The importance of an oracle

Welcome to this week’s edition of RHIZOME Wire!

A partnership with ChainLink

This week, the ICON Foundation announced they have formally reached an agreement with ChainLink — another popular blockchain platform — to serve as a decentralized oracle solution for the ICON public chain. Here is a quote from ICON’s announcement:

Oracles allow smart contracts to interact with data and systems from outside their native blockchain (off-chain). This opens up interchain communication and enables smart contracts to interact with traditional non-blockchain systems that currently power global economies.

Chainlink is a decentralized oracle network that allows developers to customize how their smart contract communicates with anything off-chain using varying levels of decentralization, data aggregation, and oracle selection. It gives smart contracts secure and reliable access to data providers, web APIs, enterprise systems, cloud providers, IoT devices, payment systems, other blockchains and much more.

To many, it may not be immediately clear why this is important or how exactly it works, so I’ll try to use a real-world example.

Let’s take Fantasy Football.

On one hand, you play fantasy football on one platform. Let’s say it’s Yahoo! Sports. You draft your team, set your lineup, and then on Sunday afternoon you eagerly pay attention to your screen, watching in real-time as your team’s score goes up with every five-yard rush, every field goal, and every touchdown.

But how does that app know that those events are occurring? Does Yahoo! Sports have an employee in every stadium methodically tracking every statistic on every play and immediately beaming it back to the fantasy platform? No.

Instead, Yahoo! Sports integrates with an API dedicated solely to tracking live NFL stats and updating them live on the web. In fact, there are likely multiple fantasy football platforms plugging into this same API.

Now let’s pretend you wanted to create a decentralized fantasy football application. Because this API isn’t blockchain based, you wouldn’t be able to integrate with it directly.

In addition — and perhaps more importantly — since the information is coming from a singular source, it’s susceptible to all the issues that centralized platforms are vulnerable to — namely hacking or manipulation.

This is less an issue for fantasy football since the implications aren’t as serious (although some diehard players might disagree). It is an issue in cases where, say, smart contracts are built around certain activities being triggered if certain financial indicators or prices reach certain prices.

Let’s say a smart contract is written — for whatever reason — to send 100,000 ICX to a given address if the price of gold hits a certain price. If the smart contract is tied to a centralized source of information — and that information is incorrect through manipulation, hacking, or other malfeasance — then somebody could be out a lot of ICX.

With a decentralized solution — one that potentially collects the price of gold from multiple, independent sources — smart contracts can reliably be programmed knowing that the underlying triggers will be legitimate.

Indeed, ICON also lists some concrete examples of how this oracle integration could prove useful:

  • Chainlink could be used to bring real-world professional sports data into NFTs that represent sports players. One could imagine creating a baseball game DApp where users must form a team of collected NFT baseball cards, all of which would periodically update with real-world statistics using Chainlink oracles.

  • Chainlink could be used to bring pricing data from traditional markets into decentralized financial products. For example, a variable rate blockchain-based bond could use Chainlink interest rate data feeds to calculate the total interest on the bond in a secure and decentralized way.

  • Chainlink could be used to include data from other blockchains in your ICON app. A way to utilize this would be to use Chainlink oracles to trigger a payment on the ICON blockchain after confirming that a payment occurred on the Ethereum blockchain.

So why ChainLink?

Simply put, ChainLink is the primary option for any blockchain seeking an oracle solution, primarily as a result of it’s security and reliability:

Chainlink is consistently selected as one of the top blockchain technologies by leading independent research firms such as Gartner. It is well known for providing highly secure and reliable oracles to great companies like GoogleOracleSWIFT, and many other large enterprises, as well as many of the world’s best smart contract projects/teams such as Web3/PolkadotSynthetixLoopringKaleidoOpenLawReserve, and many more.

While ICON had teased this partnership by remaining vague on the details since the conclusion of 2019, many assumed it would be ChainLink, as the platform is ultimately the clear option for those seeking an oracle solution. Ultimately, it’s encouraging that ICON has solidified this deal and done so with a leading platform.

While this alone is not a “game changing” announcement, it’s nonetheless a critical one that, when combined with all the other gradual progress ICON has been making, generates greater likelihood of the projects success over the long term.

News from ICON World

J.H. Kim & Money Today

Several days ago, J.H. Kim — ICONLOOP CEO and ICON Foundation Council Member — was interviewed by South Korea’s Monday Today. Unfortunately, the original video is in Korean.

Fortunately, RHIZOME went to the trouble to translate and transcribe the entire interview! This is one of the longer, more substantive interviews with a mainstream outlet, so I encourage you to give it a read!

However, if you’re pressed on time, The Iconist wrote a synopsis of the interview.

Latest episode of The RHIZOME Report

RHIZOME’s regular podcast, The RHIZOME Report, recently released it’s latest episode — this time, William McKenzie interviews Mark Thomas, founder of ZenSports — a sports betting app integrated with the ICON blockchain.

Mark takes time to discuss what exactly ZenSports is, how it’s token model works, the process of working with ICX_Station, the future of ZenSports, and many other topics.

New MetrICX Update

RHIZOME has added yet another feature to our app, MetrICX. Now, users can track the balance of various IRC-20 tokens that are built on the ICON ecosystem such as TAP, SSX, SPORT, and others. The update is available for both iOS and Android.

ICON Core Planning complete

The initial planning stages of ICON Core are complete and code is now being compiled:

For those that don’t know about ICON Core, I encourage you to read the original announcement.

More blockchain funding from Korea!

Korea is once again pouring resources into the development of blockchain technology. This time, “Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) announced last week that it and the Ministry of Science and ICT had selected 10 public blockchain trial projects for 2020. The government will spend KRW 600 million won per project for a total budget of KRW 6 billion,” according to The Iconist.

Here is the most intriguing line from the report:

At a briefing session on Friday, Min Gyeong-sik, the head of KISA’s blockchain center, said some of the projects selected this year utilize decentralized ID (DID), reflecting the recent interest in the concept.

With ICON’s key application currently being DID, it will be interesting to watch and see if ICON is able to take advantage of this opportunity. Stay tuned!

P-Rep coordination

Thanks to the efforts of P-Rep team Catalyst (run by community member Bittburger), P-Reps will soon be holding regular meetings to coordinate activities and strategy in order to more effectively contribute to the ICON ecosystem.

Blackjack coming soon to ICONbet

ICONbet, the leading DApp on the ICON blockchain based on transaction volume, is close to launching it’s next game: blackjack. The official twitter account of the platform teased the following screenshot of what the game will most likely look like:

The addition of blackjack has generated great anticipation among the ICONbet community for not only blackjack enthusiasts, but supporters of the platform who hope this will help ICONbet (and thus ICON!) continue to grow.

Blockchain Industry News

Confirmed: Craig Wright doesn’t have keys to $8 billion of Bitcoin (Decrypt)

Craig Wright’s lawyer confirmed to Decrypt today that Wright does not possess—nor even claim to possess—the private keys that can be used to spend $8 billion of Bitcoin that Satoshi Nakamoto mined in Bitcoin’s early days.

Liechtenstein Regulators Approve Ethereum-Based Real Estate Fund (CoinDesk)

The AARGOS Global Real Estate Fund was approved as an alternative investment fund (AIF) by Liechtenstein's Financial Market Authority (FMA), the company announced. The fund provides exposure to a global real estate portfolio through AARGO security tokens – built on the ethereum blockchain – with each token representing one share in the fund.

South Korea plans 20% tax on crypto gains (The Block)

The government of South Korea is planning to charge a 20% tax on income from cryptocurrency transactions.

The country’s Ministry of Economy and Finance recently ordered its office of income tax to review a crypto taxation plan, local news outlet Pulse reported Monday, citing “multiple” government sources. Previously, the ministry's office of property tax had reviewed the plan.

Goldbug Peter Schiff Loses All His Bitcoins, Blames Crypto for Own Ignorance (Steemit)

Notorious goldbug and Bitcoin critic Peter Schiff just fell victim to one of the classic crypto blunders - the most famous of which is "not your keys, not your crypto" - but only slightly less well-known is this:

Always back up your wallet and keys in a safe place.

All Princess Bride references aside, according to Schiff's tweet, his mobile wallet became corrupted and is no longer recognizing his password.

Fortunately, this “mystery” was solved:

Tether launches ‘gold-backed’ stablecoin on Ethereum and Tron (Decrypt)

Stablecoin company Tether today launched Tether Gold, a stablecoin pegged to physical gold. It is available as an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain and as a TRC20 token on the TRON blockchain, and is listed on Bitfinex, Tether’s sister company. The minimum buy in is around $75,000.

Square secures patent for a new 'cryptocurrency payment network' (Decrypt)

Earlier this week, the payments giant secured yet another crypto-related patent—this time, one that specifically registers a system for converting payments made in fiat to “non-fiat instruments.” The news was first reported earlier today by industry publication CoinDesk.