Development Update (Sept. 2018)
The past few months have been quite amazing for us at Ellcrys. Building a protocol such as ours requires a lot of research, engineering and strategy. We are have been actively doing all of these things and happy to announce that we have a much clearer plan and pathway to the release of a complete, fully featured network client that provides a decentralized environment for open and transparent collaboration between millions of people across the world.
This section discusses the concepts and features that have been adopted, updated or discontinued.
Along the way, we have had to reconsider earlier assumptions and design goals that we now consider risky, infeasible or just not aligned with what we believe in. Projects in this space tend to over-promise; Promoting concepts that may not make much sense, could be implemented in simpler approach, are not fully understood or may be difficult to deliver but would certainly capture the attention of investors.
1.1 Quantum Token Money
For us, one of such concepts described above is the idea of a “quantum money” system powered by “Quantum Tokens”. The idea is to create a cryptographic object that one can use to sign offline, off-chain transactions and transmit via existing messaging channels like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp etc. In reality, this can be done with Bitcoin or Ethereum as simple as creating and signing a transaction, sending the signed output to someone via the mentioned channels and the beneficiary submits the transaction to a trusted authority (the network) and claims the value. If the authority is a blockchain network, this kind of value transfer mechanism would still be limited by the speed of the network. It did not make much sense to continue with this.
1.2 Consensus Mechanism
As discussed in a previous post, we will not implement a DPoS consensus algorithm but a Proof-of-Work/Proof-of-Stake hybrid consensus mechanism much like Decred’s. In this scheme, PoW miners propose blocks while PoS miners vote for proposed blocks. This dual consensus mechanism makes it economically costly to perform or sustain a 51% attack; The attacker would need to acquire majority hashrate of the PoW miners and a majority of the available PoS voting tickets. Our mining protocol offers an extra layer of security such that banknote scanners and validators actively vote and bet on blocks while acting as chain observers. The more valid banknotes a chain receives, the more economically costly it will be to perform and sustain 51% attacks.
1.3 Coin Distribution Mechanism
We have been looking at the best way to bootstrap the Ellcrys network such that a fair distribution of the initial coins is achieved. One that will ensure these coins get to as many people as possible and provide us with an opportunity to test our mining protocol, its associated economic assumptions and to build a community of miners, developers and users.
In contrast to regular ICOs, where an entire platform’s token supply is exchanged for Ether/Bitcoin over a short period (e.g 1 month) with a vast majority falling into the control of a few individuals or corporation, we will launch a distribution-only network based on one of our upcoming alpha versions on which anyone will be able to exchange their banknotes for our native currency inline with our mining protocol. This distribution network will be running a version of
elld that has implemented the mining protocol. The network will run indefinitely while development continues.
To ensure mining participants are able to move their coins to exchanges, the Ellcrys team will be responsible for collecting snapshots of the distribution network ledger and transferring allocations to Ellcrys’ ERC20 smart contract on Ethereum. This will allow mined coins to be tradable before the main network is launched.
Participants of previous token sales and airdrop will receive their allocations irrespective of their participation in the new distribution model. They will receive their allocated ELL tokens directly from the Ellcrys team and also be able to participate in the new distribution model unhindered.
It is worthy of note that, while participation in the distribution network is free, you will be required to pay network transaction fees to miners who will be running the network client, processing transactions and maintaining a copy of the blockchain. The purpose of fees is to incentivize miners and prevent abuse.
Participating in the distribution network only requires the user to have one of the supported banknotes, a mobile phone and some ELL to pay network fees. However, participants will be given the chance to get more ELL for every banknote they scan. This opportunity is enabled through something we call multiplier tokens.
A multiplier token is a cryptographic object that is associated with a scanned banknote to increase the amount of coin allocation. For instance, if the network exchange rate for a 100 USD note is 10 ELL, then a 3x multiplier token will result in 30 ELL allocation instead of 10 ELL.
Multiplier tokens will be sold by the Ellcrys team. They are a temporary mechanism for the team to fund continuous development while also allowing users to freely participate in coin distribution. Users who do not wish to use the multiplier tokens are still able to participate in the Distribution Network.
In the next few weeks, we will be releasing the first version of the
elld client and other important and complementary components:
2.1 Elld (v0.1 Alpha — “Inception”)
We will be releasing the first version of the Ellcrys client named
elld with codename “inception”. It will be the first of a series of 5 Alpha versions before the first Beta release and subsequently the launch of our main network. This alpha version offers some of the expected features of a cryptocurrency. Some important things to note:
- Consensus Mechanism: Nakamoto Consensus. This is the consensus method introduced in Bitcoin and used by many cryptocurrencies today. Our implementation of a hybrid PoW/PoS consensus system will be built on top of Nakamoto Consensus.
- Mining Algorithm: We initially planned to use Ethash due to its ASIC-resistance properties, but later resolved to strip the ASIC-resistance properties to create a simple mining algorithm that uses BLAKE2b-256 as the hash function. Why we opted for a simpler mining algorithm is that we have come to believe that permanent ASIC-resistance may be impossible. A mining algorithm that is simple enough that anyone can build ASIC for is better than a difficult one that only a few can create specialized hardware for. This article offers an interesting view of the ongoing debate.
- Reward: Miners are currently only able to receive rewards via transaction fees pending till the Ellcrys mining protocol is fully implemented with the ability to receive, analyze and validate scanned banknotes.
We are very close to releasing this version and are currently performing internal tests and fixing some bugs.
2.2 Block Explorer (v0.1)
We are also working on a simple and beautiful block explorer that will allow users to explore the Ellcrys blockchain with ease. With the block explorer, you will be able to view transactions, blocks, accounts and use our REST API to build your own applications. The explorer will be updated with new features and capabilities every time there is a new and significant upgrade to the client (e.g on every new alpha release).
2.3 Revamped Websites
A few months ago we started the process of revamping our websites and performing a complete rebranding of the project. We had a new logo and started to iterate on new versions of our website. Those endeavours were put on hold as we realized that they were not essential to our growth at the time. Now that we have seen significant progress in the development of the Ellcrys protocol, we believe it is time to continue the redesign of our websites and complete rebrand.
The following additional portals are to be expected:
- Developer website: This is where we will present any information tailored for developers, miners, researches etc. This will also include a version-controlled documentation of the protocol, client and any tool released by our team.
- Community Forum: We will also launch a forum that will be open to all categories of community members. Any topic can be discussed in greater detail on this forum.
- Discord Server: Along with the forum, we will be launching a discord server on which members of our community can have real-time, categorized discussions.
2.4 Updated Whitepaper
Our current whitepaper is not in sync with the current design and development plan. Over the last months, we have had actual development experience and time to think about how best to deliver the technology. The next version of the paper will provide a much clearer breakdown of what we are doing and any other direction being followed.