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ICON is a scalable smart contract enabled blockchain platform with an innovative consensus mechanism, decentralized governance structure, and a focus on interoperability between enterprise and public blockchains.
As a brief overview of the technical details: ICON has smart contracts known as SCOREs that are written in Python, an enhanced BFT (Byzantine Fault Tolerance) based algorithm known as Loop Fault Tolerance (LFT), a governance mechanism known as Delegated Proof of Contribution (DPoC) to reward those that contribute most to the ICON Network, and a concept known as “Virtual Step” allowing SCORE operators to cover user transaction fees.
ICON will run on a decentralized, permissioned network of nodes. Additional nodes can be added via a vote of the existing nodes. The nodes are selected through measuring their I_Score, which is a metric that quantifies one’s contribution to the network via the ICON Incentives Scoring System (IISS).
Those with the top I_Scores will have permission to participate in consensus. Consensus is needed for any change to the “state” of the ICON blockchain, which includes, but is not limited to: Transactions of the native blockchain currency (ICX), execution of SCOREs (smart contracts on ICON), ownership of ICON-based tokens (IRC2 & IRC3 tokens), I_Score delegations, network upgrades, and network policy changes.
ICON aims to solve the issue of “walled gardens” in the enterprise blockchain space. ICON works closely with an enterprise blockchain-as-a-service firm called ICONLOOP. ICONLOOP has a number of clients in the Korean enterprise space, and such clients expressed interest in being able to communicate between networks given certain circumstances. Thus, the ICON Project was born to act as a bridge between various implementations of the enterprise solution, while also providing the benefits of a general purpose, smart contract enabled, public blockchain platform.
Key differentiating features of ICON worth highlighting are Virtual Step, Delegated Proof of Contribution, and Interoperability
Network fees incurred on the ICON Public Blockchain are referred to as Step. On most other blockchain platforms with network fees, the fee is incurred by the sender of the transaction. ICON, however, introduces a concept known as Virtual Step.
Virtual Step allows an ICON smart contract developer to deposit ICX (the native protocol token on the ICON Blockchain) into the smart contract and earn non-transferrable, non-tradeable interest on the deposit. This interest has the sole purpose of covering transaction fees associated with interacting with the respective smart contract. Developers can set a fee-share percentage, anywhere from 0%-100%, for those that interact with the contract. This can enhance the user experience significantly, as users of the app will not be responsible for paying transaction fees.
More information on Virtual Step can be found in our Transaction Fee Yellow Paper.
DPoC is a way to skew the governance of the platform and distribution of rewards toward those that contribute most to the network. Contribution to the network is quantified through the ICON Incentives Scoring System (IISS). Rather than having control of the network in the hands of those with the most hashing power (Proof of Work) or those with the most wealth (Proof of Stake), DPoC will likely result in developers having more control over the network.
More information regarding DPoC can be found in our Governance Yellow Paper.
The ICON Team has dedicated significant resources towards R&D for interoperability between enterprise and public blockchains, with a long term version of connecting many heterogeneous public blockchains. Building your application on the ICON Blockchain ensures that any network connected to the ICON Public Blockchain will have access.