Ontology (ONT): Building an Interoperable Decentralized Identity and Data Solution
As Ontology and its partners work to build a global cross-chain platform that benefits all participants, they’re making significant strides toward actualizing blockchain’s true potential.
By Jun Li
Updated February 11, 2021 • 3 min read
Ontology believes most businesses can benefit from enterprise blockchain technology in terms of efficiency and security, especially for the identity and data. To overcome blockchain’s often time-consuming and cost-prohibitive nature, Ontology offers a specialized distributed data exchange framework to drive more user-friendly and efficient onboarding for a broad spectrum of businesses and organizations. This framework allows enterprise clients to transfer and exchange data in a secure, transparent, and cost-effective manner. In addition, Ontology has its own dual-currency system: Ontology Coin (ONT) is used as the staking toll and the time, cost of staking and operating costs of the nodes are considered to be inputs. While Ontology Gas (ONG) is used as a value-anchoring toll for on-chain applications and is used in the transactions on the chain. This article highlights Ontology’s history, partnerships, and tokenomics structure, while Ontology (ONT): Fault Tolerance, ONT ID, & Distributed Data outlines the project’s Verifiable Byzantine Fault Tolerance (VBFT), identity management solution (ONT ID), and Distributed Data Exchange Framework (DDXF).
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 October 2020 there were 82 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. As a truly pioneering MVP product, Welcome Home combines the premium experience of Daimler’s mobility units with Ontology’s technical superiority, especially related to decentralized identities and data protection.
Ontology’s backend systems runs 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, 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 approximately 80% are currently in circulation.
Within the Ontology blockchain ecosystem, ONT grants its token holders governance rights and the ability to stake tokens. These roles improve the security of the network by helping 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 blockchain 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 to not only play a role in steering Ontology’s network decisions but also 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 and is essentially 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
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
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 proven to be detrimental not only from both a business operation 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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Jun Li is the founder of Ontology. He is a highly regarded blockchain solutions architect with 17 years' experience in IT and fintech. Li previously provided support in areas such as technical architecture, management, and planning to top international IT firms and major financial exchanges, playing leading roles at the China Financial Futures Exchange and Infosys. Li holds a BA in Computer Science and an MSc in Communication Engineering from one of China's most prestigious universities, as well as an MBA from the University of Manchester. He is also a certified Project Management Professional.
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