ICON is a new cryptocurrency and blockchain platform that was inctroduced in late 2017 after a successful ICO. The aim of ICON is to “hyperconnect the world” which it seeks to accomplish via a decentralized blockchain network. Through its platform, ICON is hoping to connect all major industries with one another. This include such behemoths as the healthcare, banking, financial and e-commerce industries, among others.
Via ICON’s blockchain, users will be able to create smart contracts, and complete decentralized payments or exchanges on the network. The native token of the ICON network is ICX.
The world of cryptocurrency has experienced some extreme volatility recently, with this unstable value coming from uncertainty over whether or not the many digital coins can A) Support millions of users and B) provide real-world use cases. Bitcoin was able to show that P2P value transfer through a blockchain with decentralized protocol was possible. Ethereum proved that decentralization could add efficiency to the entire world and the many apps we use on a daily basis. But, neither of these projects have been able to scale their technology to the level they need to reach in order to support and connect millions of users across the globe.
Currently, there are a wide range of unqiue blockchains throughout the world which include Bitcoin, Ethereum, and many others that are run by singular entities. If these blockchains want to interact, the only way to do this currently is to exchange tokens through an exchange. What if a smart contract could be implemented between these blockchains? What if use cases could be shared between different dApps? These are the questions that got the ICON team excited about their project.
Creating the Biggest Decentralized Network in the World
ICON identifies itself as the platform that will create the biggest decentralized network in the world. Aiming to provide a better alternative to Ethereum, ICON’s substantial claims include the ability to scale to a much higher level, provide more direct use cases to multiple industries, and provide much faster transaction speeds. The ICON project also has its own coin, the ICX token, that will serve as a utility token that connects the ICON ecosystem.
So, while Bitcoin and Ethereum can be viewed as dial up-era blockchain and cryptocurrency platforms, ICON is attempting to usher in a new era of speed, efficiency, and the true utilization of blockchain technology.
Value, Market Cap, and Volume
ICON has experienced a meteoric rise in both value and market cap since its ICO. It’s market cap has consistently stayed well above $2 billion. After its successful launch, the ICX token grew by as much as 470%. This project gained traction much more quickly than other projects, rising in value to the same price as the Ark project which has been around for much longer with similar goals in mind. ICON has shown its value through sound leadership, good code, and a deep understanding of their target market and competitors.
What is ICON?
ICON’s slogan is to “Hyperconnect the world”. In other words, they hope to use blockchain technology along with their many independently developed algorithms and security, identity, and financial mechanisms. The ICON network aims to help innovate and provide unrivaled efficiency in multiple large industries including financial institutions, insurance companies, hospitals, universities, and more. ICON is also a member of the BIA, or Blockchain Interoperability Alliance, where they have ascribed to only push for their platform to help to improve the interoperability of blockchains across the world.
ICONick is the team at ICON’s uniquely developed identity-based wallet service that aims to be more user friendly and secure than any previous digital wallet. One of its most interesting features is the way in which it assigns addresses to its users. Rather than the normal long and complicated wallet addresses that all crypto wallets utilize, the ICONick wallet will allow users to name their wallet address for easier and more convenient exchanges of information. These addresses are also able to be sold in an open market to other users. The ICONick can be used as your unique ID to search for past transactions, use the DEX exchange service, and/or join ICON’s future dApp service.
Loopchain is the mechanism by which ICON aims to interconnect the world through blockchain. Without getting too technical, this mechanism will connect all of the institutions that are members of the ICON network through smart contracts. The Loopchain has the following features, which may seem technical, but are explained simply:
1. Fault-Tolerance Consensus Protocol
This is ICON’s direct response to the scalability issues experienced by Bitcoin and Ethereum, and it is supposed to greatly enhance the transaction speeds and overall scalability of their blockchain. Their system allows blocks to be verified much faster and more securely, while removing the possibility of forks within the system by enhancing the finality of these consensus decisions.
According to their whitepaper, ICON claims that “Each node provides a service and creates a transaction. In addition, we have developed a method to directly tolerate a fault handler by avoiding the complicated leader fault tolerance algorithm used in existing algorithms such as Tangaroa. We improved the existing BFT algorithm for the blockchain and simplified the process using block data.”
SCORE stands for Smart Contract on Reliable Environment, and represents the protocol that ensures high-performing smart contracts. Other smart contract platforms rely on virtual machines to execute these contracts, a process that clogs up the network and slows processing times. One of the key characteristics of SCORE is its unique functional features.
Generally, when a smart contract is updated or fetched upon, data must be sent across the network between multiple nodes. A lot of processing power is required for this which can clog the network. However, ICON’s smart contracts do not require data migration with every update. This means that the smart contract update process is quick. Also, since it runs separately from the regular blockchain processes, it is much faster and more scalable.
This feature allows independent channels to be created within the same blockchain network and execute requests, consensus, and smart contracts. Integrity and assurance are ensured on a channel-by-channel basis since transaction data is held only by participating parties in the transaction, further reducing energy and processing costs of other similar platforms when high traffic is experienced. This can be seen as a sort of sidechain approach that Ethereum and others have tested.
4. Tiered System
Apart from the initial authentication process to participate in a blockchain network, each transaction is validated and secured through public key based authentication. Loopchain can also monitor certain transactions, if necessary, without participating in the actual transaction. This adds an additional layer of security to the platform.
Basically, the Loopchain is a high-performance blockchain that can provide real-time transactions and an upgraded smart contract architecture than is currently available via ethereum or any other smart contract platform. Faster transactions, less energy and processing power demands, and easier adoption into critical industries such as healthcare and insurance with Loopchain are made possible by ICON.
So, how will Loopchain facilitate use of this platform in these different industries? The connector is their token, better known as the ICX.
ICX: The ICON Cryptocurrency
ICON, the platform, allows for third parties to create dApps that can interact with the other communities throughout the ICON republic and its blockchain components. Communities, in this sense, refer to the insurance, healthcare, and other sectors that ICON is targeting. The ICX token is used as a way to exchange value and communicate between the various communities. For example, ICX would be used as a means of exchanging relevant data from an insurance sector of ICON to the healthcare network that is caring for the patient.
ICX is not used within communities, it is only used when different parts of the ecosystem interact with each other; dApps with other dApps, communities with dApps, communities with other communities, etc. ICX is a way for these different facets of the “ICON Republic” to transfer value and work together to bring about a more seamless experience and B2B model.
ICX has its critics, with some saying that it has no potential to grow in value due to the fact that it cannot be used within the communities themselves. But, ICX is mainly meant to function as an intermediary cryptocurrency. ICX enables transactions among different cryptocurrencies by determining the exchange rate through the self-created DEX Reserve. Also, ICX has the potential to be spent for dApp tokens through U-coin, a DAPP developed by ICON for the Korean University Consortium. ICX can also be a token for ICO platforms similar to how the ERC-20 token functions.
Future of ICON
ICON has one of the largest market caps of any cryptocurrency, while still maintaining a low overall price on the market. Many are speculating that ICON is biding its time and could experience a massive price surge in the early months of 2018. With competitors such as Ethereum, ARK, and NEO, ICON has a tough road ahead to solidify themselves as the true blockchain ecosystem and home of the coming decentralized application wave.