This article is the first of a series, Blockchain for the Layman. A series dedicated to introducing various alternate coins and providing an easy-to-understand introduction for their technical makeup and background.

A common scenario

You walk out of your classroom or office space and hear two dudes in passionate conversation…

Dude 1: “I’ve made 600% in the last week with SHITCOIN, SHITCOIN’s SHITCHAIN technology will dethrone all the other coins out there and take me to the moon. I fully expect to be a millionaire by next month.”

Dude 2: “That’s cute, I remember when I had my first beer. I’ve made 1000% in the last 30 minutes with SCAMCOIN and I expect it will hit 10000% in the next three days. Of course, I only put in $100 but I fully expect to be a millionaire by the end of this week. SCAMCOIN’s decentralized SCAMplatform is eons beyond Ethereum’s and this coin will shoot me past the moon and take me to Mars. I already put a down payment on my Lamborghini.”

Sifting through the shit

Wouldn’t it be great if we could actually understand the fundamental differences between SCAMCOIN and SHITCOIN? I know I’d like to. When I first started investing in cryptocurrencies I had a difficult time understanding the technical differences that actually separate coin #1 from coin #2. Oh Monero is an anonymity coin? How are Dash and Zcash different? Why do we need them all? There were hundreds of alternate coins that were released 2016 – 2017. Now there are thousands… it’s important we educate ourselves to sift through the shit. Some use cases are much more obvious (looking at you Dentacoin) and some coins are such obvious scams/ ponzi schemes (die already, Bitconnect) that they don’t need much explanation but there are actually great projects out there that need distinction. That is the goal of this series.

What is Icon’s background?

ICON, is a brainchild blockchain technology company based in South Korea. I say brainchild because ICON isn’t a standalone company. It’s a project of the Dayli financial group, a leading Korean fintech company that originally spun off of Yello Mobile. Why is this relevant? Imagine that Facebook’s financial technology division decided to create a blockchain project and had the institutional partnerships with Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan, and Ripple… this is the Korean equivalent of that. Yello is one of the leading technology company’s in Asia and has partnerships with Woori and Ripple Asia. What makes this even more interesting is that Woori is part of a signed agreement with the Korean Financial Investment Association (some of the largest financial firms in Korea) to create the Korean Blockchain Consortium… in other words ICON is at the center of a very connected system that is currently adding the building blocks for crypto obsessed South Korea.

What is Icon?

ICON is a blockchain platform that allows DApps (Decentralized Applications) to be built upon it. This makes ICON similar to other more well known projects like Ethereum or NEO but here are some specifics to ICON:

  • Artificial Intelligence (DAVinCI) – ICON has it’s own AI system called DAVinCI which they will use to administer nodes that are contributing to the ICON blockchain. DAVinCI will ensure contributors are rewarded fairly and will lessen the power that miners would have over how ICON distribution is handled (a common problem that cryptocurrencies face – ala bitcoin forks). The DAVinCI system will continue to improve and determine optimal distribution policies to achieve complete decentralization
  • Interoperability with Blockchain (Interchain) – one of ICON’s main goals is to be fully scalable and connectable with other blockchains that are not within it’s network. ICON’s blockchain is already compatible with more traditional blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum but its real aim is to be connectable with all the other blockchains out there. In more practical terms though this means that you could, potentially, connect to the ICON blockchain in the future to sign up for a new bank account, insurance program, or university classes all through the same expedited system. It’s important to note that ICON already has institutional partnerships with top Korean universities, banks, and hospital systems already
  • Decentralized Exchange (DEX) – ICON plans to integrate different DEX protocols on its platform to facilitate exchange of ICX and other future ICON platform currencies, kind of like how Ethereum has ERC20 tokens on its own exchange.
  • Byzantine Fault Tolerance Solution (Loopchain) –  The Loop Fault Tolerance Consensus Algorithm or LFT or Loopchain is an optimized-for-blockchain consensus algorithm that supports “Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance”. In layman terms this is ICON’s proposed method of solving consensus issues on a decentralized network
  • Token System (ICX) – Currently ICX is a ERC20 token that is traded on some really big exchanges like Binance, but it will soon be converted into it’s own coin after mainnet release. ICX’s cryptocurrency economics is ostensibly complex and has been well explained by fellow Chainhead writer Zak
  • Mainnet (ICONex) – Mainnet successfully launched on January 24th, 2018. For those of you new to the crypto world this is a significant move for any ambitious project. There are a lot of cryptocurrencies that remain as ERC20 Tokens, so it is almost a rite of passage for cryptocurrency projects to have their on wallet. If anything, this is a strong indicator for ICON’s intentions
  • Summit – On January 31, 2018, the ICON team will host their 1st ICON Annual Summit titled “The Genesis”, appropriately at one of the most iconic, tallest skyscrapers in the world — Lotte World Tower. They have already announced partnerships with other well known coins such as Kyber, but they are planning on revealing 5 other applications

Too Big to be true?

ICON has seriously big ambitions. Interoperability will answer a lot of scaling issues that many other cryptocurrencies and blockchain systems face but will not be done so easily. Also, ICON’s proposed DAVinCI system will have to work flawlessly to ensure an optimized blockchain. The biggest worry though is that ICON will fail to bridge other blockchains in the future, but if there’s a blockchain team that could do it I would argue it’s one that is well funded and well developed like ICON. ICON is one of the most promising cryptocurrency projects on the market today. It has a strong team of developers, managers, and advisers and a incredibly well funded institutional web backing it. Keep this one on watch.