuban are among those that find it funny.

To that end, every crypto project should be able to simply communicate its value proposition, yet most projects cannot. Investing in hype is far more tied to price action than project quality or utility.

DOGE’s utility can be easily understood and simply articulated, and it brings happiness and fun to its community. Regardless of investment strategy, those aforementioned three factors are not to be overlooked or underestimated.

Project longevity

Project longevity is key. Projects don’t need to be sustainable at first but, to survive for the long haul, sustainability is critical. When exploring a project, it is worth evaluating the plan for sustainability, or a revenue mechanism that could be leveraged at some point (e.g., Uniswap).

It is equally important to be aware of which projects demonstrate plans for sustainable revenue models or value capture. All (or most) projects aren’t sustainable early on, which is to be expected. At the time of writing, Uniswap is averaging over $3.5 million in fees per day, with none of this value accruing to token holders. This will (hopefully) change at some point, and if not, Uniswap governance token holders will be forced to reconsider their investment thesis. MakerDAO is one of the most profitable and sustainable projects in the entire space, raking in over $63 million in profits in the first half of 2021. While it’s difficult to find this degree of profitability elsewhere, it is certainly worth considering when evaluating investment opportunities.

Assessing project longevity

When evaluating a project’s long-term potential, it’s critical to ask the question: Does this project really warrant a blockchain solution?

Similarly, can this open-source project be forked easily? Could you have a more efficient marketplace for whatever the project is solving without a token? Blockchain is a consensus mechanism, but it’s also a database. And, contrary to popular belief, it’s one of the most inefficient databases that we use at scale.

To justify leveraging this massively inefficient solution, you better be solving a problem that is really painful. Financial problems, for example, merit this type of inefficient consensus mechanism because of significant problems like double-spends, lost transactions or the government printing fiat currency into perpetuity.

Related: Survivorship bias has led to an imbalance in the crypto ecosystem

In all reality, there are relatively few use cases outside of finance for which blockchain technology is truly required. So, once a pain point is identified that is so egregious that it merits a blockchain solution, make sure that there is a coordination problem embedded within so that the consensus mechanism has a value-add impact.

This is all to say that volatility in the crypto markets is here to stay, and objectively evaluating projects amid such volatility is no easy feat. Despite these challenges, understanding the utility, necessity and long-term viability of projects can help inform more effective investments to confidently hold in the long term.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Doug Leonard is the CEO of Hifi Finance, a fixed-rate, fixed-term lending protocol built on the Ethereum blockchain. Doug holds a B.S. in information systems and a master’s degree in management information systems, both from Brigham Young University. Before being named CEO of Hifi Finance, Doug spent a year as a senior software architect at Mainframe.

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We haven’t even begun to tap into the potential of NFTs

Nonfungible tokens will become a critical component of all brands’ marketing and digital strategy initiatives — and even more.

Earlier this summer, CNN and The New York Times each warned that the nonfungible token (NFT) bubble, fueled by buzz over eye-popping valuations for digital art and interest from collectors, might already be bursting.

As the sixth employee at a social media startup called Wildfire — which was acquired by Google in 2012 — I’m all too familiar with skeptics and precautionary tales when it comes to new and emerging technologies. Based on my experiences across entertainment, licensing and blockchain technology, I contend that if the so-called NFT bubble is bursting, it could be a net positive for the future of the industry. The industry is so nascent, we’re the first batter of the first inning right now.

Related: ​​Beyond the hype: NFTs' actual value is still to be determined

NFTs: The industry to explore

Public attention is always shifting from one trend to the next, so naturally, the otherworldly surge in popularity of NFTs that we’ve been seeing would eventually taper off. This presents us in the industry with an incredible opportunity to explore the many doors that NFTs will open to creators, IP owners and consumers alike.

For brands looking to grow and reach new audiences, NFTs are emerging as a bonafide marketing channel. Once NFTs gain more mainstream recognition beyond the initial swell, creators will have the ability to reach more and more users. Platforms like Telegram, Twitch and Discord have already demonstrated the many ways to create and nurture a fan base. Just imagine what a robust NFT marketplace will add to this growing movement.

As digital certificates of authenticity, NFTs can function as guardians of intellectual property rights. The NFT space will ultimately look like the music publishing model, where music publishers and songwriters amass catalogs of copyrights that deliver a persistent stream of royalties in perpetuity, driving long-term valuation. The creation of a management platform that allows IP owners to manage NFT transactions (think business intelligence, analytics and CRM capabilities) is on the horizon.

Related: Nonfungible tokens: A new paradigm for intellectual property assets?

NFTs also serve as digital passports, completely revolutionizing the fan experience and reimagining the idea of the fan club for artists, brands and IP owners. As the world fully opens up after the COVID-19 pandemic, fans will use their NFT portfolio to unlock behind-the-scenes offers, VIP experiences and special meet-and-greets. Given that digital assets, like tangible goods, are based on the economic principles of supply and demand, scarcity will enhance value and increase the number of consumers and digital natives who seek to get in at the ground level. Additionally, proximity-based NFTs will drive experiences, both offline and online.

NFTs: Moving forward

The future of NFTs becomes increasingly potent as we in the industry continue to think first and foremost about fans and consumers. We must shift the attention of the media and consumers away from the six and seven-figure primary sales numbers to a focus on creating real value by way of infusing true utility into NFTs. We must focus on creating smart, strategic collections of NFTs (as opposed to one-off drops) that gain enhanced value over time as the utility of the NFTs purchased becomes increasingly evident to fans.

The industry is rapidly evolving from what I consider to be NFT 1.0 — NFTs as digital collectibles — to NFT 2.0 — NFTs as storytelling vehicles. Projects such as Stoner Cats are the tip of the iceberg in terms of leveraging NFTs as access tokens to view exclusive video content. What excites me, even more, is NFTs as storytelling vehicles, where the NFTs are powered by deep gamification strategies and community layers and become critical components of a multi-platform, transmedia storytelling experience.

At Wildfire, we were always aware that a rising tide lifts all boats. We made significant efforts to bolster not just our company but the entire social media marketing category. I feel the same way about the nascent NFT industry. Most importantly, NFT companies must remain steadfastly focused on the fans and consumers so that we avoid becoming an industry that sinks under a perception of misguided cash grabs and short-sightedness.

Related: Navigating the NFT minefield: It should be made easy for first-time buyers

NFTs will become a fan’s persistent passport and gateway to unlocking unique experiences — both online and offline. This will occur as NFT collections become smarter, more strategic, more gamified and deliver meaningful utility that sustains long-term fan engagement.

As the industry matures, people will become more sophisticated in how they think about NFTs and the ultimate value NFTs deliver for fans and IP owners alike. The utility will become increasingly important as fans and consumers seek to better understand the “so what” factor behind NFTs. So what that I own this NFT. . .what can it do for me? What benefits does it bring to my life? What value do I gain by owning this NFT and how long will this value last?

The industry will continue to take major strides forward as key innovators in the space turn our focus to community, game mechanics and narrative storytelling to drive real value and utility from the NFTs we bring to market.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Ben Arnon is the co-founder and chief revenue officer at Curio, an NFT platform for the entertainment industry. Ben's career began in the entertainment business with lead roles at Jersey Films, Universal Pictures, Universal Music Group, and Yahoo! Music. In 2010, he joined tech startup, Wildfire, and helped to scale the company to an acquisition by Google. Ben held a sales leadership role at Google for four years, before transitioning back into entertainment.

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Which blockchain is the most decentralized? Experts answer

Here’s what emerging tech representatives think about the decentralized nature of blockchain technology and which network is the most decentralized.

Vasja Zupan of Matrix Exchange:

Vasja is the president of Matrix Exchange, a regulated digital-asset exchange operating globally.

“Bitcoin is the most decentralized and stable blockchain network there is. It has survived countless challenges, and decentralization ensures its resilience. Only a truly decentralized network can survive hindrances from block size wars and forks to regulatory pressure. While new anonymous networks are available today, transaction anonymity, more functionality or new approaches to blockchain validation do not ensure higher decentralization and resilience.”

These quotes have been edited and condensed.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the authors’ alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Tim Draper of Draper Associates and Draper Fisher Jurvetson:

Tim is a pioneer of business ventures in the United States and a co-founder of Draper Fisher Jurvetson, a leading investment firm in early-stage tech startups. 

“Bitcoin. And maybe Bitcoin Cash. We want a completely decentralized currency, one that is global, transparent, open, frictionless and not subject to inflationary pressures of any kind, government or otherwise.”

Roger Ver of Bitcoin.com:

Roger is an early Bitcoin adopter and investor. He is the executive chairman of Bitcoin.com, a site featuring cryptocurrency news in addition to an exchange and wallet service. He is also one of the five original founders of the Bitcoin Foundation.

“The original goal was not decentralization.

The goal was censorship-resistant money for the world, and decentralization was the tool that was used to achieve that goal.”

Phillip Gara of OctaneRender/Otoy:

Phillip is the director of strategy at OctaneRender, an unbiased rendering application with real-time capability developed by graphics software company Otoy Inc.

“When you look at applications and usage — in other words, what people are building on top of blockchains — Ethereum right now is the most decentralized. Ethereum smart contracts enable anyone to build applications, services and goods on-chain — from games and DeFi platforms to NFTs and DAOs — using the Ethereum Virtual Machine. Decentralization is transforming the world because it is eliminating intermediaries. Bitcoin has done this extraordinarily well within the financial industry, while Ethereum is advancing decentralization and removing intermediaries for nearly every sector from media and entertainment to art, lending, crowdfunding and even governance. It is the diversity of applications and usage that currently makes Ethereum the most decentralized.”

Mitchell Cuevas of Stacks Foundation:

Mitchell is the head of growth at Stacks Foundation, which supports the mission of a user-owned internet through Stacks-related governance, research and development, education, and grants.

“Bitcoin, and it’s probably not even close. Bitnodes estimates that there are over 13,000 nodes on the network today, and while mining centralization has been raised as a concern, Bitcoin’s design isn’t predicated on, nor does it rely on, decentralized mining power. 

It’s simply more profitable to play by the rules and too expensive to sustain a profitable attack; its sheer size, its incentive structure and the open membership make it extremely robust. We also shouldn’t forget that when China banned crypto, the network took it in stride despite the concerns about hashing power concentrated there. 

This is why it’s the foundation for the Stacks blockchain and why it will one day be the bedrock for a better internet where provable ownership is baked in.”

Michal Cymbalisty of Domination Finance:

Michal is the founder of Domination Finance, a noncustodial, decentralized exchange for dominance trading.

“It has to be Ethereum. The genesis event started with a non-restricted public sale, allowing anybody to participate. Even though Bitcoin may be more decentralized when looking at miners and wallet holders, Ethereum decentralized something much more important: applications. Users can participate in full-fledged economies, whereas that is not really possible with Bitcoin.”

Marek Kirejczyk of TrustToken:

Marek is the chief technology officer of TrustToken, a platform to create asset-backed tokens that can be easily bought and sold around the world.

“Broadly speaking, decentralization is this ideal state that every project strives for. There are many ways people go about it, from adding more node operators and putting ever greater authority in the hands of tokenholders to allocating treasury to non-employee contributors. You may have noticed a persistent theme here: Decentralization is about more than technology, it’s also about governance. It’s about layer zero, which is what people sometimes call the community of miners, developers, users and companies working with a specific blockchain.

Now, in more concrete terms, we’d actually argue that Ethereum is pretty decentralized. True, it has strong backing from the Ethereum Foundation, but it’s still largely limited to a support role. Ethereum’s father, Vitalik Buterin, is not its CEO either — he acts more like a researcher and a thought leader. The actual design decisions are made by the developers, and Ethereum has the most diverse developer pool, and the most diverse wider community too. And with most updates, there are multiple teams working on multiple initiatives that could take Ethereum in different directions, so the process has little to do with centralized linear development.

Bitcoin is way more conservative in many ways. It’s not really moving forward, so there is no active developer or startup community around it. It’s also possible to make the argument that Bitcoin mining is centralized to a degree these days, as a small group of entities controls the majority of Bitcoin hashing power.”

Mance Harmon of Hedera Hashgraph:

Mance is the co-founder and CEO of Hedera Hashgraph, a next-generation distributed ledger technology that claims to possess higher speeds and security guarantees than existing blockchain solutions.

“When we talk about decentralization, I think it’s very important to be specific about what we mean. When talking about layer-one protocols, precisely what is being measured when we talk about decentralization? Two separate categories of decentralization are important: 1) governance and 2) transaction ordering.

First, governance: How many different entities (people or organizations) are involved in making decisions on the product roadmap, pricing of services, payments of rewards and other governance-related decisions? Are these entities all known by name, or can they be anonymous? If they can be anonymous, then there is no way to truly determine how decentralized the governance is because the same anonymous actor may pretend to be multiple different entities. Is there an opportunity for consolidation of voting rights? For example, if voting rights are associated with a governance token, then a single actor can increase their influence by buying or earning additional tokens, which leads to the consolidation of rights and increased centralization.

The Hedera Governing Council model is exceptional among public ledgers. It consists of up to 39 term-limited organizations, chosen to represent a broad range of industries, with member headquarters around the globe, running nodes on six different continents. The council members are all publicly disclosed, minutes of the council meetings are published (and hashed on Hedera using the Hedera Consensus Service (HCS)), and each member has a single vote to ensure fairness, stability and truly decentralized decision-making. Even the LLC member agreement that companies must sign to join the council is public and hashed on HCS. This model lies in stark contrast to protocols that are governed by a small group of core developers or a single foundation.

Next, decentralization of transaction ordering: What is the minimum number of entities required to dictate the order of transactions in the network? For example, with Bitcoin, just a handful of mining organizations (often five or fewer) control more than 50% of the hashing power of the network, which is enough to dictate the ordering of transactions. (As of this writing, just three mining pools control 47% of Bitcoin’s hashing power, and just two mining pools control almost 48% of Ethereum’s hashing power). Also, if a network allows anonymous node operators, then it is impossible to know to what degree any given entity controls the hashing power of the network.

Phase 1 of the Hedera network requires more than two-thirds of its council members to agree on the ordering of transactions, and each council member currently has equal weight in their vote. Because every council member is publicly known by name, we can say for certain that transaction ordering is decentralized. This is already more decentralized than Bitcoin and Ethereum. Phase 2 will add publicly identifiable community nodes, and only after there is a very high degree of certainty that consolidation of stake is unlikely will anonymous nodes be added to the network.

The Hedera network, both in its governance model and in the technical ordering of transactions, was designed from the ground up to embody the ideals of sustainable decentralization.”

Lex Sokolin of ConsenSys:

Lex is the head economist and global fintech co-head at ConsenSys, a global community of developers, businesspeople, programmers, journalists, lawyers and others made to create and promote blockchain infrastructure and peer-to-peer applications.

“There are different meanings of the word decentralization at play here. One question is to ask how many miners or validators are securing the transactions on the network and how expensive it will be to attack such technological infrastructure.

Another question is to ask about the implicit governance of the network and how many influential people are really needed to generate some particular fork of the network, and the process by which that happens.

Yet another is to look at the economic and development activity on the network and try to understand how dispersed and unique the players are in the complex system that is a blockchain macroeconomy. 

Rather than accord points to networks based on this rubric, I think it’s more constructive to use them as principles for blockchains to aspire to reach. Further, ‘more decentralization’ of any of these particular types doesn’t always result in more ‘traction’ — we should be careful to preserve the spirit of Web 3.0 together.”

David Khalif of Viridi Funds:

David is the co-founder and head of operations at Viridi Funds, a registered investment adviser and emerging fund manager that offers environmentally conscious crypto investing options.

“Although there are many other blockchains, Bitcoin is still the king of decentralization. The protocol has a fixed supply cap, allows anyone to participate in securing it and incentives all parties in the ecosystem to reach consensus in a non-fraudulent manner.

Despite numerous attempts since its inception, including the most recent China ban, Bitcoin has never failed at remaining a strong, secure network. The significant adoption we have seen by institutions that are purchasing Bitcoin is evidence that smart money is flocking to the best asset in the crypto space for security, stability and growth.”

Darren Franceschini of BlockBank:

Darren is the co-founder and chief operating officer of BlockBank, a multi-protocol utility wallet that combines the power of decentralized and centralized technology in a simple, secure application.

“We’re still in our infancy, but more and more projects are moving toward becoming more decentralized. I wouldn’t claim that any blockchains are truly decentralized other than Bitcoin, which has no central control. Bitcoin’s true strength, however, is that it does not have one figure who represents its token creation. That provides a higher level of safety than any other blockchain because there is no single point of failure.”

Daniela Barbosa of Hyperledger:

Daniela is the executive director of Hyperledger and the general manager of blockchain, healthcare and identity for the Linux Foundation.

“Decentralization has many angles, and one of them is control of the underlying software and something in the open-source community called ‘the right to fork.’ We think seeing lots of different layer-one networks all running similar protocols (such as Hyperledger Fabric or Hyperledger Besu/Ethereum) is inherently more ‘decentralized’ than a single layer-one network, no matter what the protocol. That is why the Hyperledger community is building an ecosystem with a focus on interoperability.”

Ayesha Kiani of LedgerPrime:

Ayesha is a vice president of business development at LedgerPrime, a quantitative and systematic digital asset investment firm. Ayesha is a faculty professor at New York University Tandon School of Engineering, investor board member at Ventures for America and venture partner at NextGen Venture Partners.

“Bitcoin is the most decentralized protocol in the entire ecosystem. It has nothing to do with the controlling authority but more to do with its consensus algorithm, proof-of-work. The algorithm requires the miners to solve for equations that, in return, generate Bitcoin, and blocks are created. Miners are incentivized for their work. Though mining has become concentrated over the years and the network’s hash rate is mostly controlled by large miners, we are still far away from anyone controlling 51%. Ethereum, on the other hand, has moved to proof-of-stake, which is less decentralized. But Ethereum shouldn’t be compared with Bitcoin in terms of decentralization, as both serve different use cases. Vitalik initially proposed the scalability trilemma, and he’s been delivering on it by moving the structural algorithm and letting stakers make improvements to the protocol. Others are much more centralized than they claim to be.”

Alan Chiu of Enya/Boba Network:

Alan is CEO of Enya, a data privacy company that operates the world’s largest secure multiparty computation platform. Alan also serves on the Stanford Graduate School of Business Alumni Board, as well as on the board of Stanford Angels and Entrepreneurs as co-president.

“While Bitcoin remains the most decentralized blockchain, Ethereum is a close second, and certainly the most decentralized among smart contract platforms, with a diverse base of node operators and multiple centers of gravity when it comes to influencing the future of Ethereum (witness the iterations EIP-1559 went through and how long it took to be adopted). No other smart contract-capable blockchain comes close to the same level of decentralization yet.”

Adrian Krion of Spielworks:

Adrian is the CEO of Spielworks, a company that combines a DeFi wallet with the massively popular world of mobile games.

“Decentralization can mean a number of things:

a. Decentralized infrastructure: The (number of) parties running the network infrastructure, the diversity of hardware, and the distribution and number of different locations.

b. Decentralized governance: How decisions about future development of the network are being taken.

c. Decentralized software development: Who contributes to source code development, and who decides which changes get accepted?

d. Scattered/equal token distribution: Who owns how many native tokens on the network?

Typically, when people speak about the grade of decentralization of a network, they do so based upon one or more of these aspects, but they hardly make it clear which ones they are reflecting on. Also, the question is: What exactly is emphasized in each of the categories? I.e., is it more important to have an even geographical distribution of Bitcoin miners if it means that most of those nodes are being run by the same company?

The fact that there is no absolute measure of decentralization in turn means that networks other than Bitcoin actually have a chance of being labeled ‘more decentralized’ than Bitcoin itself. Some might call Bitcoin very centralized, as there’s a very small number of providers building mining hardware, so that companies like Bitmain effectively are controlling the Bitcoin network to a large extent. Others will argue that not having a central entity control the development of the network is the most relevant factor in measuring decentralization, which is why Bitcoin is the most decentralized one.

I would probably still agree with Bitcoiners in saying that Bitcoin is the most decentralized, even though it’s a very tough choice given the lack of governance structured within the protocol and the relatively low level of decentralization of miners. However, the fact that there is no single entity deciding on a roadmap for Bitcoin means that the price will be most independent of any decisions taken within that organization.”

Aatash Amir of StarLaunch:

Aatash is the CEO of StarLaunch, an insured project accelerator and launchpad for the Solana network.

“I’d like to note that the terms ‘decentralization’ and ‘ownership’ are too often thrown around without true consideration to what they really imply. For example, decentralization should be considered a dynamic state. One method of determining the ownership of a chain can be defined by the percentage of total supply belonging to any given entity and, by virtue of such, incurring a truly variable state of ‘decentralization’ throughout its lifecycle. For example, when the first Bitcoin block was mined, Satoshi ‘owned’ 100% of the Bitcoin network. This continued until, of course, other miners entered the space.

All that being said, token share is only one of multiple factors in determining locality. We mustn’t neglect the root of all blockchain utility: consensus. Different chains offer different solutions to block/transaction validity. This, arguably, is where one should first look when searching for signs of decentralization. If one entity runs 51-plus percent of incoming hashing power, they now have majority influence on (what should be) consensual circumstances. Currently, there are a handful of layer-one chains proposing a variety of unique consensus and distribution methods. Which is the best? Well, right now, that answer is TBA.”

Aaron Lammer of Radkl:

Aaron currently serves as a DeFi specialist at Radkl, a quantitative trading firm with a focus on digital assets.

“If the platonic ideal of decentralization is taken to be the model put forth by Satoshi Nakamoto (and the cypherpunks who preceded them), then it would be hard for any network to beat Bitcoin. But the purpose of networks like Ethereum and other smart contract platforms isn’t to beat Bitcoin in a decentralization competition. Smart contracts are intended to introduce whole new universes of possibility that might be impossible within the confines of someone else’s definition of decentralization, and we’ve already seen some of those possibilities realized in NFTs and DeFi.

The power of crypto is that it can align the interests of multiple parties even when they have fundamental disagreements –– like how important decentralization really is. So, I think it’s less about which chain is more decentralized than some other chain and more about figuring out what the optimal form of decentralization is for each application.”

Introduction

Almost 13 years ago on Oct. 31, 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto published Bitcoin’s (BTC) white paper. As a “purely peer-to-peer version of electronic cash,” the first cryptocurrency was deployed with a consensus mechanism called “proof-of-work” that allows networks to agree on which transactions are valid in order to verify them without the involvement of a third party. Three years later, a new approach dubbed “proof-of-stake” was proposed to address the inefficiencies of the PoW consensus mechanism and lower the amount of computational resources required to run a blockchain network.

During those 13 years of existence, we’ve already seen the rise and fall of initial coin offerings in 2017, which became “an alternative means of acquiring funding for business projects using the new, evolving digital financial market for tokens”; the significant growth of the decentralized finance, or DeFi, sector in 2020, which is changing the old financial systems and paving the way for a brand-new type of finance; the tremendous popularity of nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, which have taken the cryptocurrency sector by storm in 2021; and the ongoing development of central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, all over the world. 

Blockchain technology, which is at the core of this technological revolution, has become one of the most discussed topics not only within the financial sector but also far beyond it. Blockchains are being deployed in enterprise use cases, charity and philanthropy, responses to the global environmental crisis, healthcare and longevity, government services, and so on. 

Related: How will blockchain technology help fight climate change? Experts answer

Despite where the technology has been applied, one thing remains crucial: At the very core of blockchain technology lies decentralization. Leaving aside the discussion about the dichotomy between centralization and decentralization that we raised earlier this year, let’s circle back to the decentralized nature of blockchain. Indeed, there is a fundamental difference between private and public networks.

Meanwhile, not all public blockchains are equally decentralized — or are they? Some experts say that since Bitcoin is not controlled by any centralized entity, and was built by the pseudonymous (and later vanished) Satoshi Nakamoto, it can be considered the most decentralized network. Ethereum, on the other hand, can be criticized as not being as decentralized as Bitcoin. But to be fair, even co-creator Vitalik Buterin doesn’t control Ethereum. There are now many more blockchain networks, such as Stellar, Cardano, Neo, Lisk and Iota, to name a few.

To find out what industry experts think about the decentralized nature of different blockchains, Cointelegraph reached out to several representatives of this emerging technology space. The experts gave their opinions on the following question: Which blockchain network is the most decentralized and best reflects the original idea of decentralization?

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Breaking Google’s monopoly: Internxt pushes decentralized cloud as privacy concerns grow

Data monopolists like Google have abused their position, according to Internxt's Fran Villalba Segarra. Decentralized architecture offers a solution.

Privacy-focused blockchain file storage service Internxt has a lofty vision: leverage decentralized technology to break Big Tech’s monopoly over user data. Its first product, Internxt Drive, aims to compete as an alternative to Google Drive and Dropbox — without compromising personal privacy and data ownership. 

In an exclusive interview with Cointelegraph, Internxt CEO Fran Villalba Segarra described the core technology behind his product and explained why privacy should be considered a fundamental human right. He also explained the perils of centralized architecture, why Big Tech constantly violates user privacy and what’s in store for internet users in the era of Web 3.

Privacy-as-a-human-right

Although privacy advocates have long been concerned about Big Tech’s exploits of user data, Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018 blew the lid wide open on the subject. (As a refresher, Cambridge Analytica is a British consulting firm that was able to obtain data on millions of Facebook users without their consent. Their information was then used for political advertising.) In July 2019, the Federal Trade Commission fined the social media giant a whopping $5 billion for privacy violations.

In retrospect, exploits like Cambridge Analytica didn’t surprise Segarra, who told Cointelegraph that protecting users’ privacy conflicts with the business model of companies like Facebook, Google and Microsoft. “That’s why these companies collect more data than what is actually needed,” he explained. “Their services aren’t an end per se, but a means to an end.”

Related: Flow integrates Filecoin storage services to make NFTs more decentralized

“Zero-knowledge file storage service”

The erosion of personal privacy by Big Tech compelled Segarra and his team to create a new business model based on decentralization. The company’s first product, Internxt Drive, is described as an alternative to Google Drive and Dropbox that’s based on zero-knowledge encryption and geodistributed data centers. He explained:

“Files uploaded to Internxt Drive are fragmented, client-side encrypted, and distributed all over the globe, so that a server never holds a complete file, but instead an encrypted data shard [...] In these architectures, files are often split into evenly sized segments of data. Each segment or block has its own address but no metadata to provide context about what it is. The storage target can be configured to replicate data across storage arrays or distributed file systems.”

Unlike centralized systems, where user data is stored on physical servers owned and operated by the cloud provider, decentralized architecture provides enhanced security with respect to cloud functionality.

“If a decentralized component is compromised or encounters a runtime error, which is an unrecoverable worst-case scenario in that the component goes offline while the rest of the cloud continues to function normally,” he explained. On the other hand, with centralized cloud storage systems, core functions are interlaced within the same space. “If an error or attack manages to destabilize a centralized component, the entire cloud is at risk.”

Web 3 and the future of privacy

Web 3 — a broad concept that refers to the new paradigm of internet services where users retain more control of their personal data — has been heralded as a potential solution to society’s growing privacy concerns. The current paradigm, dubbed Web 2, is mainly driven by companies that provide services in exchange for personal data.

Related: Building ‘OnlyFans on blockchain’ is a huge, untapped opportunity — Dfinity founder

The advent of blockchain technology has made decentralization nearly synonymous with Web 3. The decentralized cloud storage technology being championed by Internxt aligns with the narrative that Web 3 changes the very nature of data ownership and puts more control in the hands of users as opposed to the Big Tech companies. Industry observers have rightly noted that this new paradigm could challenge existing privacy regulations, especially as decentralized applications continue to grow.

“Web 3 is certainly going to be huge,” Segarra said, adding that consumer-centric applications that allow users to protect themselves online is “going to be hugely demanded by the market.”

Internxt is coming off a successful seed round, having raised $1 million in a raise that was led by Miami-based venture fund Venture City. Segarra said adoption is growing, with the company expected to generate 1,500% year-over-year growth by the end of 2021.

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Polkadot-based privacy project Manta Network raises $5.5M

Manta Network will use newly raised funds to further scale DeFi use cases by boosting blockchain privacy.

Manta Network, a privacy layer project for the Polkadot ecosystem, has completed a new funding round to continue scaling decentralized finance (DeFi) use cases by boosting blockchain privacy.

Announced Tuesday, Manta Network’s latest $5.5-million funding round included participation from more than 30 venture funds, including crypto hedge fund CoinFund and alternative investment firm ParaFi Capital.

Other investors included Web 3. investment fund LongHash Ventures, CMS Holdings, Divergence, Spartan Group, Global Coin Ventures, SkyVision Capital, Zee Prime and SNZ.

The funding has also featured some of the industry’s prominent individual investors from major cryptocurrency companies such as Digital Currency Group, Consensys and Bitcoin.com. According to the announcement, angel investors included SushiSwap’s semi-anonymous core contributor 0xMaki, Dragonfly Capital’s Kevin Hu, ParaFi general partner Santiago Santos and others.

Founded in 2020, Manta Network is focused on building a privacy-focused and interoperable blockchain protocol targeted specifically for DeFi applications, aiming to make DeFi genuinely private. The protocol uses zk-SNARKs with Groth16 proofs, the same cryptographic technology implemented behind privacy-oriented cryptocurrency Zcash (ZEC).

According to CoinFund CEO and founder Austin Barack, Manta is building “one of the core primitives for privacy preservation within DeFi.”

Related: Polkadot Web3 wallet Talisman closes $2.35M seed funding round

“Building upon Substrate, which allows for purpose-built layer one networks, Manta can build ZKSnark privacy-preserving architecture directly into the base layer and solve several existing problems users face today such as front running and lack of privacy when making transfers or managing a portfolio,” he said.

Earlier this year, Manta Network completed a $1.1-million funding round led by Polychain Capital and joined by major industry firms such as Alameda Research and DeFiance Capital.

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Truly decentralized finance will be beyond siloed blockchains

To be the future lifeline of industries, blockchain technology needs to embrace the old-fashioned quality of interconnectivity.

“Yahoo users will not be able to interact via mail with Google email (Gmail) users,” — If tomorrow’s headlines sounded like this, the earth would come to a halt. This headline shall never see the light for all the right reasons. However, blockchain tech and its favorite son, decentralized finance (DeFi), are heading towards this rabbit hole.

Siloed blockchains with no window for external communication are dominating the nascent space. Interconnectivity is elementary and synonymous with the primitive human quality of being social. From the days of the barter system, transfer and exchange have been the two core practices on which the world has been built.

Networking among blockchains and the need for IBC

Currently, blockchain applications and the DeFi juggernaut are nothing but a balkanized group of solutions failing to realize their true potential. To resolve this concern, blockchain networks need to shake hands with other networks and be open to a sovereign network of interconnected blockchains.

The Inter-Blockchain Communication (IBC) protocol shall facilitate this shaking of hands. It lays the platform that can transfer data across different networks and facilitates the cross-chain transfer of assets and tokens. And since IBC is a blockchain agnostic protocol, it has no native network and offers an unbiased solution to the entire world of blockchain solutions.

Major blockchains, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are siloed without a transport layer. This limits their capabilities. Imagine Bitcoin being able to power Ethereum-based smart contracts in a permissionless manner. Had this been so, users would have been able to embrace the boundless functionality of Ethereum’s smart contract alongside the world’s popular currency in Bitcoin (BTC).

Related: A multichain approach is the future of the blockchain industry

Also, Ethereum’s scalability concerns are a testament to why siloed blockchains need Inter-Blockchain Communication. By making networks interoperable, transactions can be parallelized to avoid network congestion. Using IBC, Ethereum can validate transactions quickly with fewer gas fees, attracting more people to use the network and its applications.

Moreover, blockchains seeking to be enterprise-level solutions need IBC and interoperability to cater to their clients at scale. By enabling cross-chain transactions, networks like Ethereum and Bitcoin can enjoy institutional adoption. How? To date, these networks work on the probabilistic conduct of transactions, i.e., the finality of blocks. But with IBC, chains and peg-zones can be used to guarantee finality.

With blockchain tech desirous of revamping the working of huge industries like supply chain and healthcare, IBC injects a potion of reliability into the technology and its solutions.

Prior efforts to achieve IBC were unitedly fragmented

Inter-Blockchain Communication and interoperability are not novel concepts in the blockchain world. Efforts to achieve them have been in the talks for years now and there have been multiple projects working towards connecting different blockchain networks. But the projects championing interconnectivity were themselves fragmented as their approaches, designs and use cases differed.

Related: Professional traders need a global crypto sea, not hundreds of lakes

Protocols like Cosmos with its Tendermint core, Polkadot and Chainlink have championed IBC and interoperability in their solutions. The emergence and adoption of these solutions are a giant stride towards an interoperable future.

Blockchain agnostic and omnichain is the way forward

Moving forward, exclusivity will be the biggest enemy of blockchain tech. In times of decentralization and community-first approaches, exclusive networks tread a dangerous path. Protocols must embrace IBC and provide solutions at scale.

Besides integrating IBC, two weapons with which future protocols can equip themselves are blockchain agnostic and omnichain. This would remove the element of exclusivity and open them to limitless utilities across networks. It would also improve the feasibility and reliability for institutions, corporations and maybe even governments to adopt blockchain-based solutions.

The DeFi juggernaut catalyzed the growth of blockchain and crypto space in 2021. Interoperability and IBC are the ones to look out for in the future.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Jared Moore is the director of marketing at Sifchain, the omnichain solution for decentralized exchanges. Jared has extensive experience in the crypto space, especially with exchanges.

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