Satoshi Nakamoto’s 2008 white paper originally envisioned Bitcoin as a tool for electronic payments, enabling secure, non-reversible digital transactions without the need for a trusted intermediary.
Instead today Bitcoin has evolved into digital gold, functioning almost exclusively as a store of value, with very low velocity. With a throughput of only 5.5 transactions per second and relatively high fees (average $10+ and higher for time sensitive 1-block situations), the Bitcoin blockchain is simply not suitable for day-to-day commercial activity.
Many other cryptocurrencies have been created since Nakamoto’s breakthrough, each seeking to address some subset of the world’s financial transaction needs, with varying degrees of success. None has taken a holistic approach to the entire problem space and none are in common use among the general public.
The Epicenter project was launched in 2017 by a team of crypto and finance veterans to address the full set of financial transaction needs. The team recognized the tremendous importance of the Bitcoin model, in providing a cryptographic store of value that was immune to arbitrary inflation… but they also recognized that real-world transactions today still require a seamless transition from digital into fiat currencies.
It was easy enough to provide one or the other; the challenge was to provide both, and still comply with all the regulations emitted by the various sovereign issuers of fiat currency. Fortunately the Bitcoin revolution sparked a wave of technical innovation in the world of cryptography and the Epicenter project has been able to put these new technologies to good use.
Many of the digital currency solutions offered to date have been Layer-2 solutions, which attempt to address the scalability problems of an underlying blockchain such as Bitcoin by adding a network layer on top, effectively preprocessing and bundling transactions. While this can improve throughput, the overlay approach inevitably requires some degree of centralization, which ultimately leads to problems of its own (add-on fees, censorship, lock-ups, etc.).
The Epicenter ecosystem starts with the assumption that a Layer-1 solution is inherently more robust and secure – and with modern technology can be made extremely efficient. We deemed that an acceptable solution must satisfy the following requirements:
- Scalable – The solution must be lightweight and fast and be capable of maintaining these attributes over time as the system grows.
- Censorship Resistant – The system must be open to all, immune to censorship.
- Centralization Resistant – Elimination of intermediaries was Nakamoto’s original goal; a true community-based solution will limit the opportunities for power centers to develop.
- Accessible – Users should have fast, unfettered access to their digital assets.
- Fungible – All units of currency must remain interchangeable; significant friction would be introduced if users had to be continually on…