Antshares

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Antshares is an open-source blockchain platform and the predecessor to the NEO. Since the rebranding of Antshares to NEO, the historic Antshares project is now often referred to as NEO 1.0.

History

The Antshares project was founded as an open-source project, and opened a repository on GitHub in September of 2015. The project was designed to offer “digital tokens generated by e-contracts [that] function as general underlying data and [can] be used for recording rights and assets like equities, creditor’s claims, securities, financial contracts, credit points, bills and currencies.” These sort of financial transactions “could be applied for areas like equity crowdfunding, equity trading, employee stock ownership plans, P2P financing, credit points, funds and supply-chain finance.”[1]

Antshares was not designed to be a digital currency, but rather a blockchain protocol that aims to eliminate currency-related legal issues, as well as partner with banks and third-party payment providers. The “transfer and trade of equities on the Antshares is essentially an e-contract digitally signed by parties involved.” To curb concerns about enterprise and third-party partners losing their private keys in case of a faulty transaction, Antshares sought to provide an “asset-retrieving mechanism” developed to save assets inside an address that might’ve been lost. [2]

Antshares (ANS) coins provided partial ownership of the Antshare blockchain, which generated AntCoin (ANT) tokens to be used to develop applications/write onto the ledger. This is the same stake- and utility-token model NEO and GAS use in 2018.

On September 7th, 2016, Antshares closed its initial coin offering (ICO), which raised a total of 6,120.08 Bitcoin (BTC) from 1,493 participants; or, the equivalent of nearly $4 million USD.[3]

Digital Assets

In the ‘Antshares era,’ as Hongfei has stated, the blockchain was more focussed on digital assets, with less focus on smart contracts. NEO 1.0 (Antshares) sought to provide access to “digital assets for everyone,” and “build a financial system [to bridge] real-world assets.”

To transfer assets on Antshares, ‘e-contracts’ required both the sender and receiver to utilize private keys as digital signatures. Digital signatures provide transaction instructions and authentication information, which is bundled on the blockchain and stored on nodes. This authentication and storage removes the need for a trusted third party to validate sending and receiving parties.

Finality

The finality mechanism for Antshares was defined as “One Man Bookkeeping vs. Joint Bookkeeping.”

In One Man Bookkeeping, a single node performs the bookkeeping of a block, but other nodes might add transactions to the blockchain.

Joint Bookkeeping introduces the ‘weak trust’ concept, such as to believe that no major number (1/3 or more) of the bookkeeping nodes may act in a nefarious manner. This requires identity authentication of the controlling parties of the bookkeeping node to judge on their reputation and technological capacity. Should the nodes act in a nefarious manner, cryptographic evidence will be available for future investigation. This leads to the conclusion that Joint Bookkeeping is suited for public blockchain with identity information or for Consortium/Private blockchains.[4]

Bookkeeping Nodes

Full (bookkeeping) nodes were designed to store the entirety of a blockchain - even after its data is large after years of use and attached data - and in reaching consensus and building new blocks. Full node operators were to act as service providers, that store complete historical data; whereas individual users could access the network with their own web browser or mobile application. As Antshares adopted a weak-trust-based Joint Bookkeeping methodology, the digital signatures of the bookkeeping nodes are included in blocks. Users do not have to download full historical data to verify the current block.[5]

Consensus Mechanism

The Antshares consensus mechanism was built to account for the weak-trust; it had low-latency (high volume of data messages with minimal delay) and high-throughput (the amount of computing resources dedicated to accomplishing a computational task). At the time, the latency was set at 15 seconds to generate a block, and a bandwidth of 100 megabytes per transaction. This meant with external cryptographic computing hardware, “the Antshares Blockchain was capable of handling thousands, if not tens of thousands, of transactions per second.” [6] The consensus mechanism utilized to begin building toward thousands of transactions per second is delegated Byzantaine Fault Tolerance (dBFT).[7]

Use Cases

Application scenarios envisioned of the Antshares whitepaper included crowdfunding and trading of stock equities, credit point management, supply chain finance, and employee stock ownership programs (ESOP) and cap table management.

Crowdfunding

The Antshares platform sought to allow companies to launch their own funding campaigns, which would provide companies the opportunity to register the ‘stock equities’ on the Antshares blockchain and issue them to the investors. “With Antshares, start-ups could acquire a market evaluation and liquidity of their equities while the users are granted with an exit mechanism, which is the pain point of stock equity crowdfunding.”

Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP)

Blockchain-based ESOP programs would aim to remove the single-point, that if the server is hacked, the equity and data of client companies have been compromised. The Smart Contract functionality was designed to provide companies with flexible control over equity transfers, limits on stock equities that can only be held by designated employees or investors, or the establishment of limits on a number of equities that are transferable or tradable.

Credit Point Management

Antshares-registered claims became transferrable, eligible for mortgages, and even programmable.” Antshares was deisgned to make long-term claims, without worrying about emergency monetization. For example, long-term bonds could be monetized under discount, or even mortgaged.

Supply Chain Finance

Supply chain finance is a culmination of a set of solutions businesses utilize to lengthen payment terms to their suppliers, while creating options to pay their large or small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) early.[8] This can include multiple types of business uses that include factoring, trade finance, warehouse receipt finance, accounts receivable finance to corporate notes and credit financing in the supply chain. Blockchain-based solutions can provide cost-efficient solutions for “participant verification, transaction validation, timeliness validation, bank due diligence and corporate financing documentation.”

Token Distribution Model

The Antshares platform built two assets into the blockchain: Antshares (ANS) and AntCoins (ANT). ANS stakeholder-token model was adopted so coin holders could vote in elections, bookkeeping, and generating dividends (for holding ANT). Whereas ANT utility-tokens were to be utilized to pay for system process fees.

A total of 100,000,000 Antshares coins were created at the genesis block, with no plans to alternate the amount of coins created. Each ANS coin was made to be indivisible, which meant no coin could be less than the value of 1.

100 million AntCoins were coded to be generated at the onset of every new block. However, since block generation would slowly decrease in pace over time, ANT generation would take 22 years from start, to token number 100,000,000. Using a predictive model to establish how long blocks would take to generate in the future, 16% of ANC would be created in Year One, 52% created by Year Four, and 80% created by Year 12.

Distribution plan for ANS coins:

  • 10% provided to the early supporters of Antshares
  • 17% for participants of the first ICO round
  • 23% for participants of the second ICO round
  • 50% to be held by the Antshares team, locked for the first year, then later to be used on projects in the Antshares ecosystem