What Is aion?
Aion was a platform originally being designed by a company called Nuco.
Nuco specialised in developing blockchains for enterprises, but the founder soon realised that, the usefulness of each blockchain was limited because none of them could communicate with each other.
Essentially, they were all standalone databases of information.
Aiming to solve this they started developing the Aion platform.
Aion's main purpose is to solve the problem of interoperability.
There are many blockchains being developed today, but their usage is limited if information cannot be sent between them. This is like having a large number of intranets, but they cannot communicate with the outside world. A bit like gmail users only being able to send emails to other gmail users.
What Aion wants to do is create what would essentially be the TCP/IP protocol of the blockchain industry.
This is an important component in blockchain today - once the interoperability aspect is solved, the network effect of the industry increases exponentially.
Nuco has now dissolved itself into the Aion Foundation, whose focus is solely to develop and expand the Aion Network.
The aion Team
Aion doesn't list team biographies or even last names on its website, so it can be hard to vet members. Here are some notable members I was able to find information on:
Matt is the founder of Aion and currently serves as CEO. He is also the founder of Aion's former parent company, Nuco Labs, which was a blockchain development firm for enterprises.
Previous to Aion, he worked at Deloitte as a blockchain specialist and consultant. According to his Linkedin, he has also served as a fintech advisor to the Ontario Securities Commission.
He is on the board of directors of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance.
Jason Bourke is currently listed as Aion's CFO and holds a CA, CPA and CFA. His credentials look fine, but on his Linkedin he's listed himself as the current CFO of seven different companies. Since any CFO I know finds it hard enough to serve one company, seven is an interesting workload. Could simply be not updated, or could be a red flag. Either way, something to note.
Jamal Jomaa is a CPA, CA and CFA who serves as Aion's finance director. He was previously with management consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal, and prior to that a senior associate at KPMG in transaction services.
Kesem Frank (advisor)
Kesem is the co founder of AION and served previously as COO. As of now he is only listed on the website as an advisor.
Anthony Di Iorio (advisor)
CEO and founder of Decentral, a Toronto based software company. Co-founder and early funder of Ethereum. Former chief digital officer of Toronto Stock Exchange. Winner of EY Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year 2018. His Linkedin is here.
Salim Ismail (advisor)
Former VP of Brickhouse, Yahoo's innovation centre. Co founder of Angstro, acquired by Google in 2010. Founder of Singularity University. Chairman and CEO of ExO, a social works organisation. Author of Exponential Organisations. Linkedin here.
Moe Levin (advisor)
Served previously in high positions at Bitpay and ABN Amro. CEO at Keynote. Member of Global Blockchain Council in Dubai. Advisor to several crypto projects. Linkedin here.
The rest of Aion's team can be seen on their Team Page.
The aion Product
Aion believes that blockchains of the future will operate like a "hub and spoke", where various networks (spokes) all interact through a central chain (hub). Aion's key focus therefore is to faciliate interoperability by serving as the "hub" between different networks.
Aion aims to serve this purpose through its inaugural "Aion-1" blockchain.
Why is this function important?
Aion is predicting a future where all major entities are storing their information on blockchain platforms. For this to happen, blockchains need to be able to communicate with each other. For example, real estate records will need to interact with government records to ensure ownership details and valuations are up to date. Blockchains need to be able to interact so information like this can be updated in real time.
Mass adoption simply cannot happen until the interoperability problem is solved.
Interchain transactions and bridges
There are essentially two critical pieces to the Aion solution: interchain transactions
(ICT) and bridges.
Think of ICT as the common language blockchains will use to communicate with each other, similar to how the TCP/IP protocol works for the internet today.
ICT would be able to standardise how blockchains communicate with each other. This would allow for interchain transactions, meaning any connected blockchains will be able to swap information seamlessly just like servers do over the internet.
A “bridge” is a connection built from Aion's blockchain to another blockchain. Bridges will allow information to flow between chains, in other words, give interchain transactions a "highway" to move on. In addition, just like a road toll, the creator of the transaction will need to pay a fee to use the bridge.
Validators will be used to verify the transactions and reach consensus. According to Aion's whitepaper, two thirds of the vote is the required consensus for the transaction to be approved. The data itself is not verified, only the validity of the transaction. Data can be encrypted by the sender.
Any node can self nominate themselves to become a validator, but they will require sufficient backing (tokens) to be selected. Token holders can "stake" their coins with validators in order to increase his/her backing.
Why would they do this?
When the validator receives fees for validating the network, the validator will then distribute this to backers. Typically a validator will propose his/her policy for distributing fees at the time of asking for backing.
How does backing work?
Aion has a unique hybrid network, so backing can be done by either staking or solving. This is unique in that on most networks, it is one or the other, but not both.
If a user choose to back by staking, they simply stake their tokens with a validator for a fixed term. They can choose to renew the term after it expires or move their tokens to a new validator. Staking in this manner is the same concept as on most other proof-of-stake coins.
If a user chooses to back by solving, they do so by using computing power to solve a cryptographic puzzle, similar to proof of work mining on Bitcoin. However, Aion refers to its protocol as proof of intelligence, rather than proof of work. The concept behind proof of intelligence is rather than the compute being used is not just to solve a meaningless puzzle, but actually used to solve a required computation on the Aion network. Thus computational power used in proof-of-work is not simply wasted. Aion aims to make proof of intelligence computations specific to AI, to create a neural network within Aion.
If a user is backing by solving, it performs a certain amount of proof of intelligence, and then submits this to the network as proof of backing for a particular validator. Obviously the more proof of intelligence a user provides, the larger their share of backing they are credited with.
Aion Virtual Machine
The Aion Virtual Machine is a JVM infrastructure on the Aion network that is designed to execute application logic. What that means is, it gives the Aion network the ability to house and process applications (dApps). This is similar to Ethereum's virtual machine that allows the development of dApps.
The AVM is expected to be deployed in late 2018.
the aion Token (metrics and utility)
Aion had a private pre-sale and public pre-sale, raising $23M. They had a public sale planned, but later cancelled it and decided to distribute unsold tokens through a 1-3 year vesting program known as the TRS (token release schedule).
Here are the metrics:
- 465 million tokens generated.
- 305 million to founders (185m allocation + 120m TRS bonus) - 65% of total supply.
- 160 million to investors (40m allocation + 120m TRS bonus) - 35% of total supply.
According to Aion's financial release in October 2018, the distribution at that time was as follows:
- 152 million with Aion foundation (45m + 107m locked in TRS) - 32% of total supply
- 105 million locked in TRS for founders (vesting monthly until November 2020) 23% of total supply
- 209 million with public (199m + 10m vested until November 2018) - 45% of total supply
The TRS was completed for public investors on November 9 2018. TRS will complete for founders on November 9 2020.
New tokens are generated on the AION network through proof-of-intelligence, which for metrics purposes is no different to proof-of work. Block rewards are capped at a rate of 1% inflation per year (based on total supply).
AION tokens serve various utilities on the network.
First comes with bridging. To create a bridge, a user will have to stake AION tokens.
Developers who build bridges can collect fees from all the traffic that crosses the bridge.
Anyone can create a bridge. Aion expects fierce competition among bridge builders to the most popular blockchains. This competition will keep fees reasonable.
To create trust in these bridges, there are third-party “validators.” The validators provide an oversight function. Two thirds of a vote must be agreed before a transaction can cross a bridge. The validators share the fees collected.
Like bridge operators, validators must stake a certain amount of AION coins. Users can also back validators by staking coins with them, and receive a portion of the fees that validators agree to distribute back out to backers.
The aion Community
Aion is very tech-focused (like Cardano) rather than marketing focused (like Tron). They have five very technical whitepapers published. The investors and supporters they attract resemble this.
The reddit and Twitter are both very active. The team also holds regular AMA's.
The Aion Foundation released its first financial report in October 2018, under the oversight of Deloitte. They cited a need for greater transparency in the industry and plan to release regular reports in the future. Frequency is not known as of now.
Aion has also formed a "blockchain interoperability alliance" with Icon and Wanchain. All three projects are aiming to share knowledge and research on how to best tackle the interoperability issue in the industry.
Aion's list of partners is growing and sits at around 20. It is unclear what role all of these partners serve, but most are other blockchain projects (such as Metaverse, Wanchain etc) or blockchain development/investment firms.
Aion updates the community regularly on its blog.
B Money Verdict:
The main issue I see with Aion is competition.
There are so many projects right now trying to solve interoperability (Aion, Cardano, Ark, Dragonchain, Icon, Wanchain, just off the top of my head) and its very early in the industry to place bets on one. At the end of the day there was only one TCP/IP protocol, and only a few big players in routing, such as Cisco.
How this area plays out in the blockchain industry is still unclear.
The fact that Aion is sharing research with Wanchain and Icon is a plus, but again you need to think about whether you should diversify across each of those projects.
Another thing I noted during my research was the difficulty in vetting the team. Aion lists team photos and first names on their website, but that is all. I had to scour Linkedin trying to research their senior members, and a few I couldn't find. Aion's team is praised unanimously in crypto circles as superb, but in my personal research I wasn't able to get enough information on this. One thing I can say is the team is large - they have a big number of engineers in several countries working to pull this thing off.
Finally, token metrics. Once all tokens are released, public investors still have less than half the supply (around 45%). The rest is with the team and founders, and the lockup is released monthly over the next two years. If the crypto market is in bad shape over those years, there could be a significant dilution as the team dumps their holdings. For such a large allocation to the team, I would have liked to see a longer lockup (5-7 years), especially for founders.
As for the product, I like Aion. It has some interesting things going for it. Proof of intelligence makes perfect sense and I think many crypto projects will adopt it in the future. It solves the issue of being able to back consensus via proof-of-work without wasting computational power. And serves as a strong pillar of decentralisation. Very smart. As far as I know, Aion is the first to implement this.
Secondly, the dual system of being able to both stake and mine coins for rewards is clever. I like that a lot.
Since it is such early days in this space, it's hard to see how it plays out. Very high risk, but if they become the Cisco of blockchain, upside is near unlimited.
The Good Stuff
- Innovative tech
- Solving a key problem in the industry
- Well vouched for team, but information limited
- Some good partnerships
- Team is professional and transparent
The Bad Stuff
- Interoperability is competitive
- Mediocre token metrics
- Whitepapers impressive, but actual development still limited
Team is large and multi-national. The team members I have information on are solid. Others I'm not sure.
Has a working mainnet, mining active. No staking yet. Whitepaper is impressive, but can only score what's been built.
Utility is to establish bridges, run a validator, or stake. All are valuable and necessary. Metrics lower this score - weighted too heavily towards team, lockup only 3 years.
Some good partnerships, founders communicate regularly, Aion Foundation professionally run, socials active.
How To Buy aion In New Zealand
To buy instantly with New Zealand dollars, I recommend using EasyCrypto. Rates are some of the fairest in NZ and transactions are fast. You can sign up for a free EasyCrypto account here.
Alternatively, advanced investors can try using Binance.
BUY WITH NZD: EasyCrypto
- Blockgeeks Aion Guide: https://blockgeeks.com/guides/aion-blockchain/
- Aion token metrics: https://firstname.lastname@example.org/eye-on-the-supply-aions-token-distribution-analyzed-9375a7f0469c