The Korean-based ICON Foundation has a project they claim will “hyperconnect the world”. On the back of this promise, the cryptocurrency linked to the project soared to a total circulating value of more than US$4.5 billion at its highest point. All just months after the token’s launch.
Learn what exactly ICON is setting out to do for the blockchain community, and why many people think this project is so special.
Connecting The World via Smart Contracts
Since the explosion of the blockchain over the last couple of years, a huge number of blockchain platforms and networks have been created (over 2000 cryptocurrencies listed on CoinMarketCap as of writing this). No doubt, there are many advantages to competition between different networks. But it also presents a significant barrier to blockchain’s adoption.
Imagine: you use a service that requires you to pay with Bitcoin, another that uses Litecoin, and another using Dash. Now you need to hold all these different currencies. Also imagine you’re trying to use a software based on Ethereum, with hardware operating on NEO, and the issues of sideways compatibility that arise. It’s a very simplified view of ICON’s project, but an example of its use case nonetheless.
ICON exists to link blockchain “communities” in a way that each is compatible with one another. The communities form the “ICON Republic”. A collection of networks which are independently governed, yet also acting as nodes of the ICON network. Using more complex smart contracts than those developed by existing platforms, each network will be able to operate on its own. While maintaining the ability to work with each other.
The ICON network will allow individuals to create decentralized applications (dApps) that have operability across all ICON community networks. Additionally, ICON has an in-built decentralized exchange, which allows for token swaps and compatibility between different networks. For example, it would let Bitcoin holders pay for something on Ethereum, by acting as a middleman to swap between different currencies.
A Short History of ICON
Originating out of South Korea, it was founded by DAYLI Financial Group, one of Asia’s top Fintech companies, worth around $4 billion. The company also owns Korean crypto exchange Coinone, which sees on average around US$10-30 million trading volume, with support for 16 cryptocurrencies and the Korean Won.
The project has been in development for a little over two years thus far. Their very successful ICO in Q4 of 2017 saw them raise more than US$40 million. Not long after, the ICX token rose to become one of the top 30 in the world by market capitalization. ICX reached a price of more than $12 at its highest point thus far, in January 2018.
The first version of ICON’s mainnet was launched in early 2018. As of writing this, the ICON blockchain is averaging slightly under 1000 transactions per day. Last month, it announced a partnership with SK, its home country’s largest telecom provider.
The ICX Token
Much like ETH on the Ethereum platform, ICX is the token used on the ICON blockchain. All the services and activities are paid for with ICX, so the coin’s value ties itself to the level of adoption ICON is able to achieve. As usage of ICON goes up, so will demand for ICX, and thus the coin’s price. As the coin cannot be mined, scarcity should conceivably drive the price up significantly in time.
A token swap from ERC-20 tokens to a token native to the ICON blockchain started in June 2018, extending through until late this year. As of September 21st, 84% of tokens had been exchanged. Any tokens that aren’t swapped before the deadline will be burned – a good sign that the price could be set to rise.
ICX behaved as many other cryptocurrencies in the market over the last years. After being released, the price surged to above $12 for a brief period of time, according to CoinMarketCap. This happened in January 2018 when most of the virtual currencies in the market where experiencing massive price increases.
Nevertheless, the digital currency was not able to sustain this price level and it ultimately entered a bear market. The price of ICX fell to $0.182 in early February this year. That shows that the digital currency experienced a correction of over 98% in a year.
This represents a movement that was also experienced by the whole cryptocurrency market in 2018. Tokens from Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have been also affected by the whole bear market. Many of these projects stopped operating and a large number of coins were delisted from exchanges or simply were abandoned. In addition to it, major digital assets such as Bitcoin (BTC) fell around 85% from their all-time highs.
Since August 2018, ICX has been traded under $0.8 and above $0.18. Since November 2018, ICX reached a high of $0.45, meaning volatility was reduced. It will be very important for ICX to receive support from investors and be able to leave the current bear market behind. Although other altcoins were able to surge in the last months, Bitcoin is increasing its dominance in the market (over 69%) and this is affecting smaller currencies.
Where Can I Buy ICX?
There are different cryptocurrency exchanges that would allow you to purchase ICX. However, there are some of them that have better liquidity than others. For example, according to CoinMarketCap, the exchange with the largest liquidity for ICX is LATOKEN with two different trading pairs: ICX/BTC and ICX/USDT. These two trading pairs represent 32 percent of all the trading volume of ICX around the world.
Nevertheless, Binance, one of the largest crypto exchanges in the market, has also four different trading pairs that account for almost 7% of the total ICX trading volume in the crypto market. These trading pairs include ICX/BNB, ICX/BTC, ICX/ETH and ICX/USDT. Furthermore, they represent 0.16% of the total trading volume on the Binance platform.
Binance is one of the exchanges with the largest liquidity for altcoins. It allows investors to trade a large number of coins without having to be worried about their liquidity, which is generally one of the highest in the market.
One of the ways to acquire ICX through Binance is by sending funds to the exchange. Users can send BTC, ETH, BNB or USDT to the Binance platform and exchange them for ICX. However, Binance launched a new service that allows users to purchase digital assets using a credit card. Users that select this option can directly buy Ethereum, Bitcoin or Binance Coin and exchange these funds for ICX as soon as they receive them on the platform.
The second option is perhaps the fastest way to purchase ICX. You can directly do it with a credit card and immediately after you receive the funds it is possible to exchange them for ICX coins. This would help you avoid purchasing funds in other exchanges and send them to Binance.
After purchasing ICX on Binance or another exchange, the best thing to do is to withdraw the funds to a private cryptocurrency wallet in which you hold the private keys.
ICON’s End Goal
Hyperconnecting the world is no small feat. That’s why, while ICON is starting to secure more partnerships, they still appear to be a way off achieving their goal.
In time, the ICON foundation hopes to connect not only the world’s blockchain networks, but to provide interactivity between all kinds of communities on a single network (not just blockchain platforms). The ideal future for ICON will be to link industries such as finance, insurance, healthcare, security, commerce and more.
There are many competitors that could eventually take part of ICON’s market in the cryptocurrency space. Two of these projects include Cardano (ADA) and Cosmos (ATOM), that are among the top 25 cryptocurrencies in the space.
Although Cardano is now the 13th largest cryptocurrency in the market, it has been experiencing some issues during the last few years. There was no working product that would allow the digital asset to keep growing and expanding. However, there have been some efforts in the last few months from the Cardano Foundation, IOHK and Charles Hoskinson to improve this situation.
Both Cardano and ICON have also been working on different partnerships with companies in different countries to use these technologies, improve their respective industries and offer better services and products to users.
It is worth pointing out that Cardano is working on solutions that would be some of the most advanced in the market, compared to other blockchains such as Ethereum (ETH) or Bitcoin (BTC).
ICON must keep working on the different solutions that it is currently offering in order to be able to reach Cardano, or at least enter the top 25 largest cryptocurrencies. That being said, ICX has a market capitalization of just $101 million compared to Cardano’s $1.3 billion. That means that ICON is just 7.8% of Cardano’s market capitalization.
You can learn more about Cardano in our guide about what is Cardano (ADA).
Meanwhile, Cosmos is also one of the digital currency projects that are expected to enter the top 20. This is due to the approach that the team behind this project decided to take. Cosmos offers the possibility to connect different blockchains with an innovative approach that uses the implementation of zones.
At the same time, Cosmos uses the Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance consensus protocol that helps it be one of the fastest and most efficient networks in the space. The strength of this coin is that it was launched a few months ago and it was able to reach the top 25 in a fast period of time. Meanwhile, ICON remains far from the top positions and with a significantly lower market capitalization.
ICON wants to focus on creating a network of interoperable blockchains for different organizations around the world. By using AI algorithms, ICON developers promised to integrate different trading strategies to self-taught neural machines.
Some of the concerns that critics have about ICON is related to the centralization of this cryptocurrency project. The team behind ICON has been working on creating the necessary AI-based solutions, which may have some biases towards certain outcomes.
Nonetheless, ICON is one of the first projects that offer solutions not only to users but also to organizations such as hospitals, institutions and schools. By bringing blockchain technology to these industries, it may be possible to enhance their services and the way these organizations function.
Although these competitors are working hard in order to launch a real product to the market, it remains to be seen whether ICON will be able to offer better or more advanced solutions than the aforementioned projects.
ICON is a blockchain platform that wants to hyper connect the world by building a decentralized network of companies and individuals. The platform has been under development for several years and the digital currency ICX has been among the top 100 digital assets for a long period of time, despite the bear market of 2018.
Users could use ICON for transferring not only money but also information that could be handled through a blockchain network. At the same time, it has a large community in many countries, including South Korea.
ICON will have to face many of the challenges that are currently affecting other cryptocurrencies in the space. If it is able to face them more efficiently than others, including its competitors, it would certainly become one of the leaders in the cryptocurrency market.