BBOD Rating [10/12/2018]
ACCUMULATE: An opportunity to buy a medium risk cryptocurrency at a low price
|Transaction Start Date||06/02/2016|
|Protocol Type||Blockchain Platform|
|Where To Buy/Trade||BBOD, Binance, Bittrex, Poloniex, Huobi|
Problem to Solve
Decred is an open-source decentralised cryptocurrency that is primarily concerned with ensuring community input is consistently valued by utilising an open governance model which is supported by sustainable financing for project development. Such a philosophy was born out of Bitcoin pioneers, specifically the engineers of the widely adopted btcsuite, becoming frustrated with the inefficient and unfair means by which updates to the Bitcoin protocol were being implemented. The Decred founders saw weakness in this approach and believed it could be improved upon by creating a level playing field for both miners and users in order to mutually benefit the network. Thus, Decred is an immutable currency which aims to be a store of value or medium of exchange, much like Bitcoin, whilst placing decentralisation of governance to community participants above the influence of centralised mining corporations and key developers.
The formation of Decred was a direct consequence of early Bitcoin developers experience with the governance model which was ingrained into the Bitcoin network from its inception. Such a system was designed in a way that placed Bitcoin Core developers and Proof of Work (PoW) miners at the centre of the ecosystem, assigning the majority of power to these large actors, who then had the ability to veto any change to the consensus rules they deemed unprofitable or that did not fit with their vision of the distributed network. Essentially, this gives minimal to no influence to smaller network participants who wish to implement changes they believe to be beneficial to the wider community or the Bitcoin protocol itself. Whilst some might argue that placing power in the hands of the wider community could lead to a dilution of ideas to less experienced parties, the ultimate purpose of a decentralised network is to serve each and every member of its community. Bitcoin has proved otherwise with prolonged disputes occurring between powerful centralised parties whilst ignoring the opinions of the actual users of the network, notably resulting in a contentious chain split which many network participants fundamentally disagreed with as such a move ultimately dilutes the network.
Bitcoin was funded entirely by donations up until 2014 and today there are no such rewards for developing the open-source protocol. This leaves early developers who likely profited from the exponential price increase of Bitcoin with the freedom to work on the project without the need for financial means, whilst excluding others developers who were late to the ecosystem. There is no system in place where a developer can claim expenses for contributing to the Bitcoin project and thus this excludes a large proportion of highly qualified developers from participating, centralising the power of decision making once more.
Although the PoW protocol implemented to mint Bitcoin has proven to be incredibly robust over the years, with no majority network takeovers occurring since the project was launched, as the mathematical problems become increasingly more complex the situation may change. This is the result of continuously needing to improve upon already incredibly expensive computational hardware in order to keep pace with mining competitors. In recent years we have seen this effect start to take place, with large centralised corporations such as Bitmain mining a large proportion of the Bitcoin network. As such large corporations continue to profit and grow, making the possibility for over 51% of the network to be mined by one centralised party increasingly more apparent. Ultimately, if achieved this would allow such a centralised authority to censor and implement updates to the bitcoin protocol as they see fit, completely going against the idea of a decentralised, censorship-resistant, immutable currency.
In stark contrast to Bitcoin, Decred ensures all stakeholders have the ability to influence decisions regarding the project by allowing them to vote on specific agendas and proposals that will be implemented to the Decred Blockchain. In order to become a Decred stakeholder one must simply own their native token DCR. Such decisions include aspects such as whether the development team should start working on a specific feature or not, whether to deploy a feature which has already been completed and even how to fairly split the development subsidies provided. This governance model allows for an entirely decentralised approach which ensures that no party has considerable influence over any other in the ecosystem. Miners and key developers must respect the decisions made by the stakeholders as they do not possess a majority share of the project. This allows for a more organic growth strategy which is inclusive of all parties constructive concerns and needs. As a result, Decred became the first cryptocurrency to implement changes to their Blockchain based on an automatic user voting approval in June 2017. Moreover, utilising this community-driven approach has allowed Decred to implement consensus changes much quicker than most other Blockchains, specifically Bitcoin’s, supporting the Lightning Network before Bitcoin and allowing a transaction to expire after a set period of time in order to keep avoid Blockchain bloat. Ultimately, Decred’s governance model is far more just than Bitcoin’s, allowing all stakeholders to have their voices heard and not ignored, creating a fairer ecosystem where everyone who is invested in the project can participate or affect the direction of future developments.
Uniquely, Decred’s Blockchain assigns a portion of miner fees to a development treasury which is distributed accordingly to those who wish to contribute to the project. This decentralised funding model allows anyone with an idea to contribute to the project by simply submitting a proposal and then if that idea is implemented they will be rewarded for their work. Such an approach is fundamentally different from most open-source projects, such as Bitcoin, which allow users to submit proposals but do not compensate them for their hard work. Instead, simply allowing one to build prestige in the developer community off the back of successful work. This opens the doors to a much larger pool of talent than possible with most unpaid open-source projects which simply cost those who do not have the means to work for free out of the market. Moreover, individuals can produce work which is not necessarily computer science-based, instead, they can apply more general skills such as marketing to help the project flourish and still receive compensation for work. Ultimately, business decisions will be decentralised amongst the wider community who support the project, distributing the power of decision making to a diverse set of individuals, avoiding centralisation of authority at all costs.
From the offset, Decred insured that their innovative hybridised consensus system was fair for both miners and stakeholders. This why they choose to implement Proof of Activity (PoA), likely influenced by Mackenzie’s (2013) whitepaper which proposed a PoA consensus mechanism. PoA involves a balance between both Proof of Work (PoW) and Proof of Stake (PoS) consensus algorithms. To this end, they have allocated 60% of the block reward to PoW miners, who serve the same purpose as in Bitcoin, 30% of the block reward for PoS voters, who keep check of PoW miners and can vote on important decisions and 10% to the treasury to incentivise the community to participate in project development. Typically PoW miners need to have spent a considerable amount of money on computational infrastructure and exert extreme control over a network, by introducing PoS additionally, network participants with much less financial means are able to keep a check on the work that the PoW miners are carrying out. This dilutes power from the PoW miners to PoS workers and decreases the likelihood of any network takeovers occurring as a result. Ultimately, Decred ensures that via a distributed mining consensus mechanism those who usually yield considerable power by owning expensive infrastructure cannot take over the majority of the network, whilst allowing individuals to participate in the project without needing excessive funds.
Community-Driven: The underlying strength of Decred lies in its commitment to ensuring the community has a strong influence over all aspects of the development of the project, whether that be allowing all stakeholders to vote on implementations to the protocol or supporting those in the community who wish to promote the project. This strategy ensures a diverse set of opinions are accounted for, and that a few large actors cannot control the direction of project development.
Team Of Pioneers: The team behind the project were the engineers behind btcsuite, a well regarded open-source project made for Bitcoin which has now been adopted by many other cryptocurrency projects. As some of the key members in the development of Bitcoin, they possess a true understanding of the successes and failures of the project. Thus, Decred takes a unique community-driven approach to achieve true decentralisation rarely seen elsewhere in the industry.
Competing With A Titan: Ultimately, if Decred wants to see wide adoption then it has to draw from the community of Bitcoin, this is no easy task but may become easier with time as people begin to realise how centralised the decision making of Bitcoin has become since it’s inception. A large-scale event such as Bitmain taking over more than 51% of the Bitcoin mining activity could spark this realisation.
Belief In Your Community: As decred is community driven, the ultimate direction of the project is driven by who participates. This cannot be controlled, stopped or censored which is the essence of decentralisation. Whilst this is appealing to many early adopters within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, those who invest in the project moving forward must have belief in their fellow community members as well as the underlying fundamentals of the project itself. Despite this, it is difficult to question the direction the community has driven the project so far.
In a market where centralisation of power seems to be becoming an ever more prevalent force, Decred appears to be one of the few cryptocurrencies that continues to uphold the decentralised nature of the initial idea. By allowing members of the community to participate in the project in various ways including voting, mining and paid work contributions, Decred has created a vibrant community of incredibly knowledgeable and talented individuals avoiding the need for a centralised decision maker. Such a diverse set of opinions has allowed the project to quietly flourish, implementing changes to the Decred protocol much quicker than when centralised actors determine the direction of a project. This is true decentralisation in action. Thus, if the project can continue on its current trajectory whilst Bitcoin continues to become more centralised, it could become a direct competitor. Certainly, one to watch as the market matures.
BBOD Rating Standard
BUY: A low-risk buying opportunity
ACCUMULATE: An opportunity to buy a medium risk cryptocurrency at a low price
SPEC BUY: A speculative opportunity for investors with a higher risk tolerance
HOLD: Maintain current levels of position until further research is published
SELL: Investment is associated with the potential of losing capital
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