Komodo Review: The Open & Composable Multi-Chain Platform
The Komodo platform is many things – a unique blockchain, a coin that pays interest, a decentralized exchange, a development blockchain with many additional features being planned for the future.
The Komodo blockchain is a fork of the ZCash blockchain, which itself was forked from the Bitcoin blockchain, making Komodo a descendent of Bitcoin. It includes the zk-snark technology that Zcash was built upon, and adds a delayed proof of work consensus algorithm to make Komodo more robust and secure.
The ultimate goal of Komodo is to create an entire ecosystem comprised of diverse partnerships that will send the platform forward into the future. Because it was designed to be used by developers of any level and in any industry it is extremely versatile.
In this comprehensive review, I will give you everything that you need to know about the Komodo platform.
How Komodo Works
Those doing development on the Komodo platform are not building onto the blockchain, but are instead building their own standalone blockchains. It’s not a fork or sidechain, and the Komodo platform doesn’t act as a parent to the new blockchain.
Each project is an independent blockchain that becomes connected to the Komodo ecosystem. This is crucial because the fact that each blockchain is independent means that future development won’t be limited by Komodo in any way.
Komodo was also designed from the ground up as a modular ecosystem. This allows developers to choose which technologies they wish to use in their own projects.
Perhaps most importantly, Komodo was developed with security as a top priority. In addition to using the Zcash zk-snark protocols for anonymity and privacy, Komodo uses a delayed proof of work (PoW) protocol to provide Bitcoin level security to even the smallest blockchains and projects. As stated on the Komodo website itself:
Komodo’s innovative dPOW (delayed proof of work) provides a security layer that creates backups of your blockchain’s data and notarizes it to Bitcoin’s blockchain, providing even the smallest of blockchains with Bitcoin-level security.
In essence, Komodo is using Bitcoin’s hashrate to ensure immutability for the Komodo blockchain.
Komodo was created as a form of the Zcash blockchain, using their technology known as ‘Zero Knowledge Proofs’. This technology allows each transaction on the blockchain to be 100% anonymous or as transparent as necessary given the requirements of each situation.
Anonymous transactions are important to many users because they hide the amount, sender and recipient of the transaction, but still make it possible for miners to verify that the transaction is valid and without any double-spending. Alternatively transactions can be left transparent, in which case information shows just as it would for a Bitcoin transaction.
Anonymous transactions help protect user privacy, but they provide a more important function, and that is to preserve fungibility, which is a basic requirement for any currency.
After including privacy by forming from Zcash, the developers of Komodo provided for enhanced security of the blockchain in a unique manner. They created a proof of work token, but modified it to be Delayed Proof of Work, allowing it to recycle Bitcoin’s hashrate to ensure immutability of Komodo’s blockchain.
Komodo does this by using 64 “notary nodes” that work to notarize blocks in the Bitcoin blockchain. This provides protection for Komodo because an attacker would have to alter both the block in the Komodo blockchain and the block in the Bitcoin blockchain.
As long as the Bitcoin blockchain is secure, so too will Komodo – and all the other blockchains built using Komodo – remain secure.
This mechanism can now be used by any cryptocurrency that wishes enhanced security. By using Komodo the new blockchains are connected to Bitcoin, benefiting from the security of the Bitcoin blockchain, while also saving on transaction costs.
The Komodo project is based on anonymity, so it comes as no surprise that many of the Komodo team members initially chose not to reveal their identity. The founder and one core developer of Komodo went by the moniker JL777, but is now known as James ‘JL777’ Lee.
The CTO of the project was known as CA333, but we now know him as Kadan Stadelmann. This increased transparency has come about as Komodo grows in size and scope and is attracting more investors.
The full team is now nearly 30 members spanning leadership, development, marketing, and community development. And speaking of community, there are numerous contributors from the community, both developers and community outreach ambassadors.
Currently, the general manager of Komodo is Ben Fairbanks, who is also the founder and CEO of RedFOX Labs, an incubator that is helping to launch Komodo based companies in emerging markets. Prior to joining Komodo and launching RedFOX, he served as COO at the ride-hailing service Grab. He brings extensive business and marketing experience to the project.
The CTO of the Komodo project, almost since the very beginning, has been Kaden Stadelmann. He also serves as CTO of RedFOX Labs. He previously worked as an IT security analyst and software developer, and founded the company satoshihack back in 2011, making him a pioneer in the blockchain space.
Core development is led by founder James Lee, and he is joined by Adam Bullock and Mihailo Milenkovic as well as roughly a dozen full-time developers and another dozen community volunteer developers.
The Komodo native currency (KMD) was launched in an ICO in February 2017 at a price of $0.10. Since then the price of the coin has risen and fallen with the fortunes of the project and the markets. As of mid-March 2018 it was trading at $2.73 and was ranked the #48 coin by market cap on Coinmarketcap.com.
Even though 2018 saw many coins losing 90% or more of their value, KMD held up fairly well in the face of the bear market. It rallied in April, topping $4 and slowly sank from that level, finally dipping under $1 in November 2018 and hitting a low of $0.492329 on November 25, 2018.
It slowly recovered from that low and by February 2019 had doubled in price as it traded back above $1. It remained above $1 for nearly all of 2019, and nearly hit $2 in July 2019, but the price has recently dropped and as of August 9, 2019 stands at $0.863399.
The fundamentals for the coin continue to look solid thanks to the 5% annual interest rate paid to KMD holders, and the current low price is more a reflection of broad-based weakness in the cryptocurrency markets.
There are currently 115,389,114KMD in circulation, with a planned total supply of 200 million coins, which is projected to be reached in 2031. Until that time, KMD holders will continue to receive a 5.1% annual interest payment (called Active User Rewards) on their KMD holdings, so long as they keep more than 10 KMD in a wallet where they control the private keys. The KMD had an all-time high of $12.54 on December 21, 2017.
Buying & Storing KMD
KMD can be purchased on a good number of exchanges, with the largest volume on CoinBene. There is also good volume at Binance, CoinEx, and HitBTC. Other good choices for buying KMD include CoinEx and Bittrex.
Given that there is strong volume across a number of exhanges, it bodes well for the liquidity of KMD. Improved liquidity means that you can execute large block orders on these books without much slippage in the price of the coin.
In order to earn the 5.1% annual interest users must hold their KMD in a supported wallet. The top two based on the Komodo website are the Verus Agama wallet, which is a multi-coin wallet from the Verus Coin project, or the native Komodo OceanQT wallet. Other options include the Guarda Wallet and the ZelCore wallet.
Development & Roadmap
When it comes to determining the amount of work that has been done by a project, there are a number of metrics one can look at.
However, one of the most effective that I have found is to take a look at the coding activity in the project's public repositories.
Therefore, I decided to jump into the Komodo GitHub to get a better sense of what the developers have been pushing over the past year. Below is the total code commits to two of their development repos.
As you can see from the above, the team has been quite active pushing code to their core repository over the past year. It is also worth pointing out that there are a further 56 other repositories with varying degrees of activity.
This is more development activity than we have seen at most other projects. In fact, if we were to compare Komodo to its peers, it is ranked 30th in terms of commits and 12th for overall coding activity on coincodecap.
This perhaps makes sense when viewed in the context of the numerous projects being built on the Komodo platform (more below).
In terms of the upcoming roadmap, the two most important remaining milestones for 2019 are the release of the developer portal as well as the GUI for the fully mobile-ready wallet/DEX hybrid.
If you want to keep up to date with development on the project then I suggest you jump into their discord and meet the team. They also encourage community developer contributions to the core.
Komodo Platform Projects
There are a number of standalone projects that were developed for the Komodo platform. Those that are farthest along in development and have been released as at least betas include Decentralized ICOs, BarterDEX along with a built-in “tumbler” service called Jumblr.
However, as of July 2019 Komodo has launched its Antara Framework, which is the basis for nearly all current services on Komodo.
Decentralized Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)
The Decentralised ICO concept was meant to be an exciting option for startups as it would mean that they could launch their process much easier. It would also have given them access to the Komodo technology, marketing channels, and consultants.
However, given the regulatory pressure that has been placed on ICOs recently, this initiative seems to have fallen by the wayside. Of course, the lackluster performance of most recent ICOs has not helped the process.
The Komodo team had plans to launch a number of Decentralised ICOs. In May of last year they planned to release their first with the BlocNation dICO. However, this did not seem to materialize and the Blocnation project seems to have gone dead (with the site down).
Despite this though, Komodo will accept pre-existing blockchain projects on other platforms that would like to migrate to Komodo to receive your own fully customizable, high performing independent blockchain.
As of August 2019 there are a number of projects that have launched on Komodo.
Jumblr is a cryptocurrency anonymizer developed by Komodo which is decentralized and open-source. It can be used to increase privacy when using the Komodo platform.
Anonymizing funds is actually a fairly straightforward and simple practice. The Jumblr will take KMD tokens from a non-private address and send them through a number of zk-snark addresses.
Once these untraceable addresses have processed the coins they are sent to a new address where they are completely anonymous. The fee for using the Jumblr service is 0.3%, which is payable in KMD tokens.
BarterDEX Rebranded to AtomicDEX
BarterDEX was previously called EasyDEX but was rebranded in July 2017. It is a decentralized exchange utilizing atomic swaps, and more recently etomic swaps, which bridge the gap between Bitcoin and Ethereum based blockchains.
The use of atomic swaps and etomic swaps lower counterparty risk, transaction fees and speeds the transfer of assets. BarterDEX can support trading of any cryptocurrency, and will also support fiat in the future. Already the decentralized exchange is capable of performing swaps for 95% of the cryptocurrencies in existence.
BarterDEX also solves the liquidity problem encountered by most decentralized exchanges by producing Liquidity Nodes that stabilizes prices by buying and selling assets in the order books.
In July 2019 the BarterDEX platform got another upgrade and rebrand and has been re-launched as AtomicDEX in a closed public beta. AtomicDEX provides a secure, reliable, and completely decentralized method for trading digital assets.
Trades no longer have to pass through an intermediary but are done from wallet to wallet. AtomicDEX will act as a multi-currency wallet and as a fully decentralized trading platform. At its beta release, AtomicDEX has support for 13 different coins, but can technically support 99% of all existing cryptocurrencies. New coins will be added with each update to the DEX.
The Antara Framework
The Antara Framework was launched on the Komodo mainnet on July 15, 2019, completing a rebrand that stretched out for nearly a full year. This relaunch has included several new developments, such as the beta release of the Antara Smart Chain Composer, which allows anyone to launch their own SmartChain blockchain in just minutes, including full seed nodes and mining nodes.
The Antara Framework is an adaptable framework for simple, end-to-end blockchain development. Antara makes it easier than ever before to launch a chain, activate modules, and start building blockchain-based applications.
Antara has maintained the independence and privacy of building with Komodo. Each independent chain has its own consensus rules, hashing algorithm, decentralized network, and coin. Blockchains launched with Komodo’s technology never depend on the KMD chain, network, or platform.
It’s an open ecosystem so there is no vendor lock-in. Creating a chain from the CLI is permissionless and free. The Komodo team is not informed when a chain is created so there's no way to track a chain after launch.
The framework also comes with built-in modules, making development speedy and easier. This allows developers to natively support any software, dApp or blockchain-based games.
With 18 different customizable Smart Chain parameters, any blockchain can be built to serve any business need. The Antara Integration Layer also offers several white label products such as a multi-coin wallet, block explorers, full seed nodes, a branded DEX, a crowdfunding app and integration with SPV Electrum servers.
Because Komodo is involved in so many aspects of the blockchain it is facing competition from many different directions.
As a privacy coin, KMD competes against the larger Dash and Monero coins, and of course against the Zcash that it was forked from.
Komodo faces stiff competition from Ethereum as it is the leader in the ICO and smart contracts field, but other established blockchains such as NEO, NXT and Waves are also competing for ICO traction.
And now we also have initial exchange offerings (IEOs) from the likes of Binance and other exchanges growing in popularity. Smart contracts have also found their way into most projects. One strength for Komodo is that it is the first to offer a fully decentralized exchange with atomic swap capabilities.
The Komodo project is an extensive and ambitious large-scale project that aims to solve many issues that centralization of cryptocurrencies and blockchains face.
In addition to being its own blockchain and coin, it is also tackling the decentralized exchange, atomic swap, and decentralized ICO space. It includes options for anonymity and has a unique proof of work consensus algorithm that promises enhanced security, even for new blockchains based off Komodo.
Needless to say, that’s a lot to bite off, but the Komodo team has shown itself to be up to the challenge time and again. In a world where deadlines are often missed by months, the Komodo team has not only delivered but also delivered early and with few bugs. The team also takes user feedback into consideration and has been known to pivot quickly based on the needs of the community.
If the Komodo team continues to deliver it could make a long-term lasting impact on the cryptocurrency space, but it is too early to tell if this will be the case. In any event, it is certainly a project worth watching.
In the roughly 18 months since this review was first prepared the Komodo team has continued to deliver an exceptional product, and with the July 2019 release of the Antara Framework, it has advanced to the first composable SmartChain platform in the industry. This first-mover advantage keeps Komodo on the cutting edge of blockchain development.
Disclaimer: These are the writer's opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.
Disclaimer: These are the writer’s opinions and should not be considered investment advice. Readers should do their own research.