What Is icon?
ICON is a public blockchain platform based in South Korea.
The goal is to act as a "hub" which connects major corporations and enterprises, such as governments, schools, hospitals, banks, all within a single blockchain ecosystem.
ICON's core idea revolves around communities. Historically economies and communities have been confined within national borders, however, ICON believes that now communities are global. Instead of segregating communities based on location, ICON wants to create an ecosystem that connects communities on a global scale.
On ICON, each community has their own blockchain, which is connected to the larger ICON platform. For example, hospitals will be able to connect with insurance companies which will be able to connect with banks, so an entire ecosystem will exist in which they can transfer data, and value, seamlessly between each other.
The idea is that ICON will become a "network of networks" - individual blockchains that share and transact with each other, rather than standalone networks we have currently such as Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The icon Team
ICON is developed by the Korean tech company ICONLOOP.
Here's the thing about ICONLOOP: Their team isn't public. Browsing the ICONLOOP website doesn't list any team information, and browsing Linkedin doesn't give much either. Even if it did, Linkedin is only semi-reliable anyway, as this kind of info should really be confirmed by the source. This means we do not know exactly who is writing the ICON code.
On the ICON Foundation website, there is a team section which lists advisors. Most are young people who are well versed in the blockchain space and have solid backgrounds, although none I would consider rock stars.
The Icon Product
The ICON ecosystem consists of four parts:
Communities - A community could be anything from a company to a single person. Anyone or any group that wants to join the ICON ecosystem. Each community will run their own blockchain.
Community Nodes - Also known as C-Nodes, these are the nodes within each community that secure that community's blockchain.
Community Reps - Also known as C-Reps, these are selected nodes that are like the representatives of each community.
ICON Republic - This is the collection of all the communities that participate in the ICON ecosystem.
You can almost think of ICON as building a United Nations. The Republic is the UN, the communities are the countries, and the C-Reps are the country leaders.
The ICON Nexus is a multi-channel blockchain which interconnects each community. It is the central piece of the Republic. Think of it like the main intersection through which everything flows.
Communities link to the Nexus, which ICON calls a loopchain (more on this later). Communities connect to the Nexus via their C-Rep, also known as a Portal.
Transactions between different communities are facilitated by ICON's Blockchain Transmission Protocol (BTP). This can be likened to the SWIFT network in banking, which connects different currencies and institutions with a single protocol. Likewise you could also liken it to TCP/IP, the same protocol the internet uses to connect different computers.
Loop Fault Tolerance
On the Nexus, the C-Reps act as validation nodes.
Only C-Reps that have contributed above a certain level can qualify as C-Reps. Contribution is measured by a metric known as by IISS (ICON Incentives Scoring System), an AI based scoring system. Nodes require an IISS above a minimum requirement to qualify as a C-Rep candidate. If so, the node can then seek to be approved as a C-Rep through a vote of existing C-Reps. A specific cap of the C-Rep count and the minimum requirements for C-Rep qualification both can be modified through a vote of current C-Reps also.
It is the job of C-Reps to secure the network. They verify that the information in the block is accurate. If the C-Rep node believes the block is accurate, they transmit a vote to the rest of the Republic. Two thirds consensus is required for a block to be written and transactions to be executed.
C-Reps also vote on policies for the ecosystem, which are proposed through the Nexus.
Decentralised Exchange (DEX)
ICON runs a DEX using ICX as the base currency. To operate its DEX, the Bancor protocol is used. By operating a DEX, the ICON ecosystem is able to better facilitate transactions between different currencies.
Nexus Public Channel
The Nexus Public Channel is open to anyone. Users participating in the Public Channel are able to use and create DAPPs, similar to Ethereum.
Nodes that wish to participate in the Public Channel are divided into Light Nodes, which can register and confirm transactions, and Full Nodes, which validate the transactions. Only selected C-Reps can participate as Full Nodes, as they play a key role in validating DAPP operations.
Token (metrics and utility)
The ICON ICO raised 150,000 ETH, which at the time was around $45m. A total of 800m tokens were created. Distribution was as follows:
- 50% to investors
- 16% to Reserve
- 14% to Foundation
- 10% to Team and Advisors
- 10% to Strategic Partners
ICX has a variable inflation rate, that ranges between 7% to 20% per year, decided via C-Rep meetings.
ICON has not stated whether there is a hardcap, so I am assuming there is not. Up to 20% inflation will relate to additional tokens being minted beyond the 800m ICO generation.
ICX is required to pay fees for executing smart contracts and running DApps on ICON. Transaction fees are 0.01 ICX.
ICX is also required to earn IISS points (ICON Incentive Scoring System). You also receive ICX monthly depending on how high your IISS is.
IISS is awarded based on various factors, including ICX exchange volume, DEX exchange volume, DApp usage and DEX freezing volume. Your DEX freezing volume is determined based on how much ICX you stake into the DEX. Therefore, ICX tokens are required to earn IISS, which in turn earns you more ICX.
IISS is also required to vote for C-Rep candidates, meaning holding ICX influences how much say you have on the direction of the ecosystem.
The icon Community
ICON is overseen by the ICON Foundation.
ICON has founded a VC firm and incubator called Deblock.
ICON is backed by Dayli Financial Group, one of the largest fintech groups in Asia. Dayli owns ICONLOOP and also owns Coinone, a major cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea.
ICON is a founding member of the Blockchain Interoperability Alliance, along with Wanchain and AION. The goal is to share research to improve interoperability within the blockchain industry.
Backed by Pantera Capital, one of the world's largest crypto hedge funds.
ICON has a strategic partnership with B Dash, one of Japan's largest VC firms. They will host hackathons and incubation programs.
ICON has a joint venture called Unchain with LINE Messenger, which has over 200 million users.
ICONLOOP has entered a partnership with Samsung to use their ID authentication service ChainID for Samsung Pass.
B Money Verdict:
I'm split on ICON.
On the surface ICON looks promising, based on partnerships alone. However, I'm of the belief that whenever you take investor funds, transparency should be an absolute priority.
You might notice that some of the information I summarised above was thin, and that's simply because, I couldn't find what I needed.
What's the hardcap?
Who's writing the code?
These are key pieces of information that all major blockchain projects have accessible with 1 to 2 clicks on their website. With ICON, I have no idea who the CEO is, or if they even have a CEO, who the lead developers are, or if they even have lead developers. This makes it hard to analyse.
Another thing I noticed is many of my questions were asked on reddit, and often were shrugged off or simply left unanswered. In most other projects, questions like this are cleared up quite enthusiastically by the community. So that was another red flag for me.
Maybe all this information can be found on the internet somewhere, if I dedicate 12 hours to finding it. But I shouldn't need to. If you take $45 million of investor money, investor relations should be a priority.
Now, here's the kicker - when everything about your project is good, you tend to make news as available as possible. When information is hard to find, it's usually because they're not too excited about sharing it. Good new stays on the front page. For example, the supply suddenly increased one day by 20%. There was no new release by the team or anything. Then an updated roadmap wasn't released (compared to good teams who update the public on roadmap progress every month). These are all small indicators of disconnect within the project.
Therefore I'm exercising heavy skepticism towards the hype around ICON. Maybe I'll wrong, but risk is risk. There are hundreds of other cryptocurrency platforms to invest in where there is a much clearer picture.
The Good Stuff
- Good partnerships.
The Bad Stuff
- Don't know what the hard cap is.
- Don't know how many C-Reps (validating nodes) there are.
- Don't know who's writing the code.
- Don't know who's leading the team.
- Lack of transparency.
Team not disclosed on website which lowers this score. Advisors are okay.
It's a rather standard blockchain platform using a twist on DPoS.
Utility revolves around voting power and access to the network. Metrics unconfirmed which lowers this score. 20% inflation without hardcap would be unattractive.
Reddit reasonably active. Good partnerships. Lacks transparency.
How To Buy icon In New Zealand
To buy ICX instantly with New Zealand dollars, we recommend using EasyCrypto. Rates are some of the fairest in NZ and transactions are fast. You can sign up for a free EasyCrypto account here.
Alternatively, advanced investors can use the international exchange Binance.
BUY WITH NZD: EasyCrypto
- What is ICON - https://medium.com/@cryptogrinders/what-is-icon-6bca149e6162
- Pantera Capital on ICON: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-26/pantera-s-morehead-says-bitcoin-is-screaming-buy-bets-on-icon
- ICON report: https://medium.com/markusjay/the-icon-report-part-1-icon-facts-commentary-fdcc45609b18
- ICON video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etdy-FT_e2k
- Blockonomi ICON guide: https://blockonomi.com/icon-icx-guide/