‘BTC, ETH, ICP: The Crypto Continuum That Can Unleash the Open Web’

By Stan Peterson
Published October 19, 2021 Updated October 26, 2021
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‘BTC, ETH, ICP: The Crypto Continuum That Can Unleash the Open Web’

By Stan Peterson
Published October 19, 2021 Updated October 26, 2021

By design, blockchain technology creates alternatives outside of traditional structures of power. Following the 2008 financial crisis, the inspiration for the Bitcoin network was that a universal, secure, and decentralized digital currency system would eliminate the need for intermediaries like banks. Later, Ethereum pushed this forward by implementing smart contracts and DeFi, pointing the way to a programmable future where finance is simply one variety of blockchain’s application.

This vision of universal and secure computing now extends to the open web, just as the public’s awareness of the power that corporate gatekeepers and intermediaries have over the internet is coming into focus. Building on the principles of Bitcoin and Ethereum, the Internet Computer blockchain supports scalable smart contracts that can deliver interactive web content directly to end users without the need for corporate platforms — a fundamental breakthrough with the potential to reshape the web as we know it.

Bitcoin (BTC) showed the world what is possible. The original blockchain is permissionless, because you don’t need a third party’s consent, as well as trustless, because the network reaches consensus via decentralized computation. Peer-to-peer connections replace corporate terms and conditions, and universal access to financial goods and services relies solely on having an internet connection.

Ethereum, the world’s second-biggest blockchain by market cap, innovated on what worked so well with Bitcoin. Ethereum added smart contracts or self-executing software programs to the idea of digital finance. The resulting programmability of blockchain is what made the recent DeFi boom possible.

But significant scaling issues remain. A new Bitcoin block is created roughly every 10 minutes, which produces slow and expensive transactions. Though interoperability via smart contract standardization on Ethereum means that projects and developers can build on previous work rather than start from scratch, the network’s throughput is low and congestion is high. Operating or accessing a program running on Ethereum, such as a decentralized application (dapp), token, or NFT, also requires ether (ETH), the network’s native currency, in order to pay expensive fees to cover the cost of computation.

This creates serious challenges for delivering a blockchain with the capacity to host all of the internet’s software and data. Today, in order to deliver “decentralized” services to users, many  projects run their back ends on Ethereum while hosting their front ends on a cloud provider like Amazon Web Services. Similarly, NFTs on these systems are hosted on centralized cloud providers, and are simply fingerprinted on the blockchain using a hash. Continued reliance on centralized service providers will be a bottleneck for the future growth and overall security of blockchain-based systems.

For more of the world’s digital infrastructure to move “on-chain,” the user experience and data need to operate directly on the network.

The Internet Computer Protocol (ICP) supports an ecosystem of interoperable dapps and products that are scalable across the internet. Early examples include the social content aggregation platform DSCVR, the web-based messaging dapp OpenChat, and the native NFT projects Cronics and ICPunks. Smart contracts on the Internet Computer can scale, deliver HTTP requests, and store any amount of data, so front ends and NFTs can actually be stored on the blockchain. It’s not just a blockchain for storing value, or for running dapps — it’s a base layer protocol that allows everything to run on-chain.

The Internet Computer’s architecture eliminates speed and scaling issues to enable genuine decentralization. User-generated data exists in the form of smart contracts called “canisters” whose functions can be called from one dapp to another. This helps with overall efficiency, but it also means that users can maintain control and own their data via a system of cryptographic keys.

Canisters run on decentralized nodes that are organized into subnets, and the Internet Computer network can scale indefinitely by creating new subnets via its native autonomous governance system, the Network Nervous System (NNS). Dapps will soon be able to derive their own native tokenized governance systems from the NNS, allowing them to evolve into autonomous open internet services that are controlled by their users and developers.

Another major breakthrough is that the Internet Computer decouples the idea that users need to hold tokens or digital currencies in order to interact securely with blockchain systems. There are no network fees for end users on the Internet Computer. Developers pay for computation by charging their canisters with units called cycles. In other words, users don’t need to hold cryptocurrencies or manage crypto wallets in order to enjoy the benefits of decentralization.

Chain Key cryptography, the technology behind the Internet Computer Protocol, can also support the Internet Computer’s direct integration with the Bitcoin and Ethereum networks, bringing the crypto continuum full circle. Bitcoin will have smart contracts, and Internet Computer and Ethereum smart contracts will be able to interact.

This makes blockchain systems more accessible and powerful, allowing the wider public to freely engage with decentralized products and services and recognize their transformative impact.

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Disclaimer
The presented content may include the personal opinion of the author and is subject to market condition. Do your market research before investing in cryptocurrencies. The author or the publication does not hold any responsibility for your personal financial loss.
About Author
Stan Peterson
584 Articles
Being an active participant in the Blockchain world, I always look forward to engage with opportunities where I could share my love towards digital transformation.

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