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Tag #Waves

Tech entrepreneur: Sasha Ivanov

Get in for the tech, stay for the money, stick around for the lulz? As the market evolves from bear to bull and back, it can be hard to remember why you’re here in the first place. When all is crashing around you, it’s only natural to lose sight of what’s really important – the tech, the adoption and the long-term odds of success for crypto.

 

‘The community’ will not provide you with good information under these circumstances. The herd is always wrong – in a market, almost by definition. If you want to cut through the emotion of the current cycle and get back in touch with the fundamentals, then it’s well worth following a few key influencers: professionals who have been in crypto for years, who know what’s really going on behind the scenes, and who have an eye on the big picture and ultimate goals.

 

The Influencer we’ve chosen today is Sasha Ivanov, the Russian physicist who launched the Waves blockchain platform back in 2016. Ivanov has been active in crypto since 2013, building several businesses and projects before he crowdfunded Waves. Here, we’ve compiled ten of our favourite tweets:

 

 

#1. On the goals of blockchain research:

#2. On how blockchain isn’t suited to computation:

#3. On the economic realities of decentralisation…

#4. …which won’t be adopted until it makes good business sense:

#5. On cryptocurrency as a distraction from blockchain:

#6. On the new blockchain-enabled internet:

#7. On surviving the ICO bubble:

#8. On market manipulation:

#9. On open blockchains and security:

#10. On the interplay between public and private blockchains:

 

And one for luck:

On how old money always finds new opportunities:

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Waves pushes into gaming market with $2 million incentives

Gaming is a massive use case for crypto, and there are a handful of initiatives that are looking to capitalise on that. Now the Waves platform is positioning to attract gaming developers and businesses as well as actual gamers, even building specific functionality to solve real problems in the industry.

 

The opportunity

The gaming industry stands at $100 billion and growing fast, with an increasingly broad cross-section of society playing games of one form or another. Blockchain has a lot to offer this industry, not least in the transfer of value into and between game economies. The legacy banking system does not deal with this well, and is full of frictions. But it’s tokenisation where blockchain really has a chance to shine.

 

The world at large struggles to understand crypto, but gamers have a head start. Gamers are already well acquainted with in-game coins and the value of digital items. Digital goods – including unique items – are already traded actively within and outside of game economies. But that process is also fraught with problems, with many users being hacked or deceived. The black market for digital items is estimated at $60 million.

 

Creating forgery-proof tokens and secure, transparent markets on which to trade them is one of the enormous advantages offered by blockchain. Additionally, flexible token operations hold out the possibility of entirely new economic models. This is the opportunity on which Waves is seeking to capitalise, even going so far as to create new functionality such as non-fungible tokens to use as provably unique digital items. The history of these can be traced from their origins, so it would be possible, for example, to purchase a trophy that had been won by a famous gamer, or pass a special item from player to player.

 

Big incentives

Waves is offering a massive incentive of 1 million WAVES – currently worth around $2 million – to help game developers build new applications and integrate existing games with Waves. As Sasha Ivanov, founder and CEO of Waves, comments: ‘I do believe that the gaming industry can cause blockchain mass adoption. We are ready to reward developers for the effort they make in implementing their projects within Waves ecosystem.’

 

The Waves gaming programme aims to offer a complete ecosystem for game development, including an easy-integration Software Development Kit (SDK), White Label marketplace, and seamless user experience with browser plugin and mobile wallet. Additionally, all of the functionality of the Waves blockchain will be at developers’ fingertips, including powerful token facilities, smart contracts and fast, low-cost transactions. Extensive support will be offered to developers who want to integrate Waves with their games, plus a share of the 1 million WAVES war chest.

Further information about the Waves gaming programme and roadmap can be found here.

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Waves set to smash blockchain throughput record

Blockchains have historically been notoriously limited in the volume of transactions they can process. In 2016 and 2017, Bitcoin was the subject of a ferocious scaling debate due to its ability to support just a few transactions per second (tx/s). That debate resulted in the controversial BCash fork, while the Bitcoin Core chain has since implemented SegWit, enabling greater throughput and off-chain transactions via the Lightning Network.

 

Still, few blockchains can support even a few dozen tx/s on-chain, and none have come remotely close to the 24,000 tx/s capability claimed by Visa (though Visa’s regular throughput is more like 2,000 tx/s). Numerous projects have boasted that they will enable enormous transaction volumes, but these are still in development. What counts is not theory, it is real-world results. Now, Waves is set to post some very impressive results after an extremely promising test by Marc Jansen:

 

‘I just pushed 100k transfers through the #wavesplatform TESTNET. About 4892 transfers per second. Proof? Check blocks 354731-354734. A detailled report will follow after i reproduced the experiment on MAINNET!’

 

Approaching 5,000 tx/s – and that’s before any further optimisation, and before off-chain scaling is implemented.

 

It needs to be stated that testnet transactions are not the same as mainnet use, just as any other tests carried out in the lab typically cannot be replicated in the real world, where variables cannot be so easily controlled. Nevertheless, we await the results of the mainnet stress test with interest!

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Blockchain governance according to Waves

Blockchain brings the opportunity to do far more than move money around. There are an increasing number of systems that allow miners — those who maintain the network and process transactions — to vote on key updates, in effect deciding whether certain features are implemented.

Miners rule

In any blockchain system, the features proposed for implementation have to appeal to miners in order to ensure they are passed. As we have found out in the case of Bitcoin, decentralisation comes with diverse implications for governance, and it is not always easy to ensure that a given feature is activated (see the debate around SegWit and 2x). Different miners value different things. Additionally, some take a long-term approach to success, others are looking for short-term benefits.

Let’s take a look at another example of how this works in practice. Waves released v13.3 on 7 June, which contained 4 significant updates:

  • Data Transactions
  • Burn Any Tokens
  • Sponsored Transactions
  • Fair Proof-of-Stake

In Waves, new features aren’t automatically activated on mainnet, instead needing a critical proportion of miners’ support before going live — the Waves feature activation protocol. Voting takes place over a period of 10,000 blocks, or around one week, and 80% of blocks within that period need to contain an approval flag for a feature to be activated. (You can see the progress of voting for each feature at https://dev.pywaves.org/activation.)

Background

Currently, two features out of the proposed four have received sufficient votes for activation. However, Sponsored Transactions and Fair PoS have not. As such, they may not be activated this time around.

Fee sponsorship. This feature alters the way that custom assets are used as transaction fees. The current situation allows users to create practically free transactions by paying fees in custom tokens, contributing to problems of spam assets and their distribution. Fee sponsorship will allow projects to create autonomous ecosystems in which the asset issuer pays miners in WAVES tokens to process transactions with token payments. You can find more discussion on the Waves forum.

Fair PoS. As present, large miners receive around 10–20% more profit from mining compared to smaller miners, due to the quirks of the PoS algorithm borrowed from Nxt. The relative performance of miners can be found in the ‘Performance ratio’ column at https://dev.pywaves.org/generators-monthly/. The change will make this distribution more fair, and will bring other benefits like enhanced security against some types of attack.

Democracy in action

These proposals failed to pass partly because one major mining pool decided it would only support features one at a time, rather than all together. Their reasoning was two-fold. Firstly, there have recently been some network issues. In the days before the release of 13.3, and before the activation of any functional changes, there was a network fork due to the incompatibility of old and new versions of the Waves node. The second is the performance issues associated with some API methods, e.g. getting transactions by address. (Waves has acknowledged these points, suggesting that in the future, activating features one-by-one might prove a better approach.)

However, a closer look at the nature and impact of these two proposals on miners helps show some broader economic context that may have fed into the decision not to pass them.

One of the concerns behind the Fee Sponsorship update has been the costs associated with legitimate transfers to many accounts. Some big mining pools use a custom asset to distribute rewards to their LPoS leasers, and the change would make it uneconomical to reward small leasers. In short, it impacts big miners’ business models. This is one reason why proposals for changes to any blockchain protocol should be conservative: there are real businesses and their customers at the other end of them. Making a change to the economic model of a blockchain protocol is a little like a central bank raising interest rates: there will always be winners and losers. (This particular problem has actually been addressed by the MassTransfer function, which allows many transfers to be bundled within the same transaction. This dramatically lowers the cost of such distributions, which may be enough to win big miners over to the Fee Sponsorship proposal.)

The second change, Fair PoS, also has an economic impact on big miners — in fact, this was explicitly the purpose. However, large miners didn’t all vote against it, showing the diversity of opinion and values among the community. Waves’ largest miner, WavesGo, has voted in favour, even though it would mean lost revenues. This is mostly because leasing pools and the community members behind them care about their reputation in the community and want greater decentralisation and wider platform development. This particular change has been discussed at length within the community, and is essentially an issue of branding: it presents Waves as a fair platform. (You can find out more about Fair PoS hereand here.) Nevertheless, miners are well within their rights to vote against it, and it’s understandable that some might on economic grounds — especially if they are only just profitable under the current model.

These outcomes for Waves demonstrate one of the strengths of blockchain governance and the nature of decentralised consensus. Blockchain is a democracy of voting nodes, each with their own policy concerns. Any change that is proposed must recognise the realities and complexities of that.

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