Altcoin Explorer: NEM (XEM), the Enterprise-Grade Smart Contract Platform


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Nestled among the top 40 cryptocurrencies by reported market cap, New Economy Movement — popularly known as NEM (XEM) – is a peer-to-peer (P2P), dual-layer blockchain smart contract platform written in one of the most influential programming languages, Java. NEM uses the proof-of-importance (POI) consensus algorithm that essentially values the tokens held and the activity conducted by the nodes on the blockchain network.

In this Altcoin Explorer, BTCManager delves deeper into the finer intricacies of the NEM blockchain protocol, including the project’s POI consensus algorithm, its native digital token XEM, and some of its real-world use-cases.

Without further ado, let’s get to the core of this high-performance smart-contract platform.

History of NEM

NEM was launched on March 31, 2015, with an aim to develop an enterprise-grade blockchain protocol that could circumvent the infamous trilemma of blockchain: scalability, speed, and privacy.

Operated by a Singapore-based non-profit called Foundation, NEM is a fork-out version of the NXT blockchain. After the successful fork, the NEM community decided to build its ecosystem from the ground up and developed its own codebase to make the network more scalable and faster.

NEM’s insistence toward building its own tech infrastructure led to a distributed ledger technology (DLT) protocol that is unlike anything resembling other smart contract platforms.

Approximately two years after the launch of the NEM mainnet, in 2016, NEM Foundation came into existence as a Company Limited by Guarantee in Singapore. Today, NEM ranks among the top go-to smart contract platforms for enterprises across the world, rivaling competing protocols including Ethereum (ETH), and TRON (TRX), among others.

NEM’s Proof-of-Importance (POI) Algorithm

Unlike Bitcoin’s (BTC) energy-intensive Proof-of-Work (PoW) and Ethereum’s yet-to-be-implemented Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm, NEM uses PoI consensus mechanism.

The PoI mechanism achieves consensus by incentivizing active user participation in the NEM network. This consensus infrastructure ensures an agile decentralized network by rewarding well-behaved nodes that not only possess a significant stake in the network but are also actively engaged in executing transactions to maintain the network’s robustness.

Specifically, each node in the network possesses an ‘Importance Score’ that impacts the number of times the said node can ‘Harvest’ the XEM altcoin.

Initially, when a user puts XEM tokens into their wallet, they are called ‘unvested coins.’ Over time, as the wallets start accumulating an increasing number of XEM and contribute to the network’s transaction volume, they start collecting importance scores. At the same time, the XEM tokens in these wallets change into ‘vested coins,’ provided that there are at least 10000 tokens in the wallet.

To put things into perspective, let’s take the help of a small example.

On day 1, Joe receives 50,000 XEM in his digital wallet. Now, with each passing day, the NEM network will ‘vest’ 10 percent of the tokens held by Joe. So, on day 2, 5,000 tokens held by Joe are vested into the network. On day 3, 10 percent of the remaining tokens – 15,000 XEM – get vested into the network, leaving Joe with 13,500 XEM, and so one. After a couple of days, Joe sees that the number of XEM vested by him has crossed the 10,000 coins threshold, thereby, making him eligible to seek rewards from the NEM blockchain for his contribution to vesting his tokens.

Close followers of smart-contract projects would find the aforementioned network reward mechanism bear a close resemblance to the PoS consensus algorithm. However, it’s worthy of note that vesting coins is just one way of calculating a node’s importance score.

The NEM protocol also rewards nodes that are responsible for most activity on the network. In essence, this means that the higher the number of transactions executed by a node, the more likely it is to gain higher importance points. The balance between vesting XEM and network activity is an important metric to be maintained by NEM nodes as it directly impacts their likelihood of harvesting XEM.

NEM’s consensus algorithm does away with several issues plaguing the more energy-intensive protocols such as PoW. For instance, PoI does not necessarily require high-energy hardware to run the nodes. The decentralized nature of the algorithm means that almost any machine — irrespective of its tech configuration – can participate in the NEM ecosystem ensuring it remains decentralized.

NEM’s Native Digital Token — XEM

XEM, unlike the vast majority of other cryptocurrencies, isn’t mined or staked using Pow or PoS algorithms. Rather, as explained earlier, XEM is ‘harvested’ through the PoI algorithm which ensures a steady supply of the digital token without flooding the market and involving the risk of a dramatic crash in price.

Per data on CoinMarketCap, at the time of writing, XEM trades at $0.04 with a market cap of more than $382 million and a 24-hour trading volume of approximately $6.8 million. The coin reached its all-time high of $1.92 in January 2018.

A large number of reputable cryptocurrency exchanges trade XEM, including Binance, Upbit, OKEx, Bithumb, ProBit, among others. The digital token can be easily traded with BTC, ETH, and USDT trading pairs.

That said, if you wish to vest your XEM to partake in the maintenance of the NEM network and earn rewards, it is recommended you store your tokens in the official NEM Nano wallet for desktop and mobile OS. Only XEM tokens held in the official NEM Nano wallet are eligible for vesting.

NEM Use-Cases

To date, NEM has been deployed for various real-world applications with promising results.

In 2018, Ukraine launched a blockchain-based e-voting trial leveraging the NEM DLT platform.

At the time, Ukraine’s Central Election Commission – with the local NEM Foundation representation – estimated the test vote trial in each polling station could cost as low as $1,227. The organization’s Oleksandr Stelmakh lauded the efforts, saying that using a blockchain-powered voting mechanism would make it impossible for anyone to fiddle with the records. The Commission added that the NEM protocol presents information in a more user-friendly format for voters.

In the same year, Malaysia’s Ministry of Education launched an e-scroll system based on the NEM blockchain to tackle the menace of fake degrees. The University Degree Issuance and Verification System use the NEM blockchain which is interrogated upon scanning of a QR code printed on the degree certificate.

The Ministry added that one of the primary reasons for its decision to selected the NEM platform was its unique and cutting-edge features in managing traceability and authentication requirements.

Similarly, the Venezuelan government turned to NEM in its attempt to battle the devastating hyperinflation in the country via the oil-backed Petro cryptocurrency. The digital token built on the NEM blockchain was launched to improve the liquidity of the nation’s abundant oil reserves and as a stable alternative to the highly volatile Venezuelan bolivar.

On a recent note, the Bank of Lithuania announced that it would be issuing its NEM blockchain-powered digital collector’s coin (LBCoin) in July after the successful completion of its testing phase.

Final Thoughts

Summing up, NEM offers a wide array of in-house features that separate it from other smart-contract projects in a space that is becoming increasingly congested. NEM’s creative PoI consensus algorithm is a fresh take on the PoS algorithm for performance enhancement. Further, the project’s newly launched enterprise-grade DLT solution, Symbol, offers a tremendous option to businesses to help them cut costs, reduce complexities, and streamline innovation.

NEM uses the Java programming language that makes it an easy project for developers to get involved with, unlike other projects such as Ethereum that use platform-specific programming languages like Solidity. The project’s tech infrastructure not only makes it less power-intensive compared to Bitcoin but also more scalable than its rival projects including Ethereum and NEO.

NEM’s tagline, “Smart Asset Blockchain, Built for Performance,” perfectly captures everything the project has to offer. Over the years, NEM’s active developer community has craftily addressed the notorious bottlenecks in the vast majority of blockchain solutions, The future looks promising for NEM as it continues to foster a trustless and smart-contract economy for tomorrow.

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