Even though mainstream adoption has not yet arrived, there is no shortage of active blockchain projects. As of right now, there are 2081 cryptocurrencies listed on CoinMarketCap. And that’s only taking into account projects with their own cryptocurrency.
The lack of interoperability between all these different networks will eventually prove to be a roadblock. This roadblock may stand in the way of blockchain reaching the masses. It’s also what Wanchain is looking to address, and the reason the project has some very excited.
So what is Wanchain? Imagine networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum are their own private islands. Wanchain is the bridge between these islands.
If you’ve been into crypto and blockchain for any length of time, you might have experienced how fragmented the landscape is. You need a dozen different wallets and you need to use a bunch of different exchanges. Practical use of cryptocurrency, whether as utility tokens or for regular purchases, is an even bigger problem.
Wanchain presents a way to do transfers between different blockchains or distributed ledgers. At its bare bones, it’s a DEX (decentralized exchange) protocol. A way for someone to exchange Bitcoin for Ethereum, without needing to find someone willing to swap their Ethereum for your Bitcoin.
The value proposition of Wanchain extends past crypto swaps. It is also designed to facilitate the exchange of data between different ledgers. This raises much more significant implications for what Wanchain can do.
If successful (they need to be able to solve the age-old problems of scalability/security/privacy), it could allow apps or programs built on different blockchains to communicate with each other. The result is a blockchain ecosystem that, instead of existing in bits and pieces, is all linked together in a way that makes it easy for the world to adopt.
A Background to Wanchain
The project was created by Chinese tech company Wanglu Tech. It’s now run by the non-profit Wanchain Foundation. The network itself is a fork of the Ethereum code.
The foundation ran an ICO that completed in October 2017, raising more than 120,000 ETH. They launched the Wanchain mainnet at the beginning of 2018, converting the ERC-20 tokens distributed in the token sale to native WAN tokens.
The development roadmap of Wanchain has several phases. Wanchain 1.0 – the mainnet release – came in January 2018. Wanchain 2.0 landed in mid-2018, and brought operability between the Wanchain network and Ethereum. Wanchain 3.0 plans the same for Bitcoin.
In 2017 Wanchain became part of the Blockchain Interoperability Alliance, alongside ICON and Aion. The group is an attempt to pull together to promote cross-chain transactions and connectivity between different chains. Each project is bringing this focus to a different area of the world, with Wanchain focused on the Chinese market.
Wanchain Use Cases
One of the biggest positives about Wanchain is that it offers an almost limitless number of potential use cases. As it pushes operability between networks, as opposed to targeting one use case, in particular, Wanchain’s potential is as high as that of blockchain itself.
The Wanchain Foundation Medium account outlines several example use cases:
The easiest way we can see Wanchain implemented is to enable cross-chain transacting and exchange of different coins. If mainstream use of cryptocurrency ramps up, there could be an issue with needing 50 different coins for 50 different services. Imagine – you go out in the morning and pay for your coffee with Bitcoin. Then you pay for gas with Litecoin. When it’s time for lunch you pay the bill with Dash, and when you get home you pay your rent with Ethereum. That means needing to hold all these coins, which is not ideal.
Wanchain takes that situation away, by allowing the swapping of coins across different chains. For example, you can hold Litecoin, and pay for everything with Litecoin, no matter which currency the vendor accepts.
Businesses can track back their supply chain to find the source of any issues, no matter what chain other parties along the supply chain are using. It again breaks down the negatives of competing blockchains, which may force enterprises to only do business with suppliers or distributors that use systems compatible with their own.
Currently, patients’ medical data is kept securely within one facility’s records. This is for good reason, as it is data that needs to be private and confidential. Yet it invites complications and delays if the patient is to seek treatment at another facility. Wanchain providing operability between the two networks means they can transfer the information where its needed with speed and privacy intact.
Identification and verifying IDs becomes cloudy when you involve international borders. That could change as countries adopt blockchain to register identities, but only for countries that use the same platform. Privacy concerns mean that a public ledger can’t be used in this case, so one country accessing the ID database of another is tricky.
Wanchain provides a more efficient solution for cross-border identity verification. Nations can use a private blockchain to ensure IDs are valid. The IDs can remain valid in different nations with different systems, thanks to Wanchain’s cross-chain data protocol.
Another part of the Wanchain ecosystem is their blockchain incubator, WanLabs. Highlighting the number of ICOs and blockchain startups which struggled or died completely, the Wanchain Foundation wants to provide support for up and coming projects in the blockchain space.
For projects that pass the vetting phase, the foundation assists with areas such as:
- Blockchain advisors
- Technical guidance
- Legal support
This all comes under the overarching premise of Wanchain, which is to further the wider blockchain ecosystem, not just their own chain.
Upon the announcement of WanLabs earlier in 2018, Wanchain also announced several projects that would be part of the WanLabs system. These projects are:
- Freedium: a platform using blockchain to unlock financial services for all, particularly those in emerging nations.
- CryptoCurve: a company providing blockchain applications and development solutions, beginning with the Curve Wallet.
- Theia: a digital asset management platform.
- BlockMedx: a company building healthcare infrastructure and pharma tech on the blockchain.
- AllSpark: a smart contract-based content creation and distribution platform.
- Intellos: a decentralized, community-driven financial ecosystem.
Head of the Wanchain Foundation is CEO and founder Jack Lu, also CEO and co-founder of Wanglu Tech. Before starting Wanglu Tech, Lu was co-founder and CTO at Factom, another blockchain startup. Factom is still going strong today, sitting in the top 80 in crypto market capitalization.
The rest of Wanchain’s team are largely based in China, though the project is spreading to add more international coverage. In particular, they have bases in Singapore and Austin, Texas (where the WanLabs headquarters is located).
The Future of Wanchain
As of Q4 2018, Wanchain is halfway through their planned release stages. Wanchain 1.0 and 2.0 have been released, and 3.0 is planned for the end of 2018. Wanchain 4.0, the key release which will complete Wanchain’s initial roadmap, is marked for the end of 2019. This release will include operability with private chains, which is central to the project’s end game. Expect a significant rise in value if 4.0 is released with few hiccups, as Wanchain will begin to be able to deliver on some real-world use cases.
Another significant landmark ahead is a plan to switch to a PoS model with masternodes, in 2019. The move has been planned for some time, but thus far few details are available, to some unrest in the Wanchain community. If they’re able to deliver in early 2019, this could be another positive step for Wanchain and WAN coin. Combine PoS staking and successful Bitcoin/Ethereum interoperability, and the future looks bright.
Could Wanchain fail? Certainly, any blockchain or crypto project can. And Wanchain is in a position where its value is almost parallel to that of the entire blockchain ecosystem. Specifically, the case of blockchain remaining siloed as it is today. If blockchain doesn’t make its way into mainstream enterprises, or one platform rises up to dominate the market, Wanchain may not have much of a reason to exist.
We still need to see the final form of Wanchain, to know if it is truly going to be a disruptive force in commercial blockchain adoption. Yet it appears to have the pieces in place and the clear use cases to be a major player in blockchain once the development schedule is fully realized.