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|Original author(s)||Alexander Ivanov|
|Developer(s)||Waves Platform AG|
|Initial release||7 June 2016|
0.10.3 / 29 March 2018
|Operating system||Full node available for Linux, Mac OSX & Microsoft Windows. Wallet available online and as a Chrome app.|
Waves is an open-source blockchain platform, developed, marketed, and operated by Waves Platform AG, that allows users to launch their own custom cryptocurrency tokens. Whilst other popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum can be traded on external exchanges, and Ethereum allows users to create new tokens on the platform using a smart contract, Waves includes this functionality in its core software and wallet. Users can create, transfer and exchange blockchain tokens on a peer-to-peer basis, paying transaction fees in the native WAVES token.
The platform has a fixed supply of 100 million WAVES and uses a network consensus algorithm based on Bitcoin-NG, updated for proof-of-stake networks, called Waves-NG. Waves uses trusted gateways to issue blockchain tokens backed by fiat money and digital currencies for use on its own platform.
Waves was founded in 2016 by Alexander Ivanov, a Russian physicist, with development funded by a crowdsale held in April and May 2016. Waves’ community and development is international, with a wide range of initiatives built on the platform and based in different locations around the world.
Waves was proposed early in 2016 by Alexander Ivanov, who had previously founded the Coinomat instant cryptocurrency exchange and had been involved with the Nxt cryptocurrency platform. Waves was created to address a number of the perceived barriers to wider blockchain adoption, including speed, scalability and user experience. Development was funded by a crowdsale that raised the equivalent of $16 million. At the time, Waves represented the second-largest successfully crowdfunded blockchain project, collecting almost 30,000 Bitcoins.
Waves was officially launched as a decentralised network with the release of full nodes in November 2016. The launch also included the release of token creation facilities, allowing developers to build their own blockchain-based applications.
Waves launched its bitcoin gateway in March 2017, allowing users to hold and transfer bitcoin tokens (called wBTC) on the Waves network. The decentralised exchange (DEX) was launched in April 2017. A Euro gateway was introduced in May 2017 and a US dollar gateway in June 2017. An Ether gateway was also added in June 2017, with Litecoin and Zcash gateways in October. On 10 May 2017, the WAVES token reached parity with the dollar, climbing as high as $6 in subsequent weeks. Waves NG protocol was activated by the Waves Features Activation Protocol on Dec 22 2017.
The Waves platform is built using the Scala programming language. It is a Proof-of-Stake platform (in contrast to bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work consensus model) that uses an adapted form of Bitcoin-NG called Waves-NG to enable high transaction volumes and fast confirmation times/throughput.
The WAVES token serves as the ‘fuel’ for all operations on the Waves network and as a spam-prevention mechanism. A fixed supply of 100 million WAVES tokens were created after the crowdsale. The transaction fee for simple WAVES or token transfers is 0.001 WAVES, whilst it costs 1 WAVES to create a new token on the network.
Waves’ token facilities have enabled an ecosystem that incentivises useful activity and encourages participation.
The Miners Reward Token (MRT) is distributed with every new block created, and is intended to function as a supplementary reward for miners whilst the volume of transaction fees grows. MRT is given value by businesses and other initiatives in the Waves ecosystem. These organisations want to incentivise miners to accept their own tokens as transaction fees, and reward nodes by distributing a share of tokens to MRT holders. Additionally, MRT will serve as a token for voting on key network parameters.
The Waves Community Token (WCT) was distributed to WAVES holders on a monthly basis, in proportion to their average balance over the course of the previous month. One of its primary purposes is to encourage long-term holding of WAVES, and for users to keep their balances in local wallets rather than on exchanges, for security reasons. WCT will also be used as a form of collective due diligence for new token projects, allowing the community to vote on the perceived viability and legitimacy of forthcoming crowdsales.
Waves’ blockchain consensus algorithm is Waves-NG, which is based on the Bitcoin-NG proposal created by Emin Gun Sire.r Bitcoin-NG was designed to increase transaction throughput on the bitcoin blockchain: ‘the system can at best achieve a modest transaction throughput, rising from ~3 transactions per second to ~6 transactions per second if the block size is doubled. This is far from the 30,000 transactions per second necessary to compete with the likes of VISA transactions. The same fundamental limitations apply to Ethereum, Litecoin, Dogecoin, and all other currencies that share Bitcoin’s blockchain management protocol. In Bitcoin, the system generates a retrospective block that encases in cryptographic stone the transactions that took place in the preceding 10 minutes. In Bitcoin-NG, the protocol is, instead, forward-looking: every 10 minutes, NG elects a leader, who then vets future transactions as soon as they happen. The former is necessarily limited by the block size and block interval, while the latter approach can run as fast as the network will allow.’ This approach has been adapted to Waves’ proof-of-stake model, theoretically enabling hundreds of transactions per second.
Waves was designed for custom tokens operations, but Ivanov has stated that ‘some form of smart contracts’ will be included in the platform. After the exploit in The DAO and subsequent hardfork of the Ethereum blockchain, Ivanov has said that there would be Waves’ smart contracts that are not turing complete, but will allow most business operations without the risks inherent in offering such universal capabilities.
According to the most recent development roadmap, published by The Waves Platform, Smart Contracts (non Turing) are scheduled to be added to Full Node software builds during Q1, 2018 and Turing complete smart contracts are scheduled during Q4, 2018.
Ivanov has stated that he wants Waves to be an open and comprehensive ecosystem, which contains all the elements necessary for wider blockchain adoption. The core wallet, also known as the ‘lite client’, integrates a series of built-in features and third-party services.
Balances for popular tokens (including WAVES, US Dollars, Euros, Bitcoin, Zcash and Ether) are displayed on the wallet’s main page, with links to gateways for depositing and withdrawing fiat and crypto currencies. A list of recent transactions is also provided.
The decentralised exchange (DEX) is integrated within the wallet. This allows users to trade tokens on a peer-to-peer basis. The DEX uses centralised ‘Matcher’ nodes, which pair orders and execute trades in near-realtime, whilst ultimate settlement is carried out on the blockchain for security.
Users can lease their available WAVES balance to full mining nodes, receiving income from them in return for the additional mining power they offer (See Miners, below).
The token creation tab enables users to launch their own token using a short form. Token names are not unique to avoid name squatting, though token ID numbers are unique. Tokens can have a short description which cannot be changed after token creation. Token supply is customisable, and tokens can have up to 8 decimal places. It is possible to issue further tokens, unless a token is made non-reissuable.
The Waves Platform Blockchain is maintained and validated by ‘miners’. However, since Waves is a Proof-of-Stake system, these full nodes on the network do not dedicate resources in the same way that bitcoin miners generate hashes to win the right to create the next block. A hosted server is adequate to run a node and no mining rigs or specialist hardware are required. Waves is an inflation-less system and miners receive only the fees from transactions users submit to the network, rather than any block rewards. Miners can also opt to accept transaction fees paid in a variety of tokens, if they wish, though WAVES is the default currency for fees. This ‘token mining’ facility means that businesses can create blockchain applications that do not require a separate currency to pay transaction fees, instead paying using their own token.
Miners require a minimum balance of 1000 WAVES to qualify as a full node and add new blocks of transactions to the blockchain. The higher the number of WAVES held by a node, the greater the probability of mining the next block.
Recent moves by The Waves Platform indicate a pro-regulation stance on blockchain technology and applications. In July 2017, The Platform announced a partnership with Deloitte, aimed at clarifying and shaping global blockchain crowdfunding regulation, and creating a clear framework for businesses to operate within.
Waves has also partnered with the National Settlement Depository (NSD), the central depository for the Moscow Stock Exchange, to develop a digital blockchain platform for digital tokens and crypto assets.