2018 has been exciting, momentous, and at the same time, challenging for me. As the year draws to a close, I am inspired to share my thoughts on the events that have so shaped us at ProximaX.
ProximaX 2018 in review
ProximaX was launched in early April concurrently with its fund raise, and the XPX token was issued in early June on the NEM blockchain. The following months thereafter, we experienced a steep growth curve in the development of the project. We developed a few applications including an enterprise collaboration tool - ProximaX Suite, a KYC solution on the ProximaX Sirius platform, built SDKs, contributed code to the NEM Catapult project, built a Catapult wallet and explorer, developed the Proof of Stake model based on the NXT project, and in November we launched our public testnet. I must say that ProximaX has a team of highly skilled developers who were able to change the code to suit our needs. More about that later.
From the onset, I have envisioned ProximaX to be an all-in-one solution, combining the Nem Catapult blockchain protocol with off-blockchain distributed service layers to provide the best of both blockchain and traditional SaaS worlds to our users and developers. This is realized in our core infrastructure solution ProximaX Sirius, designed to support enterprise grade applications.
Amidst all the development taking place, we closed a few deals to power some interesting solutions. Among them was the Ministry of Community Development (MOCD), UAE, where we developed a proof of concept within a record time of two weeks. The project was to develop a voting system, a notarization solution, and a collaboration solution. We are now working with MOCD towards a live roll out soon.
In addition, we also engaged enterprise customers and partners across the world in sectors as diverse as food & beverage, sports, medical diagnostics, human resource management, e-commerce and fashion. These customers and partners are using ProximaX for use cases such as supply chain management, KYC, file storage, authentication, payments and record management, demonstrating the extensive capabilities of our platform, even though we are still very early on in our journey.
Another great achievement was the successful development of a sophisticated e-money mobile application utilizing the ProximaX Sirius platform, that includes a distributed database solution. Because this was designed for both commercial use and also to handle fiat money, there were many things that needed to be considered, especially with respect to KYC and money laundering management. I believe that this is the first commercial grade mobile app with a comprehensive management solution using the all-powerful Catapult blockchain to manage transactions.
Initially, only 255 multisig accounts could be signed off at any one time, which posed a potential issue to the commercial viability of the app. However, the team came up with an algorithm to enable signing beyond 255 accounts to cater for billions of accounts, if so required, with no significant impact on transaction speed. This was an important leap forward in order for the app to be commercially viable. Preliminary tests showed that we could easily achieve 1500 multisig transactions per second (different from straight through transactions), which is good enough for mobile payments. In fact, we actually did not fully stress test this to the maximum as there was no urgency to do so. In any case, we believe we have a breakthrough solution to push multisig transactions and straight through (non-multisig) transactions even higher.
I am proud to have world class developers making changes to the core code for all the distributed technologies on our platform, including the NEM Catapult. Few know that we are collaborating closely with the NEM developers so that any update from either side will be recognized and merged systematically, where appropriate. Together, we have also produced a framework where variables, constants, and naming convention of the code are standardized. In my opinion, when it comes to extensive knowledge, code tweaking, and production deployment of the Catapult blockchain, we are to date, one of few outside the core developers of NEM that have this ability. Our team can quickly deploy a production quality ProximaX Sirius platform in a matter of days.
Since April, the ProximaX team has grown substantially and we are now over 30 strong, spread across Asia, Australia, North America and Europe.
A few words on NEM
Throughout this year, I have been asked many times if ProximaX was going to fork the NEM Catapult and if so, why we would do so. Before I answer that question, it is important to recognize one of the original intents of the NEM vision with regards to multichain interconnectivity. It has been documented that with the advent of the private chain, there was a need to be inclusive for all chains within NEM. One way to do this was to ensure cross-chain connectivity, regardless of whether the chain is private or public. In order for the ecosystem to persist, all chains whether private, public, amended, or augmented, should have a common framework and protocol for interconnectivity. ProximaX will be one such chain that is going to be augmented and amended, have its own ecosystem and will follow this common framework and protocol. A universe of meshed and interconnected systems shall thus exist simultaneously and integrated. And this is where the true power of NEM is, not merely a fork which is myopic.
Few understand this and many have misconstrued the existence of ProximaX. However, the NEM developers, original Tech Bureau leadership and a handful of people who share this vision are aware and know this ecosystem feature.
ProximaX is not a fork of the NEM NIS1 per se because it is not branching off midway from NEM’s blockchain height. It is using the NEM Catapult private chain version and converting it into a public chain testnet ahead of the NEM Catapult public chain roll-out. Its consensus mechanism is based on NXT Proof of Stake, for which, NEM core developers may or may not adopt, or may implement a variant, or may just implement an enhanced consensus mechanism of its current version. This shall be the prerogative of the NEM core developers.
ProximaX is incorporating a blockchain solution into our platform. We are also incorporating a distributed file management solution as well as a distributed database for the private chain. All these require code changes and plugins. Further, these plugins, SDKs, and technological changes are not in NEM’s interest as their focus is on the blockchain solution. All this makes ProximaX completely different to what a simple blockchain is and hence, we are in a different ball game.
Not many can appreciate how this works but instead quickly conclude that it is another competing chain. In the end, we can still have the atomic swap feature with the NEM Catapult main chain when they are ready. My prediction is that there will be many satellite chains that will coexist with the main NEM chain eventually.
ProximaX will be the first and most significant chain to coexist with NEM. It has always been my vision to grow this for NEM in the first place, i.e., to grow many satellites so that the entire NEM ecosystem will thrive, without which, NEM will not be able to differentiate itself from other blockchains. The Catapult was intentionally designed for that. Being at the core of the NEM team and having been involved in its design including smart assets (namespace/mosaic), my vision has always been the same, but I believe, with new leaderships this could be different with changed priorities. Inevitably all will realise that there will be multiple sub-ecosystems that will spring up and everyone has options to invest in any of these projects. The entire system must evolve and be dynamic. This is the roadmap that should have been. NEM as a core technology will be feature-rich with new functions put in place, but ecosystem players are the ones that will bring real value to the NEM project.
In all my 4 years with NEM, there has been a lot of talk with no significant real projects. The reason, it was hard to create any utility and neither was it easy to sell any solution to enterprises. The bespoke development cycle was long and arduous and required expert knowledge. When Catapult was launched earlier this year, it was time that something great was to be done. It has always been my intention to work on my own projects and leading NEM was not by choice, more so, it was a responsibility that I needed to do to grow NEM at that time.
In any case, my vision has always been crystal clear. I will continue to lead ProximaX on its journey to become a major player not just in the NEM ecosystem but in the industry as well.
Looking ahead to 2019
Developing a solution using any blockchain technology will require 2 major steps. The first step is to integrate a blockchain technology with various baseline components. Depending on how decentralized it is, these components such as storage and database could be centralized or otherwise. In either case, it requires heavy lifting and could take anywhere from six months to a year to complete, including tweaking the blockchain solution to suit. The second step is to develop the application. The application must integrate with these aforementioned base components which may not necessarily dovetail into it so easily. The failure rate can be quite high if poorly planned and there could be security risks in the solution.
With the ProximaX Sirius platform, we have essentially created the first step mentioned above as an infrastructure which is available through the use of the SDK. Consequently, one only needs to develop the application and not worry about the base blockchain powered infrastructure. This is ProximaX’s main value proposition against its competition – a working blockchain, a distributed file management, and a distributed database solution – an all-in-one solution. Eventually, we will also have a live streaming solution as part of the platform. The Ministry of Community Development of the UAE is a classic example of how this can be done within 2 weeks. More proof cases will come along in the near future. ProximaX has a solution that is designed for most blockchain projects. It is easy and simple, and has a low total cost of ownership. More importantly, it allows projects to go to market quickly. It is a given that ProximaX Sirius is the go-to platform when it comes to using the NEM blockchain, unless one decides to go bespoke and start from step one as mentioned above.
I like to end this message with my view on the crypto market this year. As we all know, most part of this year has been bearish. My conclusion from this outcome is that, the days for shills, pumps, and dumps are gone. The market has finally come to terms with this and people are getting smarter. In moving forward, I believe those projects that will survive this “crypto holocaust” are projects that have real utility. Almost all projects are currently speculative in nature and have no token economics and ecosystem to drive the demand of a crypto coin. Some of the top 20 coins are not even functioning when it comes to technology. Many of these existing projects and new projects will falter and struggle to survive. Less than 5% of all ICOs in the past will survive and most projects that fail will have created a lot of disappointments among investors. Moving into 2019 and beyond, I foresee this continuing to happen.
In all my years in this space, and for those who follow me, I have always been emphasizing on the development and promotion of the technology to various enterprises and governments rather than shilling. To truly add value and stay in the game, real world deliverables, not shilling is what is required. I have been envisioning a solution like ProximaX since 2014, but neither the market nor technology was ready then. We shall see great strides in the coming year for ProximaX. Our public chain is designed with token economics and ecosystem spawning (through private chains) in mind.
I have been incredibly proud of the team and the progress we have made in the 8 months since we started. We look forward to continue building with our existing partners and serving our clients as well as onboarding new ones. We have a strong pipeline of enterprises looking to use the ProximaX solution. We are not here to be ostentatious about our technological greatness, but rather to build a platform solution that will be widely adopted and form the basis of a sustainable business. Adoption, utility, and business sustainability remain core to what we do.
With this, I take this opportunity to wish you all a season’s greetings, all the best for the coming year, and most importantly, I thank you all for having interest in the ProximaX project. I look forward to taking you on an exciting 2019 and sharing more good news on ProximaX.
Onwards and upwards!