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Overview of the GRAM cryptocurrency on the Telegram Open Network blockchain from Pavel Durov

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Sergey Prilutsky, a well-known blockchain expert, head of the research department at MixBytes and the SmartZ project during the Telegram Eventing shared detailed information about the TON project of Pavel Durov.

The data was obtained after studying classified information about the current state of TON development and will be interesting not only to specialists, but also to a wide range of potential investors.

Public Information

Funding for the development of the TON project was collected during two rounds of closed ICOs. Thanks to this, it was possible to raise $ 1.7 billion of investments, the minimum size of the stake was $ 20 million, about 100 investors took part in the ICO, among whom was Roman Abramovich.

The entire volume of the internal cryptocurrency of the project will be released immediately and will amount to 5 billion GRAM coins. After the launch of the project, ICO tokens from investors will be exchanged for coins in a ratio of 1 to 1.

Technical features of the TON blockchain

In the TON network, consensus is ensured by special validator nodes that receive a commission for their services. Something similar is implemented in the Ripple protocol. The reliability of the transaction is confirmed by the BFT-algorithm (the task of the Byzantine generals).

Micropayments are not displayed immediately on the blockchain , only their hash is visible. To ensure the validity of microtransactions, each validator must have on the account some security deposit in GRAM coins, which is provided by the nominees.

The validator cannot conduct more transactions than he is able to provide with collateral coins. In case of an erroneous payment, the validator and the nominator transfer coins to the accounts of other validators from this amount to cover their expenses for ensuring the transaction.

Each network node is responsible for its own part of the blockchain, which is divided into small pieces – shards (shardes). With a significant increase in the load on the network, part of the shards can be transferred to neighboring network nodes.

TON developers called this idea “Infinite Sharding”. The similar structure of the blockchain makes it possible not only to easily share shards, but also to automatically repair damaged areas.

TON Ecosystem Research Information

Sergey Prilutsky conducted an in-depth study of the TON project, during which interesting features of the new project surfaced. Below we propose to get acquainted with detailed information about the structure and features of the Telegram Open Network (TON) blockchain platform.

The idea of Infinite Sharding

The main concept of the TON platform is the message. The user can send it from outside the blockchain to the address of any system account. Such a procedure causes the creation of a message to other network accounts. Moreover, the state of an individual account can be imagined in the form of its own blockchain (accountchain). It is inherently a repository of incoming and outgoing messages.

Many shardes accounts are merged into Shardchain, a blockchain maintained by a validator node. The internal composition of such a shard chain can change dynamically, depending on the load on a particular network node.

Many shardchains are united in a workchain, another blockchain structure, due to the same prefix in their address. In turn, all the workchains form one masterchain, which is the general blockchain for the TON network. Let us dwell in more detail on these structures.

Masterchain

The master chain is the main chain that sets the rules for all chains of lower-level blockchains. Its role is to monitor and manage the global state of the entire Telegram Open Network.

The peculiarity of the master chain is that it does not have branching and merging of individual parts, i.e. in this, it resembles a classic blockchain. Each block of the master chain contains hashes of the last shard blocks organized in a binary tree, and stores the status of system smart contracts , as well as their code. PoS control, data on validators, network participants – all this is stored in the master chain. However, accurate information on this subject could not be found, and the one that is is unreliable and not final.

Masterchain management is based on system smart contracts that contain such global parameters:

  • The total number and other characteristics of the coin GRAM.
  • List of validator nodes, parameters of their share, address of the contract by which a monthly selection of new validators takes place.
  • Parameters TVM (TON Virtual Machine), its version, minimum and maximum gas prices – similar to Ethereum .
  • Smart contracts of additional tokens and their status.

It is important that all changes to the global TON parameters are accepted by consensus of more than 2/3 of all validators according to the BFT algorithm.

Workchain

Workchain is a conditional blockchain that combines the same type of chardchain. Its identifier is a prefix for the id number of shards, it is necessary for the exact routing of messages.

In TON, there is enough space for many workchains (2 ^ 32, which corresponds to approximately 4.3 billion workchains), and in each of them you can organize your own message logic. For example, one workshop can serve Ethereum contracts, and the other can implement anonymous UTXO (unspent coins), as is done in ZCash.

Shardchain

Shardchayn is the main working unit in the TON network. Shardchain is a separate chain of blocks that sends and receives messages from other shards, i.e. it is a blockchain serving its set of accounts.

Each validator contains a complete list of its shards and only part of the blocks from neighboring ones. The validator produces new blocks in its shardchyn, sending and receiving messages from other shards. At this level, it is already possible to separate and merge chains of shard chain blocks. Schematically, it looks like a DAG (directed acyclic graph), where each block has several parents, which are the last blocks of the joined shardchains.

Shard blocks

Each shard block must contain a certain required data set, the so-called indivisible part. It includes:

  • The hash of the previous block and, possibly, the hashes of the parents in the event of a merger of shardchaynov.
  • Validator signatures for already accepted blocks.
  • The number of the last known master block chain.
  • Hashes of the initial and final state of the shard for this block.
  • An outgoing message queue in the form of a list of messages sent to other shards.

Accountchain

An account chain is an entry-level TON blockchain. Each account identifier is a 256-bit key + workchain identifier. For example, the address of a smart contract would look like this:

1: 81525a3672b55678d4139b993b542c5c9735ac41b653d963a42855c9834b6921a4.

And the user account address is like this:

Ef + BVndfdQ45nUdlsfsmv68KBHGSgBJsfsv58dG2SE4oPMgs4.

The account itself receives and receives messages (naturally these are not messages from Telegram). They can contain GRAM tokens, be smart contract calls, represent any other data, etc.

All messages are processed only when they are delivered to the desired shard. In this case, they can freely move through intermediate shards. Messages can also come from outside the TON blockchain, i.e. be "messages from nowhere."

Account

Any account is a smart contract, possibly even with an empty code. Each account pays a fee for data storage, i.e. its balance decreases over time.

The account contains information on the balance of the GRAM tokens, the contract code or its hash, the time spent in the network, starting with the appearance of the root cell, statistics on the use of the data warehouse (for example, by the time the storage was last paid), a formal description of the interface.

Low level storage, cells

All data is stored in the TON blockchain in structures called cells. This is the basic unit for measuring the size of all network elements: messages, contract code, a wide variety of data.

Each cell contains 1023 bits of information and up to 4 links to neighboring cells. There are 256 different types of cells that differ in the way they are implemented and in the number of links to other cells. All of them are combined in a tree with the number of links for each element from 0 to 4. Cells are used for unified storage and deterministic operation in the blockchain storage.

Internal TON Algorithms

We have already met with the structure of the TON blockchain and its main elements. Now it’s the turn of the principles of their work and their fundamental concepts.

Logical time

As we learned earlier, the data structure in TON is a DAG, as, in principle, in 90% of other cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin . To fix the fact of delivery of a message or event in the blockchain, a monotonous counter is used during operations with them, and each such message contains its own time.

Due to the lack of central time synchronization servers, the use of absolute time within the network can lead to various errors. That is why the message systems decided to stop at a logical time.

Message

What is a message? This is absolutely any operation between shards. Any shard block must have an incoming message from an outgoing message from another existing and valid shard block. To confirm the truth of the message, only a few blocks from the sender’s chain are allowed to be stored; storage of its indivisible part is mandatory.

It is also forbidden to process an incoming message until proof of delivery of earlier outgoing messages from at least the next shard is received. This approach forces validators to prioritize sending messages first and then receiving them.

Instant Hypercube Routing

As it is now clear, each shard, in fact, is a queue of incoming and outgoing messages. To search for the desired account and the shortest path to it, an accelerated version of the "hypercube" algorithm is used.

This leads to the fact that if the destination has its own shard, the transaction is transferred to the desired account, and new messages generated by it are placed in the outgoing message queue. In the case when the addressee is someone else's shard, then, according to the deterministic rules of routing, the message is transferred to the incoming messages of the next shard.

The inclusion of a message queue in blocks is a new solution in blockchain technology. Thanks to this approach, the status of the message can be immediately tracked on the blockchain. Globally, the entire array of sent messages between shards is a complex multidimensional directed acyclic graph (DAG). However, at the moment there is no final clarity about the operation of the message delivery guarantees to the addressee in such a DAG.

Smart contracts

In TON, creating a smart contract or account is the same thing. In the case of sending GRAM tokens to a non-existent address, it is created as an empty contract with a balance other than 0.

As mentioned earlier, any account that stores something on the blockchain pays a fee for storage. Therefore, when creating a smart contract, you need to provide it with a balance in GRAM to pay for storage space, or even first ensure a balance, and then place the smart contract code.

There are also ready-made smart contract libraries in the master chain. Each contract has the following properties:

  • The contract may create a new contract.
  • You can place the hash from the smart contract code and only then demonstrate it.
  • The smart contract code can be changed, but this should be provided for in the code of the original smart contract.
  • You can not store the smart contract code in the blockchain, but then only incoming messages will be available to the account. Code and data will be stored outside the blockchain.
  • The code and state of the “dying” smart contract (the balance of which is close to 0) is replaced with a hash of its code. Using a hash, a smart contract can still be restored subject to a balance replenishment, otherwise the hash will also be deleted after a few months.

In general, we can conclude that the behavior and properties of accounts in TON are similar at the same time to Bitcoin and Ethereum.

TVM (TON Virtual Machine)

The TON virtual machine is a new development in the field of smart contract work. It is deterministic and stackable. Therefore, it is easily scalable and does an excellent job of packing data into cells. On TVM it is convenient to keep track of GRAM expenses for the execution of smart contracts and it is very simple to restore smart contracts.

The constraint model in TVM is built on gas, and elliptical cryptography is implemented on the ed25519 protected curve.

Smart Contract Language

TON uses the low-level and extremely deterministic language Fift, the prototype of which was the language FORTH (which is probably why they chose the name Fift). It is a concatenated, stackable language for microcontrollers. Unfortunately, for writing smart contracts with determinism and maximum cost effectiveness, only two options were invented: EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) and WASM (WebAssembly).

Fift is strongly typed; there are a dozen and a half types in it, including complex ones (Tuple, List, Odject).

The whole idea of this language is built around “words” -operators: there are many different words for manipulating the stack, functions, logic blocks, variables – all this is subject to the central concept of the “word” -operator.

For example, this is how the code for outputting two Fibonacci numbers of large 1000 looks like:

{1 0 rot {-rot over + swap rot 2dup> =} until drop}: fib-gtr

1000 fib-gtr

Here:

  • dop (xx x) , duplicates the value of the top of the stack. If the stack is empty, it throws an exception error.
  • drop (x) , deletes the value of the top of the stack.
  • swap (xyyx) , swaps the two values closest to the top of the stack.
  • rot (xyzyzx) , rotates the three values closest to the top of the stack.
  • -rot (xyzzxy), inverts the three values closest to the top of the stack in the opposite direction. Equivalent to rot rot.
  • over (xyxyx) , creates a copy of the second value on the stack and places it on top of the stack.
  • tuck (xyyxy) , equivalent to swap over.
  • nip (xyy) , removes the second value from the top of the stack. Equivalent to swap drop.
  • 2dup (xy-xyxy) , equivalent to over over.

It should be noted that many developers are shocked by this syntax and before studying the documentation on Fift, it is recommended to study one on FORTH.

For what reason did the developers choose Fift as the language for smart contracts? Perhaps because in this form it is great for formal verification and more error-resistant, requiring application developers to fully understand the sequence of execution of any operations.

TON General Impressions

In general, building the TON ecosystem makes a good impression. Among the advantages should be noted:

  • A new, cost-effective implementation of data storage. This indicates a serious approach to the problem of blockchain size.
  • A primitive messaging system similar to that used in GO.
  • Processing a message chain, a memory pool on the blockchain, almost all transaction information is taken from the blockchain, and not from external sources.
  • Workchain for hard forks or radical changes in consensus, cryptography, virtual machine for smart contracts. This allows you to theoretically tie Bitcoin, Ethereum, or EOS blockchains to TON as a new working chain.

Managing TON with smart contracts is a well-established method. For example, in Ethereum, EOS, Polkadot, etc.

From the point of view of the developer, the TON node is a few blockchains: master chain, work chain, shard chain.

Smart contract interfaces are stored next to smart contracts, which is very convenient for dApp, as provides the simplest interaction with them.

All blockchain resources are honestly paid, up to and including data warehouse rental. There are no discounts for large GRAM holders or validators.

The only thing I would like to change is the availability of a more understandable mechanism for implementing formal proof of message delivery. Especially considering the variety of network topology options.

Conclusion

The WhitePaper of the project gives the impression that the developers took the best working patterns from many modern projects, and did something different for each of them. Here there are parts that work like UTXO bitcoin (messages, accounts), there are like EVM (smart contracts, management), there are new individual developments (shards, routing), and there is an adaptation of old solutions to your project (language of smart contracts, cells storage).

In general, we can say that TON is causing a natural interest in a huge number of developers and users. Unfortunately, so far, apart from TVM, examples of smart contract code and a test node, which with high probability are at least partially an emulation, there is nothing more. A full launch of TON can only wait impatiently.

Publication date 08/23/2019
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Robert Kiyosaki: Bitcoin will be the future of finance, unlike real estate and gold

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Robert Kiyosaki, author of the best-selling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, said real estate and gold investments cannot be the future of finance, as cryptocurrency has come into the spotlight. The entrepreneur, who several times this year called the ideal investment portfolio to invest in gold, real estate and bitcoin, now believes that only cryptocurrency will strategically win.

In an interview with Anthony Pompliano, managing partner of cryptocurrency investment company Morgan Creek Capital, Kiyosaki said that you really need to look “beyond the horizon” of the current financial situation. He admitted that it was not easy for him to understand the phenomenon of cryptocurrencies, but nevertheless he made an effort, conducted an analysis and made certain conclusions.

According to Kiyosaki, bitcoin will reach the level of 75 thousand dollars within three years.

“It is very important to understand how cryptocurrencies work, as the financial world is already starting to change. Those investors who will continue to rely on gold and real estate will find themselves outside the main changes in the sphere of global finance. ”

The entrepreneur made his forecast while on July 9 a troy ounce of gold reached almost a 9-year high (about $ 1800), if we do not take into account the accumulated inflation in the US dollar.

Meanwhile, the precious metal has not reached the historical maximum of 2011, since for this formally a troy ounce it is necessary to rise above $ 1900, but in fact – it is sure to overcome the mark of $ 2050, given the accumulated devaluation in the US currency.

Recall that entrepreneur Kim Dotkom and billionaire Mike Novogratz declared their investment preferences in the form of gold and cryptocurrencies .

Date of publication 07.15.2020
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Staking and cryptocrediting – which is more profitable than stablecoins or PoS cryptocurrencies?

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In this article, we will consider the prospects of cryptocurrency staking as a new way of passive earnings, about the differences between staking and cryptocrediting, as well as about the main platforms designed for this.

If you have not been interested in staking before, then a variety of coins and platforms that support this type of passive income can make you dizzy. And with the advent of stablecoins, the choice has become even wider. What type of coins is better in terms of profit and risk?

Cryptocurrency Staking in 2020

A year ago, cryptocurrency staking was much simpler than now. The cryptocurrency market was attended by only a few specialized platforms, a pair of popular cryptocurrencies and approximately the same rate of return.

But these times have passed: in 2020, staking has grown into a serious segment of the crypto industry for several reasons.

  • Firstly, the market now has more than 30 PoS coins that support the possibility of staking.
  • Secondly, many kriptobirzh now there own PoS-nodes – an interesting alternative to special steykingovym platforms.

Moreover, now investors are provided with staking and deposit accounts in stablecoins, which allow minimizing risk and getting profitability at the level of PoS-coins or even higher. What to choose?

To find out, you need to compare the two main options on the market (PoS coins and stablecoins), according to a number of clear criteria. However, an important reservation must first be made about the nature of staking.

Staking and cryptocrediting are not the same thing

Coins that use the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm – Tezos, Cosmos, BIP, and LOOM – initially support staking. While the value of stablecoins is tied to a specific asset – for example, to the US dollar.

Stablecoins are not available for styling, but loans – coins are issued as a loan to another user who pays a deposit in response. However, for investors there is no particular practical difference between staking and lending. That is why one can hear on the cryptocurrency market, for example, about “USDC staking”.

Real ROI and Volatility

Let us compare the return on investment in PoS coins and stablecoins and how this indicator is affected by the volatility inherent in the crypto market.

  • PoS coins . Each coin has its own nominal rate of return built into the algorithm. For example, for Cosmos (ATOM) it is 8.35%. However, a really important value is the real profitability, which is calculated on the basis of price changes for any period. For example, if you invested $ 10,000 in the stake of ATOM coins on January 1 of this year, then by June 1 you would have received a nominal income of about 3.5%. Instead of 2309 coins, you would have 2390. However, over the same period of five months, the price of a coin fell by more than 30%: from $ 4.33 to $ 2.96. The cost of the steak, along with interest, would be only $ 7075, and the real ROI would drop to -30%.
  • Stablecoins . Everything is simple with them: what rate is declared, the investor receives such ROI, minus the platform commissions. On cryptocrediting platforms, the rates are quite stable and allow you to predict income: for example, if you pay 1.94% per annum for USDC deposits on Fulcrum platform, then your profit in dollar terms will also be 1.94%, unless something out of the ordinary happens the USDC coin will not lose its peg to the US dollar.

Verdict: on average, the real ROI of stablecoins is higher and more predictable, as there is almost no volatility. A PoS coin can suddenly increase in price and bring profitability of 20% or more, but it can also lose half its value.

Number of platforms available and conditions

Next, we compare the number of available platforms for staking PoS coins and stablecoins and the conditions that they offer to holders.

PoS Coins

Dozens of platforms offer staking popular coins like Tezos and Cosmos. These sites can be divided into two categories:

  • Specialized sites are Staked, Staking Lab and Dokia Capital, among others.
  • Crypto exchanges – Bitfinex, Kraken, and KuCoin are among the smaller platforms.

Of course, platform competition is good for investors, but such a wide choice also means that you have to spend more time searching for information.

Having chosen a coin, it will be necessary to study the rates of return taking into account the commission at different sites, as well as assess the risks of each of them. Moreover, commission rates on different platforms can vary greatly, which affects the investor’s income. For example, for the ATOM coin, the Binance exchange promises a yield of 6–9% per annum, while on Stakin this figure will be 9.1%, and on Gate.io – only 6.1%.

Stablecoins

This type of digital asset can be deposited on various lending platforms:

  • Centralized – BlockFi, CoinLoan, Nexo, as well as a number of exchanges – Binance , Bitfinex, Poloniex.
  • Decentralized – Compound, Nuo, dYdX, Aave and others.

It should be borne in mind that different lending platforms can offer completely different rates for the same coin. For example, deposit income in USDC ranges from 1.25% to 8.6%.

Verdict: by the number of platforms, ordinary staking coins win. However, in the case of staking or lending in stablecoins, choosing a platform is easier: you do not have to compare so many options.

Risks: interest in the project

We have already mentioned volatility as a key risk factor. When staking stablecoins, the investor receives a reward in cryptocurrency , which can often be exchanged for fiat. But staking PoS-coins can lead to losses due to volatility. Another factor by which it is worth evaluating the profitability of investing in a PoS coin is the level of interest in a particular coin.

Stablecoins have a significant advantage: they were originally created as a reliable way to store and transfer funds between participants in a transaction. In the current crisis, investor interest in stablecoins can only grow. On the other hand, each PoS coin is a cryptocurrency of some kind of blockchain project , which can both succeed and fail. If the founders do not launch the product, then the price of the token may fall.

Another risk factor is the platform on which staking takes place. Both for stablecoins and for PoS-coins, both centralized (custodial) and decentralized (non-custodian) platforms are available. A cryptocurrency exchange like Binance is a classic example of a custodial solution: you transfer coins to the exchange for storage. If she is attacked by hackers, your steak may disappear.

In the case of non-custodian platforms, the risk of theft or fraud is quite low. It doesn’t matter which asset to use when staking or depositing and where: USDC – on Compound, USDN – on Waves․Exchange, XTZ – on P2PValidator.

And vice versa: on custodian platforms, the risks are higher, both in the case of providing stablecoins on credit, and in the case of PoS-coins staking. And since the bulk of PoS staking passes through exchanges such as Bitfinex and Binance, we can conclude that, on average, the risks of owners of PoS assets are more serious.

Verdict: PoS coins are more risky, because their price is highly dependent on both interest in the blockchain project itself and market sentiment. It is safer to choose non-custodian platforms for both types of coins.

Output

Nominal rates of return for PoS coins are often very attractive, but price fluctuations can lead to negative profitability. In the case of stablecoins, a positive result is almost guaranteed. At the same time, you should not expect earnings on stablecoin more than 15-17%, although it is possible with a PoS asset.

Ultimately, the choice should depend on your personal attitude to risk. Investors who are willing to take risks in the hope of earning super-high returns should invest in a classic PoS coin – for example, Tezos .

If it is important for you to keep the investment (especially in the case of large amounts), then stablecoins are definitely preferable due to the better risk-to-ROI ratio.

As the global economic crisis deepens, more and more investors will acquire crypto assets. This will undoubtedly change the market balance in the segments of staking and cryptocredit. How exactly? We will find out soon.

Date of publication 09.07.2020
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Binance Exchange added the ability to purchase cryptocurrency from Mastercard

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This Friday Binance Exchange announced the addition of the possibility of buying cryptocurrencies using bank cards in the Mastercard system.

The service covers 19 countries, including Russia and Ukraine. There are no other CIS countries on the list yet.

To use the option, you must log in to your personal account at https://www.binance.com/ , go to the “Buy Cryptocurrencies” tab and select payment using a bank card. Bitcoin, Ethereum, XRP, Binance Coin, USDT and some other assets are available for direct purchases from Mastercard cards.

Previously, users already had the opportunity to buy cryptocurrency on Binance using Russian Visa cards.

Also this morning, Binance CEO Changpen Zhao hosted another live broadcast at Periscope. Zhao’s speech mainly covered the latest achievements of the exchange, including the launch of the Binance Card , mining pool , Binance KR, OTC portal, as well as cooperation with Brave and the acquisition of CoinMarketCap . In addition, Zhao recalled the need to maintain social distance.

“We have completed the initial development of platforms, and now I think it is important for us to support mining , since bitcoin mining is now centralized. We want more players to take part in it, as well as support existing players, ” he said.

In addition, on his Twitter, Zhao shared a screenshot testifying to the preparation of the exchange for the launch of option trading.

He left no comments on this subject. In the main Twitter account of Binance, a list of tasks for testers that was “publicly available” was posted. Among other things, it includes the item “test option trading”.

Publication date 04/04/2020
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