Algorand: The Year 2019 in Review

It has been an exciting year for blockchain technology. With new technical developments, better regulation, and established businesses beginning to adopt, it feels like blockchain is moving forward from being an experimental technology to creating tangible enterprise solutions. One of the most ambitious blockchain projects this year was Algorand. Let’s review some of the milestones Algorand took, both on the technology and business side.

Technical Development

Algorand aims to provide cutting edge blockchain functionality and cryptographic security. This can be exemplified by their contributions to international research. Algorand uses the BLS signature scheme, which can be used to aggregate and compress signatures within a single block together, thus enabling more transactions to be included with the same block size. In order to make this technology available for the public, Algorand has submitted a standard draft to the Internet Engineering Task Force in February and released their BLS library in November.

To further reduce storage and bootstrapping costs, Algorand uses a cryptocurrency design called Vault, which they presented at the Network and Distributed Systems Security Symposium. With their expertise in distributed systems security, one of the core principles of Algorand is that their blockchain never forks. In cooperation with Runtime Verification Inc., it was possible to formally prove this.

A well known problem in cryptography is that quantum computers may at some point become able to easily break current encryption schemes. In order to safeguard against this, the National Institute of Standards and Technology has announced a competition for post-quantum cryptography. Algorand has submitted a total of four out of the 26 algorithms that were selected for the second round of the competition in early 2019.

Finally, Algorand has released their 2.0 protocol update last month. The update adds a rich set of Layer 1 features, such as atomic transfers and the ability to create standardized tokens. With smart contracts at Layer 1, many primitive smart contract functions can be directly performed at blockchain level, without having to develop a smart contract in the first place.

Partnerships and Business Development

Following the mainnet launch, Algorand has put heavy emphasis on closing key partnerships and extending their ecosystem. In June, OTOY and Syncsort joined the ecosystem as high-value members. At around the same time, Flipside Crypto became a partner. Flipside’s analytics suite provides valuable insights for DApps developing on the Algorand blockchain. In December, the Italian Society of Authors and Publishers, SIAE, partnered up with Algorand in order to develop a decentralized copyright management solution.

In September, IDEX has selected Algorand as a platform to build a Next-Generation decentralized exchange on. Furthermore, PureStake has started providing infrastructure support in the form of APIs-as-a-Service that let developers interact with the Algorand blockchain without having to set up a full node. Other projects that joined the Algorand ecosystem this year are AssetBlock, Securitize, Bleumi, and Randlabs. In order to onboard more projects, the Algorand VC Fund went into operation. In cooperation with various VC companies, a total of $200 Million has been allocated to the fund.

Aside from that, Algorand has established many fruitful academic partnerships, for example with the Blockchain Education Network, which supports over 60 student-led blockchain clubs in campuses around the world. In June, the Algorand Foundation started the Global University Program, connecting Algorand with academies worldwide. The 10 founding members of the University Program include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Peking University, the Sapienza University of Rome, and Tel Aviv University. Furthermore, Algorand became a member of the International Swaps and Derivatives Association.

Algorand got promoted at various physical events this year. After hosting a series of events in Australia as part of their Launch Tour, Algorand was present at Shanghai Blockchain Week and San Francisco Blockchain Week.

Conclusion

Algorand has achieved an outstanding development throughout the year 2019. After their mainnet launch in June, Algorand has released the first major protocol update only a few months later, bringing various Layer 1 features. This, along with Algorand’s research contributions, shows that the developers are committed to staying a state of the art Layer 1 blockchain project for years to come. Besides a well-rounded ecosystem with large enterprise players and a VC fund with a $200 Million endowment, Algorand has an extensive academic network to universities and student groups worldwide.