Transactions, contracts, and their records are vital structures in today’s financial, political and legal systems. They safeguard an organisation’s assets and set boundaries. They establish, verify identities and record organisations’ events. They govern interactions between individuals, companies, communities, and countries. They also guide both decision-making processes and drive social action.
In the past, these crucial tools were not maintained up-to-date with the expanding economies despite the digital transformation that was unveiled by the Internet. Transactions, contracts and records operated much like rush-hour snarl-ups trapping a Formula 1 car.
2008 marked a turning point in so far as these structures could be stored. The launch of Bitcoin and its underlying Blockchain technology promised to solve this challenge. For the first time, the double spending problem—which had been a vexing problem for decades—was addressed by Bitcoin’s Blockchain.
As an open, peer-to-peer (P2P), DLT (distributed ledger technology), Blockchain can record transactions between two parties in a transparent, provable and non-forgeable mode. Because Blockchain is decentralised, mediators such as government agencies, banks, lawyers are no longer necessary when managing transactions and contracts.
The release of Ethereum in 2015 was revolutionary. It created a world where any industrial problem—from finance to voting—can be coded in a smart contract and stored as a shared ledger in a transparent, immutable and secure manner. Today, virtual currencies like bitcoins (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) are going more and more mainstream.
While current public Blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have ushered in a trustless economy where any sectorial problem can be coded as a smart contract, their initial design was not meant for widespread adoption and use. The core philosophy surrounding these Blockchains is that they could only provide two of the following: scalability, decentralisation, and security.
This trilemma has been a major challenge for most public Blockchains who want to uphold the core tenets of Blockchain. For these Blockchains to compete with more mainstream platforms such as PayPal, Visa and MasterCard, they must scale up the transaction times.
Whereas Visa can manage 1667 tps (transactions per second), PayPal can handle 193 tps; Bitcoin can only achieve 7 tps while Ethereum can handle 20 tps. The only way that transactions per second can be enhanced is if these Blockchains work on their scalability.
That is where Cypherium comes in.
What is Cypherium?
In an attempt to process transactions and contracts faster, efficient and cheaper, Cypherium was unveiled. Scalability challenges in the Blockchains can be grouped into two categories:
- The time taken for the transaction to be validated and successfully stored on the block; and
- The time it takes for the autonomous nodes to reach consensus
Cypherium is a permission-less and highly scalable hybrid Blockchain based Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) consensus. Cypherium Blockchain focusses on consensus as a scalability issue due to physical and human factors, malicious attacks and downtimes in distributed systems.
For instance, when two nodes have conflicting block records, a fork may occur resulting in double spending. If A contains a transaction nor found on B, then it becomes difficult to determine whether the transaction is valid or not. To address this challenge, Blockchain demands every node to follow the exact protocol in an attempt to synchronise their states.
At present, most Blockchain consensus mechanisms include the Proof-of-Work (PoW), Proof-of-Stake (PoS) and Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT). Cypherium Blockchain is based on PoW and BFT consensus which helps it to achieve decentralisation, scalability and commercialisation practicability.
PoW—the underlying consensus algorithm in Bitcoin—was invented as an anti-spamming technique (to prevent the “Sybil attack”, where an attacker can generate millions of false nodes to substitute with genuine ones). It requires a difficult-to-obtain, while easy-to-confirm hash value to be found by a miner before peers accept it on the platform.
The consensus is achieved via repeated computations of the block header until a hash less which is less than a threshold difficulty is found. All the nodes will consider the Blockchain having the most recent PoW to be the “genuine” chain.
To take over and control the Blockchain, the attacker must obtain more than 51% of the total computing power, a process that is expensive for miners as a result of the intensive path-breaking processes involved. To date, PoW is still one of the most foolproof and permission-less algorithms.
However, because of the intensive nature of transactions validations, PoW in Bitcoin can only generate a block (a maximum size of 1MB) after every 10 minutes which is slow compared to Visa and PayPal.
Ethereum’s PoW algorithm is different from that of Bitcoin in the sense that it allows faster block times and is more resistant to mining centralisation. However, in an attempt to scale the transactions, Ethereum is planning to shift to PoS algorithm (commonly known as Casper) which does not require specialised mining hardware.
PoS uses deposits of virtual currencies to generate the same level of disincentives rather than real-world investments like hardware in PoW.
PoS has turned out to be far less secure than PoW since any node in the network can initiate a nothing-at-stake attack by signing several Blockchain transaction histories. Also, if stakeholders conspire or are taken down by attackers or any authority, the entire network will go down as well.
How is Cypherium’s consensus unique?
Cypherium Blockchain highly scalable hybrid platform based on PoW and Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT) consensus algorithms. In Cypherium consensus, nodes communicate with each other via RPC (remote procedure calls), where the messages can be received in different order.
The consensus algorithm requires chronological order, meaning the order of execution must be consistent. To manage the total order of messages received, each round of confirmation incorporates a three-phase communication:
- Prepare; and
When a leader node obtains a request from the client, it multicasts PRE-PREPARE information that has the client message to all the miners (incumbent validators) and wait for their response.
The incumbent validator confirms the transaction and multicasts a PREPARE message to all the validators. If a two-thirds majority of a quorum is achieved, then the leader node broadcasts a message to all the nodes for the process to proceed to the voting stage. During voting, a validator can generate three possible responses:
- The node validates the transaction;
- The node refuses to approve the transaction; and
- The node does not respond and the process timeouts.
After the prepare phase, validator multicasts a COMMIT information to all the validators. Again a two-thirds majority the validators must participate. If a block obtains more than two-thirds approval from validators, it is committed to the Blockchain and broadcasted to all the nodes.
Cypherium’s algorithm offers unparalleled transaction while leveraging an ASIC-resistant PoW consensus for decentralised node election. By offering basic building blocks for developers to implement ground-breaking apps, and an intuitive GUI for users to access the functionalities, Cypherium aims to be the future of Blockchain technology for large scale commercial and scalable apps.
 “The Truth About Blockchain,” accessed August 18, 2018, https://hbr.org/2017/01/the-truth-about-blockchain.
 “Double-Spending Problem. All about Cryptocurrency – Bitcoin Wiki,” accessed August 18, 2018, https://en.bitcoinwiki.org/wiki/Double-spending.
 “Breaking Down the Blockchain Scalability Trilemma – Bitcoinist.Com,” accessed August 18, 2018, https://bitcoinist.com/breaking-down-the-scalability-trilemma/.
 “Bitcoin and Ethereum vs Visa and PayPal – Transactions per Second,” Altcoin Today (blog), April 22, 2017, https://altcointoday.com/bitcoin-ethereum-vs-visa-paypal-transactions-per-second/.
 Ehab Zaghloul, “Beginners Guide on Blockchain Security Attacks Part 1 — Network,” Medium (blog), July 12, 2018, https://medium.com/zkcapital/beginners-guide-on-blockchain-security-attacks-part-1-network-ca4e74435723.
 “Casper: What Will the Upgrade Bring to the Ethereum’s Network?,” Cointelegraph, May 16, 2018, https://cointelegraph.com/news/casper-what-is-known-about-the-new-ethereums-network-upgrade.