Over a decade has passed since Satoshi Nakamoto first introduced the idea of Bitcoin.
Also, there was this new technology was called ‘blockchain,’ a system that supports multiple updated features.
The features are, for example, 1) guaranteeing safe cryptocurrency transactions, 2) preventing forgery in transactions, even between individuals (Peer-to-Peer, P2P). And all these transactions could be done without having to have a reliable centralized system (mainnet).
Plus, the security of this blockchain system has been verified over the last decade.
Bitcoin, the 1st-generation blockchain, was merely just a cryptocurrency that could allow safe transactions between individuals. And then Ethereum, the 2nd-generation blockchain, has paved another way for the new blockchain-based distributed application platforms by making the programmable contract, ‘Smart Contract’ to run on the blockchain. And from 2017, many blockchain projects like EOS, TRON, ICON, etc. publicly launched new distributed application platforms that bettered the downsides of Ethereum.
By going through over 10 years of time, Bitcoin has successfully identified itself as a ‘digital gold’ at some extent, and is positioning itself as a store of value in the blockchain system.
Also, a new way to create new tokens with smart contract on a distributed application platform, promote the project with white paper, and accommodate public investors into the project with investment and receive the project coin in return — the activity also known as ‘Initial Coin Offering’ (ICO) — got spotlights.
Some of the project tokens that were highly evaluated with the ability to build up great services could appreciate up to hundreds-fold increase in the token value by listing at cryptocurrency exchange(s). As you can see, many services that raised investment funds through an ICO are building the new ecosystems with blockchain, and even the general public is showing a growing interest toward the projects as well.
LINE envisioned the future of a blockchain platform that can grow and be developed together with the users who contribute and engage in the platform. Soon after then, LINE launched a blockchain platform ‘LINK Network’ to bring that vision to a reality.
Blockchain Trilemma & Hybrid Service
LINK Network is the new blockchain platform that visions to establish the ‘Service Specific Blockchain’ and the LINK Team establishing the 4th-generation distributed application platform and its digital ecosystem.
In order to further the blockchain technology, capabilities such as 1) scalability, a capability to process mass requests as the network scales, 2) decentralization, a capability to decentralize the network as much as possible, 3) and security, the capability to maintain transactions safely are required.
However, most of the current blockchain projects can only handle one or two capabilities out of these three major requirements. Since the TPS (Transactions Per Second) slows as network scales, it is technically impossible to satisfy the scalability, decentralization, and security all at the same time. And this inability to satisfy all these conditions is defined as a “Blockchain Trilemma.”
As the word trilemma is self-explanatory enough, when the non-blockchain web/mobile services try to apply 100% of the blockchain technology to their existing features, then the services will have a very poor UX (user experience) after all. And this explains why there has been no ICO projects that could be widely accepted by the public so far.
Despite the Blockchain Trilemma, blockchain embraces these specific key strengths:
Irreversibility: a request once confirmed cannot be forged by others by any chance
Transparency: everyone can check and track every request on the blockchain
Decentralization: platform operation done with no management from a centralized governance
Since these key three strengths can make the value store, transfer, and proof of ownership possible in a much more cost-effective way compared to the former centralized methods, any closely related businesses can completely get replaced by the blockchain technology.
As these features (value store, transfer, and proof of ownership) are essential for service profit, even some of the particular features from the entire spec will eventually get integrated into the blockchain technology.
When the distributed application platform first came out, everyone developed the services only with the blockchain, and the ‘Smart Contracts’ (a technology from blockchain). With such approach, the service builders could still receive attention and raise funds during the early phase of this new ‘distributed application platform.’
However, as the previously-mentioned ‘Blockchain Trilemma’ can refer, those services that were built on 100% blockchain basis turned out to have a very poor UX. And of course, only a few numbers of users used the services, and it eventually resulted in a failure to gain both enough users and profit.
This led to a tendency to advance mass adoption of blockchain for service builders by developing the projects in a ‘hybrid’ way. As the definition of the term hybrid refers, the service building is done by applying the technologies used in the existing web or mobile services as what they are, but only prioritize in applying blockchain technology to features like value storage, transfer, and proof of ownership. And I presume these ‘hybrid’ services will start to roll out and flourish from sometime late 2019 to 2020.
LINK Network especially focused on the storage, transfer, and proof of ownership, along with the easy-to-use service application on the services developers’ side. Not to mention, LINK Network also enhanced the overall service quality by concentrating on the Finality, Scalability, and Decentralization.
LINE aims to achieve an innovation in finance (fintech) with the blockchain platform technology “LINK Network.” Also, we are dedicated to the establishment of an application platform with a new paradigm, where all the users within the LINK Network — from blockchain services to participants and contributors — can grow together with the Network.
3 Key Features
The definitions and features of the elements that LINK Network encompasses are as below:
LINK Team is developing a platform where the lead time to approve 100% of the irreversibility (a state which reversing what is once stored in blockchain is impossible) on a transaction (a request in a block) within a block is definite.
Many past blockchain platform projects only focused on building more of fast services and acquiring more users, and that lead them to solely focus on the ‘performances.’ However, it was nearly impossible to guarantee the finality and focus on the performance at the same time since the performance and finality are each opposing element.
However, when it comes to the store of the value and proof of ownership, the importance of guaranteeing the 100% irreversibility cannot be emphasized enough compared to the speed to proceed the requests. Ever since the beginning, LINK Network valued the store of value, transfer, and proof of ownership. Thus, the LINK Network could achieve the assurance in finality and performance enhancement at the same time.
LINK Network places a great deal of value on ensuring that transactions are clearly defined within a definite time (=finality) for the storage of value, trade, and ownership.
When the values and information between blockchain mainnets are exchanged, the exchange of values and information between blockchains becomes only possible when the finality of the data stored in each blockchain is guaranteed. The Scalability, which will be handled next, can also only be valid only when this finality is assured.
We develop a platform that supports an ‘Interconnected Blockchain Protocol,’ which is a communication method by which multiple blockchains are connected so that the connected blockchains can intercommunicate and exchange information securely. By connecting multiple blockchains, you can secure transaction bandwidth for each service.
LINK Network provides a solution where each service within the LINK Ecosystem can build and use the blockchain (=Leaf Chain) on its own to scale out the platform, and then these individually built blockchains can be connected within the LINK Network.
Blockchain is a platform that can be operated without a centralized control, which means that it is operatable under a completely distributed on-chain governance that is based on a program. Thus, blockchain is characterized as a ‘fat protocol,’ a single platform that can carry out mass features.
Though it is characterized as a fat protocol that can handle multiple tasks, it is nearly impossible to build and/or run a one-size-fits all blockchain platform that can serve the features that each distinctive service (i.e. game, social media) demand, maintain the platform, or add extra features to upgrade the platform.
Thus, instead of scaling out ‘only one blockchain mainnet’ by updating features or improving performances, it benefits both sides of the service and the platform if each service can build multiple mainnets tailored to the services of their own, focus on building individual blockchain platform, and handling necessary features.
If a mainnet is built this way, the service can use the most ideal and fastest mainnet with safety. Also, it can build a protocol that can share the assets, information, and users between individually built mainnets and then easily scale out the service. Eventually, all the services within the blockchain can mutually share the users and services scattered in the blockchain.
In the LINK Network, a mainnet that each service independently built with LINK Chain source is called the ‘Leaf Chain.’ When these Leaf Chains get bundled and can share the assets, information, and users between Leaf Chains, that bundle is called a ‘Root Chain.’
There, we call this blockchain-based distributed application platform built by LINE the “LINK Chain,” the sum of Root Chains and Leaf Chains.
We develop a platform that is not run by a certain organization. Instead, it is a transparently and neutrally run platform that is operated under the on-chain governance, which everyone on the blockchain can check and engage in the infrastructure.
Another strength that makes blockchain special is that we can operate a neutral platform that is free from others’ monopolistic control or operation. To implement this, LINE is also aiming at establishing a decentralized, neutral blockchain-based distributed application platform that can be run by anyone who publicly engage in and build up the platform.
At the initial phase, LINE will be the main hand in operation for establishing a balanced token economy. But eventually, the system will be operated as an open-source basis and with an on-chain governance, that is open to anyone’s participation.
Next up, let’s look at the key technical features of LINK Network.
1. Consensus Algorithm
First, LINK Network uses a consensus algorithm that comes as a form of composition of PBFT + VRF + POS.
We use a consensus algorithm that is comprised of 1) a Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT) Algorithm to assure the finality, 2) Verifiable Random Function (VRF) Algorithm that guarantees mass decentralization by keeping up with the finality and performance, and 3) a POS Algorithm that manages the platform through an on-chain governance and build token economy that can reward users.
When creating a block, PBFT uses a computer called the ‘Leader’ that decides the orders on the requests that the computer inputs into the block. And the other participating ‘Validator’ computers verify and make agreement on the blocks that is created by the leader.
The validator is always watching and verifying if the leader has built the block well and well reflected the consensus results.
As the leader gets the ultimate authority, only one computer must not keep its position as a leader, and the leaders should be selected out of the validators.
In case of PBFT, if there are too many validators, there rises a concern — the time it takes to come up with agreements to save blocks can become significantly slow.
However, if there is a small number of validators, another risk rises — it only takes a few validators to be attacked to tackle down the blockchain network.
And VRF is the algorithm that is designed to compensate these risks.
VRF keeps the number of validators participating in PBFT constant, but randomly chooses a validator out of tens of thousands of computers. In this way, the randomly selected validator randomly selects the leader once again.
If you select both the validator and the leader at a random basis and finally meet a certain number of computers, theoretically you will not be able to attack the network because you will need to control way too many of computers.
On the other hand, in order for the selected Validator and Leader to reach an agreement, they need to understand what each other is. Validators and Leaders can be immediately attacked again as soon as they are open to public. The VRF algorithm is a mathematical algorithm that distinguishes whether a person is a true Validator or a Leader by using a message without having to reveal the Validator or the Leader.
With these VRFs, a substantially large number of computers can join the network to secure the network and quickly reach to an agreement through mathematical proofs.
Game Theory is a theory related to mutually reliable decision making.
A game is an act that actors seek to maximize utility with a certain strategy to earn the best reward.
More simply, it is a mathematical/economic theory that in any games, the one who is winning the game with the best result is not likely to do any activity that may invalidate the game. And the same theory applies to the blockchain field.
The one with the most coins — the asset used as a commission — will not destroy the blockchain and/or invalidate the coins. Hence, the system benefits the one with more coins (and the computer of the user as well) to have a higher chance to win the leader position through the VRF. We call this a ‘PoS.’
With the Consensus Algorithm known as ‘PBFT + VRF + POS,’ LINK Network makes the most secure and fastest blockchain platform.
2. Interconnected Blockchain Protocol
Also, LINK Network supports sharing of value, information, users between protocol-level mainnet on a protocol level (=‘LINEAR Network’). All the mainnet that is built based on the LINK Network can mutually share services and users, and exchange value and information that exists on each mainnet.
3. Layered Node Architecture
LINK Network is comprised with two layers — Consensus Layer, and Operation Layer.
Consensus Layer supports the list creation of consensus computers, establishment of consensus through communication, and storage of blocks reached an agreement.
Operation Layer supports the functions required to add special functions of the blockchain and governance, which is a program that records how the commission or blockchain is operated when using the blockchain.
Thus, the service builders can use Consensus Layer with no modification when building an individual service-optimized mainnet, and modify and use Operation Layer to implement necessary features and build the blockchain that the builders want.
On the LINK Operation Layer, the LINK Basis Framework that manages blockchain’s additional platform feature doesn’t require modification and can be easily applied mainnet building, and if the part or the entire entity of the LINK Basis Framework is modified, adding or removing features like, a commission byproduced when blockchain program is used, and the logic behind the commission distribution, and/or other features that blockchain want to quickly adopt.
LINK Consensus Layer forms a blockchain network by finding nodes such as peer discovery, consensus, block store, inter blockchain protocol; in this case, it creates and stores a safe and irreversible block with a consensus algorithm.
Unlike the most consensus layer that is configured to ensure the best performance and security when used without modifications, the Consensus Algorithm part from a Consensus Layer can be easily sorted out and applied to different consensus algorithms by purposes.
For instance, if a mainnet is built focused more on the performance than finality, the consensus algorithm can be replaced by different type of consensus algorithms that are more optimized for the performance.
4. Token Economy
While the previous blockchain projects chose a way to distribute rewards majorly to participants who bettered the blockchain network (i.e. safety maintenance), LINK Chain is built for a Token Economy that rewards to more of inclusive recipients including participants, dApp services, and users who generally contribute to the more of thriving network usage.
To sum up, LINE is pursuing its vision to establish a new service platform that can be called a WEB 3.0 via “LINK Chain,” a new blockchain-based distribution platform, and an ecosystem where the value and circulation of the value can grow together with participations and contributions from more and more people.