On June 25th APEX Network announced that we had met our most important developmental milestone to date — the launch of our initial mainnet technology. Following up on this announcement, and in keeping with the outline given of things to come now during phase 1, the CM team got together with CEO Jimmy Hu for a Q&A to get some more details on what lies ahead. Among subjects broached with Jimmy were enterprise pilots, Ledger integration and community testing of the public blockchain. We invite you all to read on to absorb some of Jimmy’s thoughts on the road ahead of us!
CM: Mainnet Phase 1 includes the release of screenshots of the Desktop Client for voter nodes. When can we expect these to be released?
Jimmy: It’s currently in development, however more urgently the developer team has been assessing the ledger integration as we find this has higher priority. Do note that I’m not saying the desktop client is not important, it’s still being produced according to schedule. Regarding the Ledger integration, it is necessary that we submit some preliminary information to the Ledger team so as to facilitate an orderly and lean communication line with the team. The Ledger integration is not a one sided process, it requires the cooperation of both parties.
CM: What about the Node Ecosystem documentation — can you share some details before it is officially released?
Jimmy: The dev team is currently reworking some aspects of the node ecosystem. While we originally thought it would remain roughly the same, we have decided to adjust some numbers. This will cause the release to take slightly longer, but we still expect it to be released within the next two weeks. It’s important to note that there will be no large changes in structure — some numbers will be adjusted, but not too much. In terms of node tiers, we may see a reduction of one tier just to make the structure more clear and user/company friendly. Do keep in mind that the aforementioned changes are not set in stone yet and are still subject to change. The development is an ongoing process, but this gives you some idea about the direction we’re heading. In addition to this and other details, the node ecosystem documentation will include more information on the data cloud nodes. We are all about user/company friendliness and adoption facilitation. Stay tuned for a release in the short term in any case!
CM: Is there an internal timeline for the different milestones in phase 1 or is it more of an ongoing process?
Jimmy: The information that is given in the mainnet article covers the most important releases to be expected during phase one. Appropriate priority will of course be given in cases where progress depends on third parties (the Ledger integration for instance).
CM: How has the testing of the mainnet technology gone so far? Are you happy with the external involvement so far in testing the tech?
Jimmy: Recently one of our admins Jay and tech ambassador Aldo successfully deployed supernodes and got them elected to production status, actively helping out the devs testing the chain — which I’m really happy with and proud of. To facilitate and support this process, we have decided to financially sponsor hosting services for node deployment for adamant community members who want to further assist the dev team in testing the mainnet technology. This allows the team to increasingly solidify the mainnet tech and improve the robustness of the chain.
Note: Jay’s experience while deploying the node can be read about here
Once the tokenswap is completed it will be entirely possible for community members to achieve production status and actively participate in securing the network (validating blocks). This might be contrary to earlier statements where we outlined that only ecosystem partners and certain early investors would be privy to production node participation, though we think that the main requirement to running a supernode should be the treshold of holding the necessary amount of CPX and being able to technically run a stable supernode. We are still optimizing our node ecosystem, though one of our main motivations is to involve the community on a high level.
Note: If you want to apply for a sponsored hosting service for running a node (limited number of spots), please contact one of our admins via our socials. A decent level of technical insight and willingness to commit the necessary time and effort is required.
CM: Why are the Supernode selections divided into two phases?
Jimmy: The Supernode technology is a core part of our mainnet technology. We have divided the selection process into 2 phases in order to be able to continuously upgrade the technology while we proceed with the selection of candidates. We definitely do no want to hurry this part.
Maintaining a steady target of 5 dApps before the end of 2019, we asked Jimmy to provide us some more details on certain enterprise pilots.
CM: You told us this company is looking to bring carbon assets and associated applications onto the blockchain. Could you tell us a bit more about this company?
Jimmy: Yes sure. Basically, Treasure Carbon is an asset trading company based out of Shanghai.
A carbon asset is first and foremost an intangible asset, it represents an amount of credits of carbon emissions you are able to use. So it definitely has utilitarian value. So each company has a maximum number of carbon credits per year and some companies don’t use them all up. So naturally there exists a market for those, as companies that have extra credits are looking to sell them to companies wanting to purchase extra. The main hurdles in this market is that there is no visibility in the market place (no price traceability), most transactions are being done OTC (Over The Counter — business to business transactions) and there is no transparency in prices. In a global perspective, we notice that every government is issuing different types of credits.
Basically Treasure Carbon wants to connect every single carbon asset to the blockchain, using real life carbon credits, and thus digitizing them on chain. It’s an existing company with 50 employees and tens of millions in transaction volume in carbon trading per year. While it’s not a large enterprise, carbon asset trading is a very good use case for APEX Network. It’s a well suited use case for blockchain technology as we hope to increase liquidity, transparency and price discovery.
CM: How did you come to an enterprise pilot initiative with this company?
Jimmy: Well, I personally know the management of the company and they have been wanting to do something like this for a long time. Naturally we offer the technology that fits their business needs so we’re in for a great cooperation.
They are looking to build three things on APEX Network. The first is a protocol that facilitates carbon asset mapping (tokenizing) and exchange functionality. The second is to build a decentralized application that will provide businesses a tool to work with. The third is to build a decentralized exchange that allows these businesses to buy and sell carbon credits while allowing them to gain transparency in prices.
CM: What are the benefits of pushing carbon credits onto a blockchain?
Jimmy: I would say definitely price discovery, trading in a transparent manner, reducing fraud through charging excessive and exorbitant prices, increasing liquidity and connecting more businesses. Basically it allows a channel for retail liquidity instead of B2B. This will also benefit the carbon assets themselves, as it will facilitate a more transparent way to identify and trade these assets. One could say this will result in more trust too, because you no longer need to solely rely on the goodwill of your counterparty. This kind of approach goes along with the narrative of more and more companies and countries trying to reduce carbon emission. Currently a lot of carbon credits are being traded very cheaply and there is some hope that added liquidity would drive up the price of carbon credits, achieving a positive global effect on emission rates as companies evaluate ecological investments over carbon credit expenses.
CM: Will governments accept these carbon credits being traded via a decentralized exchange?
Jimmy: Government support would be great though it has to be said that you’re trading tokens. The carbon credits themselves will still exist in their original form. At the moment companies can trade them over the counter, that is allowed. In jurisdictions as China, whether this tokenized trading is ultimately legal or not, is another question. We see that this should be in a gray area just like crypto. In other countries like Australia and smaller countries there would be less restrictions. In any case, the partner ecosystem of Treasure Carbon will include companies around the world. Each of these jurisdictions has their own type of carbon credits and one of the goals of Treasure Carbon is to unify the approach and tokenize all of these credits.
CM: Will they go for applications on the main chain, a sidechain or a private chain component?
Jimmy: While we are still in the process of planning out the technical development process, they will probably start deploying directly on the main chain but will eventually be deployed as a sidechain. Currently they are building the team to work on the protocol.
CM: Some community members noticed that something called CarbonX.network was partnered with Treasure Carbon, and have asked whether APEX Network will be doing an ICO for them. Can you please clarify this?
Jimmy: Yes of course. CarbonX.network is a different project (ICO project), it was originally partnered with Treasure Carbon, but they split ways as Treasure Carbon didn’t want to do an ICO. We are in no way related to Carbonx.network, and it seems their website is outdated.
Leading budget airline in China
CM: You told us that a leading budget airline company in China was looking to bring its rewards points on chain. Could you tell us a bit more about this enterprise pilot?
Jimmy: While I cannot yet disclose the name (as this requires the approval of the client), I can say that this company is the equivalent of Southwest Airlines in the United States. It has been a loyal customer of APEX Technologies since 2017. Rewards points are a rather common use case for this type of business to have as an initial blockchain application. Certain other airlines are already implementing their loyalty points via a private chain approach, for instance using the Hyperledger technology. Our client wants to create a blockchain ecosystem to enable clients to swap the loyalty points within their ecosystem with partners like hotels and restaurants. Basically, this will induce liquidity with their partners, create a protocol of exchange within their ecosystem and i improve the overall customer experience. I expect to be able to release their name in the near term.
CM: How did you achieve an enterprise pilot initiative with this company? What kind of relation does APEX Technologies have with this company?
Jimmy: This company has been a long time customer of APEX Technologies and has always been interested in blockchain technology and certain AI applications. The AI applications were deployed a long time ago, and blockchain asset mapping and liquidity is becoming more and more popular in this branch.
CM: What will this look like from a technical point of view? Will it be organized on the main chain, sidechain or via a private chain component?
Jimmy: We will probably go for a hybrid approach though it has not been determined yet. With hybrid we mean using a sidechain — which could be deployed as a private chain and interacting with main chain. Certain aspects of private chains are true for a sidechain without being connected to the main chain. It has to be noted that the technical implementation is still being discussed. It will be developed along with the next set of AI applications; i.e. bundled into one whole package. The entirety (blockchain development incl) is being charged for.
China based electric car company
CM: You recently told us there was a China based electric car company wanting to develop a blockchain based IoT user data storage on the APEX Network blockchain. Could you tell us a bit more about this use case?
Jimmy: Sure. This enterprise pilot is less mature in completely knowing what to do, though it has bought all products APEX Technologies has to offer.
Essentially, they want to create a smart app and IoT ecosystem that can be integrated with smart cars and smart user devices. Their cars are similar to Tesla (i.e. they contain an intelligent operating system with a large central panel). They want to first explore if there is any way to put certain parts of user data and user preferences on the blockchain and expand use of this data to cars and other smart devices. Users would be able to have apps and devices that interact with each other (including their car) with part of the data being stored on the blockchain, and part of the data on the car (acting as a sort of node itself). At the moment it’s not very clear how they ultimately want to implement it, which is why we’re still figuring out how to get things developed. The use case facilitates increasing customer experience as well as making customers more engaged in the entire experience of their car and associated devices. Eventually there would be a reward point system (token) serving this usecase, something that is common for automotive manufacturers. Reward points can encourage the use of a product. It’s definitely a new concept in development — i.e. the level of interaction with a car — which can benefit you. There is also value in terms of the exchange of rewards. I’m confident we’ll be able to disclose the name of this enterprise in the near future. As we are still early in the process of mapping the technical development, it is too early to tell how their on chain approach will be (main chain, sidechain and so on).
CM: Have any of the enterprise pilots already bought up CPX meeting supernode tresholds?
Jimmy: Not yet. This is something for later down the road — though APEX Technologies will need to buy it for them as part of a commercial contract for software. 10–20% of contract value is for purchasing the node. We will not demand that our enterprises acquire the CPX themselves.
CM: Are any of the enterprise pilots already actively using the mainnet which is currently running and showing stats on tracker.apexnetwork.io or are all transactions triggered by the team?
Jimmy: Mostly generated by the team, not by hand but programmed. Though this would also include test transactions by enterprise pilots.
CM: Have you already tested incorporating APEX Network technology via NEXUS for certain clients?
Jimmy: Not yet, we need to get pilots up and running first before applying it to other AI tech.
Jimmy and the CM team will strive to provide everyone in the community with regular updates about the progress both throughout phase 1 and beyond. We have a number of interesting announcements and releases coming up over the next couple of months, and we look forward to developing and growing APEX Network together with all those who support us. With the time consuming but all important mainnet technology released, this is when it starts to get interesting also for those who are not of a technical nature — adding features, preparing enterprise deployment and growing the ecosystem to realize the vision put forth “way back when” in our development plan. Doing everything right is still just as crucial as before considering the enterprise target market of APEX Network — and we’re getting there step by step. Exciting times ahead!
All the best,
Jimmy & The Community Management Team of APEX Network