Showing posts with label smart contracts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label smart contracts. Show all posts

December 14, 2017

What is a Smart Contract?

Smart Contracts - Part 1: What is a Smart Contract?

  • A great video explaining Smart Contracts at the level of detail/abstraction a novice could understand.

By Kevin Healy - August 10, 2017 (

An introduction to smart contracts in ethereum. What accounts are in a simpler currency only blockchain, how ethereum introduces a second type of account: a code controlled account (aka smart contract). This type of account does not have a private key but instead is controlled by code. It can store ether, just like user accounts, or it can keep a balance of 0 and be used to deliver some other function within the context of an application. Also, examples of how you can use smart contracts.

Part 2:

November 27, 2017

Ethereum Foundation confirms Proof Of Stake 75 Percent complete

November 27, 2017 (

At the Taipei Ethereum Meetup, Vitalik Buterin, one of the co-founders and lead developers of Ethereum, revealed that the development of a proof of stake protocol for the Ethereum network is 75 percent complete.

Prior to the announcement of Buterin, in a recent interview, Ethereum Foundation member and Ethereum co-founder Hudson Jameson released the foundation’s official roadmap for Ethereum development in 2017. The roadmap included the foundation’s plans of releasing the next version of Ethereum called Metropolis in three to six months and following that update with a switch of consensus protocol from proof of work to proof of stake.

Vitalik Buterin reaffirmed the Ethereum development roadmap laid out by Jameson and emphasized that Ethereum will most likely switch to a proof of stake protocol by the end of 2017. At the Taipei Ethereum Meetup, a community of over 500 members that focuses on the discussion of Ethereum and blockchain innovation, Buterin stated:

“We are working on a daemon that actually interacts with a Casper [smart] contract and sends transactions to it. That is the first part. The second stage is that we will write clients that are aware of Casper contracts.”

PoS is different in the way that it considers stakeholders as the majority and it does not utilize the hash power of miners to verify or confirm transactions. In a PoS protocol, miners do not exist. The largest stakeholders in the network are forced to play by the rules and verify transactions.

Ultimately, the economic issue of switching to Casper or a PoS protocol comes down to the incentives for stakeholders. How stakeholders are incentivized or benefited for verifying and confirming Ethereum transactions.

The Ethereum Foundation and Buterin’s perception of a PoS system is that everyone within the protocol is technically a miner and therefore unless they choose to lose their stake of Ether by playing against the rules, every user will verify and confirm transactions in a fair manner. Essentially, the foundation and its developers believe this is the ultimate decentralized governance system that increases participation of stakeholders of the network.

November 23, 2017

The Top 9 Counterparty Projects, By consensus

By Jon Southurst - July 26, 2016 (

For everyone confused by the drama surrounding certain blockchain projects this week, it might be time to take a break and look at some alternative platforms – starting with Counterparty.

As examples of what the platform can do, asked Trevor Altpeter and other members of the Counterparty Foundation to name their favorite projects built using Counterparty or using its tokens. The top not-quite-ten list is below.

An Explanation

First, some explanation of Counterparty and the way its tokens work is necessary, as it works differently to other blockchain projects.

Counterparty was started as a means to create new digital assets and other decentralized financial while using the Bitcoin blockchain. Counterparty also has its own blockchain, which receives instructions from bitcoin’s chain via a process known as “embedded consensus.”

It interacts via its native “currency” XCP, which is not a competitor to bitcoin – and cannot exist without it. XCP value was created in January-February 2014 by sending bitcoins to unspendable addresses.

This “proof of burn” method was intended to avoid pre-mines and token sales, which are often used to raise funds for other projects, but remain controversial with some users and could raise regulators’ eyebrows.

A total 2100 BTC was “burned” in that period and the resulting amount of XCP was permanently fixed. XCP itself is burned as fuel for smart contracts, and the amount required is continually adjusted so it cannot reach zero.

Custom Tokens

Any Counterparty wallet holding XCP can be used to create a custom token (i.e. a new cryptocurrency). The user chooses the amount (in XCP) to spend, the total number of tokens and the name. These tokens can then be sent and received using Counterparty-compatible wallets (more about those below) and if popular, even traded on some exchanges.

Counterparty addresses look the same as Bitcoin addresses and transaction information is encoded on the Bitcoin blockchain. The tokens can be used in games, for voting and crowdfunding, authentication, decentralized applications, or simply for vanity or fun.

Top 9 Projects

1. Storj
Storj is a decentralized cloud storage technology. Storj created a cryptocurrency known as SJCX that exists as a Counterparty asset. Storj is working with Counterparty developers to implement payment channel technology to enable Storj micropayments to participants on the Storj network. Storj is one of the most successful cryptocurrency projects in terms of enterprise interest – it is now a part of Microsoft Azure and generating consistent interest from corporate entities.  

2. Spells of Genesis
Spells of Genesis is a mobile game developed by Moonga and a leading innovator in the concept of in-game assets. Using Counterparty, Spells of Genesis has created an in-game medium of exchange known as BitCrystals. Spells of Genesis also makes use of in-game items in the form of trading cards (also launched via Counterparty). A full list of SOG assets can be viewed here.

3. IndieSquare Wallet
IndieSquare is a mobile Bitcoin and Counterparty wallet with “a great interface and a number of unique features.” IndieSquare Wallet facilitates uses of the Counterparty Decentralized Exchange (DEx) allowing users to buy and sell Bitcoin, XCP, and Counterparty assets with no middleman. Users can also create and manage assets/tokens directly from the IndieSquare Wallet, assuming they have XCP and BTC stored there.

IndieSquare looks to offer easy-to-use APIs for web and mobile services in the near future, allowing third party devs to develop powerful and creative Counterparty token integrated services beyond financial applications – such as gaming and content creation.

4. GetGems
GetGems is a messaging app and wallet built on top of Telegram that has created a cryptocurrency on Counterparty known as GEMZ. GetGems’ biggest technological innovation to date is a patented keyboard payment solution known as “Paykey.”

5. Let’s Talk Bitcoin/LTBcoin
Let’s Talk Bitcoin is one of cryptocurrency’s oldest and most popular podcasts, and for many provided an initial Bitcoin education. Hosts Adam B. Levine, Andreas Antonopoulos and Stephanie Murphy have been regulars for over three years. LTBcoin, created as a reward for podcast listeners and content creators, is the asset with the most transactions on the Counterparty network to date.

6. CoinDaddy
CoinDaddy is a site created and run by Counterparty community director Jeremy Johnson (J-Dog). It is an all-purpose Counterparty enhancement site – a cryptocurrency version of CoinDaddy and Tokenly are expected to be increasingly important as Counterparty gains popularity and utility.

7. Tokenly
Tokenly is created by former Counterparty community director Devon Weller and Adam B. Levine. The goal of Tokenly is to add tools that make use of Counterparty technology. Two highly successful tools offered by Tokenly are the Tokenly swapbot and token-controlled access using Counterparty tokens.

8. FoldingCoin
FoldingCoin is a rewards program that distributes tokens called FLDC to participants to the global Folding@home network. Folding@home is a program developed by Stanford University that “donates” users’ computer power to help find cures for diseases. Several projects that have launched on the Counterparty network have used merged folding as a fair distribution method.

9. Topcoin
Topcoin is a reward system focused on domain registrars and online service providers such as VPS (virtual private server) companies. Topcoin has been functioning for quite a while under the radar, and users can spend Topcoin on today with ChunkHost – other domain registrars are expected to be added in future.

Note: the above list is as suggested by the Counterparty Foundation, and is not an official review or endorsement by of the projects included. The writer of this article does not currently hold any XCP.

Images courtesy of,

Jon Southurst

Jon Southurst has been interested in bitcoin since reading Neal Stephenson's 'Cryptonomicon' in 2012. A long-time tech writer, he has been a regular contributor at CoinDesk and has written for, DeepDotWeb and ancient print publications. He lives on an artificial island in Tokyo.

November 09, 2017

SITA investigates use of Smart Contracts in Air Transport Industry

By Sujha Sundararajan - November 09, 2017 - (

Multinational air transport IT firm SITA has released a white paper detailing how airlines and airports could use smart contracts for shared control of data.

The paper outlines research carried out by SITA, along with British Airways and Heathrow, Geneva and Miami International airports, into smart contracts residing on a blockchain.

In its research on the applicability of the technology for the air transport industry, SITA built a private permissioned blockchain, called FlightChain, that stores flight information and uses smart contracts to judge potentially conflicting data.

The paper looks at "key lessons" learned regarding governance, system security and system performance, scalability and reliability, it says.

The research also examined the use of both public and private blockchain networks for the air transport industry. The work looked at the potential of using both ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric as its basis.

On a concluding note, the SITA paper states that, with blockchain "still early in the technology lifecycle," its "immaturity" makes it complicated to deploy across air industry networks.

However, SITA indicated it aims to add more airlines and airports to the FlightChain trial in future to get a more complete data set, and plans to identify a business model to fund its operations.

Last year SITA developed a proof-of-concept focused on digital identity in partnership with blockchain startup ShoCard, aiming to streamline the airline verification of passenger identities and facilitate real-time data flows at the airport.

Airport image via Shutterstock

November 08, 2017

Thanks to another bug in Parity, a user accidentally freezes up to a million of other people’s Ether

By Christoph Bergmann - November 08, 2017 (

Lightning never strikes in the same place twice? No way! After a Bug in the multisig contract of Parity caused Ethereum users to lose around $30 million in July, history repeats itself; another bug freezes ether with a value of $150-300 million on November 7.

As often with Ethereum, it is not so easy to understand what just happened. Parity announced on its blog that they discovered a critical bug. They found a vulnerability in the “Parity Wallet library contract of the standard multi-sig contract.” All users, which used this contract to store digital assets since July 20, are profoundly affected.

If we dig deeper into the story, it gets adventurous. There has been a library contract, which could be transformed into a standard multisig wallet and get possessed by any user. One person did this, by accident, and activated the “suicide” function of the contract. The mishap wiped out the whole code of the library, which turned every single multisig contract which used the library unusable.

In other words, every single digital asset, be it ether, be it some token, can’t be moved. How much value is affected, cannot be said for certain. A list estimates around 500,000 ether, some social media chatter mentions one million ether. According to Parity, the circulating numbers can’t be confirmed. But it’s not the worst bet to say that at least $100 million and at worst more than $300 million are destroyed. A significant part of it is the Polkadot funds, which have been collected by Parity itself.

What exactly happened? And how, and why? The precise explanation is bold. Christoph Jentzsch of helped via Twitter to understand what happened on November 7 with Parity.

With the programming language Solidity, you can write smart contracts for Ethereum. One of these contracts is the multisig contract, which allows for defining the rule that funds on the contract can only be transferred if a given number of parties signs a transaction. Thanks to the flexibility of Ethereum’s smart contract system, you can customize these contracts way more freely than with Bitcoin. For example, the standard multisig contract of the main client Geth allows you to define a threshold of an amount, which can be transferred daily, and only when it is exceeded, a second party is needed to co-sign.

So far, so good. However, the Parity wallet created a library contract for the multisig contract. Like other libraries you know from other software, this helps to reduce complexity in the application by referring to a shared library of code. In itself, it is not a bad idea. But Parity made this library itself a contract on the Ethereum blockchain. And like every contract, it has a state, which can only be altered under given rules.

The problem was that these rules had a bug. The bug allowed any user to deploy a certain function which made him the possessor of the contract. As such, he was able to change the state. So did the user devops199, according to himself, by accident. This was the first part of the disaster.

The second part begins with that Ethereum contracts can have a “suicide” function. This enables them to kill itself, which has its merits, for example, when the contract is broken or just no longer needed, and you want to purge it from the blockchain. However, it can also have devastating consequences. Devops199 activated the suicide function on the Parity multisig library contract. As he says, just for fun, and without the intention of destroying anything. So the suicide function wiped the whole code inside the library contract.

The users needed some time to realize what had happened. The state of the multisig contracts, with which Parity users stored assets, is unaffected. It still contains the whole fund. However, when you try to change the state of these contracts, they refer to the library contracts to execute a function, like a transfer. And since the library contract has no longer any content, the multisig contracts are unable to execute any function. Every single asset, which has been stored with the Parity multisig contract, is frozen.

The only option to recover the funds would be a hard fork which changes the state of the library contract; if this is possible without creating another Ethereum Classic or doing severe harm to Ethereum’s reputation, is doubtful. Hence, some in the community are for such a hard fork; some are against. Maybe Ethereum has to bite the bullet, this time, and perhaps this is part of a blockchain’s coming of age.

October 27, 2017

Ethereum - A Next-Generation Cryptocurrency and Decentralized Application Platform

By Vitalik Buterin - January 23, 2014 (


The author of this article, Vitalik Buterin, is also the founder of Ethereum, and this article is intended as an expository piece and not a review.

Over the past year, there has been an increasingly large amount of discussion around so-called “Bitcoin 2.0″ protocols – alternative cryptographic networks that are inspired by Bitcoin, but which intend to make the underlying technology usable for far more than just currency. The earliest implementation of this idea was Namecoin, a Bitcoin-like currency created in 2010 which would be used for decentralized domain name registration. More recently, we have seen the emergence of colored coins, allowing users to create their own currencies on the Bitcoin network, and more advanced protocols like Mastercoin, Bitshares and Counterparty which intend to provide features such as financial derivatives, savings wallets and decentralized exchange. However, up until this point all of the protocols that have been invented have been specialized, attempting to offer detailed feature sets targeted toward specific industries or applications usually financial in nature. Now, a group of developers including myself have come up with a project that takes the opposite track: a cryptocurrency network that intends to be as generalized as possible, allowing anyone to create specialized applications on top for almost any purpose imaginable. The project: Ethereum.

Cryptocurrency Protocols Are Like Onions…

One common design philosophy among many cryptocurrency 2.0 protocols is the idea that, just like the internet, cryptocurrency design would work best if protocols split off into different layers. Under this strain of thought, Bitcoin is to be thought of as a sort of TCP/IP of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and other next-generation protocols can be built on top of Bitcoin much like we have SMTP for email, HTTP for webpages and XMPP for chat all on top of TCP as a common underlying data layer.

So far, the three main protocols that have followed this model are colored coins, Mastercoin and Counterparty. The way the colored coins protocol works is simple. First, in order to create colored coins, a user tags specific bitcoins as having a special meaning; for example, if Bob is a gold issuer, he may wish to tag some set of bitcoins and say that each satoshi represents 0.1 grams of gold redeemable from him. The protocol then tracks those bitcoins through the blockchain, and in that way it is possible to calculate who owns them at any time.

Mastercoin and Counterparty are somewhat more abstract; they use the Bitcoin blockchain to store data, so a Mastercoin or Counterparty transaction is a Bitcoin transaction, but the protocols interpret the transactions in a completely different way. One can have two Mastercoin transactions, one sending 1 MSC and the other 100000 MSC, but from the point of view of a Bitcoin user that does not know how that Mastercoin protocol works they both look like small transactions sending 0.0006 BTC each; the Mastercoin-specific metadata is encoded in the transaction outputs. A Mastercoin client then needs to search the Bitcoin blockchain for Mastercoin transactions in order to determine the current Mastercoin balance sheet.

I personally have had the privilege of talking directly to many of the originators of the colored coins and Mastercoin protocol, and have participated considerably in the development of both projects. However, over about two months of research and particpation, what I eventually came to realize is that, while the underlying idea of having such high-level protocols on top of low-level protocols is laudable, there are fundamental flaws in the implementations, as they stand today, that may well prevent the projects from ever gaining anything more than a small amount of traction.

The reason is not that the ideas behind the protocols themselves are bad; the ideas are excellent, and the response of the community alone is proof that they are trying to do something that is very much needed. Rather, the reason is that the low-level protocol that they are trying to build their high-level protocols on top of, Bitcoin, is simply not cut out for the task. This is not to say that Bitcoin is bad, or is not a revolutionary invention; as a protocol for storing and transferring value, Bitcoin is excellent. However, as far as being an effective low-level protocol is concerned, Bitcoin is less effective; rather than being like a TCP on top of which one can build HTTP, Bitcoin is like SMTP: a protocol that is good at its intended task (in SMTP’s case email, in Bitcoin’s case money), but not particularly good as a foundation for anything else.

The specific failure of Bitcoin is particularly concentrated in one place: scalability. Bitcoin itself is as scalable as a cryptocurrency can be; even if the blockchain balloons to over a terabyte, there is a protocol called “simplified payment verification”, described in the Bitcoin whitepaper that allows “light clients” with only a few megabytes of bandwidth and storage to securely determine whether or not they have received transactions. With colored coins and Mastercoin, however, this possibility disappears. The reason is this. In order to determine what color a colored coin is, you need to not just use Bitcoin simplified payment verification to prove that it exists; you also need to trace it all the way back to its genesis, and do an SPV check each step of the way. Sometimes, the backward scan is exponential; and with metacoin protocols there is no way to know anything at all without verifying every single transaction.

And this is what Ethereum intends to fix. Ethereum does not intend to be a Swiss Army knife protocol with hundreds of features to suit every need; instead, Ethereum aims to be a superior foundational protocol, and allow other decentralized applications to build on top of it instead of Bitcoin, giving them more tools to work with and allowing them to gain the full benefits of Ethereum’s scalability and efficiency.

Contacts, Not Just For Difference

At the time that Ethereum was being developed, there was a large amount of interest in allowing financial contracts on top of cryptocurrencies; the basic type of contract being a “contract for difference”. In a contract for difference, two parties agree to put in some amount of money, and then get money out in a proportion that depends on the value of some underlying asset. For example, a CFD might have Alice put in $1000, Bob put in $1000, and then after 30 days the blockchain would automatically return to Alice $1000 plus $100 for every dollar that the LTC/USD price went up during that time period and send Bob the rest. These contracts allow people to speculate on assets at high leverage, or alternatively protect themselves from cryptocurrency volatility by canceling out their exposure, without any centralized exchange.

At this point, however, it is clear that contracts for difference are really only one special case of a much more general concept: contracts for formula. Instead of having the contract take in $x for Alice, $y from Bob, and return to Alice $x plus an additional $z for every dollar that some given ticker went up, a contract should be able to return to A an amount of funds based on any mathematical formula, allowing contracts of arbitrary complexity. If the formula allows random data as inputs, these generalized CFDs can even be used to implement a sort of peer-to-peer gambling.

Ethereum takes this idea and pushes it one step further. Instead of contracts being agreements between two parties that start and end, contracts in Ethereum are like a sort of autonomous agent simulated by the blockchain. Each Ethereum contract has its own internal scripting code, and the scripting code is activated every time a transaction is sent to it. The scripting language has access to the transaction’s value, sender and optional data fields, as well some block data and its own internal memory, as inputs, and can send transactions. To make a CFD, Alice would create a contract and seed it with $1000 worth of cryptocurrency, and then wait for Bob to accept the contract by sending a transction containing $1000 as well. The contract would then be programmed to start a timer, and after 30 days Alice or Bob would be able to send a small transaction to the contract to activate it again and release the funds.

Aside from this narrow contract-for-difference model, however, the whitepaper outlines many other transaction types that will become possible with Ethereum scripting, of which a few include:

Code example of an Ethereum currency contract, written in a high-level language.

if tx.value < 100 * block.basefee: stopif contract.memory[1000]: from = tx.sender to =[0] value =[1] if to <= 1000: stop if contract.memory[from] < value: stop contract.memory[from] = contract.memory[from] - value contract.memory[to] = contract.memory[to] + valueelse: contract.memory[mycreator] = 10000000000000000 contract.memory[1000] = 1

Multisignature escrows, of a similar spirit to the Bitcoin arbitration service Bitrated, but with more complex rules than Bitcoin. For example, there will be no need for the signers to pass around partially signed transactions manually; people can authorize a withdrawal asynchronously over the blockchain one at a time and then have the transaction finalized automatically once enough people make their authorizations.

Savings accounts - one interesting setup works as follows. Suppose that Alice wants to store a large amount of money, but does not want to risk losing everything if her private key is lose or stolen. She makes a contract with Bob, a semi-trustworthy bank, with the following rules: Alice is allowed to withdraw up to 1% per day, Alice with Bob approval can withdrawn any amount, and Bob alone can withdraw up to 0.05% per day. Normally, Alice will only need small amounts at a time, and if Alice wants more she can prove her identity to Bob and make the withdrawal. If Alice's private key gets stolen, she can run to Bob and move the funds into another contract before the thief gets away with more than 1% of the funds. If Alice loses her private key, Bob will eventually be able to recover her funds. And if Bob turns out to be evil, Alice can withdraw her own funds twenty times faster than he can. In short, all of the security of traditional banking, but with almost none of the trust.

Peer-to-peer gambling - any kind of peer-to-peer gambling protocol can be implemented on top of Ethereum. A very basic protocol would simply be a contract for difference on random data such as a block hash.

Creating your own currency - using Ethereum's internal memory store, you can create an entire new currency inside of Ethereum. These new currencies can be constructed to interact with each other, have a decentralized exchange, or any other kind of advanced features.

This is the advantage of Ethereum code: because the scripting language is designed to have no restrictions except for a fee system, essentially any kind of rules can be encoded inside of it. One can even have an entire company manage its savings on the blockchain, with a contract saying that, for example, 60% of the current shareholders of a company are needed to agree to move any funds (and perhapps 30% can move a maximum of 1% per day). Other, less traditionally capitalistic, structures are also possible; one idea is for a democratic organization with the only rule being that two thirds of the existing members of a group must agree to invite another member.

Beyond the Financial

The financial applications, however, only scratch the surface of what Ethereum, and cryptographic protocols on top of Ethereum, can do. While Ethereum's financial applications may be what initially excites many people in the cryptocurrency community, the long-term promise is arguably in the ways that Ethereum can work together with other, non-financial, peer-to-peer protocols. One of the main problems that non-financial peer-to-peer protocols have faced so far is the lack of incentive - that is to say, unlike centralized for-profit platforms, there is no financial reason to participate. In some cases, participation is in some sense its own reward; it is for this reason that people continue to write open source software, contribute to Wikipedia, and make comments on forums and write blog posts. In the context of peer-to-peer protocols, however, participation is often not a "fun" activity in any meaningful sense; rather, it consists of putting in a large quantity of resources, letting a daemon run in the background potentially hogging CPU and battery power, and forgetting about it.

For example, there have already for a long time been data protocols such as Freenet that essentially provide everyone with decentralized uncensorable static content hosting; in practice, however, Freenet is very slow, and few people contribute resources. File sharing protocols all suffer from the same problem: although altruism is good enough for spreading popular commercial blockbusters around, it becomes markedly less effective for those with less mainstream preferences. Thus, perversely, the peer-to-peer nature of file sharing may actually be helping the centralization of entertainment and media production, not hindering it. All of these problems, however, can potentially be solved if we add incentivization - empowering people to build not just nonprofit side projects, but also businesses and livelihoods, around participating in the network.

  • Incentivized data storage - essentially, a decentralized Dropbox. The idea works as follows: if a user wants to have a 1GB file backed up by the network, they would construct a data structure known as a Merkle tree out of the data. They would then put the root of the tree, along with 10 ether, into a contract and upload the file onto another specialized network that nodes wishing to rent out their hard drive space would listen for messages on. Every day, the contract would automatically pick a random branch of the tree (eg. "left -> right -> left -> left -> left -> right -> left"), ending at a block of the file, and give 0.01 ether to the first node to provide that branch. Nodes would store the entire file to maximize their chance of getting the reward.
  • BitMessage and Tor - Bitmessage is a next-generation email protocol that is both fully decentralized and encrypted, allowing anyone to send messages to any other Bitmessage user securely without relying on any third parties except for the network. However, Bitmessage has one large usability flaw: instead of sending messages to human-friendly email addresses, like "myname@email, you need to send to garbled 34-character Bitmessage addresses (eg. "BM-BcbRqcFFSQUUmXFKsPJgVQPSiFA3Xash"). Ethereum contracts offer a solution: people can register their names on a special Ethereum contract, and Bitmessage clients can query the Ethereum blockchain to get the 34-character Bitmessage address associated with any name behind the scenes. The online anonymizing network Tor suffers from the same problems, and thus can also benefit from this solution.
  • Identity and Reputation Systems - once you can register your name on the blockchain, the logical next step is obvious: have a web of trust on the blockchain. Webs of trust are a key part of an effective peer to peer communication infrastructure: you don't just want to know that a given public key refers to a given person; you also want to know that the person is trustworthy in the first place. The solution is to use social networks: if you trust A, A trusts B, and B trusts C, then there is a pretty good chance that you can trust C, at least to some extent. Ethereum can serve as the data layer for a fully decentralized reputation system - and potentially ultimately a fully decentralized marketplace.

Many of the above applications consist of actual peer-to-peer protocols and projects that are already well under development; in those cases, we intend to establish partnerships with as many of these projects as we can, and help fund them in exchange for bringing their value into the Ethereum ecosystem. We want to help not just the cryptocurrency community, but also the peer to peer community as a whole, including file sharing, torrents, data storage and mesh networking. We believe that there are many projects, especially in the non-financial area, that can potentially bring great value to the community, but for which development is underfunded precisely because they lack an opportunity to effectively introduce a financial component; perhaps Ethereum may be what ultimately pushes dozens of these projects to the next stage.

Why are all of these applications possible on top of Ethereum? The answer lies in the currency's internal programming language. An analogy here may be made with the internet. Back in 1996, the web was nothing but HTML, and all people could do with it was serve static web pages on sites like Geocities. Then, people decided that there was a great need for people to submit forms in HTML, so HTML added a forms feature. This was like a "colored coins" of web protocols: try to solve a specific problem, but do it on top of a weak protocol without looking at the larger picture. Soon, however, we came up with Javascript, a programming language inside the web browser. And it was Javascript that solved the problem: because Javascript is a universal, Turing-complete programming language, it can be used to build apps of arbitrary complexity; Gmail, Facebook and even Bitcoin wallets have all been made with the language. And this was not because the Javascript developers decided that they wanted people to build Gmail, Facebook, and Bitcoin wallets; they just wanted a programming language. What we can do with the language is up to our own imaginations. And that is the spirit that we want to bring to Ethereum. Ethereum does not intend to be the end of all cryptocurrency innovation; it intends to be the beginning.

Further Innovations

Along with its main feature of a Turing-complete, universal scripting language, Ethereum will also have a number of other improvements over existing cryptocurrency:

  • Fees - Ethereum contracts will regulate its Turing-complete functionality and prevent abusive transactions such as memory hogs and infinite loop scripts by instituting a transaction fee for each computational step of script execution. More expensive operations, such as storage accesses and cryptographic operations, will have higher fees, and there will also be a fee for every item of storage that a contract fills up. To encourage contracts to clean up after themselves, if a contract reduces the amount of storage that it uses a negative fee will be charged; in fact, there is a special SUICIDE opcode to clear a contract and send all funds and the hefty negative fee back to its creator.
  • Mining algorithms - there has been a lot of interest into making cryptocurrencies whose mining is resistant against specialized hardware, allowing ordinary users with commodity hardware to participate without any capital investment and helping to avoid centralization. So far, the main antidote has been Scrypt, a mining algorithm that requires a large amount of both computational power and memory to compute; however, Scrypt is not memory-hard enough, and there are companies building specialized devices for it. We have come up with Dagger, a prototype proof of work that is even more memory-hard than Scrypt, as well as prototype proof-of-stake algorithms such as Slasher that get around the issue of mining entirely. Ultimately, however, we intend to host a contest, similar to the contests that determined the standards for AES and SHA3, where we invite research groups from universities around the world to devise the best possible commodity-hardware-friendly possible mining algorithm.
  • GHOST - GHOST is a new block propagation protocol pioneered by Aviv Zohar and Yonatan Sompolinsky that allows blockchains to have much faster block confirmation times, ideally in the range of 3-30 seconds, without running into the issues of centralization and high stale rate that fast block confirmations normally bring. Ethereum is the first major currency to integrate a simplified single-level version of GHOST as part of its protocol.

The Plan

Ethereum is potentially a massive and wide-reaching undertaking, and will take months to develop. With that in mind, the currency will be released in multiple stages. The first stage, the release of the whitepaper, has already happened. Forums, a wiki and a blog have been set up, and anyone is free to visit them and set up an account and comment on the forums. On January 25, a 60-day fundraiser will launch at the confrence in Miami, during which anyone will be able to purchase ether, Ethereum's internal currency, for BTC much like the Mastercoin fundraiser; the price will be 1000 ether for 1 BTC, although early investors will get roughly a 2x benefit to compensate for the increased risk that they're taking for participating in the project earlier. The fundraiser participants will not just get ether; there will also be a number of additional rewards, likely including free tickets to conferences, a spot to put 32 bytes into the genesis block, and for the top donors even the ability to name three sub-units of the currency (eg. the equivalent of the "microbitcoin" in BTC).

The issuance of Ethereum will not be any single mechanism; instead, a compromise approach combining the benefits of multiple approaches will be used. The issuance model will work as follows:

  • Ether will be released in a fundraiser at the price of 1000-2000 ether per BTC, with earlier funders getting a better price to compensate for the increased uncertainty of participating at an earlier stage. The minimum funding amount will be 0.01 BTC. Suppose that X ether gets released in this way.
  • 0.225X ether will be allocated to the fiduciary members and early contributors who substantially participated in the project before the start of the fundraiser. This share will be stored in a time-lock contract; about 40% of it will be spendable after one year, 70% after two years and 100% after 3 years.
  • 0.05X ether will be allocated to a fund to use to pay expenses and rewards in ether between the start of the fundraiser and the launch of the currency.
  • 0.225X ether will be allocated as a long-term reserve pool to pay expenses, salaries and rewards in ether after the launch of the currency.
  • 0.4X ether will be mined per year forever after that point.

There is an important distinction compared to Bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies: here, the eventual supply is unlimited. The "permanent linear inflation" model is designed to make ether neither inflationary nor deflationary; the lack of a supply cap is intended to dampen some of the speculative and wealth inequality effects of existing currencies, but at the same time the linear, rather than traditionally exponential, inflation model will mean that the effective inflation rate tends to zero over time. Additionally, because the initial currency supply will not start from zero, the currency supply growth in the first eight years will actually be slower than Bitcoin, giving fundraiser participants and early adopters a chance to benefit substantially in the medium term.

At some point in February, we will release a centralized testnet - a server which anyone can use to send transactions and create contracts. Soon after that, the decentralized testnet will come, which we will use to test different mining algorithms and make sure that the peer to peer daemon works and is secure, and take measurements to look for optimizations to the scripting language. Finally, once we are sure that the protocol and the client is secure, we will release the genesis block, and allow mining to begin.

Looking Forward

Since Ethereum includes a Turing-complete scripting language, it can be mathematically proven that it can do essentially anything that a Bitcoin-like blockchain-based cryptocurrency potentially can do. But there are still problems that the protocol, as it stands today, leaves unresolved. For example, Ethereum offers no solution for the fundamental scalability problem in all blockchain-based cryptocurrencies - namely, the fact that every full node must store the entire balance sheet and verify every transaction. Ethereum's concept of a separate "state tree" and "transaction list", borrowed from Ripple, mitigates this to some extent, but nevertheless no fundamental breakthrough is mine. For that, technology like Eli ben Sasson's Secure Computational Integrity and Privacy (SCIP), now under development, will be required.

Additionally, Ethereum offers no improvements on traditional proof-of-work mining with all its flaws, and proof of excellence and Ripple-style consensus are left unexplored. If it turns out that proof of stake or some other proof of work algorithm is a better solution, then future cryptocurrencies may use proof of stake algorithms like MC2 and Slasher instead. If there is room for an Ethereum 2.0, it is in these areas that it the improvements will lie. And ultimately, Ethereum is an open-ended project; if the project gets enough funding, we may even be the ones to release Ethereum 2.0 ourselves, carrying over the original account balances onto an even further improved network. Ultimately, just as is our slogan for the currency itself, the only limit is our imagination.

October 18, 2017

Connecting the luxury fine art industry with the modern digital economy

By Rebecca Campbell - October 18, 2017 (

Latest figures from the Tetaf art market report, released by the European Fine Art Foundation, show that in 2016 global art market sales amounted to an estimated $45 billion, up 1.7 percent from 2015. The U.S. remains the largest country in the world art market, with 29.5 percent of the market share, followed by the U.K. and China with 24 percent and 18 percent, respectively.

Yet, while the industry remains a profitable one, it is slowly changing. One that is considered difficult to enter and resistant to change, a few sector players are aiming to bridge the modern digital world with the luxury arts sector.

Two art galleries are taking a blockchain and cryptocurrency approach. Eleesa Dadiani, is the founder and owner of Dadiani Fine Art in Mayfair, London. Marcelo Garcia Casil is the co-founder and CEO of Maecenas, a decentralized art gallery that aims to democratize access to fine art investment.

Dadiani & Partners

In July 2017, Dadiani’s modern fine art gallery became the first in the U.K. to accept seven different cryptocurrencies as payment: bitcoin, ethereum, ethereum classic, litecoin, ripple, dash and NEM.

Dadiani told Bitcoin Magazine that the decision to introduce cryptocurrencies wasn’t an instinctively demand-driven decision; rather, it stemmed from a desire to encourage demand and merge the two markets together.

“On a practical level, introducing cryptocurrency will broaden the market, bringing a new type of buyer to art and luxury,” she said.

Through her recently launched Dadiani & Partners — the U.K.’s first and only luxury asset and commodity exchange for cryptocurrencies — Dadiani is hoping to unlock the potential of the digital currency market for high net-worth (HNW) investors and consumers. Acting as an intermediary, Dadiani & Partners will enable HNWs a platform to purchase luxury goods in digital currency. Dadiani says that there has been an increase in demand with the number of people seeking the purchase of assets in cryptocurrency.

“Many bitcoin millionaires are unable to cash in their digital currency as the banks won’t convert large amounts of cryptocurrency for cash,” she added.

Passionate about cryptocurrencies, and the blockchain that underpins them, Dadiani believes that they will have a profound impact in every sphere of business and our everyday lives.

“The technology will allow us to reclaim power, paving the way for decentralized, peer-to-peer transactions without the intervention of an intermediary,” she added. “This is a revolution that goes far beyond the art market.”

Since introducing the acceptance of digital currencies the art gallery has sold a number of pieces. Going forward, all of the art, across all the exhibitions, will be available to purchase in the available digital currencies. Dadiani says that the artists are onboard and keen for their pieces to be sold this way.

“Any of the pieces we sell can still be purchased via conventional fiat currency, but purchasing via cryptocurrency enables buyers to purchase peer-to-peer, person-to-person, without the intervention of a centralized authority,” Dadiani said.

It’s hoped that by further globalizing the business and broadening their customer base, Dadiani Fine Art will appeal to bitcoin millionaires who are looking to purchase assets via cryptocurrencies.

“Digital currency is being embraced by people of all ages, creed and class, and as it’s happening in other sectors, there is no reason why the gap between the modern digital world with the luxury sector cannot be bridged.”


Investment in the art world can be an expensive proposition. Named after Gaius Maecenas, an ancient Roman patron of the arts, Maecenas, is attempting to remove this barrier by letting anyone buy shares of fine art. Through its blockchain-driven platform, Maecenas divides artwork ownership into fragments and connects art owners with investors where shares are bought and sold.

“By turning masterpieces into tokenized tradable assets, Maecenas democratizes access to fine art by letting a much wider audience invest in multi-million dollar artworks which would otherwise be out of reach,” Casil said to Bitcoin Magazine.

Buying access to the artwork’s investment value does not mean buying access to the actual artwork itself, however. According to Maecenas, art pieces are not put on display; rather, they are held in purpose-built art storage facilities, ensuring the work is safe and looked after. If there is a demand in the future, then they may introduce an art-leasing facility where art lovers can temporarily hold the piece of art for a fee. The fee would then be distributed among the shareholders as income.

By injecting liquidity and transparency into the fine art market, the platform claims to be adding aspects to the sector that have been missing. Determining a fair price of an illiquid asset is now made possible via the blockchain through the conversion of small and liquid tradable financial units, creating tamper-proof, digital certificates denoting ownership. These are similar to shares of a company and can be traded on an open exchange.

Through the implementation of a Dutch auction process, Maecenas permits investors to submit private bids stating how many shares of the artwork they want to own and what price they’re willing to pay for them.

“The Dutch auction smart contract then handles all the bids and uses a well-known algorithm to determine the optimal price for the artwork shares,” Casil added. “This process is transparent and discourages price manipulation.”

Maecenas’ ART utility token functions as a clearing and settlement mechanism for all transactions of artwork on the Maecenas ecosystem. Participating in Dutch auctions, leasing artwork or performing any other sensitive platform operation is handled via smart contracts that require ART tokens to operate, says Casil.

“In the case of the auctions themselves, the token represents the investor bid and commitment, and a dollar value equivalent of the tokens is escrowed in the contract for the duration of the auction.”

For instance, if an investor wants to bid $50,000 for an artwork, and ART is worth $2, then 25,000 ART tokens must be submitted to the smart contract to reflect the bid.

To ensure the work is authentic, Maecenas has an internal team that checks the full provenance of the artwork including certificates of authenticity, condition reports, insurance policies, certificates of storage and valuation reports. Independent reputable experts will also assess and appraise the artwork. The documents produced during the due-diligence process are then protected and stored securely on the blockchain.

Maecenas recently completed their token crowdsale which raised 50,744 ETH. They are aiming to launch their platform in the first quarter of 2018.