So, a project that has caught my attention in recent days and weeks has been TrueChain.
Many of the individuals in my trollbox (t.me/CryptoMedication) reached out to me and asked me to review the project, so I felt inclined to oblige.
The purpose of this article will be to give an in-depth overview of the project and assess it from a fundamental and technical perspective in terms of its premise (idea/use case), and its viability as a future investment in the crypto sphere.
So, without further adieu:
The Basics / Fundamental Stats
Currently the coin is ranked #156 out of all cryptocurrencies on CoinMarketCap, with a total market capitalization of approximately $53.8 million.
One thing that is worth noting is the low total supply of coins relative to others in the space; there are only 100 million total with 46.44 million in circulation at the time of writing.
It’s worth noting that the 24-hour traded volume at this very moment in time is hovering around approximately $70 million USD, which is considerable when looking at the positioning of the coin as well as its total market capitalization. If anything, this tells me that there are definitely folks that are aware of the protocol and, at the very least, interested in trading it [data provided by CoinMarketCap]
As you can see above, the bulk of the traded volume for this coin comes from OKEx, which makes sense, given the fact that the project is domiciled in China (more on this later).
Some positive things about this coin (from the fundamental perspective) are:
- The fact that the project is fully operational (more on this later)
- The code is open source. GitHub link is here: https://github.com/truechain
- They have published a roadmap: http://www.truechain.pro.cdn687.hnpet.net:8081/EnTruechain.pdf
- They have a whitepaper: https://www.truechain.pro/EnTruechain.pdf
- They have a legitimate website: https://www.truechain.pro/en/
Some negative things about this coin (from the fundamental perspective) are:
- Specifics (in terms of data) are relatively hard to come by as far as fundamentals are concerned. This applies to ICO information, date of launch, and news. This may just apply to us in the Western nations (please keep in mind this is a Chinese project), so this could just be a product of geographical location. So, I cannot lay this entirely on the TrueChain team.
- They are not as widely available (in terms of where they appear/marketing) that you would hope they’d be as an investor.
- The price of the project has gotten throttled in recent months. I haven’t been able to gauge sentiment in the community — but this is the type of thing to decimate investor morale. However, it is worth noting, of course, that the entire market has shed a considerable amount of value, and TrueChain’s position (measuring market capitalization), relative to the rest of the market has not yet changed substantially. However, it is important for projects to figure out how to ‘decouple’ from Bitcoin in some way if they are to truly progress forward in the space and gain adoption.
- Geographical barriers are tremendous. Being in China (as mentioned earlier), is going to impede the flow of information if TrueChain does not have someone with fluency and some sort of ‘leverage’ or pull in the English world to help represent their product to foreign investors.
- Foreign perception of Chinese regulations could hurt as well. If investors are under the impression that the regulatory situation with respect to cryptocurrencies remains in question then they may become more reluctant to place any hefty investments in the coin for fear of a substantial loss on their investment when regulations do eventually hit.
Now, Let’s Cover the Project Itself
I want to take a visit to the main site first: https://www.truechain.pro/en/
If you take a look at the front page, the site is legitimate — there’s no doubt about that. Very well designed.
I’m a sucker for aesthetic, so this goes a long way with me.
Some Preliminary Things That I Like About the Site:
- There isn’t a ton of information cluttering the screen and bombarding me at once.
- The whitepaper and yellowpaper (more on this later) are located right on the front of the website for prospective investors and those currently invested to look at, which gives a sense of transparency. The GitHub link is there as well. This shows that the team is cognizant of the fact that these are things that investors want immediate access to when they visit these sites.
- And below, they have three powerful, yet concise points that explain what they are looking to achieve with this project.
The Three Major Points That You See at the Bottom of the Picture Above Are:
- Highly Performant Blockchain Infrastructure
- Smart Contracts with Business Logistics
- Usable Developing Toolkit
Below, we’ll get into each constituent element presented on the website.
Highly Performant Blockchain Infrastructure
In this section, the website states that,
“TrueChain uses hybrid consensus technology combing* PBFT and POW. On consensus layer, TrueChain takes advantage of PBFT to achieve high TPS, and support infinite POW nodes as validators to ensure decentralization and security. Therefore TrueChain is made to be a public blockchain for performance-demanding decentralized applications.”
I have a few thoughts about that, actually. I’m not sure if I’ve reflected this in my writings or not — but I am not a fan of any ‘staking’ consensus algorithms. I understand the ‘shortcomings’ of Proof of Work, but I feel like it it’s been so effective because of the monetary incentives provided in Satoshi’s original implementation of the consensus in Bitcoin in its present and former iterations.
Also, I do not find staking algorithms to be ‘bulletproof’ by any means and, even when they rely on allegedly ‘random’ selections, I believe that they can only draw interest via:
- Masternode-esque ‘rewards’ that are granted to those that stake on the protocol
- Colluders trying to compromise the chain (if there is not sufficient activity; and they also do not need to expend the level of resources that someone attempting to hack an outright PoW project would).
- Whales ensuring that they retain voting rights.
In my opinion, the concepts and motivations above are antithetical to the core purpose of blockchain and a concept of which I am not a huge fan.
Also, when it comes to PBFT, which is an abbreviation for Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance, I am not sold that this is an effective consensus algorithm.
If you have not heard of this consensus algorithm, the most notable and relevant example that I can give you stems from $NEO, which has a slightly different variant of the same algorithm called, ‘Delegated Byzantine Fault Tolerance’.
If you’re lost on how either one of these works, feel free to consult this article here: https://steemit.com/neo/@basiccrypto/neo-s-consensus-protocol-how-delegated-byzantine-fault-tolerance-works
I have not looked at the developers for this project, but I find it to be no coincidence that this relatively unique staking consensus algorithm, which is used on NEO, a massive Chinese blockchain project, is also present on TrueChain; another fairly massive Chinese blockchain project that is beginning to gain some serious critical acclaim in the Chinese sphere.
That’s not to say that anyone from the TrueChain project has ‘co-opted’ or stolen this idea at all. I just find that certain ideas tend to gain popularity in certain geographical regions — which is an interesting observation.
Now, we have not yet deep dived into the whitepaper at this point in the article. So, I want to refrain from issuing any proclamations of condemnation of this consensus algorithm at this point in time. But what I stated above is definitely something worth considering at this point in time.
Smart Contracts with Business Logistics
As you can see from the picture above, in this picture, the TrueChain team asserts,
“TrueChain’s smart contract platform is providing an abstraction layer for commercial applications, making it easy and fast for developers to access blockchain technology. Application builders can create their own tokens, define workflows, and test/verify their contracts based on a unified environment.”
While these features are definitely desired on a blockchain, they do not give TrueChain a specific competitive advantage in this aspect (from what I’m seeing at this point; once again, we have not gotten into the whitepaper or the yellowpaper).
In my opinion, what will make a huge difference for smart contracting platforms is how easy it is for laypeople (folks with ZERO coding experience) to be able to create a blockchain or token.
Usable Developing Toolkit
This section states that,
“TrueChain builds toolkit for developers and operations to access, monitor, and manage applications. With TrueChain BaaS, Smart Contract Manager, TrueChain DApp Store, Contract Browser and Easy DApp Store, Contract Browser and Easy DApp framework, it’s easy to use TrueChain as a blockchain platform.”
Once again, this statement sort of falls under what was stated above in terms of the weight that users can give it. Without seeing the specifics in the whitepaper (yet), it’s hard to make a definitive judgment on it at this point.
If you scroll down more on the website, you’ll stumble on their ‘About’ section.
In the header, you’ll see a statement which proudly proclaims, “TrueChain is the first public chain in the world which brings about the technology of hybrid consensus combining PBFT and POW.”
Depending on how you read this, you may interpret that statement as either true or false.
If you read that statement and interpreted it to mean that they are the first public blockchain to ever incorporate a hybrid consensus and that the hybrid consensus in question just so happens to be PBFT and POW, then it would read false.
However, if you read that statement to mean that they are the first public blockchain to incorporate POW and PBFT, specifically, as a hybrid consensus — this may be true.
I love the benefit of the doubt, so I’m going to go ahead and pick the latter .
Issues That I Have With the Premise of This Consensus Algorithm
Right in the first paragraph, it is stated that,
“Many public chains based on single consensus mechanism such as PoW or PoS, are having a bottleneck in efficiency. One [sic] the other hand, those based on dPoS or dBFT have been improved in efficiency, but are having problems in decentralization.”
As you can guess, the next statement that follows suggests that the combination of both of these consensus algorithms into one protocol addresses both issues that they outlined with each, respectively.
Here are some of the problems with this reasoning/pattern of logic:
- The implicit suggestion in this statement is that the ‘bottleneck in efficiency’ stems from the PoW or PoS systems themselves. However, this is not explained in any greater depth and we cannot be sure that these coins are inefficient simply because of their consensus algorithm or because of other failures/shortcomings on said protocols.
- ‘Inefficiency’ is poorly defined. To some, the Bitcoin protocol is extremely efficient. To others, it is woefully inefficient. Without quantifying terms like this in some way, this statement holds no weight.
- “…those based on dPoS or dBFT have been improved in efficiency, but are having problems in decentralization.” <- The major problem with this is that, if these protocols are inherently ‘centralized’, then combining them without another algorithm would not suddenly make it decentralized. Also, once again, there is no further elaboration on why this consensus algorithm is not centralized.
Another issue that I have with the ‘About’ section is that it does not yield justice to this hybrid consensus algorithm that they propose will reduce any and all ills associated with blockchain technology.
For instance, when it comes to Proof of Work, why would that even be necessary after the Byzantine Fault Tolerance process? Also, would it really be a ‘Proof of Work’ at that point? If I happen to gain a selection through my stake on the protocol via the BFT consensus algorithm, whatever ‘mining’ that I do at that point won’t be ‘Proof of Work’.
Once again — this is all being stated without first visiting the whitepaper or yellow paper yet (which I assume will clarify this up to some degree). So, there may be information in there that clarifies this phenomenon.
TrueChain adopts sharding to raise the transaction processing speed, to realize scalability without affecting the safety of hybrid consensus.
This statement also troubles me because, if you’re building an efficient blockchain from the start, you should not need to add further technical debt onto the protocol by then sharding it.
I won’t get too much into the rest of the ‘About’ section, because it mostly contains information about the business model of TrueChain itself, which we’ll get to later.
So far, it appears that TrueChain has hit all of its goal when it comes to their roadmap — which is a good sign.
The project is legitimate. It’s not a scam, it’s not a hustle. It’s a valid cryptocurrency/blockchain project.
It appears to be in its earliest stages, so its hard to get a ‘crystal ball’ in this situation and definitively say what will or won’t happen when it comes to this project.
In terms of the consensus algorithm that I criticized, part of that comes from personal opinion (I think). Blockchain technology is so early in its conception that its nearly impossible to definitively say what will or won’t work.