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What is TRON? A beginner’s guide
Learn everything you need to know about the entertainment content sharing platform and its native cryptocurrency, Tronix (TRX).
Launched in 2017, TRON is a blockchain-based entertainment content sharing platform that aims to transform the global entertainment industry. TRON has made plenty of waves in the crypto world, mostly for the right reasons but occasionally stirring controversy along the way. Its Tronix cryptocurrency (TRX) even became one of the world’s top 10 coins by market capitalization in 2018.
So, how does TRON work, where do TRX tokens fit in and what does the future hold for this ambitious project? Read on to find out.
What is TRON?
According to its website, TRON “strives to construct a global free content entertainment system, utilizing blockchain technology. This protocol allows each user to freely publish, store, and own data.”
A blockchain-based system for smart contracts and dapps (decentralized applications), the project’s stated aim is to decentralize the Internet. TRON wants to allow users to create content, websites and applications without having to rely on centralized services and without having to surrender control of their content.
In a world where global giants like Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon control the lion’s share of profits and data, the goal is to give power back to users. By using the peer-to-peer power of modern networks, TRON will cut out the middlemen and allow content creators to connect directly with consumers.
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What does TRX do?
Tronix is the TRON network’s official token. It’s the basic currency unit that all accounts in the TRON system use and can be earned and spent on a wide range of platform services.
TRX will also act as the platform’s exchange currency. Just like Ethereum allows developers to create dapps and launch their own ERC20 tokens, TRON will allow dapp creators to launch their own currencies (known as Tron 20 tokens) on the TRON protocol, with TRX acting as the medium of exchange for all of the currencies created on the platform.
Launched during an August/September 2017 ICO that raised US$70 million, TRX tokens have a total supply of 100 billion. At the time of writing on 8 May 2018, approximately 65.7 billion of those tokens were in circulation. On 18 December 2017, TRON founder Justin Sun announced that the TRON Foundation had locked up 34.2 billion TRX tokens until January of 2020.
TRX is currently an ERC20 token on the Ethereum network, but will migrate over to TRON’s own blockchain following the launch of the mainnet, which is scheduled to occur in 2018.
TRON users will also be able to acquire TRON Power by locking their TRX tokens away for an extended period of time. The longer you hold onto your TRX tokens, the more TRON Power you will receive. TRON Power holders will enjoy greater privileges in the TRON ecosystem, including voting rights.
How does TRON work?
TRON uses a three-layered architecture with the platform split into a storage layer, a core layer and an application layer. The Design Book of TRON Architecture outlines the key features of each layer:
- Storage layer. TRON features a distributed storage protocol that consists of block and state storage. It uses a graph database designed to allow for fast processing and easy updates.
- Core layer. The platform’s core layer hosts several modules, including smart contracts, account management and consensus. Java is the platform’s smart contract language but support for additional programming languages (including C++ and Python) will be added in the future. This layer also features TRON’s virtual machine for running smart contracts.
- Application layer. Developers can create and deploy dapps on this layer as well as customize and issue their own tokens.
TRON uses a delegated proof-of-stake (DPoS) consensus system where TRON Power holders vote for the nodes they want to elect as “witnesses”. These witnesses are then rewarded for validating blocks on the blockchain.
If you want to find out more about the technology behind TRON and how it all works, the white paper is a good place to start. However, TRON’s white paper has been the source of a great deal of controversy in recent times following accusations that large sections of the document were plagiarized.
In January 2018, the crypto world was rocked by news that TRON’s initial English-language white paper, released in August 2017, featured at least nine pages of code, text and key concepts that had been copied from cryptocurrencies Filecoin and IPFS without any proper citation.
The Chinese-language version of the white paper copped similar criticism, but TRON founder Justin Sun dismissed the alleged plagiarism as translation errors made by volunteers. Revised English and Chinese versions without any plagiarized content were released later in January, but the entire saga did untold damage to public perception of the TRON platform.
TRON team and history
TRON is backed by the Singapore-based TRON Foundation and headed by its vocal founder and CEO, Justin Sun. Born in 1990, Sun already has an impressive CV to his name.
Not only is he the founder and CEO of mobile social application Peiwo, he also once served as Ripple’s former Chief Representative in Greater China. Sun was even named one of Forbes Asia‘s “30 Under 30” entrepreneurs in 2017, and has also twice been selected as one of Forbes China‘s “30 Under 30” influencers.
Sun launched TRON in 2017 and has become closely associated with the project and its image. He boasts a strong social media presence, including more than 450,000 followers on Twitter but has attracted criticism for the plagiarism scandal and what some see as his questionable marketing tactics.
Check out the TRON website for more details of the development team behind the project.
TRON has secured a number of big-name partnerships that have helped drive TRX price growth. Notable partners include the following:
- Gifto. TRON’s partnership with the virtual gifting platform, designed to “bring decentralized content creation monetization to millions of consumers”, was announced in December 2017
- Game.com. TRON partnered with the online gaming platform to expand its presence in the gaming sector.
- oBike. Users of this bike sharing platform can generate and earn oCoins, a cryptocurrency based on the TRON protocol, whenever they take an oBike ride.
- Peiwo. Mobile social media platform Peiwo, which was also founded by Justin Sun, has added support for TRX tokens.
What’s next for TRON: the roadmap
In March 2018, TRON announced that the launch of its mainnet would take place on 31 May 2018. This is an important milestone for the platform and will also see TRX ERC20 tokens migrate over to TRON’s own blockchain during June.
Then, in an April 2018 live stream, Justin Sun laid out the key milestones for TRON in 2018. Highlights include the following:
- Launch of Odyssey 2.0. TRON’s development plan features six main stages – Exodus, Odyssey, Great Voyage, Apollo, Star Trek and Eternity. Odyssey 2.0 will launch with its proof-of-stake algorithm.
- Improved network capacity. TRON aims to achieve capacity for 10,000 transactions per second by the end of the year.
- Reduction of transaction fees. The transaction fees for TRX will be reduced to zero.
- Launch of token wallet and blockchain browser. These are designed to offer increased functionality and security for TRX holders.
- Launch of Great Voyage 1.0 update. Originally slated for 2020, this update, which will enable communication across different blockchains, has been brought forward to Q4 2018.
What to watch out for
The biggest risk factor to be aware of with TRON is simply uncertainty. Until the mainnet goes live, it’s not possible to tell whether TRON will be able to deliver on its promised potential, not to mention whether the platform will be able to achieve widespread adoption.
The lingering stench of the plagiarism scandal may also be a turn-off for some and is a factor that should be taken into account before deciding whether you should part with any of your hard-earned funds to buy TRX.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that until the full launch of the TRON mainnet occurs, nothing much can be said for certain. There’s a lot to like about the project and its ambitious goals, and the fact that it already has several partnerships and third-party dapps in place can only be a good thing. However, the controversy associated with TRON (headlined by the plagiarism mess) may prompt many potential buyers to proceed with caution.
Crypto enthusiasts around the world will be watching with interest to see what happens when the mainnet goes live at the end of May.
Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author holds IOTA and XLM.
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