Disclaimer: I am owner of ARK and may be a bit biased when it comes to my view on the project.

The blockchain industry is full of blockchain platforms which are aiming to improve the known technology through researching new concepts, combinating already known concepts and adapting them, to form new ways to solve different problems. 

A blockchain platform itself enables developers to create their own applications ran by smart contracts or even to create their own sidechain in a specific ecosystem. While Ethereum is still the biggest blockchain platform in terms of market capitalization and usage (most decentralized applications are running on Ethereum) there are other ones who tend to be more or less unknown to a lot of people. 

One of those unknown ones is the ARK blockchain platform. It’s mainnet already launched in March 2017, followed by a big run on the ARK coin in the famous altseason, afterwards followed by a huge downwards movement as most other projects as well. 

In this article I am presenting you my review of the ARK project. To do this we will run through certain sub-categories of fundamentally important informations one should consider when doing an analysis on ARK.

Key Figures

Price0.00004939 (ATH 100k sat+)
SupplyCirc: 122,240,053 Total: 150,710,950
Marketcap51,000,000 USD
Development statusWorking product
Org. StrukturCentralized
Open SourceYes
Consensus MechanismDelegated Proof of Stake
AlgorithmDPoS
Hardware-WalletYes
ExchangesBinance, Upbit, Okex, Bittrex & more

Idea

One of the main issues with blockchain technology nowadays is that it is not made for the average user. Many people lack technical knowledge, in other cases it is simply due to a badly thought-out UX that blockchain solutions have not been very popular so far. 

ARK wants to empower everyone to quickly and easily leverage blockchain and use the potential advantages of this new technology. To do this, ARK worked on a solution which enables developers to create and deploy standalone blockchains for any use case via the ARK deployer. 

They aim for the most important goals in this space: Not just making the usage of blockchain easy for everyone, but to make sure THAT it can be used by everyone. There are two major problems for all blockchain platforms: 

At first the problem of (missing) interoperability between different blockchains, limiting the network effects of which all platforms could potentially benefit. And second, the lack of speed and scalability. Current blockchain solutions are simply not ready yet for mass adaption as the usage would cause a breakdown of most blockchain networks. 

ARK is tackling the first problem with the so called “ARK SmartBridge”. It is ARK’s way to interoperate between ARK and other blockchains. The own blockchain operates its smart contracts with the “ARK Logic”, which should in theory make the ARK platform way more scalable than those of competitors.

My take: The goals to make blockchains easier to use for both, developers and users, are understandable. While it makes sense to achieve them I have to say that ARK is just one out of several dozens players who all want to achieve the same. Easy to use, blockchain-as-a-service, fast, high scalable – this is what every project wants to achieve. However: ARK is already around since 2016, has a strong team and developed its platform through the bear market. 

Technology

Mainnet

The ARK mainnet is online since March, 21st, 2017 and launched the v2 on November, 28th, 2018. It operates under a MIT OSS license and is open source. The consensus mechanism is dPoS (delegated Proof-of-Stake) with 51 delegated nodes in the network. 

The ARK coin which is used as a cryptocurrency as well, represents a vote for decisions within the network, too. Each ARK held represents one vote. 125 Million ARK were created in the genesis block. 

Fast transactions are enabled through a 8 second block time and a dynamic fee model which puts single delegates in competition with each other. 

My take: As in competing projects, the degree of decentralization in ARK was reduced in favor of performance. While this is understandable, not everybody likes this fact in context of a “true” project on the blockchain. However, right now there are no other ways when you want to build a high-functional blockchain platform that is able to scale. 

ARK Core

“ARK Core” is the fundament of the ARK blockchain ecosystem. The codebase is lightweight but still powerful. It is using a modular architecture, is authored in TypeScript and offers various transaction types: 

Transfer, Second Signature Registration, Delegate Registration, Vote & Unvote, Timelock, Multipayments, Delegate Resignation, IPFS, Business Registration, Bridgechain Registration 

ARK Core is also ready for multi signatures and Schnorr signatures which were already proposed in a paper back in 2018 (https://eprint.iacr.org/2018/068.pdf). It is probably  the first multi-signature scheme provably secure in the plain public-key model which allows key aggregation:

“We propose a new Schnorr-based multi-signature scheme which can be seen as a variant of the BN scheme allowing key aggregation in the plain public-key model. Our scheme has three rounds, the first two being exactly the same as in BN. However, we change the way the challenges ci are computed from ci = H(hLi, Xi , R, m) to ci = Hagg(hLi, Xi) · Hsig(X, R, m e”

My take: That the ARK team is going for adding multi-signatures and even Schnorr-signatures shows that they are looking to develop ARK as sustainable as possible. ARK is one of the first projects which combines both concepts. 

ARK Logic

As all new technologies, blockchain technologies growth isn’t predictable to 100%. There are several limitations of the first blockchains, when it comes to scalability, or the architecture of smart contracts itself. ARK is tackling those problems, like a lot of other projects but managed to make progress over quite a time now. The SmartBridge technology increases the flexibility and scalability in a significant way already. The fact that we are talking about a modular architecture with an own marketplace for (premium) plugins makes clear that potentially a lot of use cases are covered. 

“By developing a plugin, users are able to draw on the expressive capability of common programming languages to develop tables, storage options, Web servers, GUIs, and more, all on top of ARK Core technology.” – https://whitepaper.ark.io/ark-logic 

The focus is really on building a huge developer base which consists of blockchain enthusiasts as well as enterprises who can market their services via the ARK ecosystem.

ARK’s Platform SDK

Recently ARK announced the PlatformSDK, an all-in-one toolbox for developers who can use it to build applications in the ARK ecosystem while being able to interact with other blockchains. It is the way for creators to interact with the ARK blockchain: Obtaining information about blocks, transactions and wallets, managing and broadcasting transactions. The SDK supports networks such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, EOS & NEO. In the near future there should be support for Cardano (ADA) and Monero (XMR), too. 

ARK plans to develop this SDK further as the mention various points they want to achieve in the future: 

  1. JSON-RPC 2.0 Specification
  2. Specification document and cheat sheet
  3. Dedicated Documentation
  4. Support for more coins and networks

On this way ARK aims to be kind of a standard library. Services and developers could then be able to build applications and blockchain solutions on ARK and distribute them to other networks through the ARK SDK.

My take: Interoperability between different networks is more important than ever nowadays. The total user numbers of blockchain applications is still small, but growing. However, it makes no sense to fall for tribalism and see every blockchain as a closed unit which is not accessible for other chains, too.

ARK Coin

ARK Coin is the cryptocurrency of the ARK ecosystem. Delegates who deploy services on the ARK blockchain that can either award or accept ARK. Moreover it is a payment method for the plugin marketplace. The plugin marketplace makes it possible for businesses and third parties to license their own created premium plugins. Besides the payment in the plugin marketplace it can be used at the “Delegate and Talent Marketplace” as well. 

Roadmap 

Q3 2020

  • ARK Core v3.0 Development (adding new features and improvements, 61% progress)
  • Magistrate 2.0 (saving data through IPFS, 70% progress)

Q4 2020

  • ARK Mobile Wallet Refresh (Beta Release, 46% progress)
  • Deployer (Beta Release, 88% progress)
  • MarketSquare.io (Beta, 84% progress) 
  • ARK Core v3.0 (Public Testing, 34%)
  • ARK Desktop Wallet Refresh (Beta Release, 40%) 
  • ARK Core Node Manager (Beta, 16%) 

In the following years ARK names to main goals so far on their roadmap, the Atomic Swap Market and the Core Consensus & P2P Update. The Atomic Swap Market is planned to act as a solution for swapping tokens within the ARK ecosystem/via bridgechains.  The specifications for this have to be written yet, same goes for the core consensus & P2P update which would come with a completely new consensus algorithm for ARK: 

A completely new consensus algorithm for ARK to strengthen the key components of the Core, written from the ground-up and inspired by Tendermint BFT. In this initial phase we will prepare full ARK improvement proposal, get input from wider community and come up with final design that will be implemented in the next phase.”

My take: We all already know, plans can change suddenly, so we will have to see what the upcoming years are bringing. Even more important than technological progress for projects like ARK is the ability to pull actual business who are using the platform for their solutions which are used then by users worldwide. 

Partnerships/Use Cases

When it comes to ARK I have to say that I didn’t watched it for a longer time since its (price wise) downfall back in the days. But it is really a living project, just a fery few heard about it. Meanwhile ARK was working through the bear market and e.g. founded “Protokol.com” last year. It is an enterprise blockchain services provider that plans to onboard organizations worldwide to use the ARK ecosystem for specific solutions. The full launch of Protokol is planned for Q4 2020. 

This should increase the number of dApps and BaaS-solutions built in the ARK ecosystem significantly. 

https://blog.ark.io/ark-launches-protokol-our-new-enterprise-blockchain-services-provider-a626390f5733

Team

The team isn’t located at one specific place but rather sitting in different countries on the whole world. The team members are from the US, UK, France, Spain, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Finland, Bulgaria, Ukraine and others. ARK is incorporated in France and has a SCIC company there. 

14 Developer, 3 Designer, 3 Communication Team, 4 Protokol Team, 2 Advisorstw

Francois Thoorens (Co-Founder, Head of Development)

The Co-Founder and Head of Development is Francois Thoorens. His skills reach from building information systems to project management to being a full-stack developer. Besides his work for ARK he is involved in Donatio, an innovative way to manage donations for charities and VenturaCare, a solution to manage clinical trials on cancer. Back in the days he was one of the developers of the SAR images analysis platform dedicated to maritime surveillance, used by EU, NATO, ESA.

Matthew Cox (Co-Founder and Chief Strategist Officer)

Matthew is a Co-Founder of ARK as well, taking the role as CSO (Chief Strategist Officer). Before he started to work on the ARK ecosystem he spent 17 years at the United States Department of Defense as a Intelligence & Cybersecurity analyst. He was also involved as Communications Director at Crypti, a Javascript blockchain platform that was the fundament for following ones like Lisk and ARK. 

Conclusion: ARK – One Blockchain Platform to Watch Further

I am convinced that we will hear even more from ARK. Granted, it was really very quiet around the project. But as I noticed, they were always working. Something you can’t say about every crypto project. You have to accept the lack of decentralization if you want a scalable block chain solution. Let’s see what happens with the DLT and block chain platforms! I will continue to observe ARK!

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