Update: The Ark ICO has ended. The sale raised 1,279.67BTC, worth $998,000 at the sale’s close*. This was below the project’s target, but after community deliberation, the team decided to proceed with their roadmap while offering optional refunds to any investors who wanted them.
ARK is a Lisk-forked cryptocurrency intended for broad consumer adoption. Its roadmap includes the ability to transact across blockchains, a smartcard as a means of payment, and IPFS integration. The core development team is comprised of key players of the Lisk network, including a primary Lisk developer, Francois-Xavier Thoorens, a number of prominent validators from the Lisk network, and co-founders from Crypti.
- Smartbridge Technology. ARK will be able to communicate natively with other blockchains, allowing ARK to execute a variety of cross-network operations. In many ways, this replaces Lisk’s sidechain capabilities. Smartbridge is discussed more below.
- ARK smartcard launch. This smartcard is compatible with the ARK network and can be utilized to make payments. This is ambitious–there are some deep technical challenges in having cards process cryptocurrencies. But Managing Director Mike Doty has a deep hardware background (including a degree from Caltech) and ARK has partnerships with major smart card providers in progress (announcement forthcoming). One purpose of the smartcard is to foster adoption–to make ARK usable to people who have not stored and managed cryptocurrencies before.
- Changing the voting protocol. Both Lisk and ARK are delegated proof-of-stake systems, which means token holders vote on the nodes that will serve as transaction validators. Votes are weighted according to holdings. In Lisk, this weight applies to all votes, so someone with 10x the amount of LSK relative to someone else can have a 1010x influence on voting if s/he voted the maximum of 101 times [10x influence x 101 votes]. In ARK, one’s voting weight is distributed equally across all votes, so the vote from 10x the amount of Ark still has only 10x the influence on voting, regardless of how many delegates are voted for.
- Uncle forging for faster transaction processing. Delegated proof-of-stake systems can scale quickly because the validators are not competing: they are essentially trusted to take as much data as allowed and forge into a block. One thing that slows such systems down is that the validator of the next block needs to wait until the previous block [the ‘father’] is forged, sent to it, and verified. ARK instead allows nodes to forge based on the ‘grandfather’ [the block prior to the block being forged] to form an ‘uncle’ [sibling to the current block being forged]. This reduces latency between blocks and supports scaling.
- Faster and more secure DPoS consensus. Ark will minimize forking with the addition of pre-approval of blocks by the delegates using Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) before blocks are added to the blockchain. Routing tables and a revised network topology will also streamline communications among the delegates to reduce latency. Relay nodes coupled to the delegates make the network more scalable and secure by separating network transaction traffic and communication with clients from the consensus system.
SmartBridge: enabling cross blockchain communication
SmartBridge is one of the novel aspects of ARK. One of Lisk’s goals with sidechains was to allow other distributed applications to have their own chains but stay connected to the Lisk ecosystem. Instead of using sidechains, ARK has SmartBridge, which enables other blockchains to send special messages to and through ARK. Someone could issue an ARK transaction using Ethereum or trigger an Ethereum smart contract from Bitcoin through ARK–once Bitcoin and Ethereum become SmartBridge compatible.
ARK accomplishes this by supporting encoded listeners: special nodes that listen to other chains specifically for transactions that bear ARK-compatible messages. These nodes can take the contents of those messages and execute them–including transactions on other chains. Presumably, the messages themselves are executable transactions that nodes can easily parse and relay.
This could have a number of applications in the emerging cryptocurrency industry.
- Allowing users to use other blockchains without necessarily managing the native tokens. Some projects being launched have their own currencies or tokens that let holders use their platform. Instead of acquiring a new token directly, a user could issue a transaction to pay five ETH worth of the new token. The encoded listener–which could be Shapeshift–would be able to claim the five ETH and pay the other chain on Bob’s behalf.
- Transact across blockchains using just ARK. Many cryptocurrency holders have a myriad of coins, spread across different wallets and exchanges. ARK could let them manage their holdings from ARK itself. This could include cross-chain swaps if there was support for decentralized exchange activity.
One catch is that ARK will not be able to speak with every chain immediately. Instead, it will support others in developing these encoded listeners specific to other sets of chains. Other services would develop encoded listeners for their customers or create cross-blockchain payment schemes that others could use for a fee. SmartBridge is the underlying technology that protects information and allows it to migrate from one chain to another–the job of another application to make use of that information.
Other chains can be made compatible with SmartBridge through a couple lines of code the ARK team has developed. These can be easily put into a new blockchain or implemented on an existing chain through a fork.
There are a number of open questions, including how trusted encoded listeners need to be, the escrow feature for currency swaps, the integration with IPFS, and the price feeds for cross-chain transfers. At time of writing, a number of technical details were still being reviewed by the community. The ARK team made their initial code available on November 12th.
What is the token being sold?
What is its role on the platform?
ARK tokens are used as a means of payment on the Ark network. ARK tokens also bear data messages across the network, similar to the Omni protocol. Finally, ARK tokens are used to pay transaction fees.
Transaction fees are currently set at .1 ARK per transaction, with additional fees for voting, multi-sig, and registering a delegate. This is similar to Lisk’s fee structure.
How is the token distributed?
The supply of ARK tokens is capped at 125 million. All 125 million tokens will be seeded into the genesis block.
What are the sale terms?
People can participate using Lisk or BTC–or they can use Shapeshift to participate using any coins.
What is the price?
Participants in the Token Exchange buy a stake in the ARK network proportional to their contribution to the total funds raised during the exchange period.
There are several bonus periods that impact one’s proportional share, which are explained in the Bitcointalk post.
How does one participate?
To participate, sign in here. LSK or BTC can be exchanged for a stake in the ARK network. Other cryptocurrencies can be converted into BTC using Shapeshift. LSK contributions are capped at 22 Million LSK [22% of the Lisk supply]. There is no cap on Bitcoin or coins contributed through Shapeshift.
When will the token be distributed?
If the ARK Token Exchange Campaign reaches its funding goal of 2000BTC total valuation, ARK tokens will be distributed at the time the genesis block is forged, tentatively set for Q1 2017. If the funding goal is not reached, contributions will be returned to participants in the form of a full refund.
What is the project status?
How will funds be used?
24 hours after the conclusion of the token exchange, 20% of the funds will be released from escrow to the ARK development team. These initial funds will be used to pay for corporate formation fees, early developer hiring, the organization of a legal team, and other business related payments.
The remaining funds will be used to build the ARK network, develop SmartBridge links with other blockchain networks, manufacture Smartcards, and promote ARK services.
What is the project timeline?
- February 1st, 2017 — ARK Mainnet Launch
- Late 2017 — Development of a P2P card network and Smartbridge links to the Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Lisk networks. (contingent on the securement of at least 10,000BTC during the Token exchange)
- Early 2018 — Implementation of Smartcard P2P payment system and additional Bridged Blockchain Support. (Contingent on the securement of at least 15,000BTC)
- By end of 2018 — Ecosystem Development
The Founding Team
The Ark founding team includes several developers involved in the creation of the Crypti and Lisk networks as well as many Blockchain enthusiasts and active members of the Lisk network. Francois-Xavier Thoorens was a core developer of Lisk and co-founder/CTO of Donat.io–a platform for collecting donations for parishes. Mike Doty, has experience in mechanical engineering and helped co-found Crypti, a predecessor of Lisk. The Board and other members include many Lisk nodes, who have the infrastructure to provide immediate security to the network.
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*Smith + Crown calculates ICO valuations using a standardized method. Ark reports a different valuation on their website because they use a different method.