ICON and its partners have demonstrated a willingness and ability to push the technological envelope.
This is most apparent in its efforts to develop its signature Blockchain Transmission Protocol, or BTP, a potentially revolutionary interoperability protocol. BTP is in the late stages of development, and a “light” version — called ICON Bridge — has already been successfully field tested.
Just as importantly, ICONLOOP — ICON’s main technology partner — has a track record of successful collaboration with not only ICON, but also a wide range of high profile corporate and public actors, including national banks, national and provincial government agencies and top tier universities.
Any discussion of ICON’s technology should begin with Goloop, the network’s proprietary blockchain engine developed by ICONLOOP. ICON adopted Goloop when it moved to ICON 2.0 in 2021, when it replaced the previous “loopchain” engine, also developed by ICONLOOP and still actively employed by many of the company’s other private and public chains.
Goloop is a smart contract-enabled enterprise-grade blockchain software written in Go, Google’s open source programming language. Go is a popular choice in the blockchain community thanks to its speed, scalability and built-in features like concurrency and memory management.
Goloop goes even further, adding many unique features providing a secure, immutable and scalable environment to develop decentralized applications. Goloop also adopts a new data structure for storing blockchain data similar to Ethereum, namely, the Merkle Patricia Trie.
According to the ICON Foundation, the Goloop blockchain engine is capable of handling about 1300 transactions per second (tps), but the latest version of the network has pushed this closer to 9000 tps.
ICON Smart Contract
Formerly known as Smart Contract on Reliable Environment (SCORE) is ICON’s smart contract format. As in many other blockchain environments, smart contracts are the building blocks of decentralized applications, or DApps.
Since the adoption of Goloop, ICON Smart Contracts are written in Java. Java is a compiled language, which means that it executes much faster than the previous smart contract language, Python. Java is also safer as errors are caught prior to execution. In fact, since the adoption of Java smart contracts, developers no longer must submit their smart contracts to ICON for manual audits — instead, the contracts execute in the secure Java Virtual Machine.
Practically speaking, what this means is that developers can develop and deploy their services in a much faster, must safer fashion.
Arguably ICON’s most revolutionary piece of technology, the Blockchain Transmission Protocol, or BTP, a “chain-agnostic, scalable, and secure interoperability protocol.”
In layman’s terms, it provides a trustless way for different blockchain networks to exchange information and interact with one another. No longer will users have to put faith in middleman to move resources from one network to another — the transacting parties can do everything on their own.
The potential use cases for such a technology are virtually endless, and include:
- Transferring tokens from one blockchain network — without using a central trading platform like a cryptocurrency exchange — through smart contracts.
- Exchanging data between ICONLOOP-powered enterprise partners such as MyID or Broof.
- Transferring NFTs from network to network.
While the blockchain space offers plenty of interoperability solutions, most have to make painful trade-offs between cost, security, extensibility and speed.
BTP, on the other hand, overcomes these trade-offs by using low-cost, gas-efficient, on-chain “light clients.” Light clients query a destination blockchain node for specific transactions and blocks you’re interested in. In practical terms, this lets users access a blockchain without going through the time-consuming and expensive process of syncing an entire blockchain. This mean faster, cheaper and more scalable transactions.
BTP is in the final stages of development. A centralized “lite” version of the protocol, ICON Bridge, was field tested with much fanfare during the pre-sale of DeFi game Wonder Game in June of 2020. During the pre-sale, ICX holders used ICON Bridge to mint NFTs on the Harmony blockchain, one of the first instances of inter-chain NFT minting. Users almost universally described the experience as “smooth.”
When the full-version of BTP is released, ICON stands a very good chance of being the most interoperable network in the blockchain space.
ICON’s list of BTP partners already includes some of the world’s biggest blockchain networks, including the Polkadot family, BNB Chain, NEAR and Algorand (see full list of BTP partners in the ICON Team section above). This list is only expected to grow.
Indeed, the launch of BTP could spark a watershed moment in the growth of the ICON network, introducing countless new users through not only existing BTP partners, but also developers keen to take advantage of its unprecedented interoperability.
Learn more about BTP: https://icon.community/learn/btp/
Read the BTP Whitepaper: https://icon.community/assets/btp-litepaper.pdf
Another key part of ICON’s interoperability technology is the ICE network, ICON’s “extension network and EVM-compatible application hub of the ICON ecosystem built with Substrate SDK.”
Built using Substrate, the development framework that powers the Polkadot ecosystem, ICE aims to be a Polkadot parachain, i.e., a spoke in Polkadot’s hub-like architecture. In so doing, ICE aims to be a bridge between ICON and the vast Polkadot ecosystem, including Kusama, Chainlink, Acala and Moonbeam.
Simultaneously, it would also serve as a bridge between Polkadot and ICON’s broader network of BTP partners, including BNB Chain and Harmony.
That’s not all, however, ICE is also EVM and eWASM-compatible. In plain English, this lets ICE and SNOW bridge ICON and Ethereum.
This puts ICE — and by extension, ICON — in a very competitive position by providing practical alternatives for dApp developers seeking ways around Ethereum’s notoriously high gas fees.
ICONLOOP’s Proven Track Record
ICONLOOP is not only ICON’s chief technology partner, but also one of Korea’s top blockchain companies.
ICONLOOP provides full-stack solutions to clients, from customized token economies to blockchain networks optimized to a business’s needs. Indeed, its shed of technological tools includes:
- Decentralized IDs
- Custody solutions
- Interchain solutions
- Mainnet construction
- P2E gaming solutions
In keeping with global technological trends and political developments in South Korea, ICONLOOP has been moving away from purely enterprise solutions to general Web3 and digital asset services.
Most recently, this includes the unveiling of Parameta, a blockchain framework that lets anyone easily build customized blockchain networks. Paramata incorporates ICON’s BTP technology.
ICONLOOP’s long list of clients include major Korean public entities such as Seoul Metropolitan Government, Gangwon Provincial Government, Jeju Special Self-Governing Province and Korea’s National Election Commission.
Current South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol even visited ICONLOOP’s office during his political campaign, where he used ICON’s Craft Network NFT market to mint his own NFT.
ICONLOOP has also deployed solutions at some of Korea’s biggest corporate entities, including steel giant POSCO, major South Korean banks Shinhan Bank and NH Bank, and insurance giant Kyobo Life Insurance.
What this means is that unlike many blockchain projects, ICONLOOP — and to a large extent, ICON by extension — comes with an enviable network of potential clients and partners in the highest reaches of Korea’s political and business communities.