Did you think the basic concept of blockchain and cryptocurrency was complicated? Well, a project like Enigma puts it all to shame by bringing together an incredible team made of MIT-bred experts that want to address privacy and scalability across blockchains. On top of that, they are also working on developing a platform called Catalyst that aims to assist in data-driven investing and research. In this review, I’ll be delving into both.
What is Enigma?
The mission of Enigma (ENG) is an ERC-20 token that aims to bring privacy and scalability to any blockchain. As there are a lot of privacy related projects out in the market today and scalability is mentioned in nearly every whitepaper you see, it is clear that each of these issues are extremely important and need to be addressed. As they state on their website:
“The Enigma protocol is a second-layer, off-chain network that aims to solve the two biggest problems for blockchains: scalability and privacy. By enabling secure, decentralized data computation and exchange, Enigma allows blockchains to truly fulfill their powerful promise.”
Similar to Cardano, they take a very academic approach to building the Enigma protocol, and that is clearly displayed in their whitepapers and detail information. They have 3 core tenets that they are focusing on — true decentralization, secret contracts, and many applications:
1. True Decentralization – Since Enigma is a second layer protocol that can lay over other blockchains, this gives it the ability to do additional computation intensive and privacy procedures off the main blockchain. Blockchains are very good at proving the correctness of a transaction, but are not great at providing privacy. Thus, code is executed on both the main blockchain and Enigma, allowing for split duties and much higher efficiency. This is where secret contracts come into play.
2. Secret Contracts – Conceptually, these are much more powerful smart contracts that are able to handle private information. The key here is that the nodes running the Enigma network are never able to see the actual data that they are computing over, but are able to publicly prove computational correctness. And since they are in an off-chain protocol while running these private computations, they are not bogging down the main chain. The whitepaper summarizes this well: “Enigma has a decentralized off-chain distributed hash-table (or DHT) that is accessible through the blockchain, which stores references to the data but not the data themselves. Private data should be encrypted on the client-side before storage and access-control protocols are programmed into the blockchain. Enigma provides simple APIs for these tasks in the scripting language. Enigma’s network can execute code without leaking the raw data to any of the nodes, while ensuring correct execution.” It is obvious that these secret contracts are a core concept of the Enigma protocol and the teams spends a lot of time and mathematical detail in explaining how they function in the whitepaper. I would recommend spending time looking through in more depth if you’re interested.
3. Many Applications – This is pretty self-explanatory. Since the protocol is able to function over any blockchain, it has applicability in all kinds of industries — e.g. healthcare, finance, legal proceedings, credit/identity verification, and human resources. They recently announced that they will be partnering with ETHLend to “revolutionize decentralized lending”.
Moving on to Catalyst, the Enigma team is also putting a focus on data analysis and machine learning. This decentralized application is a proof of concept for their crypto-financial data marketplace that will allow investors to build data-driven investment strategies and execute them on major exchanges through their live trading tools. This seems to be a very interesting proof of concept project that builds on their academic background and fascination with data.
You can find their GitHub repositories here.
Who is Behind Enigma?
This team is an academic powerhouse. With the majority of members hailing from MIT, with varying technical and business focuses, there is plenty of talent dedicated to making this project successful. Also, their executive team seems to be very engaged with the community on a regular basis.
Their advisor and investment groups also have some quite notable names on them. The fact that a crypto project already has venture capital firms investing in them speaks volume to the legitimacy and potential of the project.
Where is Enigma Today?
The Enigma project has recently gotten a lot of visibility in the news and various forums, and it’s price has reflected that the past month. With articles in Wired, Fast Company, Engadget, The Wall Street Journal, Tech Crunch, and others, it went from trading for $0.50 USD to $6.23 USD with a marketcap of $437,818,542 USD in a month. With recent market corrections, it has fallen back to a $316,342,224 USD marketcap and $4.23 USD price, but has been holding the level well at the time this article is written.
They also recently announced that they are partnering with Aion to further their mission to bring secret contracts to every blockchain.
Where is Enigma Going?
Enigma has made a lot of progress in establishing a solid concept, development team, and supportive community. They are beginning to focus more on product release and having developers using their protocol by the end of 2018. They released an “ask me anything” (AMA) that answers a lot of questions about where they are going as a business and project.
Aspects of note:
- They are targeting the second half of 2018 for the release of their Testnet and Mainnets, where developers will be able to execute secret contracts at scale.
- By the end of 2018, they want to have actual third party applications built with the Enigma protocol. They are currently in talks with other crypto projects in order to setup partnerships to achieve this goal.
- Large focus on growth of general awareness and their developer community through hack-a-thons, meetups, bounties, partnerships, etc. across the globe.
- Intention of having very low transaction costs, through being a secondary computation layer, to achieve high scalability.
- Their data marketplace is currently being built into Catalyst, with integration into local wallets (i.e. Parity, MEW). They also have plans to build a GUI, web based application to allow users to easily browse through data sets.
Where to Buy and Store ENG?
To store ENG: Currently, the best place to store your tokens is on any ERC20 compatible wallet, but is most safe when stored on a hardware wallet such as a Ledger Nano S:
Enigma is likely to be a significant contributor to the advancement of the crypto privacy and scalability issues throughout this next year. Their team is very strong and things have been looking up for them the past month. I don’t have many concerns for the project right now other than the very complex technical boundaries they are trying to push and how long it will take them to roll out a fully functional product. It may take quite some time before we see that, but they have been at least rolling out Catalyst as an early, tangible proof of concept.
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