Many cryptocurrencies offer theoretical advantages over more traditional monies that they fail to realize in the real world.
ICON, a blockchain technology company based in South Korea, is attempting to bridge this gap by creating a decentralized network of blockchain communities that can freely interact with one another without sacrificing their autonomy. The resulting structure has an emphasis on real world applications other digital currencies lack.
The ICON Republic Blockchain
Anyone interested in doing so may set up a “Community” or DAPP (Decentralized Application) on the ICON Network and freely interact with the other Communities and DAPPs there. It’s essentially a giant network of networks that aims to help them all connect instantly and automatically, facilitated by a shared central ledger and token ($ICX).
For example, a health insurance company could submit payment to a hospital on the ICON Network. The transaction would be overseen by the ICON Republic Blockchain and might be paid in $ICX, the blockchain’s currency.
Or it could be automatically paid in some other currency using ICON’s decentralized exchange (“DEX”) to switch one currency for another on the fly.
It’s about more than payments; ICON can automate and facilitate many kinds of transactions. For example, a student might automatically receive a student discount on a transaction using $ICX because their university Community added their student status to their Blockchain ID. Once the school Community is integrated into ICON, the student’s ID can be verified instantly by any vendor on the ICON network the student is transacting with.
Likewise, opening a bank account at a large bank is significantly expedited by a hub of Communities that provide all of the information the bank is looking for in one convenient place. ICON already has strategic partnerships with banks, hospitals, insurance companies, and universities in place to take these theoretical capabilities into the real world, giving the project an apparent leg up on most of its competitors.
ICON’s Global Appeal
No institution would willingly compromise its autonomy for any of the advantages described above, so ICON is built to ensure they don’t have to. Every Community and DAPP on the ICON Network is independently managed, and free to choose its own currency, consensus algorithm, and other regulations as it sees fit. This means that a Bitcoin Community could continue to use Bitcoin within their Community, only switching to $ICX for transactions with other Communities on the network.
This freedom to define separate regulations for each Community also allows global participation in the ICON Network without the need to craft a system satisfying the variety of crypto regulations found throughout the world. Communities on the ICON network will follow the relevant local regulations, with ICON simply acting as a central hub and inter-Community transaction facilitator.
This idea has obvious appeal, as was illustrated by the company’s initial token sale in September of 2017. Contributors supported the sale from roughly 130 different countries. Interest from South Korea was highest among nation-states (15 percent of total contributions), but European backers (45 percent) collectively contributed more than their Asian counterparts (36 percent) on the continental level.
The Americas, Africa, and Oceania comprised 19 percent of the backing as well, proving a strong level of international interest.
The Numbers Behind ICON
There are 400,230,000 of ICON’s cryptocurrency token, $ICX, of which 378,545,005 are currently circulating, according to CoinMarketCap. Half of those coins were initially distributed in the token sale described above, with the remainder distributed in the following manner:
16 percent held in Reserve
10 percent held by the ICON team, early contributors, and advisors
10 percent held by strategic partners and community groups
14 percent held by the ICON Foundation, the parent company of the project.
2,25 USD (-9,30%)
There is no mining process for ICX, but the available supply may be increased in the future as a result of annual C-Rep meetings. C-Reps are simply Community Representatives from the various Communities on the ICON Network, and they may authorize up to a 20 percent increase in the ICX supply per year, although they are under no obligation to introduce inflation if they don’t want to.
Other Advantages Of ICON
ICON wallets have access to a Decentralized Exchange (DEX) that facilitates currency transfers and exchanges without relying on public exchanges such as Coinbase or Kraken. Most major cryptocurrencies are already available, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. This enhances ICON’s universal appeal by allowing users to exchange ICX for nearly any other cryptocurrency whenever they want to.
The ICON Republic blockchain also uses a Loop Fault Tolerance (LFT) consensus algorithm. This is an enhanced version of the Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) algorithm that enables faster transaction processing while eliminating the possibility of a fork in the blockchain. It functions by allowing trusted nodes to form groups empowered to determine how many votes each participant receives, significantly expediting the process.
Potential For Future Growth
The ability of individual Communities to choose a crypto besides $ICX to facilitate internal value exchanges hurts the ICX token’s potential from an investor perspective, as large organizations could unite all of their operations in one Community and use whatever currency they want. However, the ICX token still has great potential if it becomes the standard unit of exchange for even one major industry.
If Korean hospitals adopt it to streamline their relationships with local insurance providers, those transactions alone would amount to billions of dollars in annual transactions.
Many cryptos can claim something akin to the above as a best case scenario, but the developers of ICON have placed a clear emphasis on the token’s practical use. And it’s worth mentioning that the project is led by an impressive team of advisors, including Don Tapscott (author of the international best-seller Blockchain Revolution) and Jason Best (one of Forbes.com’s 10 most influential people in 2017).
It has a long way yet to go, but ICON may just have the legs to change the current business paradigm.