How the Ontology Blockchain Works
Ontology is a high performance, open-source blockchain specializing in decentralized identity and data. Ontology’s unique infrastructure supports robust cross-chain collaboration and Layer-2 scalability, offering businesses the flexibility to design an enterprise blockchain that suits their needs. With a suite of decentralized identity and data sharing protocols to enhance speed, security, and trust, Ontology’s features include ONT ID, a mobile digital ID application and DID used throughout the ecosystem, and DDXF, a decentralized data exchange, and collaboration framework.
Ontology’s customizable approach has successfully gained traction, and as of December 2021 there were close to 100 decentralized applications (dApps) running on Ontology’s mainnet. Top-performing Ontology-powered dApps include Wing and Unifi Protocol, both of which are decentralized finance (DeFi) projects focused on cross-chain interoperability. Furthermore, Ontology has secured a number of high-profile partnerships, including an agreement with automobile manufacturer Daimler to help explore ways of modernizing automotive mobility and financing using blockchain technology. In collaboration with Daimler, Ontology is currently developing a minimum viable product (MVP) for Welcome Home, a blockchain-based in-vehicle experience and identity verification service for drivers that helps to validate the user’s data, while respecting their privacy, and security. As a pioneering MVP product, Welcome Home combines the premium experience of Daimler’s mobility units with Ontology’s technical superiority, especially as it relates to decentralized identities and data protection.
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Ontology’s backend systems run on its next-generation Ontorand Consensus Engine (OCE), which in turn relies on a customized consensus mechanism called Verifiable Byzantine Fault Tolerance (VBFT) — a combination of Proof of Stake (PoS), Verifiable Random Function (VRF), and Byzantine Fault Tolerance (BFT). In short, VBFT adds an impressive level of scalability to the underlying PoS model, providing additional security and verifiable randomness through the VRF node selection process, and delivering shorter finality rates with BFT — ultimately combining the relative advantages of each component into a complex and dynamic framework.
While the potential use cases for Ontology are virtually unlimited from a client perspective, the platform’s primary user advantages center on two distinct features:
ONT ID: a tamper-resistant, decentralized identity framework
Distributed Data Exchange Framework (DDXF): a distributed data exchange and management framework
See Ontology (ONT): Fault Tolerance, ONT ID, & Distributed Data for more information on VBFT and related topics, plus ONT ID and DDXF.
Ontology’s Dual-Coin System
Since the launch of Ontology’s mainnet, the project has relied on two tokens to secure and power its network:
Ontology Coin (ONT): Ontology’s primary coin, ONT, originated as an NEP-5 token on the NEO platform. However, in June 2018 the Ontology mainnet was launched and the NEP-5 ONT tokens were swapped for native mainnet ONT coins. Rather than holding an Initial Coin Offering (ICO), the Ontology team airdropped free ONT coins to NEO holders as well as to people who signed up for their email list (1 ONT for every 5 NEO held). Additionally, they held a private token sale — open only to select strategic investors. ONT has a total coin supply of one billion ONT, of which almost 90% are in circulation as of 2021. Within the Ontology blockchain ecosystem, ONT grants its token holders governance rights and the ability to stake tokens. These roles improve the network’s security by helping to verify transactions. When a user stakes their ONT coins with a node, they are essentially locking their ONT in a smart contract for one voting cycle, in order to secure their vote for which node will participate in consensus for block processing. Each block takes 1 – 30 seconds to process, which means that each staking round can range from 16 hours to 20 days. Users who stake ONT coins also earn staking rewards, thereby allowing them not only to play a role in steering Ontology’s decision making, but also to benefit from their involvement in the project. However, when you stake ONT you receive your staking rewards in Ontology Gas.
Ontology Gas (ONG): ONG is produced every time an Ontology block is confirmed. Essentially, it’s the gas that powers the Ontology mainnet, thereby allowing users to earn transaction fees when they help keep the blockchain operational. ONG is also used when performing operations on the Ontology blockchain such as executing smart contracts.
Ontology is Enhancing its Multi-Platform Interoperability
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Ontology’s cross-platform interoperability was greatly expanded in August 2020, when the project partnered with NEO and Switcheo to launch PolyNetwork, a heterogenous interoperability protocol alliance. PolyNetwork’s primary purpose is to maximize the involved projects’ ability to effectively perform cross-chain transactions such as swapping various digital currencies for other tokenized assets. This functionality helps separate enterprises to interact and collaborate with one another on a granular level. More specifically, several key PolyNetwork functions include:
Providing DeFi developers with new infrastructure for creating cross-chain compatible dApps
Supporting both heterogenous and homogenous chains including Ethereum, Neo, Ontology, and Cosmos, along with each platform’s homogenous chain forks, with future plans to support the Bitcoin network
Permitting easy, energy-efficient access to cross-chain transactions and reducing the need for multiple partially overlapping smart contracts
Increasing scalability of cross-chain transactions by enabling open yet secure transfers of data and of tokenized assets
The fact that so many traditional platforms exist as isolated data silos has proved to be detrimental not only from an operational perspective, but also in terms of end-user experience. By working to build a global cross-chain platform that benefits all participants along the full economic value chain, Ontology and its partners are making significant strides towards actualizing blockchain’s true underlying potential.
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