With the release of its mainnet 3.0 on September 17, ICON can finally count itself amongst the ranks of smart contract platform cryptocurrencies, along with Ethereum, NEO, EOS, and many others.
Before explaining what the mainnet launch means, it’s important to note that there may be action required if you are an ICX token holder who hasn’t followed the project much of late.
Unless you keep your tokens on an exchange (not recommended), you’ll probably need to manually perform the token swap of Ethereum ICX tokens for mainnet ICX tokens. For instructions on how to complete the swap with the ICONex Chrome extension wallet, here’s a video tutorial that will take you through the process step by step. If you have any other questions or concerns, you can also reference this FAQ from the ICON subreddit.
The deadline to complete your token swap is September 25, so act fast!
Now let’s move on to the good stuff: an update on ICON’s development progress and an explanation of the mainnet version 3 release.
Roadmap Changes and Adapting Priorities
Not too long ago, ICON was one of the hottest projects in the entire blockchain space. As the most noteworthy project from the crypto-enthused country of South Korea, ICON’s future was looking very bright indeed.
Then the trouble started.
Although the deadlines listed on the project roadmap weren’t meant to be official, the ICON team unfortunately failed to meet many of them on time in early 2018. First, the PC Wallet was late, then the token swap scheduled for March was delayed and is in fact the same token swap deadline noted above, and then the ICX/ETH DEX has yet to materialize, either (likely release 1H 2019).
To make matters much worse, the ICON team failed to communicate clearly and promptly with their community during that time, leaving a sizable portion of ICX investors understandably frustrated.
That being said, it’s not as if no development progress was being made.
After recognizing that the ICON platform for smart contracts and dapps had more interest than the DEX, the project team switched their focus to expedite delivery of the smart contract platform while pushing back other developments that were originally scheduled to come before it.
This change in prioritization makes complete sense. The true mistake that ICON made was in their poor communication about changing the project’s immediate development focus and the reasoning behind that.
Nonetheless, the smart contract platform has now arrived, so let’s talk about what it means.
SCORE (Smart Contract on Reliable Environment) Goes Live
The ICON platform for dapp development is called Smart Contract on Reliable Environment, or SCORE for short.
SCORE aims to be both developer and user-friendly. It executes smart contracts on a separate container from the basic blockchain process for simple transactions, meaning that a problem with smart contracts won’t result in any problems for the ICON blockchain.
Additionally, SCORE includes a repository-based versioning feature, the purpose of which is to make smart contracts easy and quick to update because not all updates will require data migration.
Combined with the core ICON mission of interoperability, SCORE will be an attractive option for dapp developers moving forward.
Yellow Paper Outlining the SCORE Transaction Fee Policy
Along with the launch of the ICON mainnet 3.0, the team also released a part 2 of the project yellow paper explaining how transaction fees will work in the system.
Prior to this policy, ICON treated all transactions equally regardless of their complexity and true cost. However, this unsophisticated approach left much to be desired for ICON dapp developers and users.
The new fee structure takes into account the complexity of each transaction, scaling the size of the transaction fee accordingly. In other words, the more computational resources required for a transaction, the higher the fee.
Fees are paid with “Step,” the ICON equivalent to Ethereum’s Gas. 100,000,000 Step is equal to 1 ICX.
In the new structure, each possible smart contract function is assigned a specific weight in Step. When a transaction occurs, the cumulative weight of the functions called in order to complete that transaction will be the fee price.
You can see a table of the function weights below, from the yellow paper:
This new intelligent fee structure is a huge improvement over the previous model, and it certainly makes the SCORE launch that much better.
The yellow paper goes into more depth on several other related topics, including Virtual Step, staking incentives (for operators, not regular users!), the termination policy for SCORE operators, and more.
The complete yellow paper is well worth a read if you can spare the time.
There have been plenty of reasons for investors to feel frustrated with ICON in 2018. Following the launch of the mainnet 3.0 with SCORE, as well as continued progress on open-source code updates, there are finally some good reasons to be excited about the project’s progress and direction moving forward.
Next on the docket will be the exciting task of developing IISS (ICON Incentives Scoring System), something which can potentially reinvigorate the ICON community.
In the meantime, ICON’s blockchain interoperability mission remains an exciting one, and there are still plenty of reasons that ICX is a potential moonshot.