What Is tron ?
TRON is a decentralised blockchain platform, similar to Ethereum. It is based out of China.
Initially TRON's mission was to become a decentralised entertainment platform, however it seems to have pivoted to now becoming a "decentralised internet".
The TRON network positions itself as a direct competitor to Ethereum, as it has the ability to house DApps and execute smart contracts, however it claims to have a superior solution to achieving scalability.
One key difference with Ethereum is it operates on a DPoS (Delegated Proof of Stake) algorithm, which is notably faster and more energy efficient than Ethereum's proof-of-work. It also requires far lower fees to execute transactions, and has an active coin burn with transaction fees.
TRON recorded its first 1 million user accounts after only 18 months after its mainnet launch, further fueling claims that its growth and underlying tech was superior to Ethereum.
The tron Team
TRON's website does not have a team page. The closest thing is their About page which only lists their founder, Justin Sun.
Justin Sun is a masters graduate from the University of Pennsylvania in Political Economy, according to his Linkedin. He also has a BA in History from the University of Peking. He is also a graduate of Jack Ma's Hupan University.
He was the Chief Representative of Ripple in China from 2013 - 2016.
He founded the Chinese app Peiwo, which grew to 10 million users.
Forbes Asia listed him in their 30 Under 30 in 2017.
No other team members can be confirmed.
The tron Product
TRON operates on a 3 layer architecutre - core, storage and application.
The Core Layer manages smart contracts, account management and consensus. In order to allow migration and support for Ethereum developers, Solidity was chosen as the smart contract language. However, support for other languages is to be added in the future.
As for consensus, TRON operates on a Delegated Proof of Stake algorithm, which I'll unpack further below.
The Storage Layer relates to TRON's distributed storage protocol, consisting of both Block Storage and State Storage. For blockchain storage, TRON's blockchain uses LevelDB which is developed by Google. LevelDB uses the Snappy algorithm for compression.
For state storage TRON has a KhaosDB in the full node memory.
The Application Layer allows developers to deploy DApps and customised wallets on TRON.
TRON achieves consensus through a Delegated Proof of Stake protocol.
27 Super Representatives (SRs) are permitted to produce blocks. Every 6 hours, TRX holders who elect to lock their tokens can vote for an SR. The top 27 vote getters are deemed the SRs. Voters may choose SRs based on any criteria they like, including rewards distributed back to voters.
The block time on TRON is 3 seconds. Each block rewards 32 TRX to SRs. This amounts to a total of 336,384,000 TRX awarded annually. The block rewards are made available to the SRs to withdraw every 24 hours.
A transaction is confirmed after 19 blocks are mined on TRON (including the transaction's own block). Each block is produced by one of the top 27 Super Representatives in a round robin fashion. In general, a transaction is considered fully confirmed after ~1 minute.
As for nodes, there are three types of nodes set up on the TRON network. Witness nodes are set up by SRs and are responsible for block creation. Full nodes provide APIs and broadcast transactions and blocks. Solidity nodes sync blocks from other full nodes.
Transaction as Proof of Stake (TaP0S)
TRON also uses TaPoS to counter against counterfeiting chains, 51% attacks and double spend attacks. TaPoS requires each transaction to include part of the hash of a recent block header. This prevents transactions from being replayed on forks not including the referenced block.
TRON does not charge fees for most transactions. However, bandwidth usage and transactions can take in fees in certain situations:
- Normal transactions cost bandwidth points. Users get 5,000 bandwidth points daily, or can freeze their TRX to obtain more points. If the account has no bandwidth points left, TRX are taken as fees. The fee is no. of bytes * 10 SUN.
- Smart contracts cost energy (explained below) but also need bandwidth points to be broadcasted.
- All query transactions are free.
TRON has fixed fees for the following:
- Creating a witness node: 9999 TRX
- Issuing a TRC-10 token: 1024 TRX
- Creating a new account: 0.1 TRX
- Creating an exchange pair: 1024 TRX
TRON Virtual Machine (TVM)
The TVM is a turing complete virtual machine, similar to Ethereum's EVM, and also runs in Solidity, meaning all EVM smart contracts can be migrated to TVM. The key difference is the TVM operates on a concept known as Energy. This is in contrast to the Gas system on EVM. On TVM, operations of transactions and smart contracts are free and no TRX is consumed.
Energy is earned by freezing TRX. Freezing 1 TRX gives 50,000,000,000 Energy. Energy can also be purchased at 100,000 per TRX.
For deploying smart contracts, TRON operates both a Shasta testnet and a mainnet. TRON also offers a range of tools to support DApp development:
- TronBox is a framework that allows developers to test and deploy smart contracts via the TronWebAPI.
- TronGrid is a load balanced and hosted API service that allows developers to access the TRON network without having to run their own node.
- TronStudio is a comprehensive Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that enables developers to compile, deploy, and debug their Solidity smart contracts.
the tron Token (metrics and utility)
TRON raised $70 million in an ICO in September 2017. 100 billion TRX tokens were issued. The distribution was as follows:
- Public investors: 40%
- TRON Foundation: 35%
- Private investors: 15%
- Founder: 10%
The TRON Foundation currently has 33 billion tokens locked until January 2021. Current circulating supply sits at around 66 billion, with 1 billion tokens burned at mainnet launch. There is no hard cap.
TRX tokens are required to earn TRON bandwidth points, TRON Energy and TRON Power.
Bandwidth points are used for sending transactions. Free daily bandwidth points are given to token holders and more can be earned by freezing TRX tokens.
TRON Energy is needed to deploy smart contracts and is also earned by freezing TRX.
TRON Power is earned by freezing tokens and is used to vote for Super Representatives. Voters can share in block rewards from Super Representatives.
The tron Community
TRON has a very vocal and supportive community on Twitter and Reddit. The TRON subreddit has 70k subscribers, and the Twitter page for TRON Foundation has 364k followers. Justin Sun is very active on social media also and has 685k followers.
TRON also arranges the NiTRON Summit, a conference for the blockchain industry.
In 2018, TRON purchased BitTorrent for approximately $126 million (estimated). BitTorrent has 100 million active users, though it is unclear how TRON aims to incorporate this into the TRON ecosystem. A token was announced in cooperation with Binance Launchpad, but it's unclear exactly what utility it brings to the client.
The TRON Foundation keeps an active blog on Medium.
B Money Verdict:
The biggest issue I have with TRON is the lack of transparency.
In writing this report I struggled to find a lot of information. First, there is no team listing on their website. When anyone takes $70 million of investor money to build a piece of technology, at the very least those investors want to know who is building that technology. When it comes to who's building TRON, nobody knows.
Secondly, their token metrics. Token distribution information is nowhere on the TRON website. That's a very key metric that investors need to know about.
Another issue I have with TRON is the token metrics themselves, which as I've just mentioned, I can't even confirm. It appears TRON has no hardcap, however it does seem to have a predictable inflation rate of 336 million tokens per year, which are the forecasted block rewards. However there doesn't seem to be any hard/fast rules on tokens being generated in other ways. Fixed hard caps or fixed inflation rates are essential for stability. Justin Sun has been pushed on this on Twitter, but hasn't given promising replies.
The final issue I have with TRON is they seem to lack a clear mission statement. First they wanted to be the Youtube of the blockchain industry, now they're aiming to be the "next decentralised internet". However, they seem to be a very close clone of Ethereum. Nothing is particularly unique about TRON. Their virtual machine is a copy of Ethereum's, their consensus algorithm is a uninspired copy of ARK and/or Vechain's DPoS.
In saying that, it appears that TRON's blockchain does actually work. It has an impressive offering of DApps already live on TRON Arcade, and this only looks to be growing.
Justin Sun is a reasonably well known figure in China and has good connections, particularly the Chinese web guru himself, Jack Ma.
Overall I think TRON might take a large portion of the blockchain market, but there is too much guesswork involved to make a reasoned decision. I wouldn't be surprised if the token does well, but it's a long shot.
The Good Stuff
- Justin Sun is a great marketer/leader.
- Adoption rivals Ethereum.
- Strong community.
The Bad Stuff
- Lack of transparency.
- No fixed hard cap.
- No fixed inflation rate.
- Lacks a clear focus.
No information on team. Justin Sun is a promising leader.
Very similar to Ethereum. DPoS looks solid. Higher TPS than Ethereum. TaPoS is interesting.
Utility is good, but metrics require a hard cap for stability. Random token burn reduces stability, does more harm than good.
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- TRON hardcap demands: https://ambcrypto.com/tron-community-demands-100-billion-maximum-supply-of-trx/
- TRON independence day: https://medium.com/tron-foundation/june-25th-tron-independence-day-ef7b9df02be9
- What is TRON?: https://thecoinoffering.com/learn/what-is-tron/
- TRON review: https://unblock.net/tron-review/