By Martine Paris, U.S. Reporter, The FinTech Times
TRON was the third top mover this past Monday with its cryptocurrency TRX jumping 5.03%, now the 9th largest cryptocurrency ranked by market capitalisation, according to ForbesCrypto Markets. This coming off the heels of its debut NiTron Summit, a developer conference held in San Francisco last week that impressed even the most skeptical in the EOS community.
TRON’s charismatic 28 year old CEO and founder, Justin Sun, took the stage during opening remarks proudly donning his BitTorrent hoodie and talking about how its recent acquisition of the legendary peer-to-peer network that pioneered distributed file sharing makes it the largest decentralised ecosystem in the world. In pursuit of BitTorrent’s 100 million monthly active users, with a drama that spanned the first half of last year, Sun beat out several other blockchains including Neo which, according to Coindesk, offered $170 million, nearly $50 million more than the $120 million bid from TRON. Both blockchains had similar market caps at the time (Neo at $1.5 billion, Tron at $1.6 billion) but Sun’s commitment to speed to market helped seal the deal.
In an emotionally charged moment during opening remarks, Sun talked about the tough times TRON suffered when the ICO ban came down in China on September 4, 2017 and how they were forced to move and start again in San Francisco. Sun said, “No matter how bad, we never give up.”
Sun is a Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur who launched Peiwo (China’s Snapchat), began his career at Ripple and was mentored by Alibaba founder Jack Ma. Variety pegged his TRX holdings over the summer at around $4.78 billion. Just watch the cinematic Tron trailer to see his marketing prowess at work. It might just be what consumer blockchain needs to get to mass adoption.
Focused on recruiting the next generation of blockchain developers to grow the TRON ecosystem, Sun’s hope is that by providing funding and user acquisition support through programs like its recent $1 million accelerator, TRON will become the platform of choice for developers.
There can only be one
Taking direct aim at EOS, Cong Li, Head of the Developer Community at TRON, presented a slide that simply said “#3” as he showed off data to support the claim that TRON is now the third largest developer community.
TRON’s style of blitz scaling, a popular business tactic in China, has been a lightning rod for controversy among blockchain developers since it came on the scene a year ago. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, accused Tron of outright plagiarising its white paper and many in the community continue to voice skepticism over TRON’s numbers.
Following the NiTron Summit, podcaster Dallas Rushing took a closer look at the stats of the two platforms and in his most recent video, “EOS v TRON: The Race To Mass Adoption” he provides valuable insights into the differences in wallet creation, transactions per second, and other key metrics.
Tokenisation of BitTorrent
The biggest news of the show was Sun announcing that TRON was moving forward with the tokenisation of BitTorrent.
The BitTorrent Token ($BTT) will become exclusively available on Binance Launchpad on January 28, 2019 at 7am PST excluding U.S., China and other restricted jurisdictions and then airdropped to TRX holders on February 11 with monthly airdrops continuing for the next six years. More details here and here. $BTT will allow BitTorrent clients to bid for, and earn in exchange for, allocation of upstream bandwidth, and then later used for purchasing content, tipping livestreaming performers, and crowdfunding the creation of new works once BitTorrent’s livestreaming feature launches which, according to Sun, could be some time in 2019 if everything goes as planned with BTT.
Justin Knoll, who oversees the BitTorrent integration aka Project Atlas, allayed concerns about those not wanting to participate in the new token economy by saying it was an optional extension. He explains more in this video.
Still some are questioning how BitTorrent will move forward in a world of the token haves and have nots.
I asked Pavan Katepalli, Solutions Architect at Consensys, if he thought the tokenisation of BitTorrent would work.
“I don’t think so,” he said, “because the users of torrents are using them because they don’t want to spend money, and the system has worked without any money entering in for 15 years. People share files for free. TRON should embrace the massive infrastructure that BitTorrent is and compete with AWS.” He added, “Tokens could incentivise people to share content that isn’t easily available, but they might as well buy it then or stream it. When I was a kid, I used to watch anime and I downloaded this entire series and I kept sharing it for a year because I wanted to help others watch it. That’s the kind of community BitTorrent has.”
Fred Krueger, an influential voice in the EOS community and Founder of EOS Lynx, a mobile cryptowallet, was a bit more optimistic. On his Facebook post titled, “A Few Thoughts on Tron and TRX” he wrote, “I am up here at the SF Tron summit … Tron has actually managed to build a dApp platform that works. Many of the same kind of apps that work on EOS work just fine on Tron. The BitTorrent acquisition *may* just work. Tron is going to give these 100MM monthly users tokens that can be used for priority service / better downloads etc. This is absolutely a legitimate idea and depending on the implementation it might actually get some uptake. Even a 1% uptake would make Tron bigger than EOS. I’ve learned over the years not to underestimate scrappy looking companies. Tron may very well implode, the BTT ploy may fail, etc… But they seem to be tapping into a completely orthogonal market to EOS and ETH and making real numbers. I would 100% keep a close eye on it.”
He added, “Funny thing at the conference, a lot of these users simply have not heard of EOS. Parallel universe.”
During the “Token Economics” presentation, Juliun Babon, co-founder of Sesameseed, a TRON Super Representative, announced that GRID Troncards with preloaded TRX were being distributed to attendees to use at a nearby Poppy pop-up shop. I didn’t have a chance to activate my card but I did have a chance to selfie with Justin Sun who was on hand to meet fans and show off how to use the card. Currently in private beta, GRID Troncard is being promoted as a way to buy, hold and spend TRX anonymously with interest on the balance, no fees, and a way to recover your TRX if lost or stolen. The Poppy POS allows retailers to process TRX payments similar to the way Bitpay enables retailers to accept Bitcoin in the form of a prepaid VISA card. This too could be another path to mass adoption.
Youtuber Ben Armstrong aka BitBoy shared his excitement over the announcements with me. “BTT was a nice surprise and I’m interested to see how they line up retailers for Poppy. Once Amazon and Walmart start accepting crypto, that will be a game changer.”