Noam Levenson


Why Ark Deserves Your Attention

The Ark Ecosystem is an ambitious all-in-one blockchain platform. Could it one day compete with Neo and Ethereum? It might not have to.

Ark is one of the most ambitious projects in the crypto space. It is not an ERC20 token and thus, has its own developed blockchain. It’s commonly thrown around that Ark doesn’t have competition, only future partners. Despite this being super cliché and a little bit culty, here’s why they say that. Ark’s vision is to be an all-in-one blockchain platform. From being able to deploy a new blockchain with the push of a button and issuing Ark smart contracts, to acting as a bridge between blockchains (how about that alliteration?), Ark could become a major player among blockchain platforms. In the future, as the vision of the Web 3.0 becomes a reality, there could be hundreds of DApps and specific utility tokens. Ark wants to enable blockchain interoperability — which is a big word meaning: own Ark and interact with any blockchain.

Ark’s Plan

It’s very easy to make a blockchain interoperable with Ark. Ark calls this capability SmartBridges. All it takes to be SmartBridge compatible is for a bit of code to be imbedded into an existing blockchain. New DApps can integrate this change seamlessly. Current operating blockchains require a fork to accomplished this. Once the code is imbedded, that blockchain can interact with Ark and with any other SmartBridge enabled blockchain. The potential of this can not be overstated. Look the two use cases presented by the Ark team:

Example 1: If you wanted to trigger an ETH smart contract but hold ark, you could just send the instructions through ark SmartBridge, right in the wallet to trigger the event. The code embedded in the ETH chain is always listening for an ark SmartBridge transaction and will collect this info and trigger the function to issue a contract.
Example 2: You want to issue a record entry in Factom, but you only hold ARK. So you would go to your ARK wallet, enter the correct info and instructions for the FCT chain via the SmartBridge tab. Then send it. That’s it, now the FCT chain receives the info and acts appropriately.

As the blockchain economy grows, so will the amount of utility tokens and the complexity of smart contracts. We could reach a place where one must hold tens of different tokens just to utilize the full functionality of the blockchain. Or, if you suddenly needed to use a new service, you would need to exchange tokens. Ark offers a solution. Just buy Ark and interact with them all.

But Ark benefits more than just the users. By implementing a SmartBridge, developers obtain the ability to integrate many different blockchain capabilities into their own. This allows cooperation and coordination across platforms — not unlike how many internet applications today use APIs and other functionalities from other sites.

What happens if companies don’t imbed the code?

If other blockchains don’t have Ark’s code imbedded, users can use what are called Encoded Listeners. Encoded listeners are simply nodes (users) who download software and act as a hub to listen for compatible orders being sent from Ark. They hold a stockpile of tokens and perform the conversion automatically for the network, in exchange for a small fee. Anyone can create an encoded listener and both profit from and benefit the network.

Let’s look at ACES (Ark Contract Execution Services) as an example of an encoded listener. ACES is a project being developed by members of the community and is the first implementation of the SmartBridge technology. ACES created and implemented an encoded listener converting Ark to Ethereum. Using ACES, Ark users can send Ark to an Ethereum contract. ACES listens for transactions such as this, processes it, converts the currency, and forwards the transaction along. Anyone — although some programming knowledge is required — can download the ACES software, hold ether in their node, and begin executing transactions on behalf of ACES.

NEWS: As of an hour ago, Ark’s team released the news that a Bitcoin-Ark encoded listener has been developed by the ACES team and will be released soon.

As the network develops and Ark gains adoption, the anticipation is that more of these encoded listeners will become available allowing Ark users to interact with many different blockchains, not just Ethereum.

This highlights how a user could use Ark to send ether to a bitcoin or lisk address or any combination of the tow.

Pushbutton deployable blockchains:

Pushbutton deployable blockchains are Ark’s version of ERC20 tokens. They allow a user to deploy a new blockchain and token at the push of a button. However, unlike ERC20 tokens which rely on the Ethereum blockchain, these pushbutton blockchains run on their own independent blockchain, not on Ark’s. This keeps Ark’s main network running smoothly and allows it to scale more effectively.

Imagine Ethereum’s blockchain as a big 5 lane highway. Every ERC20 token is a car on that highway. As more and more cars get on the highway, traffic begins to back up. Cars can’t move as fast. Ark’s pushbutton blockchains would be like adding an additional lane to that highway, one that only takes cars from that specific company. This keeps the main Ark highway clear.

All blockchains deployed via Ark’s pushbutton will be SmartBridge compatible. Thus, any pushbutton deployed blockchain will be able to communicate with all the others on the network. This allows anyone, even without much technical background, to quickly and easily deploy a blockchain: from developing blockchain companies and DApps to a group of friends that wants a blockchain to record their Call of Duty scores.

Delegated Proof of Stake (dPoS)

Unlike with traditional Proof of Stake protocols that rely on all coin holders to secure the network, Ark uses a delegated proof of stake model. The 51 top token holders are responsible for maintaining the network. They confirm blocks and receive rewards in the form of transaction fees and Ark payouts. But every Ark holder has the ability to vote for delegates, effectively contributing their own Ark quantity to that of the delegate’s. The voter then gets a payout from the delegate in accordance with how much they contributed. This allows everyone to benefit from the PoS model.

This makes achieving a 51% attack much more difficult. In a standard proof of stake model, if one user could purchase 51% of the tokens, they would be able to authorize invalid transactions. But with Ark’s protocol, even if one delegate manages to obtain 51% of the tokens, he would still only be 1 of the 51 delegates. Ultimately, this encourages a more decentralized system.

In addition, because delegates and nodes must stake their tokens, any malicious behavior results in the loss of their tokens. This creates a serious economic disincentive. Those who secure the network do so to preserve the value and security of their own stake in Ark.

In addition, I believe that the future of cryptocurrency decentralization is in the proof of stake protocol. The extensive environmental impact and energy costs associated with mining will become increasingly prohibitive and coins will make a shift towards PoS — the coins already implementing functional PoS protocols having a big advantage.

Voters can usually earn 8–10% per year on their staked Ark. This spreadsheet provides an estimate on how much you can earn according to how many tokens you hold.

The Wallet

In terms of design and user-friendliness, Ark’s wallet is unmatched. All of the previously discussed functions, from voting for delegates to interacting with SmartBridges and ACES is available directly out of the Ark wallet.

A Business Entity in France

Ark announced that they will be registered as an SCIC in France, the first cryptocurrency registered as such in the European Union. A SCIC is a cooperative society, meaning that all members of the Ark ecosystem from employees, users, volunteers, public bodies, companies, associations all cooperate to govern Ark and can vote accordingly. This provides a massive amount of credibility to the project and allows them to work with European regulatory institutions.

Other relevant information:

Ark supports a variety of different coding languages. It’s also interesting to think of the SmartBridge capabilities in connection to atomic swaps. Ultimately, they could serve nearly identical purposes, although the Ark team says that this is not the first-most goal of the technology.

Technical Information and analysis:

Problem it solves: Ark offers a platform that in terms of usability and scaling, solves many of the present issues with Ethereum. The DPoS protocol far exceeds Ethereum’s proof of work protocol in terms of efficiency and scalability. While Ethereum is moving towards a proof of stake protocol, Ark has already accomplished this. In addition, the fact that their pushbutton blockchains don’t run on the Ark mainchain will keep Ark running cheaply and smoothly. Ark’s future developments on their roadmap will enable Ark smart contracts and anonymous transactions. I could see them competing with Ethereum over 2018, similar to Neo’s run early this year.

Current Market Cap: $313,344,146 and #29 in market cap amongst cryptocurrencies. This is a solid mid-cap coin with a ton of growth potential if they can deliver on their promises. But in this market, Ark could experience a large rise before delivering in the short term.

Coin Supply: 129,231,284 tokens in existence.

Inflationary/Deflationary factors: Ark has a low inflation rate that decreases over time. It is a lower inflation rate than Ethereum. The justification is that platform tokens should be inflationary to encourage spending. Holding tokens has less incentive when you know that the laws of inflation are slowly devaluing your holdings. But this is not a reason to not invest, especially not this early. If the platform gains adoption, Ark’s exponential growth will far offset it’s inflation rate. Also, as a side note, the rewards you can get from staking more than compensate for the inflation rate.

Allocation: 1% held for bounty rewards for those who contribute to the Ark Ecosystem, 16% held by the Ark team, 7% are held in an ArkShield account (a professionally managed account that works towards improving the ecosystem), and the remaining 76% are held by the public.

Intrinsic Token Value to ecosystem: The token allows for users to participate in the DPoS governance within the Ark system. The Ark token will allow users to interact with all SmartBridge enabled blockchains.

RoadMap: Ark’s main-net went live early this March. The next updates on the roadmap will likely be:
1. Integration with wearable devices and hardware wallets

2. A mobile wallet release

3. The release of 18 new programming languages — 12 are already completed.

After these updates, on their roadmap in no particular order are:

  1. A complete overhaul of their core protocol — this will enable Ark to be faster, more scalable, a more dynamic fee structure, better stability, multiple payment transactions, and preparations for smart contract deployments.
  2. Release of the technical documentation for the whole platform
  3. Ark smart contracts
  4. IPFS (Inter-planetary File System) —allows users to timestamp and secure data with links that are then placed into the Ark blockchain. Allows for preservation of this data without bogging down the Ark blockchain.
  5. A testnet of their pushbutton deployable blockchains
  6. InterPlanetary DataBase — this will allow Ark to manage and secure data like personal information, reputation, licensing, and media files.

Community presence: I’m constantly impressed by Ark’s presence and the level of involvement from the community. Ark’s team frequently posts blog updates, GitHub additions, and other social media posts. The developer community also contributes significantly to the Ark ecosystem. The communication from the team and the bounty rewards offered by Ark encourage this community development. The ACES team is also proving to be an integral part of the ecosystem.

Summary: Ark is not a one trick pony. Accomplishing everything in such a complex project will be difficult. The question is can the team deliver? That is impossible to predict, but I think they have the right tools in place: a strong team, active community, great interface, ambitious project, good communication, and advanced protocols. They likely won’t succeed at overthrowing Ethereum as the all-in-one blockchain platform, but I think that the market can accommodate several blockchain platforms, and Ark is well situated to be one of those. In addition, the SmartBridge capabilities truly offers a unique characteristic to Ark.

Ark’s capability as a platform as well as a link between other blockchains is what gives Ark so much potential. They have already shown a dedication to creating a project with stable growth and strong development. I think that as Ark gains more functionality and community awareness, Ark could be one of the best buys of the year.

FOLLOW me on Twitter: @noamlevenson

Disclaimer: I am invested into the Ark project. This is not investment advice, merely my opinion on the project. Do your own research.

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