The Stanford Daily reported on Sept. 16 that the project – dubbed the Pi Network – has consolidated its user base in under six months since its launch in March of this year.
A smartphone-focused cryptocurrency network created by a group of Stanford graduates has amassed over half a million users.
“Social security circles”
The Pi Network was launched by a team of four: an anthropologist, two computer scientists and a business major (Chengdiao Fan Ph.D. ’14, Nicolas Kokkalis Ph.D. ’13, visiting student researcher Aurélien Schiltz and Vince McPhilip M.B.A. ’18).
With the aim of bringing disintermediated finance to a wide audience, the project focuses on accessibility – providing a smartphone-oriented user interface and an innovative “security circles” ledger validation mechanism.
Rather than mining via a compute-intensive algorithm, Pi’s ledger is secured by a system wherein users vouch for each others’ trustworthiness.
It is thus lighter – accessible via a free smartphone app, requiring minimal processing or energy resources. The social trust mechanism works, as the Stanford Daily reports, as follows:
“Pi […] members vouch for each other as trustworthy […] These interlocking ‘security circles’ create a global trust graph showing who can be trusted to record transactions. This approach allows users to contribute to crypto mining directly from their phone by leveraging their existing social connections.”
Systems that encourage “massive online participation”
Stanford University did not itself provide resources for the project, although the founders underscore the influence that their interactions with computer science professors Michael Bernstein and David Mazieres, and bioengineering professor Jan Liphardt had on the project. Professor Bernstein told the Stanford Daily:
“Human-computer interaction is all about identifying unstated needs and assumptions in the computational systems that we inhabit, and rapidly iterating our way toward a solution that addresses them. In addition, our research thinks deeply about how to design systems that encourage massive online participation.”
Earlier this year, a team from Stanford University and Visa Research jointly developed a privacy mechanism for Ethereum (ETH) smart contracts.
In January, Stanford researchers joined other academics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of California, Berkeley and other institutions to launch a globally scalable decentralized payments network with backing from Pantera Capital.
Stanford’s endowment is also reported to have invested capital in the cryptocurrency sector, joining fellow Ivy League universities such as Harvard and Yale.
Startup Led by JPMorgan Veterans Brings Free BaaS Platform to Azure
Hybrid blockchain solutions startup Kadena has updated its enterprise blockchain platform on the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.
Blockchain scalability ambitions
Founded by former blockchain experts at United States banking giant JPMorgan, Kadena first released its permissioned blockchain on the Amazon Web Services Marketplace in January 2019.
At the time, company co-founder Stuart Popejoy said that existing versions of private blockchains were inadequate due to low scalability. Kadena also claimed that two Fortune 100 firms in the health and insurance industry were using its blockchain.
In today’s announcement, the New York-based company said that its current blockchain clients include $3 billion asset manager USCF Investments, healthcare technology company Rymedi, major Latin American tech firm Alteum and Fortune 500 companies. Kadena also claimed that it counts one of the world’s top 100 largest banks as a client, but declined to disclose the name.
Private chain for enterprise use
Kadena’s upgraded enterprise blockchain platform supports up to four nodes and 2,000 transactions per second, according to the announcement. This version will support new features such as secure channels, trustless escrows, pluggable encryption and contract governance.
Will Martino, Kadena’s co-founder and CEO, told TechCrunch that the recent launch of their enterprise blockchain product on Azure builds on the success of last year’s endeavor involving AWS. He said:
“Our private chain is designed for enterprise use. It’s designed for being high performance and for integrating with traditional back ends. And by bringing that chain to AWS marketplace, and now to Microsoft Azure, we are servicing almost all of the enterprise blockchain market that takes place in the cloud.”
Co-founded by Popejoy and Martino – both of whom worked at JPMorgan on early blockchain projects before launching Kadena in 2016 – Kadena has raised $14.9 million so far, according to the TechCrunch report.