Anonymous Peer-to-Peer Prediction Exchange on Ethereum

Hello! We are Roc, Bakunawa, Hakawai and Grootslang from the Ninja team. We are building an electronic prediction exchange on the blockchain. Here’s why we did it, and how it works!

Join the conversation at https://t.me/ninja_org.

Introduction

Online betting is run almost exclusively by bookmakers that serve as trusted third parties. As is typically the case, the users suffer from this “centralized trusted thirty party problem”:

  • Bookmakers set the odds that always favor them (they always win)
  • Bookmakers enjoy a hefty 5% — 30% margin on every bet
  • Bets are reversible, and winnings are uncertain
  • Completely anonymity is not possible
  • Fraud is unavoidable, and accepted for being so
  • Single point of failure — what if the bookmaker disappears?
  • Betting is considered gambling — disproportionately risky, largely due to the centralized party’s lack of transparency

These problems multiply by 10 when it comes to betting offline, so it is little wonder that users are increasingly taking the lesser of two evils.

The solution: an electronic prediction system that replaces reluctant trust with cryptographic proof, allowing any two anonymous parties from anywhere in the world to bet directly against each other without the need for a trusted third party.

The Anonymous Peer-to-Peer Electronic Prediction Exchange (PEX) allows parties to directly bet against each other without going through a central authority or bookmaker. The management of bets and the settlement of winnings are carried out collectively by the blockchain network, protecting users from any single point of failure. PEX has unique properties that allow exciting use cases, previously impossible under any traditional betting mechanism.

It is our hope that PEX will change today’s perception of betting — often needlessly portrayed as a shady gambling game, due mostly to reliance on centralized parties looking for unethical, cutthroat ways of making a profit.

PEX directly challenges the shadowy gambling industry with an open, transparent prediction market exchange. This exchange will be where people get together and predict like they have always done, on future events in sports, politics, science, markets, climate, and everything under the sun — as individuals who are invested in the world we are building naturally do.

What is PEX?

Running on top of the Ethereum blockchain, PEX is an anonymous peer-to-peer decentralized prediction exchange that provides a simple way for anyone to:

  • Place a Support Order (Ask) or an Against Order (Bid) on an outcome
  • Be a Market Maker (Lay the odds) or a Market Taker (Back the odds)
  • Be a Creator of their own Prediction Market
  • Collect winnings instantly (guaranteed under a Smart Contract)
Place a bet.

Outcomes as tradable assets. Odds as prices.

In a stock exchange, the tradeable asset is share, and traders bet on share unit prices (e.g. sell 100 shares of Apple at $200 each).

In a coin exchange, the tradeable asset is coin, and traders bet on coin unit prices (e.g. buy 2 Bitcoin at $7000 each).

Similarly, in a decentralized prediction exchange like PEX, the tradeable asset is outcome of an event, and traders bet on the odds of that outcome. They can bet for the outcome (support it), or bet against it. For example: an outcome of the match Brazil vs. Spain could be that “Brazil wins”. John can bet on that outcome with odds of 2.0. Mary can bet on that outcome with odds of 2.25. Peter can bet against that outcome (“Brazil loses” or “Brazil draws”) with odds of 1.9.

A different type of exchange.

PEX vs. Traditional betting

Importantly, PEX does not accept bets and hold stakes, but instead matches the users who support the outcome with the users who are against the outcome. The stakes are held in an Escrow smart contract.

The Escrow smart contract is unstoppable. It runs exactly as programmed — to forward its escrow balance to the winner at the end — without any possibility of downtime, fraud or third-party interference. Once both parties commit to a bet, it is irreversible. Payment is guaranteed and instant.

The entire process happens without any party revealing their identities. It’s 100% anonymous.

All this happens without a central authority or bookmaker. It’s carried out collectively by all the nodes of the blockchain.

This is why you should bet on the blockchain.

How does PEX work?

PEX is different from what you know. It also provides more autonomy than what you know. Just as importantly, it is designed to be easy to create bet markets and place bet orders.

Step 1: Get Ether

If you don’t have ETH yet, you have a choice of buying ETH directly in PEX with your credit card. You can also buy ETH from popular coin exchanges like Coinbase or Binance.

PEX will support other cryptocurrencies soon.

Easily buy ETH in-app.

Step 2: Top up your PEX Wallet

Transfer the ETH you just bought into the PEX Wallet, so that you can start placing bets with your ETH. The PEX Wallet is completely decentralized. The private key is held on your phone and only you can access it. Only you can transfer and receive ETH.

The neatly organized PEX wallet.

Step 3: Place a bet

First, pick a prediction market that interests you (i.e. Brazil — Spain), the outcome (i.e. “Brazil wins”) and the side (i.e. support or bet against the outcome).

Then enter the stake you want to bet (i.e. 1 ETH) and the odds (i.e. 1/2.25). The stake will be put into an escrow smart contract. The PEX Matching Engine will then find another order that bets against the odds you set.

That’s it.

Our ETH is on Argentina for this one.

Step 4: Wait for the report

Once the event ends, the reporter of the market will report the result within the reporting window (set by the market creator). Generally, you should expect to have the report within minutes. If you win, your winnings will be automatically transferred from the escrow smart contract to your account.

May the odds be ever in your favour.

Create your own prediction markets

While most users will place orders in existing markets, PEX allows anyone to create a prediction market about any future event — be it in sports, politics, science, or literally any other aspect of modern life. You, as the market creator, can set the market fee, the market closing time, the reporter of the outcome, and the reporting deadline.

PEX Architecture

The core components of the PEX architecture are:

  • Prediction Market

PEX allows anyone to create a prediction market about any future event. This can be in any field — sports, politics, science, lifestyle, even weather and so on. The only limit here is your creativity. Each market is part of an on-chain smart contract. It has its own order book, makers and takers.

  • Order Book

Each Prediction Market has its own order book. PEX Order Book manages all Support Outcome Orders (ask) and all Against Outcome Order (bid). It aggregates all orders with the same price (odds) into an entry on the order book.

The order book.
  • Matching Engine

PEX uses a first-in, first-out (FIFO) order book. Orders are executed in price-time priority. This means that it will match by price first, and if there are two orders with the same price, then it will match by time.

In some cases, the amount placed on either side is uneven, and the order will be partially filled. The remaining order will be matched with the next best price-then-time in the order book until the order is completely filled.

Your perfect match.
  1. A user places a Support Outcome Order into the Open Order Book
  2. Another user place an Against Outcome Order into the Open Order Book
  3. Matching Engine finds a match and moves both Orders from the Open Order Book to Matched Order Book
  • REST API

PEX REST API has endpoints for order management, account management, and public market data.

  • Web Socket

PEX Web Socket feed provides real-time market data updates for orders and trades.

Privacy & Anonymity

The privacy afforded to the user is a deliberate design.

  • No downloads

PEX is not a mobile app. It’s freely accessible on the mobile web. While native mobile apps sometimes have better UI/UX, they must be hosted by centralized app stores like Android Play Store or Apple App store. In our view, a more attractive UI is not an acceptable tradeoff for compromised privacy.

  • No sign ups

The need for a password, email or phone number is obsolete. PEX doesn’t collect your personal information. You can use PEX with complete privacy. When you first open PEX, a public/private keypair will be created silently in the background and stored locally on your phone. The public key acts as your anonymous username, and the private key is your password. PEX doesn’t have access to your private key — only you do.

Note that in the Profile Settings, we provide an option for the user to enter their email address. The purpose is not to collect your email, but for a better experience, especially in use cases related to payments. It’s completely optional.

Note also that there is an option to backup your private key in Settings. We highly recommend doing so.

  • Anonymous prediction

PEX is built on top of Ethereum, which is a public blockchain, but privacy is maintained by keeping your public key anonymous. While the public can see that someone is predicting on something, it’s almost impossible to find out who that someone is.

  • Anonymous order matching

Similar to stock and coin exchanges, the order book, sizes, odds, and time are public, but the order book doesn’t disclose who the order makers and takers are. The order book records the bet anonymous parties place against each other, based on their opposing predictions of an event. Once the event concludes and the report is available, the escrowed funds are transferred automatically to the winner.

Fees

There are two main types of fees: winning fee and network fee.

The winning fee is set by the market creator, as a percentage of the total winnings of that market. It’s entirely up to the market creator to set their own fees. Since PEX allows anyone to create a prediction market, we expect that the fees will be very competitive among markets. This is the best case scenario for users.

The network fee is 20% of the creator’s winning fee. This pays for engineering, infrastructure, and maintenance of the network. At the beginning, this will be undertaken by the Core Ninja Team. But we expect that over time we will decentralize the team and design a mechanism that opens it up to the entire community.

Optionally, we are considering a referral fee for the market creator. The referral pool could be 10% — 20% of the winning fee, which will help in adding a lot more users to the market.

Settlement

The deeper we dive into building PEX, the more it seems that we have to initially strike a compromise between speed and decentralization, while always retaining security. In relation to settlement, which requires the report of the outcome to be available immediately after each event (i.e. a sports event), we will opt for speed, for now.

In the first release, the Core Ninja Team will assume the reporting role and report the outcome of all events. We’re researching and designing a decentralized mechanism that will allow the community to report the outcomes.

Summary

PEX is a purely peer-to-peer version of electronic prediction that allows parties to bet directly against each other without going through a central authority or bookmaker. PEX is open-source; its design is public, nobody owns or controls PEX and everyone can take part.

PEX is open source at https://github.com/ninjadotorg.

Build PEX with us. Join the conversation at https://t.me/ninja_org.

And it actually works

Hey, thanks for reading. Ninja will go live on the testnet on 5 June! We’re excited to hear your thoughts. http://ninja.org