“We here at UBIK Capital appreciate the strong support we’ve received from the ICON community in voting us to the No. 4 position,” says co-founder Russell Shirey. “Now that we are receiving rewards, we are ramping up our efforts and look forward to continuing to serve the community and to help grow the ICON ecosystem. It’s going to be a really fun and productive next year.”
Developing and educating
UBIK Capital is a five-person team of passionate ICONists in the United States and Europe. The crew boasts extensive experience in software development, program management and server infrastructure. Shirey says, “We really want to use our skill sets to grow the ICON community and ecosystem and to help increase the value of ICON.”
In particular, UBIK Capital wants to leverage its software development experience to create more DApps because, in their view, that will really help ICON succeed. Shirey explains:
“The economics of ICON are built in such a way that the rewards are utilized to incentive contribution and these rewards are going to be funded with transaction fees. Currently, the number of transactions on the network are not enough to pay for all the rewards. That results in inflation. If we can help grow the network through more DApps and more ways for people to use the network, that will lower inflation and form a nice economic outlook for ICON where the DApps and transaction fees are actually funding the rewards.”
Creating a viral DApp is something easier said than done. UBIK Capital has adopted a two-pronged approach: building DApps on their own while creating technical tutorials to educate and onboard developers. The team recently released its first iOS Swift Tutorial, covering how to integrate ICON blockchain functionality into an iOS App using the ICON Swift SDK.
And on Tuesday (Nov. 13), UBIK Capital — along with fellow P-Reps ICONation, RHIZOME and Sharpn – announced ICON CORE, a developer-focused portal and toolset designed to improve the process of onboarding developers by providing a well-documented codebase for a variety of the ICON blockchain’s real-world applications in various programming languages. “Developers will have the opportunity to search by function what they want to accomplish and see different ways to accomplish those functions on ICON in different languages,” says Shirey. “We’re pretty excited about that.”
UBIK Capital’s contribution to the DApp ecosystem so far has been Breadcrmb, which was selected as a final winner in ICON’s Got Talent. The team will be announcing more DApp ideas in the next few weeks once the selection is narrowed down. In addition to developing in-house a couple of DApps in parallel, they also want to engage the community through GoICX, a program to accelerate worthy DApp ideas through resources, education and development assistance.
On the business development side, UBIK Capital is working to elevate the level of professionalism in the blockchain space — see their extended, 13-page P-Rep candidate proposal. The team recently partnered with Silicon Valley-based drone startup Aero Systems West to bring the benefits of the ICON blockchain to commercial drone operations. UBIK Capital is providing resources to assist in software development and ICON infrastructure, while ASW is providing drone software, hardware and flight testing support.
Trust through engagement
Shirey notes that UBIK Capital has been involved with ICON since 2017, actively engaging with ICONists through numerous channels. As P-Reps, they’ve paid their dues, participating in all three phases of the testnet. He says, “Though all the teams participating now generally have a high reliability rate for block production, I think it shows a lot of commitment on our part to the ICON network that we’ve participated from testnet one on, paying the node costs out of pocket and really helping ICON to develop and test the software before it went live to decentralization.”
He also says that teams must build trust. They should not only run nodes and produce, but also be involved in governance. He says, “We want to make sure we are a voice for the community, and ICONists need to make sure the P-Reps for whom they are voting pass proposals that are in the best interest of ICONists.”
Through good governance, ICON can take the steps it needs to grow. The transition to the decentralized mainnet demonstrated a few issues that could be addressed. “I think one of the items we want to address through governance is the fact that not all of the sub-P-Reps are running nodes,” says Shirey. “There are some sub-P-Reps who are just registered. Some of those may not have even submitted a proposal.”
“One of the minimum requirements should be that P-Reps run a node,” he continues. “Even if they don’t have the resources to run a main node, they can scale it down and for 50 to 100 bucks a month they can run a citizen node, which essentially keeps a full copy of the ledger. It helps for availability. When people need to read from the ledger, they can read from that node.”
Shirey thinks it might be a good idea to increase the number of main nodes from the current 22, at least in the long run. This would improve both security and availability. Short of increasing the main nodes, ICON could also consider providing a minimum reward to any P-Rep who runs a node. For instance, some top P-Reps could share some of their rewards with lower-ranked P-Reps. This would encourage more people to run nodes.
Bumps in the road aside. UBIK Capital expects decentralization to bring more and more users to ICON. “I think the decentralization of the network is going to make it much more attractive to external entities, be they business or government, because they now have a public chain that’s decentralized to build on and trust,” says Shirey. “Once we stabilize the network, I think there are going to be a lot more opportunities that come forth.”