Today’s RSC Coin Spotlight is the 0x Protocol (ZRX):
No doubt you’ve heard about ZRX in the past several weeks since its listing on Coinbase on October 11, 2018. But you may be asking yourself: What is ZRX? And What gives it value?
ZRX is the governance token of the 0x Protocol, a standard for trustlessly trading ERC20 and ERC721 tokens. 0x Protocol allows users to trade tokens right from their wallets in either OTC trades or through a decentralized exchange otherwise known as a relayer.
0x protocol uses an approach they refer to as off-chain order relay with on-chain settlement. In this approach, cryptographically signed orders are broadcast off of the blockchain through any arbitrary communication channel An interested counterparty may fill the order by submitting one or more of these signed orders into 0x protocol’s Exchange contract to execute and settle trades directly to the blockchain.
The project ICO’d in August 2017 for $24,000,000. On August 2, 2017, iFinex Inc. (BVI), the company that owns Bitfinex, announced it would launch Ethfinex, an Ethereum-based trading and discussion platform that would utilize the 0x Protocol. Several other prominent relayers rose in the 0x ecosystem such as DDEX, Radar Relay, and Paradex.
On May 23rd, Coinbase announced it had acquired Paradex, a decentralized exchange that uses 0x. At the time of the Paradex acquisition, Cointelegraph reported,
“Coinbase will integrate the Paradex relay platform into Coinbase Pro which, according their blog post, will let customers trade ‘hundreds of tokens directly from their wallets.’ This would markedly expand the types of cryptocurrencies to which customers will have access through Coinbase. The blog post states that the new service will be made available to customers outside the US before eventually being offered to American clients.”
This acquisition led many in the crypto community to speculate that Coinbase would list ZRX and sure enough it was listed on Coinbase on October 11, 2018. The ZRX community eagerly awaits Coinbase Pro “Trustless” which could see the listing of many ERC20 tokens. Coinbase’s recent announcement of USDC, an ERC20 backed by USD, may be used in trading pairs on Coinbase’s new trustless service.
0x protocol relayers have a lot of flexibility on how they collect and relay the orders they interact with. Relayers can choose whether to have open or closed liquidity pools. Relayers can be private or open.
They can even be dark relayers which allows big players to transact outside of the eyes of the public by obfuscating their orderbooks and provide just-in-time quotes for crypto assets to emulate the experience of using a dark liquidity pool.
But 0x goes far beyond decentralized exchanges. The liquidity pools that relayers create can be beneficial to any number of projects in the Ethereum ecosystem. 0x allows developers a flexible approach to offering their users liquidity for their tokens.
Any DApp looking to accept multiple tokens as payment methods could tap into 0x’s orderbooks for the liquidity to convert the payment into the token of their choice.
For example, Since 0x can handle ERC721 tokens, two players of the ERC721-based card game Gods Unchained can trade cards with one another. Gods Unchained is going to utilize 0x to create an in-app exchange where players can trustlessly trade ERC721 cards with one another. https://godsunchained.com/
Developers see the value in a protocol like 0x and several major projects in the Ethereum ecosystem are integrating the 0x protocol as a vital function of their code.
District0x (DNT) is one of these projects. According to their website, District0x is a network of decentralized markets and communities known as districts that solves a number of coordination issues and inefficiencies commonly found within distributed community marketplaces.
This is accomplished by providing tools that can better align incentives and decision making among the market participants themselves.
The end goal is to create a self sustaining ecosystem that can flourish without the need for a central authority. Districts exist on top of a modular framework of Ethereum smart contracts and frontend libraries referred to as d0xINFRA.
District0x embedded their 0xprotocol into their districts on the district0x Network, giving users the ability to pay and receive payment in the ERC20 or ERC721 token of their choice.
Simlar to the ZRX token, DNT is used to govern District0x. As their FAQ puts it:
“The district0x token holders themselves decide whether a district is good or bad for the network through the District Registry, an incentivized voting game that dictates access to the network. Whether a district is good or bad not only applies in terms of the quality of the marketplace, but also prevents against districts that are deemed immoral or threatening to the entire network by DNT holders. This will be entirely up to the DNT token holders to decide.”
Like many people you may be asking yourself: “Where is the value in governing these protocols? Where is my money?” These are valid questions that honestly no one has the answer to yet. Like many aspects of crypto, these investments are speculatory.
One concern many have raised in the ZRX community is: What stops someone from forking the 0xprotocol in the case of a dispute? While it is true that a relayer who wanted to could fork away from the rest of the 0xprotocol but they would also suffer the consequences of disconnecting from everyone else in that pool of liquidity.
Similar arguments have been made for open-source software in the past and it usually boils down to the same concept that gives these open-source projects value: network effect. It’s hard to copy and paste Ethereum because it is the Ethereum network that has value not strictly the technology.
0xprotocol can be viewed in a similar light. Yes, you could fork the protocol but the value in ZRX is the network of users and application built on top of the protocol itself. District0x and relayers are a prime example of this. Any project that tried to duplicate ZRX would need to attract all of the protocol network’s users as well.
As the cryptocurrency space keeps evolving, we’re going to see users and developers take the path of least resistance. Why make my own operating system when I can use one someone else wrote? Why make my own network protocol for computers when I can use TCP/IP to connect to the internet?
Why make my own cryptocurrency network when I can build on Ethereum or Stellar? This line thinking logically progresses into: Why make my own liquidity when I can tap into a network like ZRX? Why make my own marketplace when I can use District0x?
This interweaving of utility protocols is going to create a strong fabric for ecommerce in the age of Web 3.0. Just like ZRX, District0x benefits from developers building off of their framework. These developers must place a refundable deposit of DNT to become a district creating a symbiotic relationship.
District0x provides a standard framework for any marketplace system with a reputation like Ebay or even Amazon.
One example of the districts on the District0x network is the RedLightDistrict created in partnership with Spankchain. They sell, as you might have guessed, adult content from performers on Spankchain’s network. District0x’s framework provides the RedLightDistrict with the ability to have buyer and seller reputations, an issue interface for performers to sell digital content, and seamless payments via the ZRX protocol.
The decentralized finance ecosystem grows with each new strand woven into its fabric; We are seeing more and more Dapps in the Ethereum space being built on top of or interwoven with other Dapps or protocols. District0x is just one of the threads interwoven with ZRX.
dYdX protocol is building another important product that integrates with ZRX relayers. dYdX is a protocol for short selling and derivatives built on the Ethereum blockchain. dYdX provides decentralized peer-to-peer shorting, lending, and options trading of any Ethereum based token. dYdX allows decentralized exchanges to offer sophisicated financial tools similar to centralized exchanges but in a completely trustless way. https://medium.com/dydxderivatives/introducing-dydx-2d0f0f326fd
Dharma protocol is another great example. Dharma is a protocol for issuing, underwriting, and administering debt agreements as tradeable cryptographic tokens built on top of, you guessed it, the 0x protocol. https://dharma.io/
Overall, 0x is certainly a project doing big things, and will certainly be one of the more successful projects you should keep your eye on heading into next year.
More resources on 0x: