I remember almost 30 years ago when I first got on the internet how completely decentralized it was. How much that has changed in those three decades.

Today our internet is controlled by a small group of companies in tech and media, which manipulates how information and news is disseminated and consumed.

But it isn’t just the internet. Our physical world had become very similar, with a handful of companies controlling what we see, read, consume and pretty much every aspect of our lives.

With the rise of blockchain technology has also come the rise of a new group of technologists. This free-thinking group wants to take back control for the people, using a decentralized model that makes it easier to share and consume information, without the interference of a centralized middle-man.

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One such group has formed the Chinese blockchain company Bytom, promising a future where real-world atomic assets can be stored and traded on the digital blockchain.

Bytom Team

The founder of Bytom is Chang Jia, who also founded 8BTC.com. He has long been a blockchain advocate and has campaigned to foster awareness and understanding of blockchain technology in China.He is an award winning science fiction author, and was a co-author to the very first book in Chinese about Bitcoin called Bitcoin: A Real Yet Virtual Financial World (2014).

The co-founder of Bytom is Duan Xinxing, currently the Executive President of 8BTC.com and formerly the Vice-president of OKCoin, once the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. He is also the author of two blockchain focused books in China.

Bytom Overview

Bytom Coin Logo
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Bytom is a blockchain protocol being developed as an intermediary link that links generalized blockchains with specialized blockchains. It is the first such project of its kind, making it quite groundbreaking as it seeks to accommodate the exchange of a diverse set of digital and atomic assets.

Specifically, Bytom is being created to deal with issues related to asset management, both digital and real world assets, bridging the gap between the virtual world and the physical world.

Bytom is being designed to answer some critical issues that could be key to future blockchain developments as well. Among the questions that Bytom seeks to resolve are:

  • What type of blockchain is needed to store digital assets?
  • How do we establish a mapping relationship between physical and digital assets
  • Compliance issue resolution
  • How will we bridge the gap between the digital and physical to allow for an efficient and effective flow of assets, both on-chain and off-chain.The core function of the Bytom platform is meant to be as a “bridge” connecting the digital and the physical worlds. Theoretically this will be accomplished by creating a decentralized public ledger where both physical and digital assets can be registered, and later bought, sold and exchanged. In the words of the Bytom team:

“Bytom is an interactive protocol of multiple byte assets. Heterogeneous byte-assets (indigenous digital currency, digital assets) that operate in different forms on the Bytom Blockchain and atomic assets (warrants, securities, dividends, bonds, intelligence information, forecasting information and other information that exist in the physical world) can be registered, exchanged, gambled and engaged in other more complicated and contract-based interoperations via Bytom.”

By creating such a bridge, Bytom plans on creating the world’s largest public blockchain. By connecting both digital and physical assets the blockchain will also enhance the security, liquidity, and ultimately the value of the assets being stored on the Bytom blockchain.

Bytom Features

Bytom is clearly one of the more technological and sweeping large scale projects being developed today. The platform is being developed with good compatibility features, working in unison with the UTXO (unspent transaction output) model already in use by Bitcoin.

This allows for parallel transaction verification which ensures that unspent outputs are only able to be quoted by a single transaction at a time. This solves the double-spend issue that must always be contended with in any blockchain project.

The Bytom protocol also allows for three separate layers:

  • An application layer which is friendly to mobile and other terminals, as well as being convenient for developers in creating asset management applications.
  • A contract layer which uses the genesis contract and control contracts to issue and manage assets, while also allowing for scaling transactions and preventing a deadlock in Turing complete.
  • A data transmission layer to deal with asset issuance, spending, transfer and other transactional details.

Through the use of a “general address format”, the native wallet that is provided to customers is able to provide support for a wide range of currencies. It also supports a single private key to access and transact with all the supported currencies in the wallet.

Consensus is reached using a Proof of Work (PoW) protocol mechanism and the Bytom coin will be ASIC compatible, so that miners can easily mine and verify transactions. Assets issued and digitized on the Bytom’s blockchain also separate transaction signatures from the rest of the data in a given transaction. This sounds similar to how Segregated Witness works for Bitcoin, though it is unclear if the team is using the Bitcoin SegWit code or if they developed their own code.

Finally, there is the issue of cross-chain asset sharing. Bytom is being developed to allow for the creation of smaller side chains linked to the main chain. These side chains get the full benefit of the main chain security, but can still be developed to keep full control over the issuance of their own coins or tokens.

There are several projects working on similar solutions, including the side chain solution of Bitcoin itself, the Lightning Network. It’s obvious developers feel this is a needed feature, but businesses haven’t expressed their approval of the side chain concept yet.

Bytom Token Details

The native Bytom Coin (BTM) will be needed to transact on the network. It was issued in an ICO in June/July 2017. 67% of the total supply was issued during the ICO phase, with the remaining 33% withheld as mining rewards. Currently there are 1.407 billion coins of a planned 2.1 billion eventual total supply. Plans are for 86.625 million coins to be available to miners in the first four years. After that the mining rewards will halve every four years until the full supply of 2.1 billion coins have been issued.

Bytom has performed very well during the December 2017 through April 2018 downturn in cryptocurrencies. In fact, from March 18, 2018 through March 31, 2018 the price of the coin nearly doubled.

It has since remained at or above that late March levels, so it doesn’t appear to have been a pump and dump scheme. Unfortunately most of the information released for the project is in Chinese, so I haven’t been able to determine if there is a fundamental reason for the price increase.

In Conclusion

Bytom is a very interesting and ambitious project. It is also one that seems necessary, but is it feasible with current technology?

That is the question that the Bytom developers will need to answer. The Bytom whitepaper speculates that in the coming blockchain era anything that has value will be digitized and migrated to the blockchain, where it can be stored, traded, exchanged, bought, sold, gambled upon and manipulated in myriad other ways, mostly through the use of smart contracts.

While I can agree that eventually everything will be digitally available in the way Bytom is describing, I’m not sure if the world is ready for this now. If the run-up in price is any indication though, someone is a big believer in the Bytom project.

Ultimately you will make your own decision as to the viability of this project. I think the sheer size and scope of the project adds more risk to what is already a risky arena. I would tread carefully, although a small stake might not be unwise if the Bytom team ends up delivering on their promises.

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Posted by Steve Walters

Steve has been writing for the financial markets for the past 7 years and during that time has developed a growing passion for cryptocurrencies.