Following a full line-up of fast-paced action on the opening day 1 of DeCipher 2021, a global audience backed up to for another full day in Miami.
Decentralizing Algorand: An Update on Governance
Algorand Foundation CEO Sean Lee kicked off Day 2 of Decipher with a message for the community. Sharing much-anticipated community governance news, Lee spoke to the foundation’s work in growing the ecosystem since its conception, with over 1,000 grants awarded for a combined value of over 25 million $Algo. Lee then moved onto Community Governance, revealing that over 1.8 billion $Algo has been committed to the first period of governance, with over 50,000 unique participants taking place in the inaugural voting period. This makes it one of the world’s largest on-chain community votes in blockchain history.
“One of the things that makes the Algo coin so unique is its infinite utility all contained within one item.”
— Sean Lee, Algorand Foundation CEO.
Lee went on to discuss some additional initiatives the Foundation is supporting including Women’s World Banking for a global wallet solution, Authentium a DAO based supply chain, and CISA (Crypto Impact Sustainability Accelerator) committee. With a nod to the future, Lee prepared the audience to expect big things from projects facilitating cross-chain bridging, as well as smart contracts with the functionality to store confidential information directly on the blockchain. Lee concluded his remarks with the announcement of Algorand Foundation’s promising new partnership with xPrize.
Enduring Value & the Future of Finance
Algorand COO Sean Ford was the first live speaker of the day, providing valuable insight into the approach being taken by key decision makers at Algorand to continue its growth. Referring to its evolutionary pattern, Ford likened the continued growth of blockchain technology to the 18th century North American gold rush, the global oil boom, and the rise of the internet. Continuing the analogy, he said the key step for the next wave of blockchain’s growth, and in particular Algorand, was ensuring speculation of its inherent benefits are turned into something substantive.
“We’re very excited about this next step, when society demands we pull the curtain because for us there will be no wizard of oz moment, we are doing it all,”
— Sean Ford, Algorand COO.
The idea of creating enduring value is viewed as crucial to facilitating this growth which has been defined by four key pillars: infrastructure quality, simplified participation, access to education, and sustainability. To conclude his address, Ford said for Algorand and its community to achieve their goals, all individuals need to be “relentless in the pursuit of creating a frictionless economy.”
Growing the Algorand Ecosystem
In one of DeCipher’s most highly anticipated talks, saw Algorand COO Sean Ford was joined by venture capitalists Michael Arrington (Founder, Arrington Capital), David Garcia (CEO & Managing Director, Borderless Capital), Anthony Scaramucci (Founder & Co-Managing Partner, SkyBridge), and Matt Zhang (Founder, Hivemind Capital). Dubbed the “4 Bulls of Algorand” by Ford, the quartet certainly lived up to their reputations as some of the biggest personalities in the Algorand ecosystem. Each of the panel fervently expressed their views on what is holding back adoption. They spent some time digging into what makes a successful investment firm, the importance of all projects being collaborative in Algorand, and how projects should approach seeking investment.
The discussion got off to a fiery start with Scaramucci and Arrington debating if it is a generational or institutional lack of understanding holding back greater adoption. Scaramucchi argued that gatekeepers in institutions are inflexible in their mindset due to generational factors, while Arrington argued that age was inconsequential, stating it was purely down to mindset. The newest member of the panel Matt Zhang, who recently launched Hivemind, explained at length why he made the step from the world of traditional finance. Zhang conceded the shift to blockchain was inevitable in his eyes.
“We looked in great detail and realized two things, DeFi was coming, and Algorand was far superior to ETH in every way.”
— Matt Zhang, Hivemind Founder.
Arrington proceeded to name drop several fresh projects he believes will drive the next big wave of adoption, earmarking C3, Tinyman, xBacked, and Algofi as the projects to watch. Perhaps the biggest take away from the talk was David Garica’s announcement of Borderless Capital’s new $500M Algorand focused investment fund.
The jam-packed talk ended with each panelist sharing advice for projects seeking investment. Without pulling any punches, their message was clear. Key pointers included showing up to meetings on time, being yourself, being honest, and following institutional processes closely.
Delivering the DeFi Dream: Faster, Cheaper, Safer
The next Lightbox session saw some of Algorand’s most prominent DeFi project leads share the stage with journalist Rachel Wolfson facilitating a discussion between Folks Finance CEO Benedetto Biondi, Algofi Cofounder John Clarke, Venue One CEO George Cotsikis, Yieldly Founder Sebastian Quinn, and Tinyman CTO Fergal Walsh. The discussion began with a big announcement as Clarke revealed Algofi would be launching on mainnet in December 2021.
The talk continued with each panelist revealing their affinity towards Algorand with Biondi remarking, “Algorand is the best blockchain and the future will be Algo.”
The panelists went on to discuss their experiences since launching DeFi projects and where they see the sector headed in the future. An interesting discussion point was the balance that needs to be struck between user-friendly products, and the flexibility and freedom blockchain empowers users with. All agreed that more work must be done to implement procedures to protect and guide users when using these products to help them circumnavigate scams and bad actors.
As a part of this consideration, the panelists also stressed the importance of building functionality for a frictionless multi-chain future in which users can easily jump back and forth between chains.
“I think its clear that we’re headed for a multi-chain economy and that makes perfect sense, so its up to us to encourage that functionality.”
— Fergal Walsh, Tinyman CTO.
The panelists agreed that Algorand’s recent integration of state proofs brings this closer to reality as well as several bridges that have recently launched in the ecosystem.
Transforming the Public Sector with Decentralized Infrastructure: A Case Study
The outdated infrastructure of many public sector systems has long been identified as a pain point, with inefficiencies providing much of the impetus for change. As we move into an increasingly decentralized era, the conversation of data access and ownership has reached new heights. One of the biggest challenges is personal data shareability, with restricted access and lack of control over medical records. With Kevin Richards, (Managing Director, BAM Tech Advisors) moderating this deep-dive and passionate discussion, the line up featured Dr. Ricky Braithwaite, (CEO, Bermuda Health Council), Mahesh Chand, (Founder, Mindcracker Inc), Michael Dershem, (CEO, MAPay, LLC), and Chris Were, (CEO, Verida).
Richards pressed the panel on key issues ranging from cross-border care and clinical trials to medical data sovereignty, sparking much insight from the esteemed panel. Many real-life examples put forward by the speakers proved to be a notable source of frustration and catalyst for much of the discussion. In one example, Dershem spoke of a government employee attending a hospital with a serious heart condition being requested to pay $50,000 upfront or be turned away, declaring “we’ve got to fix it, we will fix it!”
Off the back of such comments, Braithwaite spoke of the need to push the envelope with solution-based initiatives, earmarking his native Bermuda as the perfect test case to establish a proof of concept. Referencing a real-world use case, he keenly nominated Bermuda as the place where this is possible due to its closed ecosystem. From evidence-based research, one such project was expedited from data to implementation within 6 months. This was a shining example of what is possible in a decentralized economy, and when forward-thinking visionaries are prepared to execute. Not yet revealing the specifics, Dershem announced that there were 21 countries in the pipeline that were willing to explore discussions.
While some of the panelists, including Were from Verida, saw the transformation of these sectors as a 5–10 year outlook, Braithwaite stated that change needs to be made now, referring to current public sector operations as a ‘broken system’. Acknowledging some of the fears traditionalists and health sector staff may have around the much-required automation of administration, Braithwaite also suggested that by automating, nurse administrators would be able to focus more resources into much-needed patient nurse duties.
When asked why they chose to build on Algorand, Dershem from MAPay said the Algorand world-view was aligned to better assist in solving business problems. One such problem Dershend spoke of was rising drug costs, and how the adversarial nature of the commerce between pharma and medical insurance is a key driver for some of the unimaginable disparities in access to healthcare. Referencing Paraguay, the MAPay CEO noted an astounding 40% of the population had no access to healthcare. “We need to change from healthcare to human care,” Dershem said.
Dershem went on to say blockchain structures, similar to DeFi models, could change the game globally by being that component that referees the data to then determine the score. He also noted clinical trials could be expedited from a decentralized health network. In a major announcement, MAPay will leverage the Algorand network to build its healthcare solution in partnership with Verida, providing decentralized identity, trusted storage, private data ownership, decentralized messaging, and connectivity. Verida CEO Were said that “ownership and data of medical records means a revenue can be earned from the data.” Individuals can be empowered to offer their data to clinical trials through consent, transparency, and with far greater efficiency.
On the subject of cross-border care, the panelists spoke of the 350 billion dollars worth of cross-border care currently pertaining to many life or death circumstances. Were said, that by people being able to give their own consent, they could unlock innovation opportunities that everyone can use globally. Putting the onus on individuals, it would introduce skin in the game for individuals and a personal responsibility element, where people are able to make choices best for themselves and the world.
With the common sentiment among the speakers to build a far more inclusive and efficient model for healthcare, savings can go to help boost access for other countries. The importance of this movement can’t be understated, with the building of world changing initiatives to unlock the value in healthcare just the tip of the iceberg to exploring other public sector initiatives. Leveraging the blockchain for the greater good, Web 3.0 has the power to change the world. Dershem took the opportunity to invite Miami Mayor Francis Suarez to a conversation to explore the macro perspective of the current dysfunction, saying “we’re all in this together.”
“I think the panel has highlighted that public sector transformation is a global issue, showing how Algorand can come together, collaborate, and change the world.”
— Kevin Richards, Managing Director, BAM Tech Advisors
How DAOs Make the Algorand Ecosystem More Fair and Functional
DAOs are often heralded as the innovation expected to create the societies of tomorrow. The road to building society 3.0 has been pioneered by chains like Ethereum, with much of the infrastructure currently in development on Algorand. Although an ecosystem based protocol is expected in 2022, it will likely take some time before a robust framework has evolved to meet the growing needs of the community.
Hosted by Laura Shin (Journalist & Host, Unchained), the objective panel comprised of some of the most influential minds in the space, including Arul Murugan (Founding Managing Partner & Chairman, Borderless Capital), Michael Cotton (Cofounder, Meld Ventures), and Jonas Lamis (CEO, StakerDAO). Arul kicked off the conversation by providing insight into how decentralization is the foundation of all DAOs, and how Algorand’s PPoS platform has the necessary building blocks to enable a flourishing ecosystem. He has seen many entrepreneurs transitioning from other chains for exactly this reason.
Speaker Shin raised the question to the panel on the idea of voting inefficiencies, with respect to number of votes equating to the amount of financial investment. What was unanimous between all participants, and exemplified by Cotton, was a belief that the key was for Algorand to get the simple things right. When pressed for solutions to more equitable voting mechanisms (such as quadratic voting), Cotton responded that there were definitely learnings to be taken from other chains in both their successes and failures. An interesting requirement he continued with was the concept of “elder inclusion”, and considerate weighting provided towards this. He proposed the innovative game-based platform Polynize as a potential solution which is currently being considered. Polynize which is building on Algorand, rewards participants on a sliding scale for their levels of participation and innovation.
As a core contributor to a number of DAOs across multiple blockchains, Lamis has a keen understanding of where we are heading by knowing where we’ve been. He gave examples such as Nouns DAO, an NFT based entry/voting infrastructure and Squiggle DAO on the ArtBlocks platform. He also saw the Metaverse being incorporated into some DAOs to offer more flexible ways to participate.
DAOs are expected to become more commonplace as they look to solve certain inefficiencies in work and social cultures. They are an ideal breeding ground to foster rich, collaborative environments, whilst simultaneously supporting a dynamic structure, and more conducive participation mechanisms. It will be yet another area of innovation powered by blockchain that will see a more pervasive adoption into mainstream society over the coming years, decades, and beyond.
The Chain of Chains: The Path Toward Algorand Becoming the Destination for All Assets
The future of blockchain is expected by many to host multiple chains with varying degrees of relevance and specialization (the multi-chain future). Some chains’ offerings will overlap where the various markets are concerned, however, there will be unique benefits inherent to some which will create niche capabilities with immense implications. Algorand’s focus on educating and implementing technological solutions that negate the blockchain trilemma, and the confidence the team behind it gives to these investors is one such niche yet to be fully realized.
It’s easy to forgive the conversation’s moderator David Markley (Director of Business Solutions, Algorand) for being overt in his vocal support of Algorand during the topic of discussion on “state proofs”. As a monumental step forward on the road to decentralization, state proofs are a technology Algorand has pioneered using the Pure Proof of Stake (PPos) mechanism. It allows a trusted export of the current state across chains, without the need to put faith into centralized solutions. He sees the evolution from V1 of cross-chain interoperability (centralized and decentralized bridges), giving way to V2 which will likely be via an incentive mechanism, and ultimately ending up with V3, a state proof-based solution.
The speakers beginning the afternoon included Adi Ben-Ari (Founder & CEO, Applied Blockchain), Michel Dahdah (Cofounder, Rand Labs), Rotem Hemo (Director of Product Management, Algorand), and Ninos Mansor (Partner, Arrington Capital).
Ninos remarked that “decentralization is under-priced.” In referencing current market solutions, he went on to say, “Imagine if you had twenty people responsible for securing value across all blockchains with significant money… institutional capital will not participate in a multi-chain world with a centralized number of validators.” Hemo, who sits as the Director of Product Management at Algorand, hinted eagerly that we could see state proofs in the early part of 2022. He also made comment that this technology needs to be made simple for developers, and cost effective for consumers by utilizing zk-SNARKs.
A highly interesting point of contention to witness was the potential uncertainty of a multi-chain future should Algorand deliver on some of these innovations in a robust way. Ben-Ali strongly believes efficiency will determine the winner, and liquidity will naturally flow to this point. By allowing other blockchains to benefit from Algorand’s trusted PPoS model, solving bridging and atomic swaps could be everything, remarked Hemo. “Algorand could be the most decentralized POS chain.” said Mansor, however, goes on to say that blockchains are ultimately cultural with loyal communities. It would be wishful thinking at best to confidently suggest Algorand’s future innovations would command such magnetism that it entirely reduces the potency of other chains. What is for certain, is that Algorand will play a key role in determining what the future looks like.
Empowering ESG and Sustainability with Blockchain
The final panel discussion to wrap up Day 2 of DeCipher Miami saw Laura Shin (Journalist & Host, Unchained) moderate a conversation with Maryam Ayati (President, Watr Foundation), Francisco Benedito (CEO & Cofounder, Climate Trade), and Claudio Parrinello (CEO, PlanetWatch). What all speakers could agree on is that true sustainability requires scalability. The demand for companies, corporations, and entities to adopt a considerate, socially conscious framework seems to have undergone a seismic shift.
“After the (Covid-19) pandemic, 75% of the population believes companies that are not environmentally conscious will lose their support,” commented Parrinello. It’s no longer a conversation about if/when, but rather, how quickly, and how comprehensive the shift will be. The answer to these questions lies in the development of underlying technology that can efficiently deliver these solutions in a scalable and verifiable way. What an opportunity it was for the Algorand community to hear from some of the pioneers who have hoisted this monumental problem onto their shoulders.
Paraphrasing the eloquently put comments from Ayati, she outlined that wealth has historically been accrued through centralized production. She went on to envisage what would happen if you dis-intermediate the intermediaries and direct resources to the end user? When layered with blockchain technology, with the ability to establish community voting and governance, this has the power to change the face of commerce. She pointed to the currently $1.6 trillion dollar shortfall in the vertical commodities market, one where Algorand provides viable solutions. Ayati went on to confirm that these companies aren’t just talking about it, they’re actively showing up to test Algorand’s capabilities in this area.
Traceability is clearly fundamental to auditing a company’s carbon neutrality, which becomes inherent through blockchain technology. Benedito announced Climate Trade have been working with the Algorand team for the previous six months to launch a green treasury and oracle, which automatically offsets carbon emissions on chain. With the launch of the Green Climate DAO, also announced at DeCipher, this will enable the possibility of introducing tokens attached to carbon credits, as well as the CLIMATE governance token. The funds collected by projects and companies using this initiative will finance the further development of green innovations on Algorand. When you combine this with the aforementioned shortfall currently existing in industries worldwide, with the recent 5X increase in demand for carbon credits as mentioned by Benedito, it appears the next gold rush could be in carbon.
PlanetWatch was featured in Mayor Francis Suarez’s opening address on Day 1, announcing Miami would be the first city to adopt the air quality monitoring project. Parrinello went on to announce a formal partnership with Climate Trade, where the tokenized assets for offsetting carbon emissions can be redeemed via PlanetWatch for a proverbial ‘double-dip into helping the environment. Parrinello estimates over 7 million deaths occur each year due to air quality issues, however, additional environmental parameters including water will be next on their sustainability agenda.
Decipher 2021 — Day 2 wrap-up from the Lab Top Takeaways
Data for Devs: Activating Analytical Minds for Algorand
To incentivize developers beyond purely mining activities, discussion centred around the introduction of a healthy mining program that could collect the needs for the improvement of the ecosystem.
From here, proposed difficulty levels for the data sets would assign some easy questions to onboard and assign some hard questions to challenge the great minds to improve the system. Developers would then be able to get them resolved with access to open source code in real time. Having data readily available would help to inform devs about potential projects.
Demo: Payment Integrations With Wyre
Wyre is a super simple open source payment gateway of APIs used across FinTech applications. It’s made simple and accessible as it’s free with no risk, easily integrated, meets user demand and is fully compliant. Wyre has now been Integrated with Algorand and has been live for 2 weeks. With easier on-ramping and seamless KYC when needed, it is a highly scalable solution due to its relatively small code base.
Adding Mobile Signing to Your DApp With WalletConnect
WalletConnect is a solution for connecting dapps securely with users. Communication with the end user is seamless while maintaining privacy to ensure they’re not exposed to the dApp. The version two protocol is set to be unveiled in the first half of 2022 with interoperability and chain agnostic capabilities that will focus on further decentralised messages on servers.
Best Practices for Securing Algorand’s Smart Contracts
Smart contracts have typically been an attractive target for hackers to access due to their open-source nature, small codebase, and the value stored, often holding millions of dollars within them.
Security audits are extremely important to increase confidence in the application, and help improve the quality of the product or code.
Vulnerabilities can occur in design (flaws in business logic), code (programming and implementation) and authorisation (features that can be exploited).
Key Security Recommendations included:
- Employ the paranoid programming style (assume everyone is coming to get you) Think of everyone that can (and cannot) go wrong and handle it in the code
- Review the guidelines to ensure all checks are made
- Don’t assume integer operations behave like their mathematical counterparts
- Keep your stack clean
- Document your code
- Evaluate the impact of an asset’s mutable properties
- Evaluate the impact of receiving unsolicited funds into a contract account
- Try to avoid using implicit checks
- Try to avoid using undocumented features and behaviours
Demo: Composing the Hyperverse
Decentology is building the Hyperverse, an open, blockchain-agnostic, decentralized, marketplace for composable smart contracts. The UX they are trying to create will accomodate a playground space so every smart module on Hyperverse is going to have the playground experience provided by the smart modules.
Understanding the ABI
Head of Developer Relations at Algorand Jason Weathersby spoke on specification for developers wanting to use smart contracts. Weathersby noted that the ABI (Application Binary Interface) is a specification for developers who want to develop things like SDK’s (Software Development Kits) and internal tools. It serves dual purpose and in addition to that is part of the ABI specification we expect additional specifications to be built on top of that.
Nocturn.Fi: Navigating DeFi on Algorand
With aspirations to be the single point of entry into the algorithm ecosystem and to access Algorand assets for creators and brands, Nocturn is seeking to help people find new ways to generate revenue and excel in Web 3.0. Nocturn is advancing the toolkit for NFT users so they can actually see the NFT’s and then not turn a wallet they’ll be able to rent, borrow, and swap algorand and NFTs and other virtual goods, thus further expanding the commercial applicability of this asset class. When you build a collection or launch a campaign you’ll also have access to analytics and attribution data to measure the impact that you’re having in the market, with end users also able to purchase and spend their native token $owl.
Cash Cow or Technological Renaissance? Understanding NFTs From an Exchange Point of View
Ciara Sun from HUBO spoke of their commitment to grow the ecosystem with a long term strategy to become a leader in the space of NFTs. They are set to announce new ventures armed with the deployment of $100 million in early stage blockchain and crypto decentralized projects.
HUBO’s 18 token listings are now currently listed in the NFT category with more being added on a regular basis. Up until this Q3, overall trading volume for these inactive projects reached over $250 billion in this year alone, indicating the exponential growth of the whole category.
She said we have to continue educating audiences about all the other amazing things happening in the blockchain industry to increase mass adoption and add more liquidity to the NFT market. She confirmed HUBO’s engagement with their community and NFT enthusiasts on a series of campaigns and events.
Summary: Day 2 Concludes the festivities at DeCipher Miami; the future is bright on Algorand.
Day 2 of DeCipher concluded what was a hugely successful event for Algorand, with the unveiling of a number of key announcements, and a wealth of insights into future projects underway on the network. The community got to hear from leading minds and investors, who can all agree that not only is the blockchain future of Algorand here to stay, it’s set to soar.
The audience got to hear from COO Sean Ford, Anthony Scaramucci, and a powerful panel of prolific Algorand venture capitalists (Michael Arrington, David Garcia, Matt Zhang). Later in the day we got to digest the excitement from some of the biggest projects currently in the ecosystem, with representatives from Yieldly, Tinyman, AlgoFi, Folks Finance and Venue One. Day 2 really delivered, with the exploration of DAOs, the importance of decentralization, a look at the public sector, sustainability, and ultimately the future of Algorand.
The future is certainly bright for Algorand with the ecosystem poised for exponential growth. We collectively find ourselves at a tipping point, a start of great things to come, personified by the announcements at DeCipher Miami. Here at Algopulse we thank you for tuning in to our coverage and we look forward to being there with you all to do our part at DeCipher 2022.