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U.S. Professors Take on a Mission to Create a Bitcoin Killer

3 mins
Updated by Dani Polo
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A group of academics from seven prominent U.S. universities are engaged in creating a super cryptocurrency, free from Bitcoin’s inefficiencies and limitations.
Once upon a time, there lived a smart guy. Frustrated with the government, or just out of boredom, he came up with an idea of a self-contained peer-to-peer payment system that would not require any centralized agency to sit on top and supervise it. That is how blockchain protocol and Bitcoin were born. The system lived up to expectations, cheered for and advocated by anarchists and hardcore libertarians. However, once the idea caught the sight of the general public, the inefficiencies and limitations of the system came to the surface. As the identity of the true creator of Bitcoin has never been revealed, the early followers of his (or her, or maybe their) ideas took charge of the system support and development. Now it is managed and sustained by an international community of developers. Later new blockchains emerged, and their creators claimed they had improved the original idea and brought about new value. Many of them are genius programmers, and developers, but an ideal blockchain and perfect digital currency remain an elusive dream. lightning network

Academics Join the Game

Academicians have now jumped on the blockchain bandwagon to create a better and more efficient solution, based on the initial idea of a distributed ledger. A dream team of professors from seven U.S.-based universities is working on a new version of cryptocurrency which it has dubbed Unit-e. Their ultimate goal is to retain the best characteristics of Bitcoin’s blockchain and remedy all major deficiencies. With that in mind, it established Distributed Technology Research (DRT). This is a non-profit foundation supported by the Pantera Capital Management LP hedge fund and focused on research and development of decentralized technologies.

What’s Wrong With Bitcoin?

As a groundbreaking technology, blockchain has certain issues which seriously impede its progress.
  • Highly limited Bitcoin programming ecosystem makes it rigid and prone to hard forks.
  • Security vulnerabilities undermine system reliability. While the blockchain protocol itself proved difficult to be compromised, the application layer security leaves much to be desired thus far.
  • Increased adoption of cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies have exposed their scaling limitations. A growing number of users and transactions strained the network and resulted in clogged mempools and rising fees, as well as slow transaction processing.
  • Finally, all the above put its usability into question. Despite enormous potential, the technology is still in its infancy. It lacks the infrastructure, and the integration within the existing systems requires great effort.
As a result, mainstream adoption of blockchain and digital currencies as a common unit of payment remains elusive at this stage. [bctt tweet=”If we do not solve the scalability issue, cryptocurrencies will become more like 3D printing than the internet: an idea that was nice, but didn’t work, according to Pantera Capital co-CIO Joey Krug.” username=”beincrypto”]

What’s the Idea Behind Unit-e?

The academics from Distributed Technology Research decomposed and analyzed the blockchains behind the already existing cryptocurrencies. According to Pramod Viswanath, a professor of electrical and computer engineering, and a researcher on the project, the team strived to improve every single element of the technology. Once they got a clear picture of how the whole thing works, they developed new mechanisms for reaching consensus, new ways of sharding, and new payment processing channels. The significant, and thus far theoretical, improvements will allow them to achieve the targeted speed of 10,000 transactions per second (TPS) without compromising the decentralized nature. To put that into perspective, the Bitcoin network processes between 3 and 7 transactions per second on average, while Ethereum can manage from 10 to 30. Meanwhile, a fully centralized entity like Visa manages to process about 1,700 transactions per second. The DTR team plans to launch Unit-e in the second half of 2019.

What’s the Future?

While Unit-e sounds promising, and the team behind the project looks credible, success is not guaranteed. There is a risk that the new virtual coin will not make an impression on the community or fail to gain traction in the short-term. Moreover, regulatory uncertainty may play against the new coins. The governments of many developed countries including the U.S. cannot decide whether to embrace or ban the new phenomenon. There are also many disputes on its role in money laundering and other illegal activities worldwide. In the long-run, the natural process of technological evolution will run its course, and the best technology will become dominant, while at the same time weeding out ineffective rivals. bitcoin blockchain map Do you think Unit.e is just more vaporware hype? Will the team be able to reach its goal of 10,000 transactions per second? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!


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Tanya Chepkova
Tanya started as a financial news feed translator and worked as a financial analyst, news editor and content creator in various Russian and Foreign media outlets. She came to the...