Harmony (ONE) is one of the latest projects that is trying to tackle the issue of blockchain scalability. They have built their platform from the ground up with optimisation in mind.
Using a “full-stack” approach, Harmony is developing a sharding based blockchain that is not only scalable but provably secure, and energy efficient. They are also the latest project to be raising funds on the Binance Launchpad. This after completing a large private seed sale back in May of 2018.
So, should you consider it?
In this Harmony review I will give you everything you need to know to make that decision. I will dig into their technology, team and development. I will also analyse the long term adoption potential of their ONE token.
What is Harmony?
Harmony provides a high-throughput, low-latency and low-fee consensus platform designed to power the decentralized economy of the future. They plan to address the issues faced in other blockchain ecosystems through the use of the best research and engineering practices in an optimally tuned system.
The technical focus of the project is on resharding and secure staking with decentralized randomness. Harmony also implements optimal cross-shard routing and fast block propagation.
Benefits of the Harmony Protocol. Image via Harmony.one
In practice, Harmony helps businesses to build marketplaces for fungible token usage (such as loyalty points or energy credits) and non-fungible assets (such as in-game digital assets). Harmony also uses its zero-knowledge proofs to enable data sharing with consumer privacy.
This incentivizes users and could be used for credit ratings, ad exchanges, and other data sharing that’s traditionally seen centralized platforms profiting and users being left with nothing.
The Harmony Technology Stack
In order to achieve the goals of scalability the Harmony built the entire technology stack from the ground up with a focus on optimisation. They have built in a number of important innovations into their Consensus Protocol, internal systems and network engineering.
By implementing these innovations, Harmony will provide a platform for Decentralised Applications (dApps) which were not feasible on other blockchains. These include dApps such as decentralised exchanges, high-throughput payment systems and Internet-of-Things transactions.
Blockchains are goverened by consensus and the type of protocol used can drastically impact on the speed with which decentralised consensus is achieved. Currently, blockchains such as Bitcoin’s, use Proof-of-Work consensus protocols which have become inherently expensive and slow.
Other protocols such as Proof-of-Stake use different incentive mechanisms that overcome some of these challenges. Indeed the Ethereum protocol is trying to move to their Casper PoS consensus to address their scalability issues. However, PoS has its own unique challenges.
Network Communication in a round of Consensus. Source: Whitepaper
The Harmony consensus protocol uses the latest design principles such as sharding and pipelining. This allows the network to process numerous different transactions in parallel. This means that there is no single bottleneck to the confirmations for all of the transactions.
Essentially, with the Harmony approach, connection latency is greatly reduced and the transaction throughput can scale as the network grows.
The team is taking an interesting approach when it comes to the underlying systems that power the protocol. They plan to develop a bespoke and “mission specific” kernel that will run the protocol. In a separate forum post, Leo Chen of Harmony further explains what they hope to achieve with this:
We were thinking of unikernel 2 as a way to put all the user space program in the kernel space to avoid large amount of data exchange and context switch when the node software running consensus algorithm.
Through the use of this approach, the Harmony team hopes that a greater selection of devices can connect to the blockchain. If there are more nodes that are connected to a network it means greater decentralisation and hence better security.
Harmony is implementing networking techniques that can improve the speed of message propagation and achieve consensus faster. As stated in their whitepaper, Harmony uses RaptorQ fountain code which allows the network to propagate blocks quickly or within shards.
They also adopt Kademlia routing which is able to achieve these cross-shard transactions which can scale logarithmically with the number of shards in the network. This entire implementation allows Harmony to run a highly concurrent protocol.
The ONE Token Ecosystem
The Harmony platform is powered by the native ONE token, which allows users to participate in the ecosystem and serves as a payment mechanism for various actions. By using the Harmony blockchain developers and businesses are able to create alignment in the goals and incentives of various stakeholders.
In addition, the upcoming zero-knowledge proof implementation will make Harmony a data sharing platform that is capable of overcoming the common problem of many data markets; that is the mistrust that participants have for sharing data, even as they have a strong desire to acquire the data of others.
“Open Consensus for 10 billion people”. Image via Harmony
The Harmony ONE token is expected to have the following three functions within the protocol:
- The token will be used as a stake for the DPoS consensus model, allowing staking holders to earn block rewards and transaction fees.
- The token will pay for transaction fees, gas fees and storage fees.
- The token will be used in the governance of the protocol by allowing token holders voting rights for on-chain governance.
The Harmony Team
The team behind Harmony is combined of experts in building lasting companies, engineering, and academic research. They come from the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and a number of successful startups. And they’ve worked on some of the largest systems in the world such as the AWS infrastructure, Apple’s Siri, and Google Maps.
While the team remains small, with just 12 full-time members and an additional 4 collaborators, they bring to the table experience in software development, machine learning, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and blockchain technology.
The CEO and leader of the team is Stephen Tse, an avid coder who has spent his life studying and working on compilers and security protocols. He graduated with a doctoral degree in security protocols and compiler verification from the University of Pennsylvania.
Some of the Harmony Team members
He then went on as a researcher at Microsoft Research, a senior infrastructure engineer at Google, and a principal engineer for search ranking at Apple. Later he founded the mobile search Spotsetter with institutional venture capital; Apple later acquired the startup.
Tse is joined by COO Nicolas Burtey, who is an entrepreneur who began a VR video startup that grew to 40 employees and raised $10 million in capital. There are four additional co-founders, most of whom are artificial intelligence experts, and one who is a Harvard MBA.
The Harmony team completed a private seed sale of tokens back in May of 2018. In this sale, they were able to raise about $18m in exchange for 22.4% of the total token supply (price of c. $0.0065). There were a number of blockchain focused VC funds that took part in this. The full list can be seen on the Harmony website.
The Harmony Community
Harmony has pursued a blend of offline and online community building. Since 2017 the Harmony team has held a weekly 4-hour meetup in San Francisco to increase interest in the project and to increase its community of partners.
The online community building has led to a smallish group, but one that appears to be extremely well engaged and excited about the potential for the Harmony protocol. For example, the Harmony subreddit has just 198 readers, but there are multiple daily posts and a number of comments on each post. The subreddit has only been in existence for 3 months.
Other social media accounts are equally small, but with equally engaged communities. The Twitter account has just over 6,000 followers, but an outsized number of shares and comments on its tweets. The Telegram channel is the largest community, with over 11,000 members.
Overall the Harmony community is a positive and encouraging sign. It may be small, but the members are very engaged and excited about the possibilities of the protocol.
ONE Token & Binance Launchpad
The Harmony (ONE) token crowdsale will be a lottery format sale on the Binance Launchpad platform. Previous sales on the Launchpad platform have been very well received. In this sale, Harmony is offering 1,575,000,000 ONE tokens or 12.5% of the total supply of 12,600,000,000 ONE.
There is a $5 million hard cap on the offering and the public sale token price is $0.003175 per ONE. Purchases must be made using BNB tokens, and the price per BNB will be calculated on the lottery draw date (May 28, 2016, 06:00 UTC).
Binance will take snapshots of accounts BNB holdings on May 19, 2019, at 23:23:59. Based on the lottery rules the calculation for BNB holding will be an average of BNB holdings over the seven days of the lottery period. The final calculation of BNB tokens in user accounts will occur on May 26, 2019, at 23:23:59 and ticket eligibility will then be calculated.
Lottery tickets will be allocated based on the seven-day average holdings of BNB. A minimum of 50 BNB average will be necessary to acquire one ticket. The maximum number of tickets available per user is five. To receive five lottery tickets a user must have more than 500 BNB per day average.
There will be a total of 16,666 lottery winners and each winning lottery ticket will receive $300 worth of ONE tokens or 94,488.18 ONE. Winners must have the correct amount of BNB tokens available in their accounts, and the ONE tokens will be distributed within 15 days of the end of the lottery drawing. ONE tokens are issued on the Binance chain as a BEP-2 asset. Once the main net is launched the Harmony team plans on migrating to a native blockchain and token.
Because the ONE token hasn’t been released yet it is not available for trade on any exchanges, however, it will be available on Binance as soon as it is released.
Harmony Development & Roadmap
The Harmony project has been working on their protocol for over a year already. Determining exactly how much work has been done can sometimes be tough. However, one of the best estimates is to take a look at the coding activity in their public repositories.
Hence, I decided to jump into the Harmony Protocol GitHub to check out what the developers have been pushing since the project launch. Below are the code commits for two of their most active pinned repos.
Code commits to select repositories over past 12 months
As you can see, there has been quite a lot of activity and commits to these repos over the past year. It is also worth noting that there are another 16 repositories in their GitHub – some of which that also have significant activity. There may also be other work that is taking place in private repos that have not being published yet.
This is indeed quite encouraging and is a far departure from the previous ICO status quo. Projects would raise millions of dollars with nothing more than a whitepaper. In fact, the level of development that I see here is more than I have seen with other projects which ICOed 1-2 years ago.
All of this development does make sense when you take a look at the milestones the team has met over the past year. There is also much more to look forward to in their roadmap for the rest of 2019:
- Q2 2019: Cross-shard communication, Lottery & puzzle demos. They also plan a throttled main-net launch
- Q3 2019: Rateless erasure code, fast state sync, Kademlia routing and the full main-net launch.
- Q4 2019: If all goes according to plan, they hope to implement zero-knowledge proof dApps and production services for partners
If you would like to keep up to date with the latest from the developments from the project then you can always head on over to their official blog.
Given the active community behind the Harmony project and the success of other Launchpad tokens, the ICO for Harmony (ONE) should be quite successful and easily reach its $5 million hard cap.
The project is already running a stable version of its 3.0 testnet for three weeks and expects to launch the main net version of Harmony in the coming months. That’s when we’ll find out how well the project is designed, and how much demand there is for the platform from the businesses it is targeting.
The team behind Harmony is a strong one, with a great deal of expertise in many areas that are useful for this type of project. So far the team has been able to hit its roadmap deadlines, and that’s a big positive.
The days where investors were willing to forgive late commits has passed, and these blockchain projects need to deliver what they said when they said it will be ready. Harmony has been able to do this successfully.
The largest threat to the project at this point is competition. Harmony will need to remain ahead of existing competitors such as Zilliqa (ZIL) as well as keeping ahead of any potential future competitors.
Featured Image via Fotolia