Cryptocurrencies and the blockchain started off with a simple idea: making money and its exchange decentralized. This has a broader implication that quickly became understood as it went beyond the small tech circles that bitcoin originally operated in. The way we exchanged value and communicated with each other (as money is essentially a form of communication) could be decentralized.
Suddenly, it became clear that many processes and industries could be decentralized. This has of course gone on to take many strange and unreasonable forms, with many projects existing for the sake of existing. However, there have been several projects that have targeted specific areas that could are especially ripe for the application of decentralized technologies.
One of these areas is the web itself. The decentralization of the web, or Web 3.0, is an emerging trend that encapsulates the spirit of the decentralization movement perfectly. The internet was built with the intention of establishing and encouraging an open, free and monopoly-free platform where people could exchange ideas without the worry of cost and censorship.
This has unfortunately not turned out to be how the internet operates, with the internet monopolized by Internet Service Providers (ISPs), advertisers, search engines, social media engines - any entity that holds your data. This has become an increasingly serious problem in recent times, with numerous reports of data being stolen or exploited occurring - sometimes to the point where it threatens an entire nation.
The transition into a decentralized web is what numerous projects are working on. One of these is the MaidSafeCoin, a project that has been existence for a particularly long time. We examine the history of the project, the vision with which it is being developed, the technical design that makes up its development approach and the many competitors that it is working alongside.
The History of MaidSafeCoin (MAID): Pre-dating Bitcoin
MaidSafeCoin’s origins date back as far as back as 2006 - much before Bitcoin even. The project was launched by MaidSafe, a company that set its sights on making the internet decentralized. The company is led by David Irvine and based in Ayr, Scotland, though the team is composed of individuals from the world over and features a myriad of professionals, including researchers, engineers and designers.
Irvine conceptualized the SAFE network in 2006, though the first verified transaction occurred in April 2014. The project actually involves two tokens (which we’ll describe in detail further on): MAID and SAFE. The Safecoin whitepaper was written in 2015.
SAFE, which stands for Secure Access For Everyone, has been over a decade in the making, and many have given some credence to the project’s development, given that it has been working methodically on building a secure and private blockchain for the future. Its mission statement is grand, stating “We aim to provide privacy, security, and freedom to everyone on the planet.”
There are several differences between the MaidSafeCoin network and other similar networks that are worth noting. This is especially interesting for a project that emerged during a time where altcoins where resembling Bitcoin or Ethereum.
MaidSafeCoin’s MAID token’s price peaked at $1.16 during the boom of late 2017/early 2018. Its price now hovers at around $1.13.
The Purpose of MaidSafeCoin (MAID): Charting a Path Towards Web 3.0
The MaidSafeCoin (SAFE) network is built with the express purpose of offering its users complete security, privacy and freedom - actually facilitating the principles with which the internet was originally designed. The SAFE network is a decentralized data and communications network, with the SAFE token being the incentive for good network behavior and growth.
The network runs on a Proof-of-Resource algorithm, which mathematically verifies “who and what is provides resources to the network.” The network and algorithm maintain security by virtue of the fact that it uses a zero knowledge proof mechanism to learn how much data is stored and retrieved by nodes, but not its contents. Nodes that behave badly or ineffectively are ranked lower on the network.
In order to access services on the SAFE network, users will have to spend their SAFE tokens. Think of the services as a broad marketplace where users can choose between competing services providers to obtain the product or service that they want. This is much like today’s internet, except that it is more decentralized i.e. more inclusive and accessible.
Interestingly, there are a few different ways to obtain SAFE tokens. The first is farming, which is MaidSafeCoin’s equivalent of mining. It’s very much like how other P2P cloud focused projects work: users who provide computing resources (storage, bandwidth and processing power) to requesters on the network receive SAFE tokens as a reward. Users can also earn SAFE tokens by creating applications or purchasing them, and by assisting with the maintenance of the underlying code. Users can also trade SAFE or buy it on exchanges.
The second token on the network, the MAID token, is a proxy token issued on a 1:1 ratio against the SAFE token. However, the SAFE tokens are not managed on a blockchain to recognize ownership of tokens. The network uses a Transaction Manager to maintain an unchained recognition of the current and past owner of the token. This is what provides privacy.
Now, the reason two tokens exist is that the MAID token acts as a proxy until the SAFE token is actually launched. In other words, MAID tokens can be exchanged for SAFE tokens on a 1:1 basis when the network launches.
The team sees the potential for Safecoin becoming a “new revenue model for the internet.” Indeed, a decentralized model of the internet would require a new kind of revenue model in order to succeed. In this kind of internet, there will have to be a token incentive for every stakeholder to contribute fairly.
In summary, MaidSafe intends to provide encryption, privacy, serverless data and censorship resistance with its platform. The MaidSafe roadmap details the particular technical developments that support their vision of decentralization.
MaidSafeCoin does not have many partnerships to speak of, though it does have a few agreements and collaboration going with.
MaidSafe has entered into a licensing agreement with Identillect Technologies Corp. The latter is a California based company that provides an email encryption service called Delivery Trust. The agreement will allow Identillect to “distribute an enterprise version of MaidSafe’s decentralised network for clients that require this additional level of security.”
Clearly, there isn’t much in the way of partnerships for MaidSafe, but it has to be remembered that this is a project and a space that is operating in uncharted territory. Not many cloud computing projects have put the focus on forming partnerships for the moment - there is the most pressing issue of actually developing the protocol and features that will make people see the value in the network.
Competitors: A Crowded Space
With nearly a decade of research underpinning the development of the MaidSafe network, one would think that the project is in a good position to become the primary gateway towards a decentralized web. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth, as there are several working on precisely the same idea and model that MaidSafe is working on.
Cloud computing, in general, has been a very hot topic in the cryptocurrency space, and many projects have seen that they can democratize computing power by creating a distributed network. In fact, this has already been done - Berkeley has relied on a distributed network of computers from across the world to help with some of its scientific research. The idea is not new, but we now have a reliable and lucrative way of improving this idea in every which way possible.
Competitors of MaidSafeCoin include Golem Network (GNT), iExec (RLC), Storj (STORJ) and SiaCoin (SC) - though there are many others. Some of these projects are not entirely focused on cloud computing as the others are. For example, Storj and Siacoin are focused specifically on cloud storage as opposed to cloud computing in general.
Among these, the Golem Network project is arguably the most well known. The project has already tested a few use cases, with more arriving in the months to come. The team have established an extensive and thorough roadmap that charts the path towards a decentralized web. iExec, while not quite as well known, has also made some progress in their cloud computing endeavours.
Certainly, MaidSafeCoin has some work cut out for it, if it is to become the de facto cloud computing network. On the bright side, all of the projects involved in this space are in their early days, which means that things could change very quickly.
There is also a common theme among the projects that are working in the cloud computing space - they are focused on decentralizing the web or bringing in “Web 3.0”. As we mentioned before, this is one of blockchain’s most touted accompanying changes or “revolutionary effects”.
This is a grand ambition, but one that will inevitably arrive. The road to Web 3.0 is long and filled with challenges, but the tools exist for solutions to be built. One might argue that there MaidSafe is in a very competitive niche, but to be fair, this is true of all of the other tokens that are operating in this space, all of whom are still laying the foundations for the grand ambition of Web 3.0.
One thing is absolutely certain: Web 3.0 is arriving and it is well worthwhile to keep an eye on projects like MaidSafeCoin that are operating with that ambition.