Coda Protocol — which markets itself as a lightweight, hyper-decentralized and device-agnostic blockchain — has announced the second cohort of participants in its Genesis token program. 

The program is a way to incentivize the network’s early block producers — which, according to Coda, is spread throughout the world to ensure decentralization — as well as developers, to build out applications that will create value for the network. Coda token grants are being given to Genesis founding members (GFM) who participate in testnet challenges that are designed to contribute to greater network resilience.

“The Genesis token program is designed to ensure block producers are operationally prepared for mainnet. We are using this momentum to continue strengthening the protocol and ensure a robust, highly decentralized network at mainnet,” said Evan Shapiro, CEO and Co-Founder of O(1) Labs, the team behind Coda Protocol, in a statement. “Their investment into our ecosystem will ensure that Coda is sufficiently decentralized upon mainnet launch.” 

Shapiro emphasized this need for decentralization in a recent CoinDesk editorial, where he pointed out that Bitcoin is not as decentralized as its maximalists would like to believe. 

“Sixty-five percent of its hashrate is in one country: China. Globally, about 10 different organizations control 90% of the hashpower. The big pools are all linked together with dedicated networking connections,” Shapiro wrote. “If I described to you a council of 10 companies dictating the future of a product, and more than half are in China and beholden to a centralized government, would you call that decentralized? No, but that’s the state of Bitcoin today.”

A SNARK-Y shelter from Libra

During its testnet phase, Coda bragged about having one of the largest testnet communities by node count. Part of the reason for this was the protocol’s enthusiasm for zk-SNARKs, a form of cryptography that protects users’ digital privacy. 

zk-SNARKs — or “zero-knowledge succinct non-interactive argument of knowledge” — are ways to complete a transaction between two parties, with each party verifying it has a particular set of information but at the same time not revealing what that information is. This is done via something called a “zero-knowledge proof.” 

See related article: Data privacy is forever changed. Zero-knowledge proofs are enterprise’s solution

An example to illustrate this concept: a traditional proof would involve a user submitting a password that’s verified by the network to gain access to an asset. A “zero-knowledge proof” would allow the user to demonstrate they have a unique mathematical representation of the password without revealing the password itself. 

zk-SNARKs, zero knowledge proofs
zk-SNARKs are designed to protect privacy while ensuring accuracy on blockchain. Image: Coda Protocol

Another example: Facebook’s announcement of its Libra protocol ignited privacy concerns over the intermixing of social media and financial data. For Facebook, Libra could provide the “missing link” to finally meld the granular sociographic information they have on a Facebook user with the same person’s spending habits. But implementing zk-SNARKs into the stack would be an effective shield to block this harvesting of personal data by creating a private money transfer mechanism, giving users the opportunity to create a new layer of privacy on-chain. 

By harnessing recursive zk-SNARKs, Coda block producers can also rapidly share proof of the correct blockchain state across the network and update the proof as new transactions occur, according to the company. 

This novel application of zero-knowledge proofs is what could allow Coda to offer scalability to thousands of transactions per second, millions of users, and years of transaction history while preserving user privacy and security, something that has been flagged as an issue for Bitcoin and Ethereum. Other privacy-focused coins have adopted personal data-protection measures, but they aren’t designed to be used at scale like Coda is, according to the company.  

“Coda is the forefront of real-world systems built on ZK proofs,” said Bitcoin Cash developer and GFM, tcrypt, in a statement provided by Coda. “Testnet is simple, straightforward, and with great documentation and tooling,”  

Taking home the tokens

Coda points to its willingness to distribute tokens to founding members as one of the reasons for its success. 

As a new blockchain platform is being created, some tokens are always reserved for incentivizing early adopters or developers, to give them more of a stake in its future success. Coda says that it is setting aside 6.6% of the total token supply for Genesis founding members — a record, according to the company, as most Layer-1 protocol providers only allocate 1%. 

“As we acknowledge Cohort 2 into the Genesis program as a milestone, we are also pleased to share that we have grown our testnet community by 1,200% since launching 1 year ago,” added Shapiro, in an email to Forkast.News. “This growth demonstrates progress in becoming a blockchain of choice among individuals seeking to participate in our novel architecture.”

The company has not revealed a launch date for Coda Protocol’s mainnet but PR reps say its penciled in for Q4 of this year.