What Is ark?
According to Ark's whitepaper, their primary objective is "increasing consumer adoption by focusing on two critical areas: A Fast Secure Core Technology and Practical Services for Real People."
ARK aims to achieve this by developing easy-to-use tools and wallets for everyone. The motto "Point Click Blockchain" is considered their vision - creating a platform that will allow anyone to create, customize and launch their own unique blockchain instantly, with little to no coding. Their hope is deploying blockchain solutions for businesses will be as simple as building a website with WordPress.
One of Ark's key features is their SmartBridge, aimed to facilitate the road to mass adoption by connecting major blockchains together so they can communicate with each other. ARK believes this will centre them as the hub of much of the blockchain space. Currently Ark is working on SmartBridges for Ethereum, Bitcoin, Lisk, and a couple of smaller networks.
The ark Team
ARK was founded by 27 individuals from various countries.
Francois-Xavier Thoorens - CEO, former core dev at LISK, CEO at Sigmeus, CEO at Donatio.
Lars Rensing - CFO, assistant calculator at Van Wijnen Group (Netherlands), assistant cost engineer at Hakkers B.V.
Kristjan Kosic - CTO, former CEO of ADORA (Slovenia), project manager at PETROL, PhD candidate University of Mabora
Velislav Valkov - Co founder, Senior Architect, former systems admin at Prista Oil (Bulgaria).
The ark Product
Much of Ark's code has been derived from Lisk, Crypti and Bitshares, due to the various connections the team has to those projects. Most of the Ark team was working on one of those projects before founding ARK.
Ark's main net went live in 2017.
It currently runs on Delegated Proof Of Stake and houses the native ARK token.
Block times are 8 seconds.
The code is completely open source.
Delegated Proof Of Stake (DPoS)
Ark's DPoS algorithm is unique.
Any node running the Ark core code can register their account with the Ark network. The fee is 25 ARK.
ARK holders can then vote for a delegate, for a fee of 1 ARK.
If a user votes for a delegate, that delegate will receive 100% of that user's voting weight (based on tokens held). The user can also vote for more delegates and further distribute his or her voting weight. For example, a token holder could vote for 4 delegates and each would receive 25% of the voting weight.
The 51 delegates with the most voting weight are eligible to forge new blocks on the Ark blockchain.
This model makes 51% attacks far more difficult (or even impossible), as even owning 51% of the tokens will not allow you to take 51% of the voting power.
One of Ark's main selling points is the ability to link blockchains together. It does this through a mechanism known as the Ark Smartbridge.
Ark’s SmartBridge communicates between the blockchains using a special data section called Vendor Fields and special Encoded Listener nodes that comb through this data for tasks that it can perform.
In order for ARK to become the medium/intermediary between chains, each chain needs a small snippet of code implemented. It is very easy to insert and not harmful to any blockchain, current or otherwise. Once this tiny code is inserted into the core code of any blockchain, that blockchain is now connected to Ark.
The Encoded listener node is a hub for listening to SmartBridge transactions.
This transaction hub can be setup and run by anyone who wants to help the network, be it an individual or an corporation. In exchange for providing this service they will be collecting transaction fees for passing data or exchanging currencies via SmartBridge.
As explained by the community ACES project, an Encoded-Listener contains two major components:
- The listener
- The service
The listener is the component that plugs into a blockchain (such as Bitcoin) and provides API access for ARK services to receive data from a blockchain. The listener stands on its own.
The service is the component that provides utility to the ARK user. Services request information from listeners to confirm whether their requirements have been fulfilled to execute their customized service. Again, services stand on their own (independent of the listener, or not).
This means services do not need to download and maintain the entire blockchain that they provide services for. It is very lightweight this way, and will make it cheaper and easier for the masses to offer specialized blockchain services.
This design allows thousands of service providers and just a handful of listener providers. This has a few key benefits, such as allowing services to integrate multi-listener confirmations for improved data quality, and keeping the cost of running services very small since the majority of server costs come from running full nodes of blockchains.
These are some examples given by the ARK team:
Example 1: If you wanted to trigger an ETH smart contract but you only hold ARK, you could just send the instructions through ark SmartBridge, right in the wallet to trigger the event. The listener in the ETH chain will collect this info and trigger the function to issue a contract.
Example 2: You want to issue a record entry in Factom, but you only hold ARK. So you would go to your ARK wallet, enter the correct info and instructions for the FCT chain via the SmartBridge tab. The FCT chain receives the info and acts appropriately.
Example 3: I want to send 10 ARK to my ETH wallet. This would require an encoded listener with a back-end ability to exchange currencies. (ie: Shapeshift, Changelly, or Coinbase). Once I send my 10 ARK to my ETH wallet, the encoded listener sees this TX (transaction) as an exchange function and acts accordingly. The encoded listener automatically picks up that this TX needs a conversion, so it acts as a relay node picking up the TX, converting it, and rebroadcasting the TX on its way to the ETH wallet. The encoded listener collects a small fee for processing the TX.
ARK Deployer GUI (push button blockchains)
Another of ARK's key selling points is "Point, Click, Blockchain".
To achieve this ARK is currently developing the ARK Deployer, which will make ARK clone-able with push button deployment. Cloned chains will be linked to ARK’s Main Chain via SmartBridge. Any startup that wants to create a fork of the ARK chain can do so with ease and be SmartBridge compatible right out of the box.
This is a similar concept to Ethereum's ERC20 tokens, however with ARK, a new chain is created, as opposed to how it works on Ethereum where all new tokens still run on top of Ethereum's main chain. Obviously this should mean ARK won't inherit the scaling problems that have plagued Ethereum in the past.
Smart contracts will be programmable on ARK once the ARK Virtual Machine has been deployed. The ARKVM is expected to provide similar functionality to the Ethereum VM. Launch time is still unconfirmed, but it is in the roadmap.
the ark Token (metrics and utility)
Surprisingly, I could not find a single release of the ICO results from ARK themselves. All information I could find was from third parties or individual team members on social media, which is semi-reliable but still not "official". I could not confirm any of it, even after trying to contact team members directly.
So here's what the whitepaper said the distribution would be:
- 125 million tokens in total. Cap not announced.
- 75% to ICO investors
- 15% to ARK Founders team (30 people)
- 7% to ARKShield (a development fund for the ecosystem)
- 2% for Bounties
- 1% into Escrow
The minimum target was 2,000 BTC, which was not reached. Amount raised has not been disclosed.
As I said earlier, these are the metrics announced in the whitepaper. Often after the ICO itself, metrics change. Because ARK didn't release ICO results, the metrics above are provided here as unconfirmed.
ARK has no announced hard cap, but 2 new ARK is created every 8 seconds as staking rewards. That results in an inflation rate of 7,884,000 ARK per year, or 6.3% in the first year, and slightly reducing every year thereafter.
The utility of the ARK token is as follows:
- Gives you voting power to earn staking rewards.
- ARK is required to pay for transaction fees.
- ARK is required to access all parts of the ecosystem, such as smart contracts, smart bridges etc.
The ark Community
ARK is incorporated in France as an SCIC (cooperative society), making it the first crypto organisation of its kind to be registered in the EU.
While many projects choose to incorporate in Switzerland as non-profits, the ARK team felt this wasn't the right solution, for the simple fact that a blockchain technology project isn't non profit. They felt this fact might cause regulatory problems in the future.
An SCIC in France was the chosen alternative, which allows all stakeholders to act together for a common interest as a private entity. All members are shareholders and hold equal votes. Shareholders can be etiher founders, advisers or employees.
Another notable aspect of the community is the ACES project. ACES started as a community project to develop the ARK encoded listener concept by connecting ARK to Ethereum. They have since also built a listener for Bitcoin.
ARK updates their blog and roadmap regularly. ARK also runs an established bounty program to encourage regular contributions from developers. The reddit is active with regular discussion posts and inputs from loyal community members.
ARK has also released their official Bitcoin address, to show the community the current level of funding: https://www.blockchain.com/btc/address/356xnT1xFW89d4jSBww7QSiTELnuePLknW
And the address of the ARKShield: https://explorer.ark.io/wallets/ALgvTAoz5Vi9easHqBK6aEMKatHb4beCXm
B Money Verdict:
The biggest concern I have with ARK is they are trying to do a lot. They want ARK to serve as a global everyday currency, they want to connect all the blockchains of the world, they want to build hardware devices, they are building a client facing blockchain builder. If they were one of the only blockchain companies in the world then it would be different, however, there are already many projects working on solving interoperability, such as AION, Dragonchain, Wanchain, ICON, Cardano - all very well funded projects. Just competing with them in interopability, ARK has a large task. Having so many things seems to be a distraction and turns them into a "jack of all trades, master of none" candidate. Those candidates probably won't last long in cryptocurrency. Things are moving far too fast.
The other thing that concerned me was the fact they didn't announce token metrics after the ICO. It's the first project I haven't been able to find confirmed token metrics from the source. It was only very general announcements, such as "we raised less than the target....we raised around 600-900k". They also didn't meet their raise and said some investors were refunded, but how many? How does this affect the token distribution? It wasn't disclosed. For a project looking to take over the global blockchain space, that's not very professional and the lack of transparency would concern even the most casual investor. Every other project says "We raised X, full stop". Most of my concerns faded when they shared their actual BTC address, which showed funds.
It also feels like ARK isn't that forthcoming about a lot of other information. For example, there are a lot of passing comments about their relationship with LISK, that their team came over from LISK, they fundraised in LISK. None of this information is anywhere to be found on their blog or their About page. Whether this is intentional or they just didn't think this information would be of interest to investors, I don't know. To date, no financials have been released by their SCIC.
The last thing that concerns me is the speed of their progress. Their V2 had to be abandoned and completely recoded from scratch - more than just a speedbump. There are also many projects that have working products out, such as Dragonchain, and already have businesses using them to deploy blockchain apps. The Virtual Machine shows no indication that it will be completed any time soon, while smart contracts are already working on Ethereum, NEO, Stellar and many more. I think this ties in with ARK trying to be too much and do too much. Sometimes, a little tunnel vision wouldn't be a bad thing.
Overall, the team and the project seem to have a vision that makes sense and are certainly no scrubs in the blockchain space, but for me ARK lacks a clear advantage - they're not the first to market, they're not the only ones targeting this part of the industry, and they're showing no real advantage in terms of adoption, community, media explosure etc. In short, it's hard to pick them out of the crowd. It's certainly a legitimate project, but facing an uphill battle for sure.
The Good Stuff
- Large team.
- Targeting an important problem
- SCIC structure is good
The Bad Stuff
- Slow to market
- Lacks full transparency with investor funds/ICO
- Lack of focus, doing too much
- Lots of competitors
- Lacking a unique selling point
Difficult to score. Large and global team, professional, good progress made. But lacks X Factor on paper.
Good progress on roadmap, still behind many other teams in the space. No VM yet so still just a currency.
Metrics are good with falling inflation rate. Token utility includes access to network, plus ability to stake. Scored 7.5 but they lose two points due to token metrics/raise being unconfirmed.
The community behind ARK is strong. It's not huge like Ripple, but with 20k on reddit it's solid. Twitter is active, ACES is key to the ecosystem and SCIC was a good move.
How To Buy ark In New Zealand
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- Blockonomi ARK guide: https://blockonomi.com/ark-guide/
- What is the ARK Smartbridge: https://blog.ark.io/what-is-the-ark-smartbridge-and-how-does-it-work-1dd7fb1e17a0
- ARK chooses SCIC: https://blog.ark.io/ark-creates-a-unique-business-entity-827c488c7fb8
- Unhashed ARK guide: https://unhashed.com/cryptocurrency-coin-guides/what-is-ark/
- Hackernoon ARK guide: https://hackernoon.com/why-ark-deserves-your-attention-c57acd51846a