What is Chia (XCH)? How to Farm It With a Hard Drive

In brief

  • Chia is a cryptocurrency that uses a novel “proof of space and time” consensus mechanism.
  • Instead of being mined using processing power, it’s “farmed” using storage space on hard drives.

Cryptocurrency mining has been making headlines—and not the good kind. An increasing focus has been placed on the environmental impact of crypto mining, particularly the energy-intensive “proof of work” (PoW) mining employed by Bitcoin and (for the time being) by Ethereum.

Chia aims to change all that, with a novel “proof of space and time” consensus mechanism that uses storage, rather than processing power, to secure the network. Its creators claim that it’s more secure, more distributed, and less wasteful than proof of work cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin—and it’s already proved popular with miners, who’ve been snapping up the hard drives required to “farm” it.

Here’s how it works—and how to get started as a Chia farmer.

What is Chia?

Chia is a blockchain, digital currency, and smart transaction platform that’s intended to facilitate cross-border payments, escrow services and institutional custody.

Developed by BitTorrent creator Bram Cohen, Chia was first conceived of in August 2017 and launched in May 2021, with farming rewards coming online in March and the cryptocurrency going live with transactions enabled in May.

It’s attracted big-name backers include Andreessen Horowitz and Galaxy Digital, and has ambitious plans to create a “configurable international commercial bank that’s faster than Bitcoin.”

Where Chia differs from other cryptocurrencies is in its unique “proof of space and time” consensus mechanism, the method by which the blockchain is secured.

Did you know?

Chia was developed by Bram Cohen, the inventor of BitTorrent.

How does Chia work? What is proof of space and time?

Chia uses a unique consensus mechanism (the system that guarantees the integrity of a blockchain). Where Bitcoin uses a proof of work model based on processing power, and blockchains such as Flow and Cosmos use proof of stake, Chia uses something called “proof of space and time.”

Instead of having powerful computers compete to solve math problems, Chia uses space on hard drives (HDDs) and solid-state drives (SSDs), coupled with a lottery mechanic. Chia “farmers” write 100GB “plots” on their hard drives; each plot is then filled with hashes. When a new block is added to the Chia blockchain, its hash is compared with the hashes on farmers’ drivers. The user with the closest match wins the block and receives the block reward.

That’s the “proof of space” element. However, because filling hard drives with data doesn’t take much computational power, in theory the chain would be vulnerable to a “grinding” attack, where an attacker tries multiple possibilities to hit on the best one.

To protect against this, the network also requires that a specific amount of time has elapsed between blocks; that means users can’t simply rewrite plots indefinitely in order to crack the solution.

What’s so special about it?

The main advantage of Chia’s proof of space and time model, it claims, is that it’s more environmentally friendly than proof of work cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

Because Bitcoin requires miners to make an investment of processing power (and, by extension, electricity), it has spurred an arms race among miners. The total electricity consumption of the Bitcoin network is now greater than that of some countries. The flooding of a Chinese coal mine in April 2021, and its impact on the Bitcoin mining industry, has also served to demonstrate the cryptocurrency’s continuing reliance on fossil fuels.

By focusing on storage space rather than processing power to secure its network, Chia consumes orders of magnitude less energy. However, as some critics have pointed out, that doesn’t mean it has no impact on the environment. Because it requires hard drives to be used for the sole purpose of farming Chia, the environmental impact of manufacturing those drives can be attributed to Chia. Running a proof of space node also requires that some electricity be consumed, which, although substantially less than that of a proof of work node, is still more than zero—the amount that would be consumed if Chia didn’t exist.

There have also been claims that Chia farming damages drives, particularly the smaller SSDs used for “plotting” by farmers. Although Chia founder Bram Cohen has disputed the idea that Chia “burns out” hard drives as long as farmers stick to HDDs or enterprise-class SSDs, German cloud service provider Hetzner has banned crypto mining on its servers, citing concerns that Chia farming could lead to premature breakdowns of its storage drives.

And if Chia farming does cause drives to wear out prematurely, it could lead to a corresponding increase in e-waste, denting its environmentally friendly credentials.

What is XCH token?

XCH is the native token of Chia Network. It’s used for transactions and to provide rewards as incentives for users.

Where and how to buy XCH

As a relative newcomer to the cryptocurrency space, Chia’s XCH token isn’t available on many of the leading exchanges such as Coinbase and Binance. It can be bought at OKEx, Gate.io, and MXC, among others. Here’s a step-by-step guide to purchasing XCH at OKEx, first by buying Tether, a stablecoin, and swapping it for XCH.

Step 1: Create or log in to your OKEx account. Once logged in, click on “Buy/Sell”, and select USDT from the drop-down menu. Pick your preferred payment method and amount, and click “Buy USDT.”

OKEx screenshot
Image: OKEx

Step 2: Once you’ve loaded up your wallet with USDT, head to the Markets page and scroll down until you find Chia’s XCH cryptocurrency. Click on it, then click on the tab marked “Convert.” Pick an amount—here we’re converting 20 USDT—and click the “Convert now” button. You should now have XCH in your exchange wallet.

OKEx screenshot
Converting USDT to XCH on OKEx. Image: OKEx

How to farm Chia with a hard drive

Chia farming is rather different from conventional crypto mining. In order to plant your crop, you’ll need to stock up on some storage first.

Chia farmers typically write their plots on a large, fast SSD—small consumer-grade SSDs will wear out quickly, and HDDs, while offering large storage capacity, are much slower. The farmers then transfer their finished plots over to a large HDD. Chia plots are just over 100GB, but require up to 350GB of temporary storage. You’ll need to consider your initial outlay carefully, including SSD capacity, HDD capacity and the cost of other components you may require if you’re building from the ground up, and then weigh it against the likelihood of winning the “lottery” that allocates Chia rewards.

Fortunately there are handy online calculators that will do much of the heavy lifting for you, enabling you to calculate your estimated earnings based on the number of plots you’d like to farm, your hardware costs, and the current price of XCH.

Once you’ve assembled your build, you’ll need to head on over to Chia’s website to install Chia. Clicking on “Install Chia blockchain” will take you to the project’s Github page, where you’ll be able to select from a range of supported OS options (including Windows, MacOS and Ubuntu) and download the relevant installer.

Chia screenshot
Once you’ve installed Chia, you can set up a wallet. Image: Chia

Having downloaded and run the installer, you’ll be greeted with a screen giving you the option to create a new private key or import an existing private key. Click on “create a new private key.” This will generate your 24-word seed phrase, which you should write down and store in a safe place (it’s best not to take a photo of it or store it in a cloud drive, as these can be compromised and could enable someone else to access your funds).

Chia screenshot
Select “Add plot” to start your farming setup. Image: Chia

Once you’ve clicked through to the main interface, click on “Plots,” then “Add a plot.” This is where you’ll allocate drive space to your Chia plots.

On this screen, you can choose the size of your plot (typically just over 100GB), the number of plots on your drive and set up a queue of plots to run in series. You’ll also need to define your temporary and final directories. The temporary directory is where plots are initially created (usually on a fast SSD), and the final directory is where they’re stored for farming, waiting to be compared against the block challenge (typically on a commercial-grade HDD).

Chia screenshot
The Chia plot setup screen. Image: Chia

Once you’ve installed Chia, it’ll take a while for the blockchain to sync up before you can begin farming, though you can set to work on plotting straight away.

What’s next for Chia?

Chia has had a remarkable launch; even before it went live it was reportedly causing shortages of hard drives across Southeast Asia. At the time, the Chia network was about 600 petabytes in size; by May 2021 it had reached 10 exabytes. Like Ethereum miners snapping up GPUs, Chia farmers have raced to get their hands on hard drives, with Chia Network president Gene Hoffman conceding that “we’ve kind of destroyed the short-term supply chain.”

One group that isn’t complaining is hard drive manufacturers, who saw their stock prices unexpectedly boosted by the sudden surge in demand for their product.

Chia Network itself has more than doubled its valuation to $500 million, after raising $61 million from investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Richmond Global Ventures, and Breyer Capital. Hoffman called the funding “rocket fuel” for hiring and revealed plans for an IPO or a public listing via a SPAC merger as soon as this year.

Meanwhile, the company plans to advance its mission of achieving institutional adoption for its trading and payment system. “Chia is what Bitcoin would look like if it was designed with knowledge from the last 13 years,” David Frazee, managing partner at Richmond Global Ventures, told Bloomberg. It’s a lofty ambition—but with Bitcoin coming under fire for its environmental impact, there may yet be an opening for an eco-friendly cryptocurrency.


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What Is Aave? Inside the DeFi Lending Protocol

In brief

  • Aave is a decentralized lending protocol that lets users lend or borrow cryptocurrency without going to a centralized intermediary.
  • Users deposit digital assets into “liquidity pools,” which become funds that the protocol can lend out.

What is Aave?

Aave is a decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol that lets people lend and borrow cryptocurrency without having to go through a centralized intermediary. When they lend, they earn interest; when they borrow, they pay interest.

Aave is built atop the Ethereum network. All the tokens on the network also use the Ethereum blockchain to process transactions; they are known as ERC20 tokens.

The protocol itself uses a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO. That means it’s operated and governed by the people who hold—and vote with—AAVE tokens.

Did you know?

Before rebranding as Aave, the product was known as ETHLend. Both were developed by a team led by Stani Kulechov, a Finnish law student.

How lending works on Aave

Traditionally, to get a loan, you’d need to go to a bank or other financial institution with lots of liquid cash. The bank will ask for collateral—in the case of a car loan, that would be the car title itself—in exchange for the loan. You then pay the principal to the bank every month, plus interest.

DeFi is different. There is no bank. Instead, smart contracts (which are computer codes that automate transactions, such as selling if a token price reaches a certain threshold) do the heavy lifting. DeFi removes the middlemen from asset-trading, futures contracts, and savings accounts.

In practice, that means that you can get a loan—in cryptocurrency—from people instead of financial institutions. However, you still have to put up collateral. In a DeFi system that tries to be fiat-free, that means other cryptocurrency tokens.

And because cryptocurrency is so volatile, DeFi platforms demand overcollateralization. So, for a $500 crypto loan on Aave, you’d need to put up more than that amount in a different cryptocurrency. If the price plummets and the amount in collateral no longer covers the amount you’ve borrowed, your collateral can be liquidated, meaning the protocol takes it to cover the cost of your loan.

Aave currently has pools for over 20 Ethereum-based assets, including the stablecoins Tether, DAI, USD Coin, and Gemini dollar. Other markets include Chainlink, Basic Attention Token, and Uniswap.

Why would you want to borrow cryptocurrency?

Although it often makes more sense to buy or sell cryptocurrency, borrowing it can be practical in some circumstances. One of the most obvious is for arbitrage. If you see a token trading at different rates on different exchanges, you can make money by buying it at one place and selling it at another.

However, since differences tend to be minor after taking into account transaction fees and spreads, you’d have to have a lot of the cryptocurrency to turn a decent profit.

That’s where Aave’s flash loans come in. Aave pioneered the use of flash loans, in which people borrow cryptocurrency without collateral, use it to buy an asset, sell that asset, and then return the original amount in the same transaction while pocketing their profit.

How liquidity pools work

Let’s go back to DeFi. In the early days of decentralized finance, if you wanted to borrow an asset, you’d have to find someone on the platform to lend it to you—at a price and terms you both agreed upon.

Things have evolved since then.

Aave skips the whole process of peer-to-peer lending, instead opting for what amounts to pool-to-peer lending.

Here’s how that works: Users deposit digital assets into “liquidity pools.” These become funds that the protocol can then lend out. Anyone who deposits their tokens into a pool and thereby “provides liquidity,” receives new aTokens. (The “a” is for “Aave.”) So, if you deposit DAI to the liquidity pool, you’ll receive aDAI in return.

As an aToken holder, you’ll get a cut of the platform’s flash loans as well as interest on those aTokens. If you’re depositing tokens to a pool that already has a lot of surplus liquidity, you won’t earn much. But if you’re depositing tokens the protocol is in desperate need of, you’ll make more.

The same applies to borrowers—interest rates vary depending on what you’re borrowing.

Why doesn’t everybody do it?

A couple of reasons. First, you must transfer cryptocurrency into Aave in order to start using the platform; you can’t just buy it with a credit or debit card. (And with Ethereum transaction costs high, some people are hesitant to move smaller amounts).

Second, there’s an element of risk involved, and liquidations are a key part of how Aave manages debt and makes sure people can still get loans.

If there’s still not enough liquidity after collateral is liquidated, Aave has a failsafe, known as the Safety Module. Inside this pool are AAVE tokens that users have deposited. If everything is calm, they receive more AAVE as compensation. If the system needs an injection of capital, it will liquidate the AAVE tokens.

What’s the AAVE token used for?

Users can post AAVE tokens as collateral. When they do, their borrowing limits are raised. Those who borrow AAVE can also bypass the borrowing fees and get a discount on fees if they post it as collateral.

Aave is available to trade or buy on a number of different cryptocurrency exchanges, including Binance and Huobi Global.

Where can I go to find out more?

Aave is just one of several DeFi lending protocols. For others, check out:


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What is Dfinity’s Internet Computer (ICP)?

In brief

  • Dfinity’s Internet Computer is an advanced blockchain-based computing system.
  • It aims to take on the cloud computing market and its reliance on centralized server farms.

Today, a handful of big-tech companies increasingly call the shots over Internet content, functionality and data. One recent example is the enforced fee changes that led Fortnite developer Epic to sue Apple.

The non-profit Dfinity Foundation’s solution is the Internet Computer, which would reimagine the Internet as humanity’s primary compute platform.

What is the Internet Computer?

The Internet Computer is a secure, decentralized and cost-effective blockchain network that aims to expand the functionality of the Internet.

It’s housed in a network of machines distributed around the world and is being put to work running the next generation of mega-applications—decentralized versions of Uber, eBay, Facebook, and more.

How does the Internet Computer compare to similar blockchain platforms?

Today, Ethereum dominates the crypto industry. Dfinity aims to solve the scaling problems experienced by Ethereum without compromising on security or decentralization—something another rival, EOS, has been criticized for.

Dfinity claims the Internet Computer can finalize transactions in one-to-two seconds. As a comparison, Bitcoin takes around 10 minutes, and Ethereum 15 seconds (depending on network congestion).

But the problem Dfinity addresses extends beyond blockchain technology. It aims to take on the $370 billion cloud computing market, and free the world of its dependence on centralized server farms.

“The vision we have is that people essentially abandon traditional IT and build on the public Internet.”

Dominic Williams

A timeline for the Internet Computer

  • October 2016: The project is founded by serial entrepreneur Dominic Williams.
  • May 2018: 50,000 registered participants receive ICP utility tokens in an airdrop.
  • August 2018: Dfinity announces raise of $102 million from accredited investors and venture capital firms.
  • December 2020: The Internet Computer’s alpha mainnet launches.
  • May 2021: The Internet Computer is launched into the public domain. Internet Computer Protocol (ICP) tokens are available on exchanges, and working dapps include Enso, a decentralized exchange (DEX) and DSCVR, the IC’s answer to Reddit.

How does the Internet Computer work?

In many blockchain-based projects, the transaction verification process relies on mining, a process that is energy-intensive and can be slow.

Dfinity uses a variation of the proof of stake algorithm (called Threshold Relay) to achieve consensus. In Dfinity’s version, nodes produce a random number, called a “random beacon.” This is used to select the next group of nodes and to drive the platform’s protocols. This mechanism is called the Threshold Relay Consensus model, and is one of the key pieces in Dfinity’s arsenal.

But the Internet Computer’s secret sauce is “Chain Key Technology,” which splits smart contract function execution into two types: “update calls” and “query calls.” This is what allows for super-fast transactions.

Meanwhile, the Internet Computer’s Network Nervous System (NNS) manages everything from its economics and upgrades to onboarding independent data centers and dedicated node machines.

What is the ICP token?

The ICP token provides gas for the network and allows holders to vote on the proposals that will shape the future of the Internet Computer. Users create “voting neurons,” which enable them to either vote manually, or automatically by configuring their neuron to follow other neurons.

ICP is available to trade at a number of exchanges, notably being listed on Coinbase Pro immediately upon its launch. It’s also listed on Binance, OKEx and Huobi Global, among others.


  • 📈 Infinite scalability.
  • 🔐 Security—Dfinity claims it has a system of checks that are superior to Ethereum’s.
  • 📁 Compatible with smart contracts so decentralized applications (dapps) can be built on the platform.
  • 👨‍💻 Highly experienced team.


The protocol is not battle-hardened, and critics have claimed that there is a fair amount of proprietary code; the blockchain is carefully controlled, and the value of ICP is closely held.

What are Dfinity’s aims?

Dfinity hopes to offer the first blockchain that runs at web speed and can scale to support an infinite volume of computation and data.

The non-profit’s wider focus is on building an open-access Internet; the place where developers build the next generation of mega-applications.

How is the Internet Computer cheaper and more secure than today’s cloud computing?

Dfinity aims to make it possible to build and run an Internet business without having to rely on another enterprise, such as eBay or Facebook.

It uses a process based on sharding to store data cheaply on the blockchain.

Dfinity proposes that the Internet Computer will simplify the process of building and maintaining systems by a reimagining of the IT stack.

Did you know?

Dfinity’s creator, Dominic Williams, thought up “Fight My Monster,” the fastest growing online kids’ game in Europe back in 2012.

The future of the Internet Computer

The cloud computing industry is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2026. Dfinity has received almost $101 million in funding, so can support third-party teams that want to build applications, tools and protocols for the platform.

Dfinity has an ambitious 20-year roadmap; to kick things off, in May 2020, the Dfinity Foundation announced a $200 million fund to attract developers to build on the project.

Several dapps are up and running on the Internet Computer already. They include Enso, a decentralized exchange (DEX), and DSCVR, a social network that resembles a decentralized version of Reddit.

If developers believe it’s the place to build and users take to decentralized systems, as stakeholders they will have an incentive to ensure the system stays simple and cost-effective.


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What is PancakeSwap? How to Use the Binance Smart Chain DEX

In brief

  • PancakeSwap is a decentralized exchange that is similar to Ethereum’s Uniswap, but it runs on Binance Smart Chain instead.
  • The DEX lets you swap tokens without an intermediary, as well as earn liquidity pool and staking rewards, enter a lottery, and other options.

Unlike popular, centralized cryptocurrency exchanges like Binance and Coinbase that are operated by a single, corporate entity, decentralized exchanges (DEXs) allow for trading without an intermediary. Many such DEXs are based on Ethereum, where the bulk of the decentralized finance (DeFi) action takes place.

However, as rival smart contract blockchains take root, comparable DEXs are springing up elsewhere, sometimes with unique twists. In the case of PancakeSwap, it’s built on Binance Smart Chain rather than Ethereum, and offers much lower trading fees as a result. Binance Smart Chain is newer and less established than Ethereum, but PancakeSwap is already making major waves among DEXs.

Here’s what you need to know about PancakeSwap on the Binance Smart Chain, including a quick primer on how to get started.

What is PancakeSwap?

PancakeSwap is a decentralized exchange that allows you to trade cryptocurrencies and tokens without a centralized intermediary, keeping custody of your tokens all the while. It is built on automated smart contracts deployed on Binance Smart Chain, the blockchain platform run by crypto exchange Binance.

Even though Binance operates a centralized exchange service, it does not control or operate PancakeSwap—it was built by anonymous developers. The service looks and feels very similar to the popular Ethereum DEX, Uniswap. PancakeSwap is used specifically for BEP-20 tokens running on Binance Smart Chain, although it’s possible to bring over tokens from other platforms via Binance Bridge and “wrap” them as a BEP-20 token for use on the DEX.

Like many other DEXs, PancakeSwap is built on an automated market maker (AMM) system, which relies on user-fueled liquidity pools to enable crypto trades. Rather than dealing with an order book and finding someone else who wants to swap the tokens you have for the ones you want, users lock their tokens into a liquidity pool via smart contracts. That allows you to make the swap you want, and users who keep their coins in the pool earn rewards all the while.

PancakeSwap is part of the rising wave of DeFi services that enable crypto traders to conduct transactions with trade tokens without a middleman taking a significant cut of the funds. It is one of the largest such DEXs on the Binance Smart Chain, although there are DEXs on Ethereum (such as Uniswap) with significantly higher average trading volume.

Did you know?

PancakeSwap has flipped Uniswap on multiple occasions to become the most popular DEX based on trading volume, but hasn’t consistently maintained that title as of yet.

How does PancakeSwap work?

As described above, token swaps take place via liquidity pools between token pairs. Users are able to exchange one type of token for another without an intermediary, while other users who stake their tokens in the liquidity pools earn a share of the rewards generated by transactions.

However, that’s just one part of the overall PancakeSwap experience. The DEX also lets you stake coins into so-called Syrup Pools that provide growing rewards. For example, you can stake CAKE, PancakeSwap’s native token, and earn even more CAKE just by letting it sit there in the Syrup Pool over time. There’s even an auto-stake option that will re-stake your CAKE at least once per hour, continuously compounding your rewards.

Automatic restaking on PancakeSwap. Image: Decrypt

PancakeSwap offers game-like experiences, such as wagering on whether the price of Binance Coin (BNB) will rise or fall within a limited window of time. It also has a lottery feature that lets users buy a ticket in hopes of winning a major windfall of CAKE, plus the DEX offers a wide array of bunny-themed collectible non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to purchase. There are also Initial Farm Offering (IFO) sales that let you buy brand new coins from budding projects.

Did you know?

PancakeSwap is the latest in a long line of food-themed crypto projects, including SushiSwap, Yam Finance, BakerySwap, and Kimchi Finance.

What’s so special about it?

PancakeSwap cuts out the middlemen of centralized exchanges, letting other users reap the rewards instead. If you’re willing to lock up your tokens for a while, the rewards can be very plentiful, particularly with some of the liquidity pools and staking options.

Granted, as with other DEXs, crypto newbies will likely struggle to navigate PancakeSwap and understand its myriad features. It could be worth your while to take the time to figure it out, though.

A beginner’s guide to using PancakeSwap

You will need your own crypto wallet to use PancakeSwap, as the DEX does not support fiat currency. PancakeSwap works with wallets such as Trust Wallet, MathWallet, Binance Chain Wallet, and even MetaMask. Yes, MetaMask is an Ethereum wallet, but it can be configured to work with Binance Smart Chain. Unlike centralized exchanges, you won’t have to input a bunch of personal data—you don’t even have to create a profile.

Decrypt opted to use Trust Wallet on a smartphone. The first step is to purchase some Binance Coin (BNB) from Binance.US and transfer it to your wallet. Then you’ll need to convert it to Binance Smart Chain to use it at PancakeSwap. You can do that within Trust Wallet by pressing the “More” button, tapping “Swap to Smart Chain,” and paying a small transaction fee to convert your coins.

Trust Wallet
Trust Wallet. Image: Decrypt

All of PancakeSwap’s functions are shown on the left side of the screen in your web browser. To swap tokens, go to Trade and select Exchange, and then choose which token in your connected wallet you want to trade, for which supported token on the DEX. You will need to confirm the transaction within your wallet to execute it.

PancakeSwap screenshot
PancakeSwap. Image: Decrypt

For farms, or liquidity pools, you must spend an equal value of tokens in a pair (such as CAKE-BNB) to purchase LP tokens, which provide liquidity to the DEX and earn you rewards in the process. This liquidity can be removed at any time, and will be disbursed in the individual tokens that were initially swapped for the LP tokens.

PancakeSwap screenshot
Adding liquidity on PancakeSwap. Image: Decrypt

The future:

Binance Smart Chain is growing quickly as developers take advantage of its low fees and speedier transactions compared to Ethereum. In April 2021, Binance revealed that the platform had executed some 4.9 million transactions in a single day, or three times the amount that Ethereum has ever managed in a day.

PancakeSwap doesn’t have the same level of average daily volume as Uniswap or SushiSwap, Ethereum’s two biggest heavyweight DEXs, but it’s already very popular considering the relatively young age of Binance Smart Chain.

If Binance’s decentralized app (dapp) platform continues to grow and pull in more developers and users alike—and Ethereum’s soaring gas fees and network congestion continue—then PancakeSwap may well put up an even stronger fight against rival exchanges in time.


The views and opinions expressed by the author are for informational purposes only and do not constitute financial, investment, or other advice.


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What is Solana? A Scalable, Decentralized Network for Dapps

In brief

  • Solana is a blockchain designed to support massively scaling decentralized applications (dapps).
  • It claims a maximum throughput of more than 50,000 TPS and block times as low as 400 ms.

Decentralized applications, or dapps, are widely regarded as one of the key use cases for blockchain technology.

In the last few years, dapps have come on in leaps and bounds, with dapp developers launching everything from games to decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms on blockchain—and a concomitant explosion in user interest.

But there’s a problem. The vast majority of these dapps run on Ethereum, which has struggled to keep up with rampant demand—leading to congestion on the network and soaring transaction fees.

Now Solana, a blockchain platform that had its beginnings in 2017, is aiming to step into the breach, and succeed where Ethereum is currently struggling.

What is Solana?

Solana is an advanced open-source blockchain project that looks to leverage several breakthrough technologies to power the next generation of dapps.

The project is focused on providing a highly scalable, secure, and maximally decentralized platform that can support potentially thousands of nodes without sacrificing throughput—helping to avoid some of the challenges faced by competing systems.

It was founded in 2017 during the ICO boom and raised more than $25 million across various private and public sale rounds. The platform went to mainnet in March 2020, but is still operating as a beta release.

How does Solana work?

One of Solana’s key distinguishing features is its consensus mechanism, which it calls Tower Consensus. It’s a variant of Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT), a system that enables distributed networks to reach consensus despite attacks from malicious nodes.

Solana’s implementation of PBFT enforces a global source of time across the blockchain through a second novel protocol known as Proof of History (PoH). This essentially provides a chronicle of previous events on the blockchain, ensuring that there’s a common record of what happened and when for permanent reference.

Tower Consensus leverages this synchronized clock to reduce the processing power needed to verify transactions, since the timestamps of previous transactions no longer need to be computed. This helps Solana achieve a throughput that dwarfs most competitors (more on this later).

Beyond this, Solana includes a number of other innovations that help it stand out from the competition. Among these is its transaction parallelization technology, known as Sealevel. This allows for a parallel smart contracts runtime that optimizes resources and ensures that Solana can scale horizontally across GPUs and SSDs, which should help the platform scale to meet demands.

Solana also completely nixes the mempool system used by other platforms, and instead forwards transactions to validators even before the previous batch of transactions is finalized. This helps to maximize confirmation speed and boost the number of transactions that can be handled both concurrently and in parallel. This technology is known as ‘Gulf Stream’.

What’s so special about it?

When it comes to decentralized applications, speed matters. As is evidenced by the bottlenecks currently faced by the Ethereum network. Solana, however, doesn’t currently suffer from these issues due to its high throughput architecture.

Solana claims that its blockchain is capable of sustaining more than 50,000 transactions per second (TPS) at peak load, which would make it arguably the fastest blockchain currently operating. To put this into perspective, this is close to 1,000 times faster than Bitcoin (max throughput ~5-7 TPS) and more than 3,000 times faster than Ethereum (max throughput ~15 TPS).

Moreover, Solana claims an average block time of 400 to 800 milliseconds and an average transaction fee of 0.000005 SOL (or a tiny fraction of one cent). This, combined with its massive scalability, makes it well-positioned to serve up decentralized applications that can support potentially tens of thousands of simultaneous users without buckling under the load.

Solana achieves this scalability without resorting to second-layer or off-chain technologies and doesn’t use any form of sharding. This makes it one of the few layer 1 blockchains capable of achieving more than 1,000 TPS.

Unlike some platforms, practically anybody can get up and running with a Solana validator and help to secure the network. The process is completely permissionless, though users will need to maintain some basic hardware to participate—namely a server that meets the minimum specifications outlined here. In total, the network currently boasts close to 1,000 validators, making it one of the more widely distributed blockchains.

Who’s building on Solana?

Like many 2017-era smart contract-capable platforms, Solana already has a well-developed and rapidly growing ecosystem of dapps, many of which fit squarely into the DeFi niche. Some of Solana’s most popular dApps currently include:

  • ⛓  O3Swap: A cross-chain aggregation protocol compatible with Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, NEO, and Huobi Eco liquidity sources.
  • 💰 SolStarter: An upcoming IDO launchpad for projects building on Solana.
  • 💻 Arweave: A decentralized data storage protocol that looks to offer permanent, massively redundant file storage.
  • 📈 Oxygen: A DeFi prime brokerage protocol that allows users to extract value from their idle assets.

What is the SOL token?

Solana, like the vast majority of smart contract platforms, features its own native gas token — known as SOL. As the gas token, all transactions and smart contract operations on Solana will consume SOL.

The SOL token can also be staked to help support the security of the network, allowing users to earn a proportion of the inflation as a reward. Though the feature isn’t currently available, SOL tokens will also be used for on-chain governance eventually.

The token was first launched on the Solana beta mainnet in March 2020 and is currently one of the top 20 largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization.

Where and how to buy SOL?

As one of the most popular cryptocurrencies, there is no shortage of exchanges that support SOL. As per CoinMarketCap, more than a dozen exchanges now offer SOL trading pairs, includes heavy-hitters like Binance, Huobi Global, and Bitfinex.

Right now, Binance is by far the most popular exchange for SOL and features four trading pairs: SOL/USDT, SOL/BTC, SOL/BUSD, and SOL/BNB.

Here, we will take a look at how to purchase SOL on Binance using Tether (USDT).

Step 1: Create your Binance account and top up your balance with USDT.

Step 2: Head over to the SOL/USDT spot market and navigate to the order panel at the bottom of the page.

Step 3: Select the market tab and enter the amount of USDT you would like to spend on SOL. Click the ‘ Buy SOL’ button to finalize the order


Step 4: That’s it! Your SOL will be processed at the best available price and will then be made available in your Binance account balance.

Solana: Where’s it heading?

Although Solana has been in development since 2017, it has only been operating on its beta mainnet since March 2021 and there is no clear timeline for when this tag will be removed. However, unlike most beta platforms, Solana is already production-ready, and the beta tag relates mainly to the minor bugs or hiccups that may still be present.

As for what’s next for Solana, the platform will be hosting the Solana Season Hackathon between May 15 and June 7, 2021, where teams can compete to win a share of up to $1 million in prizes.

Beyond this, five new crypto funds recently pledged $20 million each to support the development of projects building on Solana in China—helping the platform solidify its global reach.


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What is Algorand? A Speedy, Scalable Platform for Dapps

In brief

  • Algorand is a Pure Proof of Stake (PPoS) blockchain designed to facilitate the future of finance.
  • It was designed by Turing Award-winning cryptography expert Silvio Micali and is supported by the works of the Algorand Foundation.

Most modern blockchain-based networks attempt to achieve scalability, security, and decentralization in somewhat equal measure. However, few platforms today can be considered truly well-rounded, and most sacrifice on one or more of these fronts—whether that means forfeiting decentralization for additional scalability, scalability for security, or otherwise.

This blockchain trilemma remains a major sticking point for blockchains today—and a number of projects have tried to resolve it. Algorand, a prominent public blockchain platform, represents one of the more ambitious attempts.

What is Algorand?

Launched in 2019, Algorand is a novel blockchain platform used to create powerful decentralized applications (dapps) and financial primitives that will be used as the backbone of the economy of the future.

The platform is designed to address several of the key challenges facing other competing platforms today, namely: decentralization, scaling, and speed, by providing the infrastructure and tools builders need to create applications and assets that can be used by billions.

It was founded in 2017 by Silvio Micali, an internationally recognized computer scientist and MIT professor, noted for winning the Turing Award in 2012 for his work in the field of cryptography. Today, Algorand is being developed by a multi-disciplinary team largely comprised of researchers, cryptographers, mathematicians, and developers.

How Does Algorand Work?

The Algorand protocol is divided into two layers. Layer 1 is where most of the magic happens. It’s used for running smart contracts, handling atomic swaps (rapid peer-to-peer exchanges of cryptocurrency), and creating new Algorand-based blockchain assets (known as ASAs). Layer 1 is only capable of running relatively basic smart contracts (each known as an ASC1). To stack on additional functionality, Algorand has a second layer, which is capable of running larger, more feature-packed smart contracts—like the kind you’d expect to power modern decentralized finance (DeFi) apps.

Did you know?

Decentralized applications generally provide an intuitive front-end that users can interact with to issue commands to the underlying smart contracts.

The platform is built around a novel proof of stake (PoS) consensus mechanism known as ‘Pure Proof of Stake (PPoS)’. It’s designed to be a fast, equitable consensus system that allows all stakeholders (ALGO token holders) to participate in block production and earn rewards for doing so. Algorand is also backed by a large number of geographically distributed relay nodes, which are used to route blocks to participation nodes (non-relay nodes) and validate signatures; they can also participate in consensus.

Part of Algorand’s special sauce is the way it selects users to participate in its consensus protocol, a process it calls “cryptographic sortition”. The Algorand Protocol randomly and secretly selects block producers from the available pool of nodes using a weighted lottery system, which sees the chance of being selected increase with the amount of ALGO tokens held. These participants change each round and do not know if they have participated in block selection until after the fact. The idea is that it helps to protect the network against collusion and other attacks.

What’s so special about Algorand?

When it comes to blockchains, speed matters—after all, transaction delays and congestion can make for a frustrating experience.

Algorand is designed to overcome this issue by supporting somewhere in the order of 1,000 transactions per second (tps)—including smart contract transactions. Compared to Bitcoin’s 5 tps, or Ethereum’s current rate of 15-30 tps, that’s impressive. However, other blockchains claim to have bettered it; Solana claims to have reached over 50,000 tps, for example, while Ethereum’s own ETH 2.0 upgrade promises to increase its capacity to between 1,000-2000 tps.

Algorand also aims to achieve near-instant transaction finality. This, combined with its high transactions per second rate, makes it well suited to online financial applications that need to support potentially tens of millions of users. Because Algorand cannot be forked, users don’t need to worry about a chain split, and can be sure consensus is maintained even if most of the network is compromised.

Algorand is unusual in the fact that the rewards from each block are distributed proportionally to ALGO holders. This is in stark contrast to many other PoS blockchains, which generally distribute block rewards to validators, who may or may not be required to share these rewards with stakers or delegators. The minimum specifications to operate an Algorand node make participation fairly accessible—some of the main minimum specs include 4-8GB of RAM, a 100GB SSD, and 10 MBit broadband.

The platform is one of a relatively small number of smart contract-capable blockchains that are entirely secured by a proof of stake (PoS) consensus system. This gives it a number of benefits over competing proof of work (PoW)-based systems, including dramatically lower fees and transaction confirmation times.

Algorand is also aiming to compete on energy efficiency with its Pure Proof of Stake consensus mechanism; the company claims that its blockchain is carbon-neutral, generating just two millionths of the CO2 generated by competing platforms. With enterprises paying increasing attention to blockchains’ energy consumption and carbon emissions, this could prove to be an important point of differentiation for Algorand.

Its Algorand Standard Assets feature also promises flexibility for developers, giving them the tools to easily launch tokens with a wide range of use cases—including stablecoins, security tokens, government-issued digital fiat, utility tokens, identity tokens, and more.

Who is building on Algorand?

Today, there are dozens of live products built on Algorand, and many more in development. Some of them include:

  • 🏗️ Reach: A platform that makes building and deploying decentralized applications on Algorand and other blockchains simpler and more accessible.

  • 🎵 Opulous: Bringing music assets to the blockchain by allowing artists to solicit funding for their next project through decentralized finance.

  • 💵 The Marshall Islands: Using Algorand and SFB technologies to build create the world’s first national digital currency, known as the Marshallese sovereign (SOV).

What is the ALGO token?

The native utility token for the Algorand ecosystem is known as ALGO. It’s the gas token used to pay for transactions and smart contract computations, similar to how ether is used on the Ethereum blockchain. But more than this, it’s also used to support the operations of the Algorand network, earning holders a passive income in the form of network rewards. This passive yield currently amounts to around 5-6% APY.

Besides its in-network benefits, the ALGO token is being increasingly woven into DeFi applications being built on Algorand as well as on alternative blockchains through synthetic versions of the token—including Wrapped ALGO (wALGO), an ERC-20 token that can be exchanged 1:1 for ALGO.

Where and how to buy ALGO?

As one of the top 50 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, there is no shortage of ways to get your hands on ALGO. In total, well over 100 exchange platforms now support the token, including the likes of Binance, Kraken, and Coinbase Pro.

Here, we take a look at how to buy it on Binance, using Tether (USDT) as the payment asset.

Step 1: First you’ll need to create your Binance account and top it up with USDT.

Step 2: Once your USDT is credited, head over to the ALGO/USDT market.

Step 3: Here, you’ll find the ALGO/USDT chart and trading interface. At the bottom, select the spot tab, change the order type to ‘market’ order, and enter the amount of USDT you want to spend on ALGO.

Image: Binance

Step 4: Once you are happy with the current rate, click the ‘Buy ALGO’ button. Your order will then be executed at the lowest available price and your ALGO will be deposited to your Binance wallet.

For more control over the price you pay, consider instead using a limit order, as this will allow you to choose your entry point. Your order will be filled if the market reaches your limit price.

Algorand: What’s in store?

In 2019, Algorand 2.0 was released, bringing with it a number of improvements, including Algorand Standard Assets, atomic transfers, and layer 1 smart contracts. But development is still underway, as the team behind the platform looks to add additional functionality and improve on Algorand’s capabilities.

Among the many items on the roadmap, there are plans to improve the performance and scalability of the blockchain through a range of tweaks and upgrades. The platform also recently saw updates to its ASC1 programming language, making it more attractive to developers.

According to a recent update by the project founder, Algorand is on track to grow its block size by 400% from 5,000 to 25,000 transactions, while cutting block finalization time down from 4.5 to 2.5 seconds. The finalized TPS of the platform is set to increase to 46,000 TPS. All of this is slated to occur during 2021.

If it’s successful, Algorand will rank among the most performant blockchains today and will be capable of exceeding the throughput offered by the Visa payment network—widely considered to be the benchmark necessary for supporting mass adoption.


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What is Near Protocol?

In brief

  • NEAR is a smart contract-capable blockchain that launched its mainnet in 2020.
  • It features a unique scaling solution known as Nightshade and a powerful consensus engine called Doomslug.

Blockchains that can run smart contracts aren’t anything new. They’ve been around since 2015 with the launch of the Ethereum mainnet, and there are now more than a dozen similar platforms operating today.

But despite the rapidly growing demand for decentralized applications (dapps), and the elaboration of increasingly elaborate and capable dapps, several major friction points still limit their adoption.

Did you know?

Decentralized applications, or dapps, are applications that run on top of a decentralized blockchain—like Ethereum or NEAR Protocol.

NEAR is a newcomer that looks to address the limitations of older systems through a community-governed sharded blockchain platform with interoperability and scalability at its core.

What is Near Protocol?

NEAR is a decentralized development platform designed to provide the ideal environment for dapps by overcoming some of the limitations of competing systems—such as low throughput, low speeds, and poor cross-compatibility.

It operates on top of the NEAR Protocol, a developer-friendly proof-of-stake (POS) blockchain that incorporates a number of innovations to boost scalability and reduce costs for developers and end-users. Its innovations include a unique take on sharding and a powerful new consensus mechanism known as ‘Doomslug’.

It is being built by the NEAR Collective, a worldwide community of researchers, developers, and thinkers, who wrote the initial code for the NEAR Protocol and continue to support the project by releasing bug fixes, updates, and building out the surrounding NEAR ecosystem. Since the code for NEAR is open source, anybody can join the collectible and begin contributing towards its development.

How Does Near Protocol Work?

Similar to Ethereum, Cardano, and TRON, NEAR can be described as a “base-layer” blockchain, which means it is the foundation upon which other applications are built and deployed.

NEAR uses a technology known as Nightshade to achieve its massive throughput capabilities. The scaling solution sees individual sets of validators process transactions in parallel across multiple sharded chains to improve the overall transaction carrying capacity of the blockchain. This solution differs somewhat from the sharding system used by other blockchains, in that each shard produces a fraction of the next block—known as a “chunk”. These are processed and immutably stored on the NEAR blockchain to finalize transactions contained within.

Did you know?

NEAR introduces a novel consensus mechanism known as Doomslug to boost efficiency, while ensuring blocks achieve finality within seconds by having validators take turns producing blocks rather than competing directly based on their stake.

It’s built to simplify things for developers, while also giving them a powerful toolkit to build next-generation applications with. Because NEAR uses a contract-based account model, developers can build advanced apps that can sign transactions on behalf of users, allowing them to execute agreements without the user needing to be physically available to confirm the action.

What’s so special about it?

NEAR is designed to be a next-generation platform for dapps. To achieve this, it tackles some of the longest-standing issues in the blockchain space, as well as some that have only become apparent relatively recently.

For one, NEAR is incredibly fast. It’s able to process somewhere in the order of 100,000 transactions per second (tps) and achieves transaction finality near-instantly thanks to a 1-second block cadence. According to NEAR, its technology means it can achieve transaction fees that are 10,000x lower than they are on Ethereum — making them essentially negligible.

Though its technical advantages are arguably its biggest selling point, NEAR is also intended to be approachable to those with little to no knowledge of blockchain thanks to so-called “common sense onboarding”. This means regular users will be able to access dapps built on NEAR with a similar registration flow they’re already experienced with. This could help developers reach a broader audience, while also reducing frictions for those already accustomed to using dapps.

NEAR provides developers with a range of modular components to help them fast track their development and get their projects off the ground quickly. These include example implementations of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), faucets, token contracts, guest books, and more. The full range of examples and their code can be found on the official NEAR Github repo.

Who is building on NEAR?

Despite launching its mainnet less than a year ago, there are a large number of projects already building on the platform. Some of these include:

The NEAR Foundation is currently operating the NEAR Grants Program (NGP), which supports projects that helps grow the NEAR ecosystem and its community. A total of $1 million worth of grants will be awarded in H1 2021.

What is the NEAR token?

Like the vast majority of blockchains, NEAR also has its own native utility token—aptly named ‘NEAR’. It’s the token used for incentivizing nodes on the NEAR network and is also used for powering transactions and the numerous NEAR smart contracts.

As a community-governed platform, NEAR token holders can participate in the on-chain governance of the NEAR platform, or they can have a validator vote on their behalf.

Discussions about the development and marketing of NEAR products and the surrounding NEAR ecosystem are currently held on the governance forum. Users can also submit their suggestions to the NEAR Enhancement Proposals repository (NEPs) on Github.

Where and how to buy NEAR?

If you want to get involved with NEAR or begin using any dapps built on the NEAR platform, then you’re going to need to get your hands on some NEAR tokens.

Though it’s possible to earn these by participating in development bounties, staking, and operating a NEAR community, the simplest way to get some is by buying it from a supported exchange platform—such as Binance, Huobi Global, or OKEx.

Below, we’ll cover how to buy these with Tether (USDT) on Binance—currently the most liquid exchange for NEAR.

Step 1: Register on Binance and top up your account with USDT or another supported asset. Right now, Binance supports conversions for NEAR against Tether (USDT), Bitcoin (BTC), Binance USD (BUSD), and Binance Coin (BNB).

Step 2: Head over to your designed NEAR market on the Binance spot exchange, e.g. NEAR/USDT or NEAR/BTC.

Step 3: Here, you’ll find the Binance trading interface. At the bottom of the page, select the ‘Market’ option from the order panel.

NEAR/USDT. (Image: Binance)

Step 4: Enter the amount of USDT you want to spend and click ‘Buy NEAR’—this will automatically execute your order at the best available price. Your NEAR will then be deposited to your Binance account balance, ready to withdraw or trade.

Near Protocol: The future

Earlier this month, NEAR released its long-awaited Ethereum-to-NEAR bridge, known as the Rainbow Bridge. This allows users to bridge their Ethereum ERC-20 tokens to NEAR for use within the NEAR dapp ecosystem. This is a major stride toward NEAR’s plans to make the platform as accessible as possible.

For the next step, NEAR is currently working on implementing support for the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM)—the software stack that Ethereum uses for running decentralized applications. Once complete, developers will be able to re-deploy their Ethereum dapps on NEAR with few to no changes needed—eliminating a major barrier to launching cross-chain.


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What Is Theta Network?

In brief

  • Theta Network aims to provide a decentralized infrastructure for video streaming that’s cheaper than centralized alternatives.
  • Participants in the Theta Network are paid in tokens for sharing video content to other users.

Hosting and sharing video content is a tricky business.

The problem is, if the content is all stored in one place, it can be very slow for people around the world to access it. So video sharing websites will use multiple servers around the world so they can deliver the content much more quickly—known as a content delivery network (CDN).

But it’s expensive to pay for a CDN. These services will typically charge for the amount of data being used, meaning that when a video streaming site becomes popular, its costs will rise.

This is where Theta Network wants to make a difference.

What is Theta Network?

Theta Network is aimed at cutting the costs of operation for video streaming services like YouTube. It works by reducing the load on the content distribution network by putting some of it on Theta’s peer-to-peer network. It’s a little bit like BitTorrent, where people share video content with each other, but it actually pays its users for sharing this content.

Theta Network isn’t trying to replace YouTube or live streaming platform Twitch. Instead, it’s trying to provide new infrastructure for such businesses that’s not only decentralized, but far cheaper.

If you’re trying to watch a video on a video streaming site that uses the Theta Network, you will receive the data in a combination of two ways. Some of the video will be streamed directly from the site’s hosting platform, but you’ll also receive some of it from local peers using the Theta Network.

While Theta Network claims to be cheaper than centralized alternatives, it still has some costs attached—and this is why the Theta tokens are needed.

How Theta Network uses two tokens

Those participating in the Theta Network get paid for sharing video content to other users. The video sites themselves pay for this service, not the end-user.

In order to pay for the data being streamed, the network uses a token called TFUEL. When someone shares the video content to someone else who’s trying to watch the video, the streaming site pays them in TFUEL tokens. It’s worth noting that these users don’t stream whole clips but just small amounts of data for each video—so the end-user will receive fragments of video data from multiple users and piece it together themselves.

Theta Network also has a second token, called THETA. This is a governance token that’s designed to help the community manage the Theta blockchain and control its direction in the future. Currently the governance element is in its infancy, but the project plans to hand over more control to THETA holders in the future.

The THETA token has a fixed supply of 1 billion tokens with no inflation. You can stake THETA tokens to receive TFUEL, which has a supply of 5.2 billion tokens and a fixed 5% inflation rate.

What is the Theta blockchain?

The Theta blockchain is fast and designed for smaller payments. This enables it to provide real-time payments to reward content distributors for their efforts.

It achieves this through a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, which is based on the Tendermint blockchain code. This mechanism involves users locking up large amounts of THETA in a process known as staking. Then they process blocks; if they process malicious blocks, they might lose some of their staked tokens.

Theta network world nodes
Theta nodes around the world. Image: Theta Labs.

But the blockchain has two levels. First, it has validator nodes. These involve powerful computers processing a large number of transactions quickly. There are fewer of these and they are typically run by companies who are backing the network, such as Samsung and Sony. They are the first line of defense in keeping the network secure. Those running validator nodes have to stake 1 million THETA tokens.

Second, there are community nodes. These are run by thousands of community members and they check and validate that the validator nodes are performing accurately. If a malicious block was somehow accepted by all the validator nodes, these community nodes would stop it in its tracks. These nodes only need to stake 1,000 THETA tokens.

Who is backing Theta Network?

The company behind Theta Network is called Theta Labs. It’s run by CEO Mitch Liu and has its own streaming site, Theta.tv, which pays viewers in TFUEL to watch video content (since they are then sharing that content to other peers). The company has around 25 employees, mostly based in the San Francisco Bay Area—although it’s looking to expand and has recently opened an office in Seoul.

The company has a nominal amount of revenue currently, according to Wes Levitt, head of strategy at Theta Labs. While the Theta TV platform brings in some revenue, it’s nothing relative to the size of the Theta blockchain, he explained. Rather, the company has been relying on funds raised from its investors.

Samsung makes crypto investment
Samsung’s home in San Jose, California. Image: Shutterstock.

These investors include Samsung and the Sony Innovation Fund, along with a string of VC firms. As noted, many of these investors run validator nodes on the Theta blockchain. Four of these VC firms announced in March that they will be staking $100 million of their Theta tokens—largely acquired in earlier investments when the token was cheaper—in a collaborative validator node.

The company also has advisers from a range of mainstream media companies, including Steve Chen, co-founder of YouTube, Justin Kan, co-founder of Twitch, and Jonathan Wong, director of product at video streaming website Rakuten Viki.

Theta Labs has so far been granted three patents by the United States Patent and Trademark Office related to its video streaming service, Levitt told Decrypt. The patents relate to how the data is streaming utilizing a decentralized network.

How does Theta stop people cheating the system?

One potential issue with Theta Network is the idea that someone could just use two computers and share video through the network to themselves and get paid for doing so. However, there are a few safeguards that aim to prevent this.

For a start, the network doesn’t let someone stream content to the same IP address. This prevents the basic example above. The network also has a few other similar limitations, that can be fine-tuned by the video streaming platform, depending on how strict they want to be.

Another key element is that those sharing the video content don’t get to choose who they’re sharing to. So if they tried to game the system and share content to themselves, they would naturally be sharing content to potentially thousands of other users. As a result, they would actually be doing more good to the network than harm, according to Levitt.

What does the future hold?

In the near term, Theta Network will be upgrading to its Mainnet 2.0. This will upgrade the network and provide a few benefits.

The upgrade will provide more support for edge nodes. These are nodes that download and share video content without the user needing to watch the video. This is for people who want to support the network and earn TFUEL. Levitt estimated that a user could earn around $10-15 a month by running a node full time.

Theta Labs also plans to introduce a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace. NFTs are unique, digital tokens that represent a piece of digital content, such as art or music. The marketplace will allow Theta TV content creators to issue their own NFTs and use them to interact with their viewing audience.

Levitt noted that most of Theta’s partners in the entertainment space are trying to find ways to enter the nascent NFT market. That is, as long as the ballooning NFT market doesn’t pop.


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Sorare: Beginner’s Guide (2021)

In brief

  • Sorare is a fantasy soccer game using NFTs that lets you purchase, verifiably own, and resell digital player cards from more than 100 licensed teams.
  • You can play lineups in fantasy leagues to win rewards, as well as buy and sell the in-game cards.

Fantasy sports is a booming global business, with an estimated market size of $18.6 billion in 2019, projected to grow to $48.6 billion by 2027. In traditional fantasy football or soccer experiences, users draft their favorite professional players, set their weekly lineups, and reap points for all of their players’ on-the-pitch actions. in the hopes of beating their buddies.

Sorare does things differently. It’s still a fantasy soccer game at heart, but instead of just picking player names from a list during a draft, you purchase digital trading cards that are tokenized on the Ethereum blockchain. You own these non-fungible token (NFT) cards and can freely resell them as crypto collectibles, but they’re also the heart of Sorare’s fantasy experience. And there are prizes up for grabs, both in the form of cryptocurrency and rare, valuable cards.

It’s fantasy soccer paired with real digital ownership, concepts that have shot to prominence in recent months thanks to the surging value of licensed sports NFTs such as NBA Top Shot. Here’s a look at how Sorare works and how to get started.

What is Sorare?

Sorare is an online, web-based fantasy soccer game with a crypto twist. Like traditional fantasy soccer, it’s all about building your lineup each week using professional soccer stars, and their respective on-the-pitch stats—such as goals and assists—translate into in-game points. Your goal is to beat other users in the leagues by amassing the most points each week.

Sorare has licensed players from more than 100 international teams across various leagues, and you’ll add to your team by purchasing digital trading cards from the marketplace. The licensed teams include Juventus, AC Milan, Liverpool FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, Real Madrid, and all of Japan’s J.League teams, as well as every player in Major League Soccer (but not the clubs themselves).

How does Sorare work?

The game offers several different leagues that you can sign up for, including a rookie league for newcomers, particular regional leagues, and even one solely for lineups with young players who are no older than 23. Once you join a league, you can set a new lineup each play week using the cards that you have in your account. After the week is completed, the in-game points are tallied based on all of the players’ real-world performances, and the Sorare users with the most points are eligible to win amounts of ETH and rare cards as rewards.

What’s so special about Sorare?

Sorare brings together a few things that people become obsessively excited about—soccer, fantasy sports games, sports collectibles, and crypto NFTs—and does so in a way that no other experience has matched.

NBA Top Shot is considered its biggest crypto NFT collectibles contemporary, but there’s no real “game” element aside from individual collection-based challenges. Sorare has real, fantasy-style competition, even if there is a clear pay-to-win element to it. But for the die-hards who don’t mind spending real money for the best team, there are meaningful rewards alongside the potential thrill of victory.

How to get started with Sorare

Like other free-to-play games, crypto-infused or otherwise, you can start playing Sorare without spending a cent. Simply sign up at the Sorare website and follow the prompts to unlock up to 12 free “Common” player cards.

Sorare screenshot
The Sorare signup process. Image: Sorare

These cards hold no real-world value and cannot be sold, but you can use them in the fantasy leagues just like any other cards in the game. During the sign-up process, you’ll pick your favorite teams amongst the licensed squads, enter your first league, and build a lineup.

Sorare screenshot
Choosing a starting lineup. Image: Sorare

It’s a pretty straightforward onboarding process that helps you learn the basics, and then drops you into the Market to consider buying premium NFT cards that are tokenized on the Ethereum blockchain. The “New Signings” tab lets you bid on new cards introduced to the game, while the “Transfer Market” lets users resell their own cards at a fixed price—typically much higher than when first released.

Sorare screenshot
The Sorare transfer market. Image: Sorare

Did you know?

Major game publisher Ubisoft (Assassin’s Creed, Just Dance) partnered with Sorare in March 2021 to launch One Shot League, a free-to-play spinoff game that uses the same Sorare cards. It only features the Belgian Jupiler Pro League to start.

The future:

Sorare raised a $50 million Series A funding round in February 2021, including participation from high-profile investors such as Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. It’s a big vote of confidence following significant trading volume growth over the course of 2020 and into the start of 2021, coinciding with the wider explosion of interest and value in the crypto collectibles NFT market.

At the time, the company said that it would expand its team, work on a dedicated mobile app, and continue pursuing team and league licenses from around the world. Soccer is a truly global game and Sorare already has many licenses from across Europe, America, and Asia—but there’s plenty more to add—and potentially many, many millions more users to get hooked on its unique crypto spin on fantasy sports.


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What is Hedera Hashgraph?

In brief

  • Hedera Hashgraph is a platform that presents itself as faster and more secure alternative to blockchain.
  • It sidesteps energy-intensive mining by using a technology called Directed Acyclic Graph.

In most blockchain-based projects, the verification process relies on mining, an energy-intensive process requiring computers to work through fiendishly difficult computations to verify transactions. Can Hedera Hashgraph sidestep that problem by removing mining entirely and using an entirely new ledger structure? We find out below.

What is Hedera Hashgraph?

Hashgraph is not a blockchain in the sense that it’s built on a chain of blocks. It’s best to imagine it as a graph, whereby the speed of verifying transactions goes up as more transactions are added to the network. The name for the technology it’s based on is, in fact, known as a DAG , short for Directed Acyclic Graph.

This technology is designed to help Hedera Hashgraph achieve more than 100,000 transactions per second, making it a true competitor to Visa and other mass-market payment systems.

The Hedera network currently performs 6.5 million transactions per day with an average transaction time of 5 seconds—easily surpassing Ethereum‘s 1.2 million and Bitcoin‘s 300,000 transactions put together.

How does Hedera Hashgraph work?

A council of 19 multinational corporations from around the world govern the platform and the software that will run on millions of nodes globally. To reach consensus, instead of mining, nodes on the Hashgraph “gossip” with each other, comparing notes on the transaction history of the network.

As the nodes gossip, they select a few “famous witnesses.” Each witness is an event or a transaction and they become famous because they are communicated to the nodes early in the process. The chosen nodes then compare the gossip about these famous witnesses in the majority of nodes.

“So all we do is we just talk the way we talk anyway to send out our transactions, we add a tiny bit of information and it gives us this entire history. The history is called a Hashgraph.”

Leemon Baird

The aim is to reach a point known as “strongly seeing” whereby two nodes could, with confidence, predict the decision—or outcome of a vote—by a third node, because they come to the same conclusion at multiple stages of the process.

In the future, Hedera hopes to make mainnet nodes permissionless, allowing more people to participate in the transaction verification process and protect the network against attacks.

Hedera’s Four Main Services

The Hedera Hashgraph network is comprised of four main components or services, which work together to allow transfers of value, the creation and execution of smart contracts, file transfers, and more. These are:

  • HBAR: A cryptocurrency used for enabling low fee, highly customizable transactions on Hedera.
  • Smart contracts: Used for automatically executing logic and building decentralized applications targeting numerous possible use-cases.
  • File Service: For redundant, distributed file storage with granular controls, like append and deletion.
  • Consensus Service: For attaining fast, fair, and secure consensus in any application that requires trust

How is Hedera Hashgraph different to blockchain?

The main difference between Hedera Hashgraph and some blockchain-based platforms is that it doesn’t require compute-heavy proof of work.

The Advantages of Hedera Hashgraph

Hedera Hashgraph claims to achieve the highest possible level of security, even when malicious actors are present on the network, through a system called aBFT (asynchronous byzantine fault tolerance) that is employed by the nodes.

Hedera Hashgraph is faster than the Bitcoin or Ethereum blockchains because transactions can be processed in parallel, not serially, and has fast latency—it takes only a few seconds for a transaction to be sent out and confirmed (with 100 percent certainty) by the network.

The Hedera Hashgraph platform supports the same object-orient programmed language that Ethereum uses, known as Solidity, which is commonly used for smart contracts. By enabling smart contracts, the platform can be used to build decentralized applications (dapps), which can be used for a variety of use-cases, including gaming, decentralized finance (DeFi) products, digital identity, and more.

It also benefits from extremely low fees and rapid transactions, with transactions reaching absolute finality in just seconds, and transaction fees of under 1 cent. Comparatively, Bitcoin transactions can take more than 10 minutes to confirm and have maintained an average transaction fee of more than $1 throughout much of 2020. In early 2021, fees shot up above $10, reaching as high as $30 per transaction.

The Disadvantages of Hedera Hashgraph

Unlike many cryptocurrencies, Hedera Hashgraph isn’t open source. Instead, the technology is patented, preventing developers from forking the protocol to create their own public versions—similar to how Bitcoin (BTC) was forked into Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Bitcoin Cash was forked into Bitcoin SV (BSV).

Swirlds, the company behind the platform, argues that the algorithm is patented to prevent the loss of network effects, which sees the value of the hashgraph climb with a growing user base. Since forks can split communities and user bases, this can represent a risk to firms building on forkable chains—which Hedera has eliminated with its patents.

Beyond this, with just 19 governors, it’s questionable whether Hedera Hashgraph offers the decentralized solution that blockchain purists clamor for. However, since each governor is an industry-leading, highly reputable organization, it is unlikely that they would do anything that is not in the best interests of a network they have a considerable stake in seeing succeed.

Did you know?

Hedera Hashgraph’s co-founders Leemon Baird and Mance Harmon met while they were both in the US Airforce. They have now been working together for 25 years.

What are Hedera Hashgraphs’s aims?

In 2018, Hedera Hashgraph raised $120 million in its token sale. The money will be used to provide cryptocurrency as a service to support micropayments; to develop storage in the form of a distributed file service that apps can use, and to enable contracts—including smart contracts—on its platform.

Since launching its mainnet in 2019, Hedera Hashgraph has gone from strength to strength, and its claims of being able to support in excess of 10,000 transactions per second (tps) have so far been proven accurate for standard hbar token transfers. However, the network is currently throttled to 10 tps for transactions that invoke a smart contract. This is roughly on par with Ethereum and other smart-contract capable blockchains.

The company behind the platform has stated that the throttling will be gradually loosened over time. Until then, it remains unclear whether Hedera Hashgraph can be used to tackle the massive load that popular dapps on other networks have seen, which has, at times, crippled networks like Ethereum and EOS.

However, Hedera’s achievements took a while to be reflected in its token price. HBAR launched with a price of $0.36, but quickly slumped to $0.03, less than a tenth of its original value, where it has for the most part remained throughout 2019 and 2020. This changed in 2021, however, as the price has rocketed up to a new all-time high of $0.42—in line with the general market rally.

Hedera Hashgraph’s Partnerships

Since completing its ICO more than three years ago, Hedera Hashgraph has forged partnerships and working arrangements with numerous firms and institutions in a wide range of industries, including Boeing, LG, IBM, and University College London (UCL).

In February 2020, Hedera Hashgraph also onboarded Google to its governing council—arguably its biggest partnership yet. As part of the arrangement, Google will run a Hedera network node, and will help participate in governance of the network.

Recently, payments company eftpos, Standard Bank and energy giant EDF have joined its council.

Which companies are building on the platform?

  • 📈 Virtual trading platform TrakInvest.
  • 🚜 Agryo, a farming loan platform that’s building a decentralized data-driven prediction model.
  • 💰 Carbon, which has launched the first stablecoin on Hedera.
  • 🏬 AdsDax — a fast and fair ad marketplace built on Hedera.

The future of Hedera Hashgraph

In February, Hedera launched the Hedera Token Service, enabling anyone to create tokens on the platform. Transferring tokens will cost just $0.001. There are already a number of projects building tokens on Hedera but this will be fleshed out in the months ahead.

At the same time, there are a number of incoming upgrades to the Hedera Hashgraph mainnet expected over the coming months. According to its roadmap, there are plans to reduce the amount of downtime the network needs when maintenance is performed (unlike decentralized coins that run continuously even while being upgraded).

The network will also see the introduction of scheduled transactions. This is where someone specifies a future time that they want the transaction to occur. Alternatively, it can be when someone wants a transaction to be signed by a specific number of people before it’s sent.

In the second half of 2021, there are more upgrades on the table. These include enabling multiple parties to make transactions as well as sharding, a way for the network to be split into multiple “shards” in order to increase the number of transactions it can process.

Say what you like about it, but Hedera certainly has ambitious plans.


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