What is ARK? | Beginner’s Guide
What is ARK?
ARK is a decentralized ecosystem designed to increase user adoption of blockchain technology. The ARK Crew, self-named development team, has outlined clearly in their whitepaper that they plan on bringing blockchain to the masses by building “A Fast Secure Core Technology” with “Practical Services for Real People”.
To put it simply, the ARK Crew is creating a sandbox ecosystem where businesses and other users can create their own blockchain from a clone of ARK in just a few clicks. To make this ecosystem as widely-accessible as possible, the Crew is focusing heavily on providing a good user experience and incorporating as many other blockchains and coding languages as possible.
In this ARK guide, I’m going to cover:
- How does it work?
- Delegated Proof-of-Stake
- Some ARK history
- Where to buy ARK
- Where to store ARK
- Delegate voting
- My opinion
- Additional resources
How does it work?
The ARK Crew is building several notable features into their ecosystem – all with the unified, underlying goal of making blockchain more accessible to the world:
- Alternative Programming Languages
- Push Button Deployable Blockchains
SmartBridges are used to “bridge” separate blockchains together through the ARK core platform. Basically, ARK becomes the intermediary between different chains allowing them to communicate with one another and trigger events across chains – something that isn’t currently possible.
Enabling SmartBridges on a chain is as easy as inserting a snippet of code that ARK provides.
Exchanges like Coinbase and Shapeshift also benefit from SmartBridges. These platforms can use encoded listeners to act as a medium for SmartBridge transactions while still charging their normal transaction fees.
With the integration of alternative programming languages, almost any developer can feel comfortable building on top of ARK. As of this writing, ARK already includes support for:
- TypeScript API
- Swift iOS
R, C, Advanced PowerShell, Rust, Kotlin, and C++ support will be available soon.
Push button deployable blockchains can be used to easily fork ARK and create your own project. These forks are perfect for start-ups and come with many of the existing ARK features out-of-the-box. Even better, chains deployed through this feature automatically have SmartBridges equipped.
ARK operates using a Delegated Proof-of-Stake (DPoS) consensus algorithm. Unlike Bitcoin, in which miners with expensive rigs secure network transactions, the ARK network is secured by delegates. There are hundreds of potential delegates, but token holders in the ARK ecosystem continuously vote on who actually gets to be an active, forging delegate. Only 51 delegates make the cut.
As a token holder, you’re only allowed to vote for one delegate at a time. The fee to vote/unvote is just 1 ARK, so it’s advantageous to at least vote once for a delegate you support. The more ARK tokens you own, the more powerful your vote.
Reputable delegates have written proposals in which they document how they will operate. Many of the popular ones include profit sharing from the rewards they receive when they forge new blocks. If you vote for a delegate with profit sharing, you effectively get dividends over time.
Other delegates are run with the intention to fund development projects giving voters an equity stake or provide services on applications that may be unprofitable otherwise. With your vote, the choice is entirely your own.
The ARK ecosystem was launched with 125 million ARK in the genesis (first) block. Delegates are awarded 2 ARK for each block that they forge, and a block is forged about every 8 seconds.
Assuming the 8 second block time doesn’t change, the scheduled inflation of ARK will be 6.31% in the first year, 5.93% in the second year, and will continue to decrease to 4.02% in the tenth year. This is a much less dramatic drop than both Lisk and Ethereum.
The 8-second block time puts ARK on the faster end of transaction times for cryptocurrencies. To put it in comparison, Bitcoin has 10-minute block times, Litecoin’s are 2.5 minutes, and Ethereum transactions typically take 14 seconds.
Current, the ARK network can process 25 transactions per block. The Crew has stated in the whitepaper, though, that they plan on making this more scalable. They’ll do this by lowering the block time and increasing the number of transactions that are in each block.
To send ARK, you have to pay a transaction fee of 0.1 ARK. This amount is going to change as the network grows and/or becomes more efficient. To register as a delegate, you need to pay 25 ARK and, as I mentioned earlier, casting a vote for a delegate currently costs 1 ARK.
However, with the next core update, these fees will be reduced to:
- Sending ARK: 0.01 ARK
- Voting/Unvoting: 0.02 ARK
- Registering a delegate: 10 ARK
All fees are paid to the forging delegate who processes the block containing those fees.
Some ARK history
ARK was launched in February of this year by 27 members spread across the world. With team members located everywhere from California to Bulgaria – the ARK Crew is truly decentralized. The team currently consists of 15 core members.
The ARK infrastructure is modeled heavily on that of three older projects: Bitshares, Crypti, and Lisk. In fact, some of the ARK developers were previously developers on some of those projects. Francois-Xavier (FX) Thoorens, the CTO, was a core developer at Lisk in 2016.
The primary similarity that ARK has with those previous projects is the use of the DPoS consensus algorithm.
The price of most cryptocurrencies is driven by product development milestones and strategic partnership announcements.
ARK is no different.
ARK has experienced a few major price increases since its lCO in 2016. The first price spike occurred when the development team released a library to provide Java support on the platform. Java is one of the most popular programming languages and the added support pleased numerous Java developers who were previously excluded from using the platform. There have also been smaller price increases with each additional language added.
The largest increase in the ARK token price coincided with two related events. In September, the ARK Crew released a desktop wallet update that fixed many of the bugs spotted by users. This updated also included a partnership with Ledger – one of the most popular and trusted hardware wallets available.
Where to buy ARK
Ark is primarily available on Bittrex and Binance as a trading pair with Bitcoin (BTC). There are other exchanges that support ARK, but their trade volumes are significantly lower than those two platforms.
You can check out the ARK website to see a full list of the exchanges where it’s listed.
Where to store ARK
The easiest place to store your ARK is in one of the wallets provided on their site. You have three options:
I almost exclusively use the Desktop Wallet. Out of all the coin specific wallets I’ve used, the ARK wallet is by far the best. Once again, my soft spot for good design gets the best of me. The wallet is sleek and provides a bunch of functionality without becoming cluttered.
I highly recommend that you vote for a delegate after sending your ARK from an exchange to the wallet. It only cost 1 ARK ($3.28 at the time of this writing). You can use your vote to support a delegate who’ll payout dividends from the block rewards or one who’s working on a cool project that you want to support.
Ledger recently announced that they will now be supporting ARK on their hardware wallets. With this support, you’ll be able to store your ARK tokens more securely offline while still being able to use the desktop wallet.
First, you need to transfer some ARK to your wallet. Send the ARK you purchased from an exchange to the public address listed in your wallet.
With at least 1 ARK in your wallet, navigate to the “Votes” tab. Next, click “Add Delegate”. In the “Add Delegate” pop-up, you have the option to choose one of the top 51 forging delegates or enter in another one you’d like to vote for.
After selecting a delegate, it should appear on your delegate list. Make sure the checkbox next to the delegate is checked, and click “Vote”.
The last thing you need to do is enter your passphrase and confirm your vote. That’s it. You’re free to remove your vote or vote for a different delegate whenever you want. You’ll still have to pay the 1 ARK fee each time, though.
I’m a huge believer in the ARK ecosystem and everything that the ARK team is attempting to build. I appreciate the clean and simple design of everything that they create. The Crew realizes that bringing a complex idea like blockchain technology to the public eye has to start with exemplary design.
If the ARK Crew is able to accomplish everything on their audacious roadmap, there’s no doubt that this ecosystem will be one of the most influential catalysts of blockchain technology adoption.
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