Categories
NFT Tech

Ethereum Merge Has Happened: Everything to Know About The Upgrade

Ethereum is the second most valuable blockchain following Bitcoin, and is number one in NFT transaction volume. Now, the Ethereum Merge is making its network even better.

Shortly before the merge, Buterin tweeted a quote from Ethereum researcher Justin Drake, saying the merge would reduce global electricity consumption by 0.2%.

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When Did the Merge Happen?

Ethereum’s mainnet merge happened on September 15, 2022. This completed Ethereum’s transition to proof-of-stake consensus, officially deprecating proof-of-work and reducing energy consumption by ~99.95%.

What’s Next?

Now that the merge is complete, what else does Ethereum have in store? Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin shared his updated roadmap on where Ethereum protocol development is at and what’s coming in what order.

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The Ethereum Merge moves the blockchain from a proof-of-work consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake. This merge means that ETH holders will operate as validators opposed to energy-intensive computers doing the work, hence creating a more efficient blockchain and reducing its carbon footprint.

The Merge is just one part of the overall upgrade. Below, we will discuss what The Merge is and what it means for users of the Ethereum blockchain.

Ethereum Merge: What is it?

Currently, Ethereum operates on a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism. This mechanism requires special computers to solve arbitrary mathematical problems to prevent anybody from compromising the network. Although PoW is very effective, it is also extremely energy-intensive.

Even though Ethereum still utilizes proof-of-work, its new mechanism proof-of-stake (PoS) is currently operating parallel to it on the Beacon Chain. This chain is responsible for creating new blocks, validating them, and rewarding validators with ETH for keeping the network secure, without the use of smart contract functionality.

Mainnet will enable the new network to run smart contracts into the proof-of-stake system, and includes the full history and current state of Ethereum. This is to ensure that the transition is smooth for all ETH holders and users.

The Merge is when these two chains will finally come together. Upon completion, The Merge will successfully end the proof-of-work mechanism and initiate the new proof-of-stake mechanism.

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What Happens Once Ethereum Merges?

The Ethereum Merge officially marks the end of the blockchain’s proof-of-work consensus mechanism and its transition to a new proof-of-stake consensus layer. The goal of The Merge is to reduce the network’s energy consumption significantly and enable Ethereum to scale to even greater heights.

Considering the Beacon Chain is solely used for the testnet merges, it has not been processing transactions on the mainnet. Rather, it’s been reaching consensus on its own state by agreeing on active validators and their account balances.

After The Merge, the Beacon Chain will be the engine for all network data, including execution layer transactions and account balances.

The Merge gets us one step closer to achieving the full scale as outlined in the Ethereum vision.

According to Ethereum, a post-merge cleanup upgrade will be implemented to address other features and will take place very soon after The Merge is complete.

To ensure a successful merge, developers are minimizing additional features that could delay it. This means those of you waiting to withdraw staked ETH will have to wait a while longer after The Merge is completed.
Also, let’s not forget about the Shard chain portion of the upgrade. Originally, Ethereum developers planned to work on the Shard chain before The Merge to address the current scalability issue. However, with layer 2 scaling solutions in high demand, the priority has shifted to swapping proof-of-work for proof-of-stake.

Common Misconceptions Regarding The Merge

It’s easy to get lost in all the talk that’s going around on Twitter and elsewhere. Below I will outline some of the most common misconceptions regarding The Merge as stated on Ethereum’s official website.

The Merge will reduce gas fees

Contrary to popular belief, gas fees will remain the same post Merge. Gas fees are determined by network demand relative to the capacity of the network. The Merge eliminates the use of proof-of-work, transitioning to proof-of-stake for consensus, but does not change any parameters that directly influence network capacity or throughput.

Transactions will be quicker

Transaction speed will largely remain the same on layer 1. On proof-of-work, the target was to have a new block every 13.3 seconds. On proof-of-stake, blocks will be produced 10% more frequently than on proof-of-work. This is an insignificant change that is unlikely to be noticed by users.

You can withdraw your staked ETH

Users are not able to withdraw their staked ETH post-merge. The main focus is to get the transition from PoW to PoS, as a result, actions like this were put on the back burner. The following Shanghai upgrade will enable staking withdrawals.

When withdraws are enabled, stakers will all exit at once

Validator exits are rate limited for security purposes. After the Shanghai upgrade enables withdrawals, all validators will be incentivized to withdraw their staking balance above 32 ETH. These funds do not add to yield and are otherwise locked. Depending on the APR (determined by total ETH staked), they may be incentivized to exit their validator(s) to reclaim their entire balance or potentially stake even more using their rewards to earn more yield.

Full validator exits are rate limited by the protocol, so only six validators may exit per epoch (every 6.4 minutes, so 1350 per day, or only 43,200 ETH per day out of over 10 million ETH staked).

Staking APR is expected to triple post-merge

According to Ethereum, more accurate predictions reveal a 50% increase in APR post-merge, not 200%. This isn’t the result of an increase in protocol ETH issuance (ETH issuance after The Merge is decreasing by 90%), rather it’s the result of a reallocation of transaction fees that will start going to validators instead of miners.

The Merge will cause network downtime

The Merge is designed to ensure a smooth transition to proof-of-stake with no downtime. The Merge is triggered by terminal total difficulty (TTD), which is a measure of the total mining power that has gone into building the chain. When the criterion is met, blocks will go from being built using proof-of-work in one block to being built by proof-of-stake in the next.

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Things to Be Aware of Post-Merge

Although the long-term impact of Ethereum’s Merge will be significant, there are some things you should be aware of before it happens to help you prepare.

Despite changing from proof-of-work, the entire history of Ethereum since genesis remains intact and unaltered after the transition to proof-of-stake. Any funds held in your wallet before The Merge will still be accessible after The Merge. No action is required on your end.

That being said, at least one proof-of-work fork will carry on post Merge. This means there will be two versions of your NFTs (one on PoW and one on PoS).

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Even though everything is being done to protect users after the merge, there is still a concern for a potential replay attack. Essentially, this attack replicates transactions on one blockchain and executes them on another.

This attack isn’t guaranteed, but it is worth mentioning as it’s still a possibility. So what can you do to protect your assets?

  • Delist any NFTs that you have for sale. This decreases the likelihood that an unwanted transaction will go through.
  • You can transfer your assets on the PoW chain to a new wallet.
What Does Ethereum Merge Mean For Users?

The Merge of the main chain with the Beacon Chain aims to solve a lot of problems.

More scalable

The ultimate goal of the upgrade is to make Ethereum more scalable. That means the network needs to be capable of handling thousands of transactions per second to make transactions faster and more cost effective to use. 

In comparison, Visa claims to have the ability to handle 24,000 TPS. However, they average around 1,700 TPS with an estimated 150 million transactions per day. So, if Ethereum can successfully scale to be able to handle thousands of transactions per second, mainstream adoption becomes much more of a reality. The Merge is a big step in the right direction to increasing scalability of the network.

Increased security

The more blocks that are verified on Ethereum, the more secure the network becomes. As the adoption of Ethereum continues to grow, the protocol becomes more secure against all forms of attack. Even though proof-of-stake is secure, it’s a more complicated system. But, if executed properly, the result will be an even more secure network.

Better sustainability

Today’s Ethereum network is not environmentally friendly. The amount of energy consumed by the special computers designed to solve equations is outrageous—not to mention expensive for those who set them up. Since proof-of-stake removes high-power computing from the consensus algorithm, it’s claimed that the network will become 99.95% more efficient than it is today.

All that being said, there is a common misconception that The Merge will reduce the current gas fees. It won’t. Gas fees will remain the same. But, there’s still hope. The Merge is just part of the macro upgrade that is taking place on Ethereum. Of course, the end goal is to reduce gas fees, we’re just not quite there yet.

What About Triple Halving?

On August 5, 2021 Ethereum executed an upgrade known as the London hard fork. This fork brought on a major change in the form of EIP-1559—a code that began to remove ETH from circulation and changed how transaction fees on Etherum work.

Currently, anyone who makes a transaction on the blockchain pays a base fee that is burned (rather than going to miners). Burning is the process of sending something to an inaccessible address. ETH is sent to a burn address that takes it out of circulation. 

Although new ETH is created every time a block is added to the chain, a small amount of ETH is also disappearing, causing a deflationary pressure on the network.

A similar scenario has already been experienced on the Bitcoin blockchain. Bitcoin’s most recent halving occurred on May 11, 2020, when BTC rewards were reduced from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC. At that time, Bitcoin was $8,800.

Then, as many of us know, it nearly doubled in price over the next six months, and today 1 BTC costs about $31,000.

Now Ethereum is about to experience what’s referred to as “Triple Halving”.

In theory, the combination of EIP-1559 and The Merge into a proof-of-stake mechanism, would represent a “triple halving,” as they would reduce sell pressure by an estimated 90%. 

The Merge will cut rewards for new blocks drastically from 12,800 ETH to 1,280 ETH per day (about 90% according to Blockchain analytics firm IntotheBlock), creating a system where more ETH is burned via gas fees than is created daily. As a result, ETH will become a deflationary asset, where before, it was an inflationary one.

Because the amount of ETH issued post-merge is expected to drop by 90%, many are speculating that the price of ETH could skyrocket. But, no one knows if that will happen for sure.

90%, many are speculating that the price of ETH could skyrocket. But, no one knows if that will happen for sure.

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What Happens After The Ethereum Merge?

Ultimately, The Merge gets us one step closer to achieving the full scale as outlined in the Ethereum vision. The main goal of The Merge is to expedite the transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake.

According to Ethereum, a post-merge cleanup upgrade will take place after The Merge.

To ensure a successful merge, developers are minimizing additional features that could delay The Merge. This means that those of you waiting to withdraw staked ETH will have to wait a while longer after The Merge is complete.

Also, let’s not forget about the Shard chain portion of the upgrade. Originally, Ethereum developers planned to work on the Shard chain before The Merge to address the current scalability issue. However, with layer 2 scaling solutions in high-demand, the priority has shifted to swapping proof-of-work for proof-of-stake.

What Are Shard Chains and How Will They Affect Ethereum?

The Shard chains aim to expand Ethereum’s capacity to process transactions and store data, but are not used for executing code. These shards will be rolled out in numerous phases and will gain more features over time.

Sharding is often used in computer science to split databases horizontally to spread the load. 

In Ethereum’s case, sharding will create new chains known as “shards”. Hence, reducing network congestion and increasing transactions per second and providing additional, cost effective, storage layers for applications and rollups to store data while still maintaining the same security of the Ethereum mainnet.

The Shard portion of the upgrade will likely occur some time in 2023.

Trent VanEpps

In reality, The Merge is the next sensible step in the Ethereum upgrade process. The ultimate goal is to make Ethereum more scalable, secure, and sustainable. Although The Merge won’t complete the upgrade entirely, it gets us closer to completion and to mainstream adoption.

What Happens to ETH After ETH2?

The term ETH2 is no longer considered proper terminology. The reason being is that The Merge will combine two chains to make one new chain. There will only be Ethereum. To better distinguish these terms, ETH is now regarded as the ‘execution layer’, which handles transactions and execution.

And ETH2 is now known as the ‘consensus layer’, which is solely responsible for handling the proof-of-stake consensus.

Will The Price of ETH Increase Post-Merge?

There are no guarantees that the price of ETH will increase after The Merge. However, current trends indicate that it’s a possibility. In the last 30 days leading up to the completion of the Goerli Merge, the price of ETH has spiked nearly 70%, reaching over $1,900 and steadily maintaining.

If this trend continues, there’s no telling how high the price of ETH could be after a successful merge. The sky is the limit.

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NFT Tech

What Is a Hardware Wallet And How Do You Set One Up?

When we talk crypto and NFTs you have to bring up security. While there are several ways to protect yourself, you can lose your assets and even your NFTs due to things that are not your fault. One of the most famous hacks in the entire crypto-sphere was MT. Gox, at one point it was handling over 70% of all bitcoin transactions worldwide. Over the years, hackers were able to skim bitcoins from customer accounts stealing over 740,000 bitcoin (approximately 31 billion dollars today). All without the customers having any idea and without any fault of their own. 

One of the ways to prevent this from happening to you is to have a hardware wallet. Often referred to as ‘cold storage’ devices, a hardware wallet is a type of cryptocurrency wallet that stores your private keys in a physical device that you can keep within arm’s reach. Crypto and other assets like NFTs are protected by the hardware wallet which stores the keys to access your wallet, keeping them offline so they are not vulnerable to hacking. Whenever the owner needs to access their coins and digital assets they can safely unlock their hardware wallet and interact with them through the wallet’s interface.

What is a Hardware Wallet?

A hardware wallet is a physical device used to store cryptocurrencies, NFTs, and other digital assets safely. It stores your wallet’s recovery phrase, password, and PIN code offline, making it the most secure storage solution. Also, devices like Ledger utilize a secure chip to protect against physical hacks.

In the last year, NFTs have catapulted themselves into society as the next big craze for gaming, art, and collectibles. And with all the popularity of NFTs, a lot of fake accounts, scammers, and malware have emerged which when given the opportunity will take advantage of your information to gain access to your wallet. 

Hardware wallets allow you to be the sole person in control of accessing your NFTs and provide the necessary layer of security while interacting with Web 3.0 applications.

When determining which hardware wallet to use there are a ton of good selections like Trezor or Ledger. For this setup guide, we will be focusing on the Ledger and how to send your NFTs to it from A to Z.

What Are The Benefits of a Hardware Wallet?

The main benefit of using a hardware wallet over a software wallet like Metamask is that all of your wallet’s private information remains offline. Most scams and hacks occur because a majority of wallets are either connected to the internet or are set up on a device that’s connected to the internet, such as your phone or computer.

Since a hardware wallet is a separate device that is not connected to the internet as often, the likelihood of it being hacked is significantly reduced.

There are numerous other benefits of using a hardware wallet such as:

  • Wallet’s private information remains unexposed
  • Increased security due to multiple layers of authentication (recovery phrase, password, and PIN code)
  • Secure chips protect against physical attacks (these are the same chips utilized in passports and bank cards)
  • Virtually zero vulnerabilities to computer viruses
  • You can hold multiple cryptocurrencies and NFTs in one wallet
  • Transaction verification is displayed on-screen

Ultimately, a hardware wallet is the best way to securely store your NFTs and other digital assets to ensure their longevity. If you own any valuable digital assets, a hardware wallet is a must.

 How to Setup a Hardware Wallet

Setting up a hardware wallet is easy. Just follow these 6 simple steps below.

Step 1: Buy a Hardware Wallet from a Verified Vendor

Be sure to buy your hardware wallet from the manufacturer. There’s a common scam where wallets are preloaded with viruses posed as cheap or second-hand hardware wallets.

Here are the official links to these trusted vendors:

Supply chain hacks are common because suppliers know that the user will be using the hardware wallet to store their most valuable assets on the device. This creates a vulnerability in second-hand sales of hardware wallets.

Ledger’s own website warns of phishing websites posing as them or their team. Ledger and other official vendors will never ask you for your seed phrase or any other private information about your hardware wallets.

It’s also extremely risky to purchase a hardware wallet from a trusted site like Amazon. Although there are verified sellers, you should only trust the manufacturer’s website.

Ledger

Step 2: Set Up Ledger Live on the Device

Ledger has created custom software that helps with setting up your device and will help you with your crypto assets. Once you have your ledger go ahead and plug the USB cable into your device and into your PC.

It should light up and carry you through the prompt that takes you to the ledger live site which you can find here.

Step 3: Write Down Your Recovery Phrase Multiple Places Offline (never digitally, including photos)

Start the setup of the new ledger and be sure to follow the prompts until you get to the pin code. Make sure you write your pincode down somewhere you will not forget. Also, be sure to write down your 24-word recovery phrase offline. Most ledgers will come with little sheets that you can write your phrase on. Write your recovery phrase down in several places so that if you were to lose one there will be another stored somewhere else. Store your recovery phrase offline and somewhere secure.

If you lose the recovery phase you lose access to your wallet and will not be able to recover it.

Step 4: Confirm Your Recovery Phrase

The automatic prompt should have you confirm your recovery phrase to make sure you wrote it down correctly. For extra security, after recording your recovery phrase you should reset your wallet and restore it completely using your recovery phrase. This step adds an extra precaution to make sure that you will always be able to safely recover your hardware wallet.

Step 5: Create an ETH Wallet on Your Ledger Device

Go to the manager section of the menu, then search for Ethereum. Follow the prompts and after adding successfully you can jump to adding your first NFTs to your hardware wallet.

Ledger

Step 6: Connect Metamask

You will need to login into your Metamask on the computer. From there you need to click on the top right-hand corner and connect your hardware wallet. If you need a tutorial on how to set up a Metamask on your browser you can refer to this article here

Ledger

After you click continue, MetaMask will look for a Ledger device connected to the computer. Unlock your Ledger wallet to ensure that it is discovered. It will prompt you to select a Ledger account to link to MetaMask once it has discovered your wallet. Choose the ledger account you want to use or create one with ledger live.

On your hardware wallet display, click the Ethereum application. Then go to your settings and turn on contract data.

If you skip this step the contract information will not function properly. Click on the account logo in the top right corner of the MetaMask window and scroll down to the settings menu. Once you are there click advanced settings, and select “Use with Ledger Live” from the drop-down menu. This will allow you to see the balance of your Ledger wallet on your MetaMask extension.

You will also be able to create transactions across all MetaMask-enabled blockchain applications. All you have to do is connect your Ledger wallet to your device, launch Ledger Live, and check and sign the transactions.

BOOM. Now you can use all of your favorite NFT marketplaces like OpenSea from the security of your hardware wallet.

How Do You Transfer an NFT to a Hardware Wallet?

Transferring an NFT to a hardware wallet is no different than transferring it to any other kind of wallet. In fact, you can transfer an NFT to a hardware wallet in three steps.

Step 1: Copy Your Hardware Wallet’s Public Address

To transfer an NFT to a hardware wallet, you need its public address. The public address is what you use to receive various digital assets into your wallet. An address is generally 42 randomized numbers and letters.

Note: This is not your wallet’s recovery phrase.

Also, ensure that you are copying the correct wallet address. Each blockchain will provide you with a different address. So, depending on which blockchain the NFT you are trying to send is minted on, you need to make sure that is the address you copy from the hardware wallet.

For example, if you are sending an Ethereum-based NFT from your software wallet to your hardware wallet, make sure to use the hardware wallet’s Ethereum address.

Step 2:  Select the NFT You Want to Transfer

There are multiple ways you can initiate an NFT transfer. The most common way is to transfer it directly from within your wallet. To do this, go to your wallet’s ‘NFT’ or ‘Assets’ tab, and select the NFT you want to transfer.

Next, click the ‘Send’ button to begin the transfer process.

Step 3: Input the Hardware Wallet’s Address into the Recipient and Hit Send

Once you have verified that you have copied the correct public address from your hardware wallet, paste it into the ‘Recipient’ section. Then, hit send and confirm the transaction using the sender’s wallet.

Please be aware that you will have to pay gas fees if you are sending NFTs on the Ethereum blockchain.

Depending on the transaction speed you choose and the current congestion on the blockchain, you can expect the transfer to take anywhere from 15 seconds to over 5 minutes.

Categories
NFT Tech

Using NFTs for Access and Utility

Cool, but what can I do with your NFT? What utility does it enable? Actual NFT usability often gets lost in all the big-money sale headlines. As more and more people wake up to NFTs, it’s important that we highlight some of the usefulness of these tokens, besides simply selling.

In a previous post, I discussed how NFTs (specifically tokenized art) can be used within virtual worlds. You can find that here. Today, I’d like to discuss how NFTs can be used as access passes for entry into both physical and digital experiences.

What is an NFT Access or “Utility” Pass’

An early example of an NFT access pass looks just like an event ticket. Issuing verifiably unique tickets that can easily track ownership across a blockchain seems like a no-brainer. In fact, in February 2020 I attended the NFT.NYC conference in which I was able to gain entry using the NFT ticket in my crypto wallet. Pretty dope! This was my first real-world experience verifying access using an NFT. Shout-out to Matthew from Nifty Gateway for gifting me the ticket.

https://www.nft.nyc/
NFT.NYC

While NFT ticketing is an obvious real-world use case, there are also some digital uses for NFT access passes. One, in particular, revolves around ‘token-gated’ content. This idea is similar to paying to access content behind a paywall, but with an NFT. Let me explain.

Today, many creators are familiar with monetizing their content using subscription services like Patreon and OnlyFans. In short, creators create content, lock it behind a paywall, charge their supporters for monthly access to the content, and then split that money with the platform. Token-gating, while similar in theory, works a bit differently.

Imagine this. You create content (videos, podcasts, music, etc.), and then you make that content only accessible to fans who own a specific NFT. This is exactly what I plan to do with my next NFT drop on MakersPlace in early April. The drop will feature a collection of NFTs inspired by my latest song, STAKING. Anyone who purchases one of these NFTs will also gain private access to a growing library of exclusive content, including a 6-part podcast with myself and the producer, a lyric breakdown, and a video breakdown of how the beat was made.

By token-gating my content, I am able to give my NFTs greater utility and greater value. To execute on this idea, I will use Token Protected Pages from MintGate.

Token Protected Pages

Token Protected Pages are essentially secret links that point to gated webpages.

MintGate

In practice, the MintGate platform allows anyone to enter a content URL from Web2 platforms (i.e. YouTube, SoundCloud) and then generate a new, secret URL that is protected by a specified fungible or non-fungible token. When a fan opens the secret URL, MintGate checks to see if their Web3-connected wallet (i.e. MetaMask) holds the correct token. If someone wants to access, but they do not own the specified token, they will not be permitted to see the content. Sorry, my guy. You need to own this NFT!

It’s also important to note that using NFTs in this way is platform agnostic. This means creators no longer need to be restricted to the monetization model of a single platform. If YouTube ad revenue begins to slow down, a YouTuber could make private videos, use MintGate to token-gate the URLs, and then sell NFTs for access. Pretty dope!

What happens when subscribers need to own a specific NFT to watch a season finale!?

This is all just scratching the surface. NFT access passes can also extend into Discord servers, virtual destinations within the Metaverse, you name it! Much of the fun and excitement around NFTs is in the possibilities, the opportunities, and the utility.

Access as utility.

Categories
NFT Tech

What are Layer 2 (L2) Solutions in the Blockchain and Why Are They Important?

But First, What Is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a fundamental concept in understanding the way cryptocurrency works. But it’s not only limited to its application in crypto.

The blockchain is a database that stores information from transactional records in a universal ledger. Assets are traded and tracked on the blockchain, reducing risk and cutting costs for everyone involved. 

Blockchain allows you to send money to a friend in seconds without worrying about banking fees and other charges. You can also store cash in an online wallet and don’t need anyone’s permission to move it or transfer ownership.

Every block on the blockchain has a specific number of transactions. When a new block generates on-chain, it’s added to each network node’s ledger and uses distributed ledger technology (DLT).

A key concept of blockchain is that it’s decentralized, which allows for transparency and real-time access to assets. Being decentralized also enables the network participants to be collectively responsible for the security, as opposed to having a centralized entity like a bank or governing body.

Other fundamentals of blockchain technology include being immutable and distributed. Since the ledger is immutable, you can always trust that the information is accurate because no one can alter it.

Since the blockchain is also distributed, it potentially protects users from network attacks and other instances of fraud and cybersecurity threats.

Layer 1 vs. Layer 2: What are The differences

Layer 1 is the main blockchain network in charge of on-chain transactions, while Layer 2 is the connected network in charge of off-chain transactions

What are layer 2 solutions?

Layer 2 is a term used for solutions created to help scale an application by processing transactions off of the Ethereum Mainnet (layer 1) while still maintaining the same security measures and decentralization as the mainnet. Layer 2 solutions increase throughput (transaction speed) and reduce gas fees. Popular examples of Ethereum layer 2 solutions include Immutable X, Polygon, and Polkadot.

Why are layer 2 solutions important?

Layer 2 solutions are important because they allow for scalability and increased throughput while still holding the integrity of the Ethereum blockchain, allowing for complete decentralization, transparency, and security while also reducing the carbon footprint (less gas, means less energy used, which equates to less carbon.)

Although the Ethereum blockchain is the most widely used blockchain and arguably the most secure, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with some shortcomings. The Ethereum Mainnet is known to have slow transaction times (13 transactions per second) and expensive gas fees. Layer 2s are built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, keeping transactions secure, speedy, and scalable.

Each individual solution has its own pros and cons to consider such as throughput, gas fees, security, scalability, and of course functionality. No single layer 2 solution currently fulfills all these needs. However, there are layer 2 scaling solutions that aim to improve all these aspects; these solutions are called rollups.

What are layer 2 rollups?

Rollups are layer 2 scaling solutions that perform transaction operations off the main Ethereum blockchain, but still post the transaction data onto layer 1. Considering the transaction data is on layer 1, rollups are secured by the same layer 1 security measures. In fact, this is the defining feature that rollups offer to users.

There are three properties of a layer 2 rollup: 

  1. Transactions are executed outside of layer 1 (reduces gas fees)
  1. Data and proof of transactions reside on layer 1 (maintains security)
  2. A rollup smart contract which is found on layer 1, can enforce proper transaction execution on layer 2, by using the transaction data that is stored on layer 1

Ultimately, rollups require users like you and me to stake a bond in the rollup smart contract, which encourages users to verify and execute transactions correctly. 

Rollups are useful because they reduce fees, increase transaction throughput, and expand participation. There are two kinds of rollups with different security measures:

  1. Optimistic rollups assume transactions are valid by default and only runs computation, via a fraud proof, in the act of a challenge
  2. Zero-knowledge rollups runs computation off-chain and submits a validity proof to the main-chain
Optimistic Rollups:

Optimistic rollups sit in parallel to the Ethereum Mainnet on layer 2 and don’t perform any computation (mathematical equations) by default. Instead, after the transaction is complete, they submit the new state to the Ethereum Mainnet, essentially notarizing the transaction.

Optimistic rollup transactions are written into the main Ethereum blockchain, further optimizing transactions by reducing the cost of gas.

Advantages of optimistic rollups include:

  • Low gas fees 
  • Increased throughput
  • Smart contract capability
  • Security (guaranteed by the Ethereum Mainnet)

Disadvantages of optimistic rollups:

  • Long withdrawal time (challenge periods can last for weeks)
    • If a fraudulent transaction is discovered, the rollup will automatically call a fraud-proof and run the transaction’s computation using the available written data, leading to long withdrawal times if the transaction is challenged.

There are several applications of optimistic rollups that you can integrate into your own dapps:

Zero-knowledge rollups:

Zero-knowledge rollups (ZK rollups) bundle thousands of transactions off the main Ethereum chain and create cryptographic proof which is known simply as SNARK (succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge). This is called validity proof, which is posted to the Ethereum Mainnet.

The smart contract for a ZK rollup keeps the data of all transfers on layer 2 and the data can only be edited with a validity proof. Meaning, ZK rollups only need validity proof, opposed to all the transaction data. This function decreases the cost to transact due to less data being included.

When it comes to ZK rollups, there is minimal hesitation when moving assets from layer 2 to layer 1, considering the validity proof has already been approved by the ZK rollup and has already authorized the transaction.

Advantages of ZK rollups include:

  • Near instant transfers 
  • Not vulnerable to the attacks that optimistic rollups may be affected by
  • Still secure and decentralized

Disadvantages of ZK rollups:

  • Validity proofs are extreme to compute for smaller applications with less on-chain activity
  • A user can influence transaction ordering
  • Some rollups don’t offer Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) support

There are numerous applications of ZK rollups that you can integrate into your own dapps:

Ethereum layer 2 solutions have some serious potential to change the blockchain landscape for the better. Layer 2 solutions ensure that users are able to maintain all the safety measures used on the Ethereum Mainnet while still being able to transact quickly and at little to no cost for users.

This type of technology may encourage more people to try out the Ethereum blockchain and everything it has to offer. Also, keep in mind that many layer 2 solutions are still in their beta phase, meaning you should research everything in-depth and always remain curious and cautious when exploring the various layer 2 solutions.

Categories
NFT Tech

What is the Metaverse? A Beginners Guide

Since Mark Zuckerberg changed the name of Facebook to Meta, many people were caught off guard and are now left in the dark as to what Meta is and what the future of the metaverse means. 

Additionally, big-name brands that we love such as Addidas have taken the plunge into the metaverse. Offering their NFTs holders the ability to unlock exclusive access to virtual land experiences and free collaborative merchandise. So, what is the metaverse exactly?

What is the metaverse?

The metaverse is a combination of numerous technologies including virtual reality, augmented reality, and eye-tracking. All of these elements are used to create the ultimate virtual experience within a virtual universe. Examples of a metaverse include Fortnite, Roblox, and The Sandbox.

The term metaverse was first mentioned in Neal Stephenson’s science fiction novel, Snow Crash, published in 1992. Although the term isn’t new, the thought of living in a virtual world might feel a bit futuristic, but in reality, we are already living in a very digitized world.

Ready Player One

“Even though it was initially marketed as a new kind of massively multiplayer online game, the OASIS quickly evolved into a new way of life.”

If you have ever watched the movie Ready Player One, which is set in the year 2045 where much of humanity uses virtual reality to escape the real world, then you understand the concept of operating in the metaverse.

Currently, some metaverses like Somnium Space support several popular VR goggles including Oculus, Vive, and Stream. However, all you really need to enter most metaverses is just a desktop computer and a solid internet connection, meaning the barrier to entry is minimum.

If you’re curious to know how you can enter the metaverse, make sure to check out our article Explaining the Top 4 Metaverses, where you will learn what each popular metaverse offers, as well as how to enter each space.

What’s in the metaverse?

The metaverse and its contents remain a mystery to many. After exploring the metaverse myself, I noticed several elements you will find within the virtual space.

The metaverse contains a number of different elements such as 3D avatars, digital assets, games, businesses, and various events that support an entire virtual economy. As a user, you can monetize your creations, meet with friends, participate in virtual events, and even host business meetings.

While exploring the metaverse you may quickly realize that it offers many of the same features that you might find in the real world. 

The one major difference with the metaverse is that you can travel the world all from the comfort of your own home, using just your computer and VR goggles if you have a pair. As well, you can literally teleport to different locations. Whether you want to teleport to the next city or even the next room, you can do it all in the metaverse.

Why is the metaverse important?

Understandably, many people might fail to gauge the importance that the metaverse has in our society. So, why is the metaverse so important?

The metaverse is important because it offers humans an in-person way to connect and communicate from anywhere in the world virtually. Furthermore, the metaverse supports a whole virtual economy where users can enjoy numerous activities like building a business, networking with others, and even hosting family gatherings.

Just imagine for a second that you and your family aren’t able to get together for the holidays, so instead, you put on your VR headset and join each other in the same room virtually. You can still enjoy each other’s company, play games together, and even explore other metaverse worlds all from your own home.

The same can be said for business meetings and even training sessions. You and your colleagues can all sit around the same table, view the same presentation, and then discuss matters further in a completely immersive environment. Then once the meeting is over, you can simply take off your headset and be back at home with your family.

More so, the metaverse allows you to actually create a real business within the confinements of any virtual land you own.

For example, you can build and monetize a recreational arena where others can come to play games and host events, open a VR clothing store, and even monetize your skills as a builder in the metaverse where you can charge users a fee in exchange for an architectural structure or other digital creation.

This will, in turn, create more job opportunities, as there will be a demand for developers, virtual architectures, and much more. Really, your imagination is your limit, and this is especially true in the metaverse.

Ultimately, the metaverse allows you to be anywhere, anytime, and with anyone in a realistic setting. This convenience may further improve your relationships and your ability to receive hands-on training and guidance from home.

What currency is used in the metaverse?

Of course with new economies comes new types of currencies, and not all metaverses use the same currency.

In the metaverse, the only type of currency accepted is cryptocurrency. There are different types of cryptocurrency used depending on which metaverse you’re in. An example is Decentraland, where their native currency is MANA.

Other metaverses like Cryptoxles make it easy for users and allow you to transact with more common crypto such as ETH.

Examples of the metaverse

As of today, there are several metaverses that are currently available for anyone to explore, and some even support a thriving community with thousands of users.

Popular examples of the metaverse include Cryptovoxels, Decentraland, Roblox, Somnium Space, and The Sandbox. Metaverses like CryptoVoxels, Decentraland, and Somnium space are advertised more so as VR platforms, whereas Roblox and The Sandbox are better known as online gaming platforms.

If you aren’t familiar with any of these platforms, no worries. Other games like Fortnite and Minecraft are considered to be modern-day metaverse as well. In fact, Fortnite CEO Tim Sweeney has described Fortnite’s user experience as a metaverse because it is a virtual 3D space that combines gaming with non-gaming elements.

Overall, the metaverse is still in its infancy, but that’s not to say that the potential for innovation isn’t huge. The number of brands building within the metaverse is increasing at a rapid pace. Atari, Addidas, Google, Microsoft, Nike, and Sony are just a few of the companies that are currently building their brand in the metaverse.

How do you enter into the metaverse?

Visiting the metaverse is simple. First, choose one of the several metaverses available that you wish to participate in. Next, you may be required to get your own crypto wallet along with some cryptocurrency for in-game use depending on the metaverse. Finally, create your avatar name and account before venturing into the metaverse.

In general, entering the metaverse is very easy, requires minimal effort, and is user friendly. Now, you’re likely wondering what some of the top metaverses are and what each one offers compared to the next. After hours of research, here are some of the top metaverses explained.

1. Cryptovoxels
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Cryptovoxels is a user-owned virtual world built on the Etherum blockchain that consists of a city known as Origin City. The streets of Origin City are owned by the corporation, whereas the individual parcels are owned by people like you and me. 

In order to get started exploring the Cryptovoxels metaverse, all that you really need is a computer and a steady internet connection. Cryptovoxels does not require you to install an Ethereum wallet or even own a parcel to be able to interact with the world. Rather, simply head to Cryptovoxels.com/Play to start exploring this virtual city.

Along with exploring Origin City, users are capable of creating, buying, and selling their own assets by using the in-game voxel builders, and then trading them on the NFT marketplace OpenSea.

For currency, Cryptovoxels previously had its own in-world currency called $COLR. As of June 2020, however, the token has been announced dead after Cryptovoxels decided to transition into using ETH as their preferred currency for all transactions.

When navigating through Origin City, you will notice that the overall function is smooth and user friendly. You can easily view the explorer while navigating to bring up a list of parcels and events, which you are able to teleport directly to. 

If you are curious about the metaverse and you desire a little taste for yourself, I believe that Cryptovoxels is a great place for you to start in order to get a hang of things in the virtual world.

2. Decentraland
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Decentraland is another popular space in the metaverse which is also built on the Ethereum blockchain. In Decentraland, you can purchase virtual real estate known as LAND, which is stored on the Ethereum blockchain in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT).

In order to obtain your own lot of LAND in Decentraland, you need to get a hold of Decentraland’s fungible ERC-20 cryptocurrency, MANA. With MANA, you are able to burn or spend it, in exchange for your own parcel of LAND. A parcel in Decentraland measures 16 meters by 16 meters, or 52ft by 52ft.

If you want to try Decentraland without getting a wallet, that’s fine. You can still roam around the virtual world, customize your avatar, and communicate with others, but you won’t be eligible to receive rewards or attend the various virtual events.

Additionally, it gets even more exciting with Decentraland’s very own marketplace, where you are able to trade and manage all of your digital assets. The Decentraland marketplace allows you to buy and sell parcels, as well as estates of LAND, digital wearables, and even unique avatar names.

3. The Sandbox
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The Sandbox was originally developed as a game for mobile devices and Microsoft Windows by Pixowl, and was released in 2012. However, in August 2018, Animoca Brands acquired The Sandbox in order to develop a whole new kind of game—a voxel based blockchain game—where users have the ability to earn from their in-game creations.

There’s more than 166K land pieces available in The Sandbox, which are split in two separate categories: regular land (96 meters by 96 meters), and estates (a combination of several land pieces used for building online experiences).

As for the assets, they are minted in the form of ERC-1155 tokens, which essentially act as a dual purpose fungible and non-fungible token, and are often used for in-game assets. These assets represent user-generated content like game characters and accessories. 

If you couldn’t tell, games represent the core of The Sandbox’s virtual world. You are able to build your own game and assets with no coding skills, thanks to The Sandbox’s easy to use interface. The creation tool VoxEdit, allows you to create your own in-game assets, while the Game Maker lets you build 3D games for free which you can then monetize.

There are numerous means to earn rewards and cryptocurrency playing The Sandbox. All you have to do is play games, make games, and create assets.

The Sandbox ensured that building games and creating assets is easy for anyone to do. After becoming a verified artist through the creator fund, you can export your creations to The Sandbox marketplace and start earning cryptocurrency as a reward for your creative talents.

4. Somnium Space
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Perhaps one of the lesser known metaverse worlds right now is Somnium Space, which is advertised as a new virtual reality world that is open, social, and present.

Somnium Space has created a virtual reality world with its own economy and currency, all tied together seamlessly. The platform is available from any device in 2D mode, or you can take advantage of VR technology and really submerge yourself in the metaverse from both your desktop and mobile device.

As far the VR technology goes, Somnium Space allows you to enjoy their virtual world using all of the major VR headsets. In fact, Somnium has partnered with Sony to take advantage of their 3D model creation technology, which permits users to build their own avatar characters effortlessly.

Moreover, Sony’s VR space inside of this special metaverse is the first of its kind! From what I can tell, Somnium Space appears to be extremely focused on scaling their community and offering users the ability to monetize their virtual land and assets.

Something I find exceptionally beneficial in this metaverse is the potential to analyze gaze tracking (measuring where people look), user engagement, and conversion rates.

If this doesn’t excite you and scare you at the same time, I don’t know what will. I believe that the opportunity to build something very user-centric in a virtual environment—and have the option to monetize your creations—is huge!

Somnium Space keeps the community at their forefront with daily meetups, an events calendar, and consistent communication across all their social media platforms. Although Somnium Space may not be the go-to metaverse right now, I’m confident that this community-focused virtual reality world will be one of the top in due time.

The future of the metaverse

The metaverse is new, exciting, and full of so much opportunity. You are able to meet new people, create your own assets, and monetize your creations like never before. Welcome to the future. Welcome to the metaverse.

Google Trends
Google Trends

A quick search on Google Trends shows a huge spike in the search volume of the metaverse right around October 2021. Meanwhile, VR has seen a healthy fluctuation in search volume dating all the way back to December 2015.

I think this is a clear sign that the potential of the metaverse is about to be unleashed in the coming years, along with an abundance of opportunity, especially for those who are curious enough to explore the space early.

So, are you ready to explore the world from home? If so, jump into the metaverse and check it out, an entire world full of opportunity awaits.

Categories
NFT Tech

Solana Is Now on OpenSea | What Does This Mean for Solana?

Solana is the fastest growing blockchain in the world, with thousands of people spanning across DeFi, NFTs, Web3, and more. Recently, OpenSea announced that Solana is now a supported blockchain on their platform, so what does this mean for Solana?

Solana’s integration into the OpenSea marketplace means that Solana is a real competitor in the world of NFTs. Boasting quick transaction speeds and low gas fees, Solana has all the right things to compete with popular blockchains like Ethereum.

So what does this all mean for Solana?

Why use Solana on OpenSea?

If you are wondering why someone might want to use Solana over Ethereum on OpenSea, there are a few legitimate reasons.

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  • Keep NFTs in your wallet right until they’re sold

Unlike other NFT marketplaces, when you list an NFT on OpenSea, your NFT remains in your wallet until it is sold. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s nice to know where your NFTs are at all times in my opinion.

  • It’s energy-efficient and eco-friendly

We all know that Solana is one of the most efficient NFT blockchains in the world, and that remains true on OpenSea. A transaction on the Solana blockchain uses less energy than two Google searches. Take that, Ethereum! 

  • Enjoy low gas fees and fast transactions

In addition to the minimal amount of energy required to transact on the Solana blockchain, the gas fees are extremely low (less than $0.01) and super fast, with a theoretical throughput of 65,000 transactions per second.

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If this seems too good to be true, it’s not. This is the future of blockchain technology. Most of us are accustomed to exorbitantly high transaction fees and subpar throughput times, but that is only because this technology is so new.

As blockchain technology continues to progress, as will its optimization. Solana is a good example of what the potential of blockchain tech will look like for all users, and likely in the very near future.

OpenSea’s Solana Beta

To be completely honest, Solana is still in the Beta phase on OpenSea, but that doesn’t mean its potential to take over the NFT industry is any less. So, what can you do with OpenSea’s Solana Beta phase?

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The initial beta launch of Solana on OpenSea means that there will be limited collection coverage. Currently, there are approximately 190 NFT collections from the Solana blockchain showcased on OpenSea, but that hasn’t slowed anyone down from buying their own Solana NFTs. 

One of the main reasons OpenSea is starting off slowly with the integration of Solana is to receive feedback from the community. Web3 is all about community involvement, and I believe this is the right move on OpenSea’s end, simply because the community knows what they want, and all Opensea has to do is watch and listen.

OpenSea asks that users share any feedback in the #solana-discussion channel in their Discord.

How to see your Solana NFTs on OpenSea

If you want to see your Solana NFTs on OpenSea, first make sure that you are logged in with your Solana wallet. For the time being, you will have to use separate wallet accounts for your Ethereum-based and Solana-based NFTs.

Opensea.io

Ensure that you are logged into your Solana account by checking that the wallet address on your OpenSea account is the one associated with your Solana wallet. Once you are logged into OpenSea, you can view all your Solana-based NFTs under the Collected tab in your profile.

Without a doubt, OpenSea’s decision to integrate Solana into their platform was a wise move, not only for the Solana network but for OpenSea as well.

Considering Solana is one of the most popular NFT blockchains following behind Ethereum, this should bring even more users to the OpenSea platform. Ultimately, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Categories
NFT Tech

What Is Emblem Vault?

There is a rich history of NFTs that were created on the Bitcoin blockchain, predating many of the popular NFTs we know today. However, because these NFTs are so old, many people aren’t aware they exist, and even if they did, buying and selling them is not easy. That is, until the creation of Emblem Vault in 2020.

Emblem Vault is a tokenized multi-asset wallet on the Ethereum blockchain that can contain one or more tokens or NFTs. You can use Emblem Vault to trade portfolios of NFTs and cryptocurrencies, including assets from different chains, as a single token.

Emblem Vault isn’t exactly new, however, this extraordinary protocol remains relatively unknown. I think it’s time that we open up the vault to the rest of the world, and learn more about what it is and how it works.

What is Emblem Vault?

Every vault within Emblem Vault contains a series of blockchain addresses and is generated from a single secret phrase. You can store various digital assets in each of the addresses and only the person with the secret phrase can send assets to other wallets.

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Essentially, the Emblem Vault protocol allows you to take different blockchain tokens and put them into a single token, which acts as a multi-asset crypto wallet in itself. The vault is created as a unique ERC-721 token.

Currently, Emblem Vault can utilize assets from Bitcoin, Ethereum, XDai, Polygon, BSC, and Phantom.

What can you do with Emblem Vault?

You can use Emblem Vault in ways unimaginable, let’s take a gander at the various ways you can use it.

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  • Value backed digital assets

You can create a value-backed digital vault that contains one or more digital assets, along with some cryptocurrency. 

  • Tradeable portfolios

You can create tradeable portfolios that combine multiple assets into a single token. For example, you can make a portfolio that contains 50% ETH, 40% Bitcoin, and 10% LINK, and trade all these assets as a single ERC-721 NFT.

  • Portable liquidity pools

You can create a vault with multiple pooled tokens to make transferable liquidity pools, as well as transparent funds. You can do this because Emblem Vault enables you to create a vault that is held by a community, or other trusted third parties.

So, how does all of this work? Great question.

How does Emblem Vault work?

Emblem Vault works by wrapping digital assets to make them modern ERC-721 NFTs, the same type of NFTs that are often traded on popular NFT marketplaces, like OpenSea. That way you can buy and sell assets that predate the ERC-721 standard.

Emblem.Finance

One example of a popular NFT that predates the ERC-721 standard is Rare Pepe’s. These NFTs are some of the first NFTs that were ever created. Rare Pepe NFTs were originally created on the Bitcoin blockchain and were often traded on the CounterParty platform.

However, because Rare Pepe NFTs weren’t originally minted as ERC-721 NFTs, they couldn’t be traded on popular NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, unless they were wrapped to this new standard.

Where to buy Emblem Vault NFTs

If you want to buy your own Emblem Vault NFT such as a Rare Pepe, you have a couple of options to choose from.

Opensea.io

You can buy Emblem Vault NFTs on OpenSea, LooksRare, and their official website. OpenSea is currently the most popular platform for trading Emblem Vault NFTs, but the others are worth looking into, in order to find the best possible deal.

To create your own vault using Emblem Vault, simply go to Emblem.Finance, select Create, connect the wallet that you would like to create your vault with, and then you can add a name and description.

If you want to sell your Emblem Vault NFTs on a marketplace like OpenSea or Rarible, you will want to follow this how-to guide for more in-depth instructions.

Ultimately, Emblem Vault acts as a modern-day digital asset wrapper that enables old NFTs to be traded in the current market with ease.

Additionally, Emblem Vault gives you the ability to combine multiple assets into a single token, making it easier to trade, and even build a strong digital portfolio.

Categories
NFT Tech

What Is the Stacks Blockchain?

The Bitcoin blockchain is one of the most trusted and well-known blockchains available, however, it does have its limitations. Now developers are figuring out how to utilize Bitcoin’s secure blockchain technology while adding new features. Such is the case with the Stacks blockchain.

Stacks is a layer-1 blockchain that is linked to Bitcoin by its Proof of Transfer (PoX) consensus mechanism. This enables Stacks to leverage the security and capital of Bitcoin for decentralized apps and smart contracts.

At this point, there are so many blockchains it can be hard to keep track of them all. With that, the Stacks blockchain is completely different from any other blockchain currently available. Let’s take a look at how it is different.

What is Stacks?

A popular misconception regarding the Stacks blockchain is that it is a layer-2 sidechain of the Bitcoin blockchain, however, this is not true.

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Stacks is its own layer-1 blockchain, similar to how Ethereum and Cardano are their own blockchain, except the Stacks blockchain is linked to the Bitcoin blockchain using the first-of-its-kind Proof of Transfer (PoX) consensus mechanism.

This type of blockchain runs parallel to another blockchain—in Stack’s case—the Bitcoin blockchain.

How does Stacks work?

Stacks’ one-of-a-kind mining algorithm assures the history of all blocks ever created is resolved on Bitcoin. A maximum of one Stacks block is mined for each Bitcoin block, and if there is competition, a winning Stacks block is selected at random by a cryptographic sortition process.

PoX is a unique mining system in which block producers are chosen by sending another cryptocurrency to a preset list of addresses on another blockchain. It sends Bitcoin to Bitcoin addresses that STX token holders specify on a regular basis in the Stacks 2.0 version of PoX. 

PoX mining, like PoW mining, is a kind of single-leader mining. Each block is created by a single miner, and each miner can pick any existing block as its parent block.

Why is Stacks important?

The importance of the Stacks blockchain stems from its aim to bring new functionalities to Bitcoin’s mainnet blockchain. However, since Stacks’ blocks are anchored to Bitcoin’s blockchain, the time to mine a Stack’s block remains the same as Bitcoin, which is approximately 10 minutes.

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So, does that mean that Stack’s blockchain is limited to the same throughput that the Bitcoin blockchain is limited to? Absolutely not.

To avoid this potential issue, Stacks has implemented a mechanism called microblocks that enables increased transaction throughput and speed. Blocks that are confirmed on the Stacks blockchain simultaneously to Bitcoin blocks are called anchor blocks, which occur about every 10 minutes.

That is where microblocks come in. Between these blocks, microblocks make a rapid settlement of Stacks transactions. Then, once the associated anchor block has been approved on the Bitcoin blockchain, the microblocks are also approved.

Through this innovative method, Stacks achieves scalability.

What is STX?

STX is the native cryptocurrency of the Stacks blockchain. It is used to fuel smart contracts for Bitcoin and to reward miners on the Stacks network, plus it enables holders to earn bitcoin by Stacking.

What can you do with Stacks?

Of course, the Stacks blockchain wasn’t just created as a way to increase Bitcoin’s throughput speed. The stacks blockchain allows you to do many things that can’t be done on the Bitcoin blockchain, including:

Stacks.co

Bitcoin NFTs

The Stacks blockchain enables users to create their own NFTs with Clarity smart contracts. Because Stacks is linked to the Bitcoin blockchain, NFTs created on Stacks are just as secure as Bitcoin.

Additionally, marketplaces are enabling Lightning and Bitcoin payments and even Bitcoin yield-generating NFTs.

Bitcoin DeFi

Given Bitcoin’s roughly $1 trillion market cap and rising acceptance, Bitcoin DeFi represents a vast, unexplored industry. Despite its expanding usage as sovereign money, Bitcoin hasn’t been as productive of an asset for DeFi as other cryptocurrencies without passing through controlled exchanges or distinct blockchains in the form of wrapped BTC. Stacks alters this.

Considering Stacks contracts’ visibility into the Bitcoin state, as well as Stacks’ natural ability to exploit Bitcoin’s security and settlement assurances, Stacks is positioned to allow real Bitcoin DeFi. Because the Stacks chain is linked to Bitcoin via the Proof of Transfer (PoX) consensus mechanism, all Stacks transactions settle on Bitcoin.

This assures that Stacks shares Bitcoin’s long-term, unprecedented security for transaction reorgs.

Blockchain Domain Names

Stacks enables what is known as a Blockchain Naming System (BNS), which binds Stacks usernames to an off-chain state without relying on a single centralized entity. Unlike Domain Name System (DNS), anyone has the ability to create a namespace and set its properties.

A blockchain Naming System (BNS) is a network system that binds Stacks usernames to an off-chain state without relying on any central points of control. Unlike DNS, anyone can create a namespace and set its properties.

Namespaces are generated on a first-come, first-served basis, and they are permanent once formed. BNS names have three important qualities that make them a great tool for developing all types of network applications, such as:

  • The protocol does not allow name collisions.
  • Human meaning, each name is chosen by its creator.
  • Only the owner of the name can change the state to which the name belongs.

Ultimately, Stacks is a blockchain that retains the safety and trust of the Bitcoin blockchain by using a Proof of Transfer (PoX) consensus mechanism, but allows for some new features, in addition to an increased throughput speed.

To learn more about the Stacks blockchain, visit Stacks.co.

Categories
NFT Tech

What Is Arbitrum?

Although Ethereum is the most preferred blockchain, it does lack speed and scalability. That is why layer-2 solutions such as Arbitrum have been created.

Arbitrum is a layer-2 scaling solution that is designed to increase speed and scalability, while still retaining the privacy of Ethereum’s mainnet, to enhance Ethereum smart contracts.

There are several layer-2 scaling solutions currently available, but Arbitrum offers some additional features that others do not. In this article, I’m going to walk you through what Arbitrum is and how it works.

What is Arbitrum?

Arbitrum was created to allow developers to execute unmodified Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) contracts and Ethereum transactions on layer-2 technology, while still maintaining the security that the Ethereum mainnet offers its users.

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This layer-2 solution aims to solve the long transaction times and high gas fees experienced when using the Ethereum blockchain. Arbitrum does this by using a technique called a rollup.

In simple terms, a rollup takes multiple Ethereum transactions and rolls them up into a single piece of data before submitting them all to the main Ethereum blockchain. This saves space, increases transaction speed, and reduces the cost to transact.

The Arbitrum initiative was started by Ed Felten, Steven Goldfeder, and Harry Kalodner. All of whom are blockchain experts on a mission to make cryptocurrency a better experience for the world.

How does Arbitrum work?

Arbitrum is an optimistic rollup. This particular rollup allows smart contracts on Ethereum to scale by sending data and messages between smart contracts on the Arbitrum layer-2 chain.

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Scalability is increased because the transaction processing occurs on layer-2, while all the records of the transactions still appear on the Ethereum mainnet. As a result, the transaction speed and overall efficiency is increased.

The future of Arbitrum

The future of Arbitrum includes other modes as well: the AnyTrust channel and the sidechain.

Individual nodes can participate in the Arbitrum chain, as they do in many other blockchains. Validator nodes monitor the chain’s status and work with full nodes to integrate layer-1 transactions.

Aggregators who transfer transactions to the layer-1 chain are rewarded in ETH, while other network contributors, such as validators, get user transaction fees. 

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This layer-2 solution project adds a challenging stage for block rollup, in which additional validators evaluate the block’s validity and issue a “challenge” if they feel it is incorrect. 

If the block is proved to be incorrect or the challenge is proven to be false, the assets of the validator who lies will be seized. This procedure assures that all validators always play by the rules and accept the penalties if they do not.

The Arbitrum Virtual Machine is the platform’s unique virtual machine (AVM). The AVM is the execution region for Arbitrum smart contracts, and it sits on top of EthBridge, a smart contract collection that interacts with the Arbitrum chain. Smart contracts that are compatible with Ethereum are automatically translated to operate on the AVM.

Benefits of Arbitrum

When compared to other layer-2 solutions, Arbitrum has many benefits, including:

Low cost

Considering Arbitrum is a layer-2 solution, the highly efficient rollup technology cuts costs to a minimum. Even though transaction costs are lower, Arbitrum still provides nice incentives for its validators. 

High EVM compatibility

Arbitrum is EVM-compatible, meaning that developers from the Ethereum blockchain can use any language, such as Solidity and Vyper, to build on Arbitrum. No new language is necessary to learn.

Developer tools

Developers can use tools that already exist on Ethereum, which means there are no plugins that are necessary to download. It’s basically a turn-key solution for Ethereum developers.

Expanding ecosystem

Arbitrum has fostered partnerships with multiple Ethereum DApps and infrastructures, including DODO, Sushiswap, Uniswap, and many more.

As the world of Web3 continues to expand and people desire more optimized technologies, solutions such as Arbitrum will continue to transform the way we view and utilize blockchain technology.

Categories
NFT Tech

What Is Gem.xyz?

As the NFT ecosystem continues to expand, it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of all the NFT marketplaces and varying prices, making it hard to find the best deal. However, thanks to Gem.xyz, now you can view NFT prices on several NFT marketplaces all at one time.

Gem.xyz is an NFT marketplace aggregator that allows you to discover and collect NFTs across numerous marketplaces including Opensea, Rarible, Larva Labs, LooksRare, and NFTX. Their goal is to aggregate every NFT marketplace starting with Ethereum.

To learn more about Gem.xyz and how it world, continue reading below.

What is Gem.xyz?

Gem is on a mission to create a decentralized and open future for the internet, and even more so, the metaverse. Gem.xyz is a single interface that covers a wide range of deals and data from across the most relevant NFT marketplaces and products.

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The Gem platform started as the Cross-Asset-Swap in early 2021 and has evolved into the Gem.xyz platform that it is known as today.

What does Gem.xyz offer users?

As of today, Gem is one of the best NFT marketplace aggregation platforms available. With that comes many perks for users who are looking to keep an eye on the entire NFT market, not just a single marketplace.

Gem.xyz

Below is what you can do with Gem.xyz:

  • Locate the best deals across the most popular NFT exchanges.
  • Buy multiple NFTs in a single transaction using Gem’s Web3 shopping cart.
  • Spend your tokens on NFTs, and save on gas. Gem provides up to 39% gas savings compared to buying NFTs from your favorite marketplaces directly.
  • Find all NFT analytics in one place including sales volume, floor price, live sales and minting activity, top holders and distribution, top buyers/sellers, and more.

In addition to all these features, Gem is considered to be the NFT price leader with up to 39% cheaper gas fees when compared to buying from an individual marketplace.

Also, the more NFTs you add to your Web3 shopping cart, the greater the gas savings are. That is because you are bundling multiple transactions into one, saving you big time!

Gem utilizes a low-level programming language called Yul, which optimizes smart contracts upon purchase.

How to use Gem.xyz

Gem is just as easy, if not easier to use than other NFT marketplaces. The user interface is very straightforward and uncomplicated to navigate.

Gem.xyz

To use Gem.xyz, simply connect your Web3 wallet and start browsing. You can add NFTs to your cart as you go, then once you are ready to checkout, simply go to your shopping cart and pay for your transaction.

Moreover, you can search for specific NFT projects and view holders, leaderboards, and search volume, as well as find any social links that might be associated with the project. All data is pulled from Dune Analytics, so you can trust that the information you view is from a reliable source in the space.

One negative opinion that I have about Gem.xyz is that the floor prices for projects aren’t always up-to-date. So, Gem might be good to use as a more generalized tool for finding the marketplace that offers the cheapest NFT from a collection, but may not be the most reliable source to find the cheapest NFT on a particular marketplace.

Ultimately, Gem.xyz is your go-to platform for buying, selling, and researching NFT prices and sales volume, all in one place. There’s no need to go back and forth between different tabs, it is all laid out right in front of your eyes so you can easily make the best decision when purchasing an NFT.