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Spreading Crypto: In Search of the Killer Application

Spreading Crypto: In Search of the Killer Application
This is the second post of our Spreading Crypto series where we take a deep dive into what it’ll take to help this technology reach broader adoption.
Mick exploring the state of apps in crypto
Our previous post explored the history of protocols and how they only become widely adopted when a compelling application makes them more accessible and easier to use.
Crypto will be no different. Blockchain technology today is mostly all low-level protocols. As with the numerous protocols that came before, these new, decentralized protocols need killer applications.
So, how’s that going? Where is crypto’s killer application? What’s the state of application development within our industry? Today we’ll try to answer those questions. We’ll also take a close look at decentralized applications — as that’s where a lot of the developer energy and focus currently is. Let’s dive in.

Popular Crypto Applications

The most popular crypto applications today are exchanges like Coinbase and Binance — each with tens of millions of users. Other popular crypto exchanges include Kraken, Bitstamp, Gemini, and Bitfinex. In recent years, new derivatives platforms have emerged like FTX and Deribit.
The most popular crypto applications today are primarily focused on trading, speculation, and finance. This class of applications dwarfs all other types of applications in terms of users and growth. That’s either a sign of strong product/market fit, or we just haven’t yet discovered other good use-cases. Or a mix of both.
https://preview.redd.it/8rnxghfrdh551.png?width=1600&format=png&auto=webp&s=b3df8c3d87410f6b84432df79528ee4324daf04d
Beyond the fact that the most popular crypto applications are all used for speculation, another common thread is that they are all centralized.
A centralized application means that ultimate power and control rests with a centralized party (the company who built it). For example, if Coinbase or Binance wants to block you from withdrawing your funds for whatever reason (maybe for suspicious activity or fraud), they can do that. They have control of their servers so they have control of your funds.
Most popular applications that we all use daily are centralized (Netflix, Facebook, Youtube, etc). That’s the standard for modern, world-class applications today.

Decentralized Applications

Even though the most popular crypto applications are all centralized, most of the developer energy and focus in our industry is with decentralized applications (dApps) and non-custodial products.
These are products where only the user can touch or move funds. Not even the company or developer who built the application can access or control or stop funds from being moved. Only the user has control.
These applications allow users to truly become their own bank and have absolute control of their money.
They also allow users to perform blockchain transactions and interact directly with decentralized protocols. Some of the most popular non-custodial products include Ledger, MetaMask, and MyCrypto (#ProudInvestor).
While the benefits of this type of application are obvious (user has full control of their funds), it comes with a lot of tradeoffs. We will cover that later in this post.
https://preview.redd.it/rs6tj7vsdh551.png?width=1600&format=png&auto=webp&s=86fe5bca3a9466abab5e78c9873ce3b57609f2d2

Libertarianism + Crypto

If the most popular applications tend to be centralized (inside and out of crypto), why is so much of our community focused on building decentralized applications (dApps)? For the casual observer, that’s a reasonable, valid question.
“Not your keys, not your coins.”
This meme is endlessly repeated among longtime crypto hodlers. If you’re not in complete control of your crypto (i.e. using non-custodial wallets or dApps), then it’s not really your crypto.
Engrained in the early culture of Bitcoin has always been a strong distrust for centralized authority and power — including the too-big-to-fail government-backed financial system. In the midst of the Financial Crisis, Satoshi Nakamoto included this headline in Bitcoin’s genesis block: “Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.” There has always been a close connection between libertarianism & cryptocurrency.
So it’s no surprise that much of the crypto developer community is spending their time building applications that are non-custodial or decentralized. It’s part of the DNA, the soul, the essence of our community.
https://preview.redd.it/fy33zhkvdh551.png?width=1600&format=png&auto=webp&s=386c741f13e9119ecfcfffe1c781d09ce58704ed

Personal Experience

When I was at Mainframe, we built Mainframe OS — a platform that developers use to build and launch decentralized applications (dApps). I’m deeply familiar with what’s possible and what’s not in the world of dApps. I have the battle scars and gray hair to prove it. We’ve hosted panels around the various challenges. We’ve even produced videos poking fun at how complicated it is for end-users to interact with.
After having spent three years in the trenches of this non-custodial world, I no longer believe that decentralized applications are capable of bringing crypto to the masses.
While I totally understand and appreciate the ethos of self-sovereignty, independence, and liberty… I think it’s a terrible mistake that as a community we are spending most of our time in this area of application development. Decentralized applications will not take crypto to the masses.
Mainframe OS

Overwhelming Friction

The user friction that comes with decentralized applications is just too overwhelming. Let’s go through a few of the bigger points:
  1. Knowledge & Education: Most non-custodial products do not abstract away any of the blockchain complexity. In fact, they often expose more of it because the most loyal users are crypto nerds. Imagine how a normie n00b feels when she starts seeing words like seed phrases, public & private keys, gas limits, transaction fees, blockchain explorers, hex addresses, and confirmation times. There is a lot for a user to learn and become educated on. That’s friction. The learning curve on this is just too damn high.
  2. User Experience: It is currently impossible to create a smooth and performant user experience in non-custodial wallets or decentralized applications. Any interaction that requires a blockchain transaction will feel sluggish and slow. We built a messaging app on Ethereum and presented it at DevCon3 in Cancun. The technical constraints of blockchain technology were crushing to the user experience. We simply couldn’t create the real-time, modern messaging experience that users have come to expect from similar apps like Slack or WhatsApp. Until blockchains are closer in speed to web servers (which will be difficult given their decentralized nature), dApps will never be able to create the smooth user experience that the masses expect.
  3. Loss of Funds Risk: There is no “Forgot Password” functionality when storing your own crypto in a non-custodial wallet. There is no customer support agent you can ping. There is no company behind it that can make you whole if you make a mistake and lose your money. You are on your own. One wrong move and your money is all gone. If you lose your private key, there is no way to recover your funds. This just isn’t the type of customer support experience people want or are used to.
Onyx Messaging App

What Our Industry Has Wrong

Decentralized applications will always have a place in the market — especially among the most hardcore crypto people and parts of the world where these tools are essential. I’m personally an active user of many non-custodial products. I’m a blockchain early-adopter, I like to hold my own money, and I’m very forgiving of suboptimal UX.
However, I’m not afraid to say the poop stinks. Decentralized applications simply cannot produce the type of product experience that mainstream consumers expect.
If the goal is growth and adoption, as a community I believe we’re barking up the wrong tree. We are trying to make fetch happen. It isn’t gonna happen. Our Netscape Moment is unlikely to arrive as long as we’re focused on decentralized applications.
\"Mean Girls\" movie
There’s a reason why the most popular consumer applications are centralized (Spotify, Amazon, Instagram, etc). There’s a reason why the most popular crypto applications are centralized (Coinbase, Binance, etc).
The frameworks, tooling, infrastructure, and services to support these modern, centralized applications are mature and well-established. It’s easier to build apps that are fast & performant. It’s easier to launch apps that are convenient and on all form-factors (especially mobile). It’s easier to distribute and promote via all the major app store channels (iOS/Android). It’s easier to patch, update, and upgrade. It’s easier to experiment and iterate.
It’s easier to design, build, and launch a world-class application when it is centralized! It is why we’ve chosen this path for Genesis Block.
---
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We have a lot more content coming. Be sure to follow our channels: https://genesisblock.com/follow/
Have you already downloaded the app? We're Genesis Block, a new digital bank that's powered by crypto & decentralized protocols. The app is live in the App Store (iOS & Android). Get the link to download at https://genesisblock.com/download
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Decred Journal – August 2018

Note: you can read this on GitHub (link), Medium (link) or old Reddit (link) to see all the links.

Development

dcrd: Version 1.3.0 RC1 (Release Candidate 1) is out! The main features of this release are significant performance improvements, including some that benefit SPV clients. Full release notes and downloads are on GitHub.
The default minimum transaction fee rate was reduced from 0.001 to 0.0001 DCkB. Do not try to send such small fee transactions just yet, until the majority of the network upgrades.
Release process was changed to use release branches and bump version on the master branch at the beginning of a release cycle. Discussed in this chat.
The codebase is ready for the new Go 1.11 version. Migration to vgo module system is complete and the 1.4.0 release will be built using modules. The list of versioned modules and a hierarchy diagram are available here.
The testnet was reset and bumped to version 3.
Comments are welcome for the proposal to implement smart fee estimation, which is important for Lightning Network.
@matheusd recorded a code review video for new Decred developers that explains how tickets are selected for voting.
dcrwallet: Version 1.3.0 RC1 features new SPV sync mode, new ticket buyer, new APIs for Decrediton and a host of bug fixes. On the dev side, dcrwallet also migrated to the new module system.
Decrediton: Version 1.3.0 RC1 adds the new SPV sync mode that syncs roughly 5x faster. The feature is off by default while it receives more testing from experienced users. Other notable changes include a design polish and experimental Politeia integration.
Politeia: Proposal editing is being developed and has a short demo. This will allow proposal owners to edit their proposal in response to community feedback before voting begins. The challenges associated with this feature relate to updating censorship tokens and maintaining a clear history of which version comments were made on. @fernandoabolafio produced this architecture diagram which may be of interest to developers.
@degeri joined to perform security testing of Politeia and found several issues.
dcrdata: mainnet explorer upgraded to v2.1 with several new features. For users: credit/debit tx filter on address page, showing miner fees on coinbase transaction page, estimate yearly ticket rewards on main page, cool new hamburger menu and keyboard navigation. For developers: new chain parameters page, experimental Insight API support, endpoints for coin supply and block rewards, testnet3 support. Lots of minor API changes and frontend tweaks, many bug fixes and robustness improvements.
The upcoming v3.0 entered beta and is deployed on beta.dcrdata.org. Check out the new charts page. Feedback and bug reports are appreciated. Finally, the development version v3.1.0-pre is on alpha.dcrdata.org.
Android: updated to be compatible with the latest SPV code and is syncing, several performance issues are worked on. Details were posted in chat. Alpha testing has started, to participate please join #dev and ask for the APK.
iOS: backend is mostly complete, as well as the front end. Support for devices with smaller screens was improved. What works now: creating and recovering wallets, listing of transactions, receiving DCR, displaying and scanning QR codes, browsing account information, SPV connection to peers, downloading headers. Some bugs need fixing before making testable builds.
Ticket splitting: v0.6.0 beta released with improved fee calculation and multiple bug fixes.
docs: introduced new Governance section that grouped some old articles as well as the new Politeia page.
@Richard-Red created a concept repository sandbox with policy documents, to illustrate the kind of policies that could be approved and amended by Politeia proposals.
decred.org: 8 contributors added and 4 removed, including 2 advisors (discussion here).
decredmarketcap.com is a brand new website that shows the most accurate DCR market data. Clean design, mobile friendly, no javascript required.
Dev activity stats for August: 239 active PRs, 219 commits, 25k added and 11k deleted lines spread across 8 repositories. Contributions came from 2-10 developers per repository. (chart)

Network

Hashrate: went from 54 to 76 PH/s, the low was 50 and the new all-time high is 100 PH/s. BeePool share rose to ~50% while F2Pool shrank to 30%, followed by coinmine.pl at 5% and Luxor at 3%.
Staking: 30-day average ticket price is 95.6 DCR (+3.0) as of Sep 3. During the month, ticket price fluctuated between a low of 92.2 and high of 100.5 DCR. Locked DCR represented between 3.8 and 3.9 million or 46.3-46.9% of the supply.
Nodes: there are 217 public listening and 281 normal nodes per dcred.eu. Version distribution: 2% at v1.4.0(pre) (dev builds), 5% on v1.3.0 (RC1), 62% on v1.2.0 (-5%), 22% on v1.1.2 (-2%), 6% on v1.1.0 (-1%). Almost 69% of nodes are v.1.2.0 and higher and support client filters. Data snapshot of Aug 31.

ASICs

Obelisk posted 3 email updates in August. DCR1 units are reportedly shipping with 1 TH/s hashrate and will be upgraded with firmware to 1.5 TH/s. Batch 1 customers will receive compensation for missed shipment dates, but only after Batch 5 ships. Batch 2-5 customers will be receiving the updated slim design.
Innosilicon announced the new D9+ DecredMaster: 2.8 TH/s at 1,230 W priced $1,499. Specified shipping date was Aug 10-15.
FFMiner DS19 claims 3.1 TH/s for Blake256R14 at 680 W and simultaneously 1.55 TH/s for Blake2B at 410 W, the price is $1,299. Shipping Aug 20-25.
Another newly noticed miner offer is this unit that does 46 TH/s at 2,150 W at the price of $4,720. It is shipping Nov 2018 and the stats look very close to Pangolin Whatsminer DCR (which has now a page on asicminervalue).

Integrations

www.d1pool.com joined the list of stakepools for a total of 16.
Australian CoinTree added DCR trading. The platform supports fiat, there are some limitations during the upgrade to a new system but also no fees in the "Early access mode". On a related note, CoinTree is working on a feature to pay household bills with cryptocurrencies it supports.
Three new OTC desks were added to exchanges page at decred.org.
Two mobile wallets integrated Decred:
Reminder: do your best to understand the security and privacy model before using any wallet software. Points to consider: who controls the seed, does the wallet talk to the nodes directly or via middlemen, is it open source or not?

Adoption

Merchants:

Marketing

Targeted advertising report for August was posted by @timhebel. Facebook appeal is pending, some Google and Twitter campaigns were paused and some updated. Read more here.
Contribution to the @decredproject Twitter account has evolved over the past few months. A #twitter_ops channel is being used on Matrix to collaboratively draft and execute project account tweets (including retweets). Anyone with an interest in contributing to the Twitter account can ask for an invitation to the channel and can start contributing content and ideas there for evaluation by the Twitter group. As a result, no minority or unilateral veto over tweets is possible. (from GitHub)

Events

Attended:
For those willing to help with the events:
BAB: Hey all, we are gearing up for conference season. I have a list of places we hope to attend but need to know who besides @joshuam and @Haon are willing to do public speaking, willing to work booths, or help out at them? You will need to be well versed on not just what is Decred, but the history of Decred etc... DM me if you are interested. (#event_planning)
The Decred project is looking for ambassadors. If you are looking for a fun cryptocurrency to get involved in send me a DM or come talk to me on Decred slack. (@marco_peereboom, longer version here)

Media

Decred Assembly episode 21 is available. @jy-p and lead dcrwallet developer @jrick discussed SPV from Satoshi's whitepaper, how it can be improved upon and what's coming in Decred.
Decred Assembly episodes 1-21 are available in audio only format here.
New instructional articles on stakey.club: Decrediton setup, Deleting the wallet, Installing Go, Installing dcrd, dcrd as a Linux service. Available in both English and Portuguese.
Decred scored #32 in the August issue of Chinese CCID ratings. The evaluation model was explained in this interview.
Satis Group rated Decred highly in their cryptoasset valuation research report (PDF). This was featured by several large media outlets, but some did not link to or omitted Decred entirely, citing low market cap.
Featured articles:
Articles:
Videos:

Community Discussions

Community stats:
Comm systems news:
After another debate about chat systems more people began testing and using Matrix, leading to some gardening on that platform:
Highlights:
Reddit: substantive discussion about Decred cons; ecosystem fund; a thread about voter engagement, Politeia UX and trolling; idea of a social media system for Decred by @michae2xl; how profitable is the Obelisk DCR1.
Chats: cross-chain trading via LN; plans for contractor management system, lower-level decision making and contractor privacy vs transparency for stakeholders; measuring dev activity; what if the network stalls, multiple implementations of Decred for more resilience, long term vision behind those extensive tests and accurate comments in the codebase; ideas for process for policy documents, hosting them in Pi and approving with ticket voting; about SPV wallet disk size, how compact filters work; odds of a wallet fetching a wrong block in SPV; new module system in Go; security of allowing Android app backups; why PoW algo change proposal must be specified in great detail; thoughts about NIPoPoWs and SPV; prerequisites for shipping SPV by default (continued); Decred vs Dash treasury and marketing expenses, spending other people's money; why Decred should not invade a country, DAO and nation states, entangling with nation state is poor resource allocation; how winning tickets are determined and attack vectors; Politeia proposal moderation, contractor clearance, the scale of proposals and decision delegation, initial Politeia vote to approve Politeia itself; chat systems, Matrix/Slack/Discord/RocketChat/Keybase (continued); overview of Korean exchanges; no breaking changes in vgo; why project fund burn rate must keep low; asymptotic behavior of Decred and other ccs, tail emission; count of full nodes and incentives to run them; Politeia proposal translations and multilingual environment.
An unusual event was the chat about double negatives and other oddities in languages in #trading.

Markets

DCR started the month at USD 56 / BTC 0.0073 and had a two week decline. On Aug 14 the whole market took a huge drop and briefly went below USD 200 billion. Bitcoin went below USD 6,000 and top 100 cryptos lost 5-30%. The lowest point coincided with Bitcoin dominance peak at 54.5%. On that day Decred dived -17% and reached the bottom of USD 32 / BTC 0.00537. Since then it went sideways in the USD 35-45 / BTC 0.0054-0.0064 range. Around Aug 24, Huobi showed DCR trading volume above USD 5M and this coincided with a minor recovery.
@ImacallyouJawdy posted some creative analysis based on ticket data.

Relevant External

StopAndDecrypt published an extensive article "ASIC Resistance is Nothing but a Blockchain Buzzword" that is much in line with Decred's stance on ASICs.
The ongoing debates about the possible Sia fork yet again demonstrate the importance of a robust dispute resolution mechanism. Also, we are lucky to have the treasury.
Mark B Lundeberg, who found a vulnerability in atomicswap earlier, published a concept of more private peer-to-peer atomic swaps. (missed in July issue)
Medium took a cautious stance on cryptocurrencies and triggered at least one project to migrate to Ghost (that same project previously migrated away from Slack).
Regulation: Vietnam bans mining equipment imports, China halts crypto events and tightens control of crypto chat groups.
Reddit was hacked by intercepting 2FA codes sent via SMS. The announcement explains the impact. Yet another data breach suggests to think twice before sharing any data with any company and shift to more secure authentication systems.
Intel and x86 dumpsterfire keeps burning brighter. Seek more secure hardware and operating systems for your coins.
Finally, unrelated to Decred but good for a laugh: yetanotherico.com.

About This Issue

This is the 5th issue of Decred Journal. It is mirrored on GitHub, Medium and Reddit. Past issues are available here.
Most information from third parties is relayed directly from source after a minimal sanity check. The authors of Decred Journal have no ability to verify all claims. Please beware of scams and do your own research.
Feedback is appreciated: please comment on Reddit, GitHub or #writers_room on Matrix or Slack.
Contributions are welcome too. Some areas are collecting content, pre-release review or translations to other languages. Check out @Richard-Red's guide how to contribute to Decred using GitHub without writing code.
Credits (Slack names, alphabetical order): bee, Haon, jazzah, Richard-Red and thedecreddigest.
submitted by jet_user to decred [link] [comments]

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