The vision of ICON is to redefine the meaning of communities, and in doing so, introduce an era of decentralization. ICON aims to build a decentralized network that allows independent blockchains with different governances to transact with one another without intermediaries. Through ICON , communities can go beyond and be free from traditional economic system and promote frictionless value exchanges with other communities, eventually resulting in maximum total utility of society.
ICON is a vision with a proven track record and has progressed beyond the initial concept stage. ICON already boasts communities comprised of reputable institutions — banks, securities, insurance, hospitals, universities, and more. A future with faster money remittance and frictionless value exchange of securities, medical records, academic data, insurance fees is within our reach.
With ICON , we now enter into a world of true hyperconnectivity.
Thanks for joining me today. Can you tell us more about yourself and ICON?
My name is Scott Smiley, and I joined ICON around April of 2018. Prior to joining ICON, I earned my Masters degree in Finance from Vanderbilt University leading to two years of investment banking experience at Deutsche Bank. I now focus exclusively on ICX Station, a global accelerator program sponsored by the ICON Foundation.
ICON is a scalable smart contract enabled blockchain platform with an innovative consensus mechanism, decentralized governance structure, and a long-term goal of interoperability between enterprise and public blockchains.
As a brief overview of the technical details: ICON has smart contracts known as SCOREs that are written in Python, an enhanced BFT (Byzantine Fault Tolerance) based algorithm known as LFT, and a concept known as “Virtual Step” allowing SCORE operators to cover user transaction fees.
What does a typical day look like working with ICON?
There is no such thing as a typical day at ICON! One of the most exciting parts about working in the blockchain industry is that things are constantly changing. I’d say the most predictable part of my day is the fact that something new will come across my desk.
Where are your current team members located? How do they collaborate with each other?
We are located in San Francisco, Tokyo, and Seoul. You would think collaboration is tough, but we have a hard-working and dedicated team that is willing to meet just about any time to discuss business. We have weekly meetings with all members of management to discuss strategy and our goals for the coming week.
Could you tell us about how the ICON idea originated?
Originally, there was no ICON, just an enterprise blockchain firm called “theloop”. Theloop offers blockchain-as-a-service in South Korea, and we found that our enterprise clients would benefit greatly from a public blockchain infrastructure allowing each siloed blockchain to communicate with one another. Thus, ICON was created as a public bridge to connect these enterprise chains, while still offering similar things to other smart contract platforms. Theloop has since rebranded to “ICONLOOP” to better align the two companies.
In the current cryptocurrency ecosystem with all the projects working on blockchain interoperability, why do you think ICON stands out from the rest of the pack?
Ithink ICON stands out because we already have the pent up demand for interoperability through our existing enterprise blockchain solutions. These enterprise blockchains will be the initial blockchains we look to connect via the ICON Protocol. While creating a solution for interoperability is important, having the relationships with enterprises to actually use the solution is essential.
What do you think is the biggest problem ICON will solve and why is the problem important to solve?
As a blockchain protocol focused on interoperability, the biggest problem we are trying to solve is interoperability between public and enterprise blockchains. We have heard from our enterprise clients that having the ability to communicate between several siloed blockchains, while still maintaining their respective governance and privacy rules, would help push us toward a future with blockchain-powered economies.
Can you give your opinion as to why solutions to these problems have only been covered by ICON? Why weren’t there any solutions before that could solve this problem? Do you think it was a matter of the cryptocurrency space evolving, technology, or other forces preventing this?
The blockchain industry is both nascent and broad, covering almost every industry vertical. With so many potential applications and use-cases, there is plenty of room to tackle all sorts of different problems. ICON, along with a few others, have decided to focus on the interoperability and governance side of blockchain protocols, however, there are so many layers in the Web3.0 stack.
How long would it take an experienced developer to learn how to use ICON? Does ICON have an incentive policy for developers?
What do you consider the biggest accomplishments with the ICON Foundation to date?
- Releasing our transaction fee paper, governance paper, and ICONstitution, along with launching our MainNet 3.0, which now supports smart contracts, were all major accomplishments.
- Our partnerships so far have also been quite exciting. We recently signed an MOU with SK Planet, the largest loyalty points provider in Korea, to help them execute a blockchain-based solution for loyalty points. We’ve also made much progress on our joint-venture with LINE, a messaging platform with over 200mm MAU, known as Unchain, which is an exciting opportunity for interoperability later down the line.
What are the benefits of holding and using the ICX token and can you tell us more about the use cases ICX will have?
As more DApps build on the ICON Protocol, ICX will have more use cases. It will be used to pay all transaction fees associated with interacting with a DApp, it will be the fee to launch a SCORE (Smart Contract on Reliable Environment), and it can be used by DApp operators to cover transaction fees of their users (a concept known as Virtual Step introduced in our tx fee paper).
Additionally, when IISS (ICON Incentive Scoring System) is introduced, number of ICX owned will be a factor in one’s “I_Score”, a score earned from multiple factors incorporated into IISS. In terms of interoperability, ICX will also be the fee associated with cross-chain communication.
The ICX community is excited for the release of your third Yellow Paper regarding IISS, can you explain staking for the ICX holders who aren’t aware, and may be interested upon hearing the incentives of staking?
Staking can mean a variety of things in the blockchain space. For ICON, specifically, staking will be associated with delegating your “I_Score” to an existing ICON Node. Nodes on the ICON network will be elected via “ICONists” delegating their “I_Score” to a node operator. I_Score is calculated by IISS (ICON Incentive Scoring System).
The details around rewards sharing, metrics factored into IISS, and requirements associated with staking are not yet disclosed, however, each ICONist has the Right to Compensation as stated in the ICONstitution Article 2.2.b.
The ICON Foundation has recently published their Yellow Paper which outlines their path towards full decentralization, can you tell us more about the goals ICON has on their path to achieve to reach full decentralization?
The role of a node that participates in consensus (usually known as miners on other networks) on the ICON Network, or on any blockchain network for that matter, is an extremely important role. Nodes that participate in consensus control the supply of money. In traditional economies, this is the role of a central bank; a role that is not taken lightly.
This is why ICON is designing a governance system that is not only fully decentralized, but attempts to get new money supply in the hands of those with the best interests of the network in mind.
Through our “Delegated Proof of Contribution”, as detailed in Section 3.3.1 in the Governance paper, we hope that those with the highest contribution to the network are also those that are governing the network. For example, ICON currently has 40 nodes, and when the Delegated Proof of Contribution system is implemented those in the top 40 ranking of personal I_Score + delegated I_Score will have the right to run a node that participates in consensus (either a C-Rep or P-Rep). Delegated I_Score will be received via individual ICONists choosing to delegate their I_Score to another node rather than compete themselves for a spot in the top 40.
To elaborate on the difference between a C-Rep and P-Rep, a C-Rep is a node that is connected to both ICON Nexus and another blockchain (community). A P-Rep, on the other hand, is a node that only maintains ICON Nexus. This creates a balanced ecosystem in which both communities and ICON-only participants have representation when it comes to governance decisions.
Can you talk more about applications that will be built on top of the ICON blockchain? Tell us more about your selective process for applications that want to work with ICON.
In general, people can build whatever applications they want without our permission. For ICX Station, however, we look for teams with some previous entrepreneurial experience, a realistic use case that the current state of blockchain technology could support, a use case that blockchain technology would bring greater efficiencies than other databases/software solutions, an application that could incorporate a valuable token economy, a team with experience in the industry they’re targeting, a team and product that has spoken to participants in their target market and garnered interest, and ideally some sort of minimum viable product available.
How can ICON change the landscape of the cryptocurrency space in years to come?
We hope to change the landscape by bringing together many different blockchains while still allowing them to maintain their autonomy.
ICON is an interoperability platform, but interoperability can only be successful with a well-researched and in-depth governance structure.
Wewant the entities running the network to be well-aligned with the success of the protocol, which is easier said than done.
What do you think is the biggest obstacle or challenge ICON will face? How do you plan to tackle that challenge?
I think one of our biggest obstacles is trying to expand and succeed in the Western market as a Korean based company. We are currently making strides to tackle this problem by the creation of the San Francisco office, where we have people on the ground building a network, gathering market trends, and creating a presence.
Vitalik Buterin recently made statements saying because large portions of the population have already heard of crypto, further growth of crypto must come from actual usage & people to shifting their efforts to real applications, and not bringing in more attention. Where do you and ICON stand on that statement?
Icertainly agree that now is the time to build, however, I would say that merely “hearing of crypto” doesn’t mean much. Yes, many people have heard of Bitcoin, but do they understand the potentially groundbreaking implications of Smart Contracts? I still think there is a ton of room for education.
Thanks again for all of your answers. If people want to follow the ICON Foundation, where should they go?
They can go to our website, our Twitter ( @ helloiconworld), our Medium Blog, our unofficial telegram channel, developers can go to our unofficial developer Telegram Channel, those interested in being an active member of the community can join the hx57 alliance chatroom,