Welcome to this week’s edition of RHIZOME Wire!
As a way to look forward into the New Year, I thought it might be interesting to provide some predictions about what I believe may happen in 2020 in the ICON ecosystem. Keep in mind, these are just some thoughts I have, not guarantees or promises.
People often overestimate what will happen in the next two years and underestimate what will happen in ten. - Bill Gates
This is a quote that is fairly widely known by now, but I believe it encapsulates my perspective on the ICON Project specifically and blockchain generally. I have noticed that, in general, blockchain followers and crypto holders tend to expect significant progress in single year periods. However, comparable progress in other industries has taken far longer to play out, and so my expected timeline for crypto is the same. Meanwhile, on a longer term time frame, I think ICON still has a great opportunity to make a significant impact both on the blockchain community and even the world.
Overall, when it comes to ICON, I expect 2020 to feel a lot similar to 2019. I believe it will be a continued process of gradual building, development, and laying the technological foundation necessary for the project to succeed. This is not to say there won’t be exciting news sprinkled here and there regarding partnerships, business development, or other more exciting news. But, in general, there will be no “earth shaking” developments that generate massive price pumps. (I think this will also be the experience of most crypto projects in the space as well.)
But that’s OK, because 2020 will likely be the most productive year the ICON ecosystem as a whole will have for the following reasons:
With the implementation of the EEP (ecosystem expansion project) and DBP (DApp Booster Program) campaigns, we will see a significant uptick in the amount of DApps, projects, and tools being built on the network. While I don’t think many of these will generate huge spikes in transactions in 2020, they will be laying significant foundations underneath the project that could pay off big time in 2021 and beyond. Keep in mind, the DBP and EEP programs can provide funding for up to 100 projects each — even if only a handful succeed, that’s still a great outcome for the network and ICX token holders.
From a technical standpoint, the primary focus of 2019 was the process of network decentralization. Although there were a few minor bumps in the road, this process was a success, and the network continues to grow stronger through updates the development team continues to build and push onto the network. This was a critical achievement required for long-term success of the network, but on it’s own, it didn’t do much in terms of price. In 2020, the key technical priority will be the buildout and implementation of the Blockchain Transfer Protocol (BTP) - the engine that will power ICON’s interoperability feature. Much like decentralization, the completion of BTP will not, on it’s own, generate price action. However, it’s a required step in the long-term process of ensuring ICON is able to deliver on its promise.
As more tools and resources are made available to developers — and if adequate effort to recruit them is put forth — we will see a continued increase in individuals interested in building on the ICON network. This “interest” will be enhanced by the financial incentives made available through the DBP and EEP programs, but the infrastructure required to ensure developers have the tools they need will be integral. Initiatives such as ICON CORE are an example of efforts that can be made to recruit more development. Overall, ICON is already a strong platform for developers to build on — but continued improvement through building, and efforts to recruit, will be important in 2020.
While stressing the fact that development will continue to play the largest role in ICON’s progress in 2020, that does not necessarily mean we won’t start to see a larger role (and transaction volume) for the public chain. Here are a number of activities that I see contributing to increased public chain usage in 2020:
The launch of Seoul’s blockchain efforts, which we have been informed will include use of the public chain. While I do not believe this will cause a major transaction spike immediately off the bat, I do think it will be impactful, and will gradually grow over time, assuming the initial use case(s) is successful.
The launch of DApps currently in development (or those to be built under DBP), as well as increased usage of existing DApps. For instance, ICONBet — currently the leading DApp in terms of transaction volume — plans to add additional games to expand their audience and user base. Other DApps or applications using the ICX token, such as Somesing or Stayge, will also continue to grow their user base, increasing ICX transactions.
Additional projects that promised to use the ICX public chain will also begin to flourish. Examples of this category include ARTnGUIDE and broof, as well as others that will likely be announced this year.
In aggregate, I believe all of these factors — as well as others that we can’t foresee — will lead to the first 1 million transaction day on the ICON public chain.
Finally, I believe the following other miscellaneous activities will happen:
Continued growth and expansion of the my-ID Alliance, along with greater clarity regarding possible interoperability use cases that would utilize the ICON public chain. This is partly outlined in the Alliance roadmap, so it’s less of a “prediction” and more of a “reminder.”
An enshrouding of what, exactly, Unchain (the joint venture between ICON and LINE) is working on, and whether or not it’s as meaningful as the community initially anticipated.
As China continues to ramp up their blockchain adoption and integration, South Korea will feel pressure to do the same from a competitive standpoint, accelerating their own internal adoption. This is already starting to play out to a certain extent (as we’ve seen with Korea’s liberalization on crypto laws), but I believe the trend will accelerate. From a macro standpoint, this will be bullish for ICON. As Min Kim recently pointed out, regulatory hurdles are often more significant than technical challenges. Accordingly, an improvement in the overall regulatory environment will be a significant boost.
There are a number of other explicitly planned activities in the works as well — simply take a look at ICON’s roadmap to see — that I won’t list here because, well, they’ve already been announced as in the works.
There are, of course, a number of developments that may occur that I haven’t listed here.
I will say one final thing on 2020. If you are the type of person who gauges a project’s quality based on it’s short-term price, you will likely be disappointed. If you are the type of person who gauges a project’s quality based on progress, ongoing development, and growth of the ecosystem, I think 2020 may be the most encouraging year thus far.
News from ICON World
Hashnet ‘4th Industrial Revolution 2020’ Blockchain Festival
P-Rep candidate ICON DAO was present at the Hashnet ‘4th Industrial Revolution 2020’ Blockchain Festival, where ICONLOOP Director of Public Affairs Josh Choi made a presentation on the future of ICONLOOP.
Not only did ICON DAO provide an overview of Josh’s presentation, but they had an opportunity to speak with Josh afterward to gain some additional insight into the relationship between ICONLOOP and ICON.
Here is a quote that particularly stood out from me from the interview with Josh:
A lot of countries around the world are scared to use blockchain and don’t understand it. So we start with private chain, then with that success if the cities want to continue exploring public chain then we can speak and link with ICON.
I would say you could insert the word “companies” for “countries” and have an accurate statement as well.
This is ultimately the value of having ICONLOOP — most entities of significance aren’t going to be willing to plunge head first into blockchain. By utilizing a private chain first, it’s a bit like walking before running.
While many in the community get frustrated by the fact that partnerships happen with ICONLOOP — rather than ICON — it’s ultimately a necessary step before moving to ICON. As a simplified example, ICONLOOP serves as sort of a testing ground for an entity to adopt blockchain, before moving onto ICON. Will all of those who use ICONLOOP go to ICON? No. But expecting partnerships to happen directly with ICON is a bit like expecting a teenager to go directly from middle school to college.
Gold on the blockchain
Right before the end of the year, Min Kim tweeted the following:
SimSul Kim @SimSulKim‘CENGold’(KorDA) utilises ICONLOOP's LoopChain : ICONLOOP's facebook [SK News] To showcase CENGold, ITCEN acquired the Korea Gold Exchange, Korea's No. 1 gold exchange, last year. : https://t.co/qKnSoFbqYM #ICONLOOP, #ICONProject https://t.co/1IL8iApwFN
When asked to elaborate on how this would serve as a use case for the public chain, Min replied with the following:
In other words, this would allow an individual to purchase a stake in gold as an asset, through the mechanism of cryptocurrency (specifically, ICX). What’s the advantage to this? Here is the CEO of PAXOS (the company behind PAX Gold):
For traders who might want to buy gold on-the-go and then pick it up in another location, Cascarilla believes Pax Gold could offer a regulated alternative to physical ownership.
“You can own that gold but you don’t have to pay a custody fee, and you can send it around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,” he said. “This is a groundbreaking product in the history of gold.”
Scott Smiley expanded on how ICON could expand on this use case in a Telegram discussion.
Take this convenience, and incorporate it into ICON’s promise of interoperability, and you have what could be a very interesting development to keep an eye on as time moves forward.
With the conclusion of the 4th Quarter of 2019, ICON released their updated roadmap. Here was the most exciting section of the update:
Looking ahead, there are many things in the pipeline to be excited for in 2020. First and foremost is the expected launch and release of commercialized BTP v1.0. We also expect to complete IISS by adding in the contribution proposal system. This includes the DApp Booster Program and Ecosystem Expansion Projects.
Additionally, we are exploring the implementation of a side chain for smart contract execution on Core 2.0 to improve scalability, enhance BTP functionality and provide a sandbox environment. Furthermore, we are inching closer towards a partnership with a leading oracle solution and we hope to provide more details on this very soon.
The continued development of BTP, and the launch of the contribution proposal system, are both significant milestones that will add tremendous value to the ICON network — and it appears both are getting closer and closer to becoming a reality.
RHIZOME & Corey Costa
Brian Li, team lead of RHIZOME, sat down with Corey Costa on the most recent episode of The ICX Show, entitled “A Necessary Dialogue.”
Here is Corey’s description of what the episode entailed:
Brian Li and I highlighted our concerns within the ICON Ecosystem that must be addressed going into 2020. As P-Reps, it is our duty to highlight the grievances of the community and work collectively to ensure that the ICON Ecosystem expands and prospers through mutual cooperation and universal communication: between P-Rep and Foundation, to work on a united and global frontier. Brian Li and I discussed the necessity of P-Rep involvement within expanding the ecosystem, not through just running a node. We discuss the necessity of a defined vision between P-Rep and the Foundation, specifically highlighting the idea of possibly having a monthly dialogue between P-Reps where we can all collaborate and communicate to solve issues and work together under the ICON Banner. We discussed the importance of governance and the necessity of setting clear definitions on laws and regulations within the ecosystem that all P-Reps abide by. We spoke about the marketing proposal by community member "Mikey", highlighting the necessity of a clear vision between P-Rep and Foundation. Lastly, we highlight our views on the newly proposed IISS Enhancements for the ICON Ecosystem.
What’s to come in 2020?
The ICONist put together a brief overview of what was accomplished in 2019 with an eye toward what’s in the pipeline for 2020. For a bigger picture perspective of the project, be sure to give it a read!
Blockchain Industry News
Cryptocurrencies outperformed traditional stocks over the last ten years but Netflix, Amazon and Domino's were not that far off.
Little is known about the digital yuan except that it’s been in the works for five years and Beijing is nearly ready to roll. The consensus is that the token will be a private blockchain, a peer-to-peer network for sharing information and validating transactions, with the People’s Bank of China in control of who gets to participate. To begin with, the currency will be supplied via the banking system and replace some part of physical cash. That won’t be hard, given the ubiquitous presence of Chinese QR code-based digital wallets such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.
Ruja Ignatova called herself the Cryptoqueen. She told people she had invented a cryptocurrency to rival Bitcoin, and persuaded them to invest billions. Then, two years ago, she disappeared. Jamie Bartlett spent months investigating how she did it for the Missing Cryptoqueen podcast, and trying to figure out where she's hiding.
The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is partnering with Ethereum mobile wallet provider AlphaWallet to tokenize 20,000 VIP tickets for the 2020 UEFA Euro Tournament. This is the second time AlphaWallet has worked in a large soccer competition. Last year, it partnered with Chinese sports organization Shankai for the FIFA World Cup.
United Nations secretary-general António Guterres says the intergovernmental giant needs to embrace blockchain. In a statement provided to Forbes by the secretary-general’s office, Guterres touted the technology first made popular by bitcoin as a crucial component of the organization that generates $50 billion in revenue annually.
Data, Data, Data!
Coinmetrics, a cryptoasset market and network data provider, released a 2019 retrospective covering the economics and usage of various blockchain protocols.
2019 saw a rise in prices, decreases in volatility, and general increases in usage for the majority of major crypto assets. All of these are positive signals heading into 2020. We look forward to continuing to cover crypto in 2020, and providing more insights and analysis throughout the new year.