Ripple (xrp) set to level up with Cobalt upgrade.
During this ugly downturn in the market, most of us are anticipating that the ball will hit the floor relatively soon and bounce back up. But of all the countless cryptocurrencies that exist in the market today, one continues to quietly make break-throughs and is rising up to join the 3rd generation of Blockchain tech. And of course, it's one of the most despised for its lack of decentralization.
This gem of a crypto is Ripple. I have also discussed Ripple and its native currency XRP on numerous occasions, even before it went from $0.20 to over $3.00 this past winter. I was surprised to see so many people doubt its ability to evolve into a very solid investment. It arguably had the most development, marketing, and innovative technology out of any Blockchain project in 2017, sitting side-by-side with Ethereum. So why did everyone overlook it?
It comes down to the basic fact that Ripple is a company, and a large majority of the Blockchain community doesn't like centralization. So they intentionally overlook its accomplishments. I'm not advocating that Ripple is perfect, but rather trying to point out that Ripple hasn't committed heresy, as the Blockchain zealots want you to believe. I want you to take a closer look. Why can't a centralized company (e.g. Amazon, Google, Facebook) not be a good investment opportunity?
While I have made my case in the past for Ripple as an investment opportunity, I want to highlight something new that most people have not heard about. It's a consensus algorithm update called Cobalt. On February 20th, a whitepaper was published by the Cornell University computer science repository called "Cobalt: BFT Governance in Open Networks".
The new Cobalt update will be applied to Ripple in the near future and will allow for a number of improvements. One of them is faster transactions times. Even though Ripple has been able to send value to any location in the world in 4 seconds, it will be in 1 second. That alone will be a remarkable achievement for any company and a historical moment for the remittance market. Cobalt will also help improve the reliability of the Ripple platform by preventing transmission delays. Instead, the network will simply slow down when a lack of consensus exists. This is a bit technical, but it's a big deal to financial institutions that are eye-balling Ripple.
With the potential partnership with Western Union, being one of the highest traded cryptos in South Korea, looking for a route into the Chinese economy, and being utilized by Santander to create an international money transfer app, I highly doubt Ripple is skipping a beat. If you haven't included Ripple in your investment portfolio already, I would encourage you to take a second look.
The "Velvet Fork" could bring back consensus.
So far, there have been two main ways to upgrade a blockchain: A hard fork and a soft fork. Both are ways to upgrade a blockchain to support rules that are deemed important. Unfortunately, not everyone agrees on these changes.
However, there seems to be another way to achieve the same effect without having all the controversy. The method is called a Velvet Fork and it allows new concepts to be introduced to a permissionless blockchain without needing a consensus of participants to agree on the new concepts. The term was actually coined while computer scientists were working on ways to improve sidechains.
Velvet forks require no modifications to the consensus layer of a blockchain, which prevents miners from being hurt by immediate changes to the rule set. The relative idea is to have blocks (from the main blockchain and the sidechain) living side-by-side in harmony without the threat of a split.
On the other hand, this isn't a perfected method by any means. There is a lot of vulnerability here that still needs to be addressed. A perfect example of this would be "Selfish Mining". This is when a miner is able to hide the fact that he/she has found a block of transactions. If true, the miner could force other miners into searching for that hidden block for an indefinite period of time while he/she gets a head start at finding the next block.
Velvet forks could potentially be exploited in such a way to discover extra blocks and cheat the network. This could also entice other miners to mine newly created blocks over the legacy blocks. Overall, it could be an absolute mess.
There are a ton of potential use cases for Velvet Forks, and they would surely solve many dilemmas and avoid disagreements in the form of soft and hard forks. A lot more research needs to be done to ensure that it doesn't create any vulnerabilities when implemented in a blockchain. If perfected, it would serve as a viable solution and a huge accomplishment for the entire blockchain community.
Startup company "Loom Network" is ready to scale ethereum.
I think at this point we are all well aware that Ethereum has suffered from a scalability issue, causing it to stall in development and open the door to vicious competition (e.g. NEO, Cardano, EOS). Without the ability to handle millions of users on its network, Ethereum will never be able to reach its full potential. However, it seems that a solution is brewing in the cauldron.
A little-known company called Loom Network has emerged as a platform for Ethereum, that supposedly will allow developers to deploy Dapps on the Ethereum network and help avoid congestion, such as with the CryptoKitties incident last year. Loom Network works by using something called "Dappchains", which are like mini blockchains. By doing this, it creates a "sidechain" for the Dapp. This concept isn't necessarily new and has been a common theme amongst other prominent blockchain projects.
However, there is always a caveat. Loom Network is a centralized company and security could be a concern, since sidechains operate partially off of the Ethereum network. This could lead to something called a "Velvet Fork", which you probably have not heard of yet (so we'll save that for another article).
Regardless, we are all curious as to whether or not Loom Network can help Ethereum solve its scalability issue, while also maintaining its dominance as the second-most valuable blockchain in the world. If Ethereum can't figure it out soon, it will risk losing its market share to formidable (and possibly superior) blockchain projects.