The highly-anticipated Project Infinity entered the execution stage of development this month under a cloud of scrutiny from disgruntled ex-employees. The NEX Group promised that Project Infinity would result in full blockchain integration and a streamlining of post-trade services into a single interoperable blockchain architecture. The concept was met with praise by the crypto community during its initial announcement, but that wave of support turned sour quickly following a round of firings.
Project Infinity first made headlines in May 2017. The platform’s developers sought to create a more secure and efficient trading platform for NEX users. NEX executives touted the blockchain integration as the evolution of the trading sector. And, the hype surrounding the project was massive.
Fast forward to today, and the project is now $31 million over budget, with little progress to show for it, except for the roar of ex-employees. If the rumors are true, this puts Project Infinity at the top of the list of most-costly blockchain integrations to date.
Like so many large-scale distributed ledger projects before it, the total costs of integrating a new blockchain system were underestimated. Recent reports coming from former employees claim that the plan was nothing short of a disaster. The sheer number of developers let go from the project seems to confirm these reports. Jenny Knott, the brains behind the operation of the project, was among those let go. In total, the NEX Group fired 90 percent of the development team.
Speculation surrounding the decision has created a rumor mill of theories. One of the most prevalent of these theories is that the firings were ordered to reduce costs before a potential sale of the company to the North America exchange giant CME for $5.5 billion. News of the possible sale of NEX Group to CME first emerged in March 2018 via a CNBC interview with NEX executive Michael Spencer. Reducing the project’s costs could help NEX Group look more favorable on paper to their potential buyers by increasing revenue.
The division of NEX responsible for the project’s success was Traiana. In a recent interview, the CEO of Traiana, Andreas Choussy, stated that the project was still alive and well. He spoke on the developments of the project before briefly touching on the subject of the mass firings. Choussy explained that the project was now in a live environment testing stage with the blockchain firm Axoni. He also confirmed the rumors that significant cutbacks occurred to the development team.
Axoni is a New York-based capital markets technology firm that provides businesses distributed ledger technology infrastructure. NEX Group was among a group of investors that recently joined a Series B funding campaign organized by Axoni. The confirmation that Project Infinity was now in the live testing stages with Axoni came as a surprise to many of the ex-staffers.
Axoni confirmed the development of the project. Engineers from the blockchain firm created privacy partitioning within the network via an internally constructed ledger and the use of different networks. Unlike Bitcoin’s blockchain, which operates under full transparency, traditional banking systems require permissible access to specific information.
Axoni developers stated that the project had achieved very high throughputs before the “politics” surrounding Infinity changed dramatically. He explained that the company began “preparing” for the CME acquisition by making things “look good.”
Cutbacks or Cancellation?
Many ex-employees now say that the term cutbacks is a gross understatement. A growing number of ex-employees have said the project quietly got canceled months ago. Entire departments involved in the project disappeared. The same report claims that NEX Group fired around 47 of the 50 developers.
Project Infinity’s shortcomings came to light once the concept gained enough momentum to become an official company project. This designation meant that the platform required numerous consultants, planners, and strategists to move forward. All of these individuals added significant cost to the overall project. Company officials now have a more directed approach to migrating NEX Group’s trading platform over to a blockchain-based model.
Project Infinity promised users the ultimate blockchain-based trading platform experience. Users were going to receive a combination of powerful trading tools and advanced data that would enable them to maximize their trading ROI. Among these functionalities was the use of advanced AI algorithms to reduce risk. Additionally, blockchain protocols would reduce overall operating costs.
NEX offered no official release date for Project Infinity, but now that the concept has entered live testing stages, you should expect the platform release by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see if NEX can turn this fiasco into a win over the coming months. One thing is for sure: there is a growing demand for blockchain-based machine learning platforms in the current market.
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