Major project announcement: A bright future for Loki
Since we started in 2017, Loki has grown exponentially. After beginning as an ambitious Monero fork, our scope has dramatically expanded into a full privacy suite: a private messaging app, an onion routing network, a private PoS cryptocurrency, and a foundation dedicated to building and supporting free, accessible, decentralised, open-source privacy tools.
We have proven ourselves to be a community-first, transparent, development-led team. Always have been, always will be. We work for our community, and we’re always adapting to make sure we’re bringing value to the project and providing you with the best applications possible. In recent months we announced our foray into the DeFi space with our support of Chainflip, a decentralised cross-chain asset swapping service being built on Loki. Chainflip has been met with enormous excitement and support from the Loki community, and the initial centralised version (beta) was due to be released this month.
However, recent developments in the regulatory landscape have made us pause and consider the best way forward for both Chainflip and the Loki Project. The knock-on effects of those recent regulatory developments are far-reaching, and they’ll have dramatic effects on the crypto space as a whole — so the Chainflip team has been hard at work finding the best way forward for the project.
While the Chainflip team has been planning for their future, we’ve also had the opportunity to take a step back and consider our overall strategy at Loki. You might’ve noticed things have been unusually quiet for the last month or so. That’s because we’ve been busy behind the scenes intensely planning the next big step for Loki, and now we’re ready to share it with you.
At Loki, we care deeply about what we’re building, the community that has helped make it possible, and the potential of all of the incredible technology already under our belt. The question we’ve been working to answer is: how can we ensure all our projects have the opportunity to reach their full potential? How can we ensure that all of our products and technologies remain relevant and growing, not just for the next year, but for the next 5 years and beyond?
What we’re announcing
Today, we’re announcing some radical changes that will future-proof the project, our product suite, and our commitment to free, open-source decentralised privacy tools. There’s a lot going on at Loki, and this is quite a dense set of announcements. We’re sure you’ll have questions after this first round of announcements, so please join CEO Simon Harman and CTO Kee Jefferys for a live community roundtable later today (Tuesday November 10) at 4pm AEDT. Simon will also be running additional AMA sessions at 10am AEDT on Wednesday November 11, and at some point on Thursday and Friday (times TBC), to ensure we can answer all your questions and respond to all your feedback throughout the week. Submit your questions through Menti or share them in our community chats and social channels — we’ll be sure to address every question we can.
With that, let’s get into the announcements!
An evolution for Loki
The word Loki is something that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Loki has already evolved an incredible amount over the last 3 years. Our technology stack continues to grow, with a wide range of tools and protocols that make developing decentralised secure applications much easier — not just for us, but for everyone. We’ve built Session, Lokinet, and all of the utilities on the Loki Blockchain itself, and in so doing, we’ve also built a number of libraries, protocols, and other tools to make these decentralised applications possible.
The answer to the question “What is Loki?” depends on who you ask. Some people are deeply interested in the power of the Loki blockchain. Others see the importance and potential of Session, and will mostly describe Loki in terms of secure messaging. And some love Loki for Lokinet, and can see a bright future for a crypto-backed competitor to Tor and VPN services. Finally, there’s Chainflip — the newest member of the family. Lots of people are super excited about the prospect of Chainflip, and for some it was the first time they’d ever heard of Loki.
The Loki Project has so much depth, so many tools, and so much utility that it can be hard to summarise all the things this project does. For those that do their research, it’s a compelling, interesting, and promising project with abundant possibility. But the feedback we’ve received suggests that to most newcomers, the Loki Project comes across as a bewildering array of seemingly unconnected products and features. The same principle applies to our current technology stack: there’s a lot there, but it’s very hard for external developers to understand, contribute to, and most importantly, leverage to their own advantage.
Above and beyond this confusion, the Loki brand itself — while beloved in the Loki community — is seen as old and outdated by many key players in the crypto industry. To put it bluntly, this is limiting the project’s growth potential. The wider crypto market seeks out fresh brands with fresh narratives, and our marketing team has gotten bigger, better, and more capable of creating and building more compelling brands than Loki — brands like Session. Now, it’s time for us to convert our branding expertise into market capitalisation. While we love the name Loki, and we are sure many in the community do too, the name carries too many negative connotations in the wider market — connotations that make it difficult for us to reach new network participants.
Today’s announcements aim to begin the process of addressing these issues. Loki is growing and evolving, and in recognition of this evolution, the entire project is being renamed and rebranded.
OXEN: A new era for Loki
As we’ve already said, the network we’ve built has grown, and shown that it’s easily capable of powering applications like Session and Lokinet. But the Loki Network can be a whole lot more than just the applications we’re developing.
With everything we’ve built — it’s time to hand over the keys to the Ferrari.
The tools, protocols, and libraries we’ve built can power much more than just Session and Lokinet. They can be the building blocks everyone uses to create a new wave of privacy technologies.
Of course, we’ll still be hard at work developing Lokinet and Session as well, but all of the late nights and double espressos that go into our work won’t just benefit those applications, but an entire ecosystem of development utilities. Oxen won’t just be the backbone of our products, but the fabric we all use to weave a privacy revolution.
Oxen gives developers looking to enhance their products with greater privacy and security a real package to work with. We haven’t widely talked about what we know is possible with the Oxen stack, because until more recently, that stack didn’t exist. But now, we’ve built it. Three years in, it’s mature and robust, and we’re excited to see other technology companies, projects, and communities use the Oxen stack to make things like:
- A truly encrypted Slack/Mattermost competitor
- Truly encrypted voice and video call service (Yes, much better than Zoom or Jitsi, which aren’t really that well-secured at all)
- Peer-to-peer networking replacement library for blockchain projects (much easier to deploy than libp2p, for instance, due to common features with ZMQ)
- Onion VPN marketplace powered by Oxen
- Secure onion-routed HTTPrequest library (onion requests) used to secure simple web traffic between client and server without requiring a VPN or OS level support
- Redundant messaging utilising the swarm protocol (superior protocol to Bitmessage)
- Virtual LAN functionality to enable private networks to form on the public internet (a more versatile, easier-to-use version of Hamachi)
Truthfully, this is much closer to the original vision of Loki — using staked nodes to provide services. The scope of the Oxen network isn’t limited to the potential of Session and Lokinet. While they’re great examples of some of the possible applications of the Oxen stack, so much more can be done.
2020 has made it obvious that there is a demand for privacy in all areas of digital communication and collaboration. Zoom is the most talked-about piece of technology of the year — and it’s been widely panned for its privacy and security failings. Tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Discord, WebEx, and Trello have become essential to the daily operations of people around the world. These tools are useful, but their models for privacy and security are lagging behind.
The Oxen stack is the answer to this problem.
We’re not just talking about a few purpose-built privacy tools. We’re talking about empowering the most-used technologies in the world to become properly private and secure with relatively straightforward implementations and integrations.
When we set out to make Session and Lokinet, this didn’t exist. We’ve had to build it ourselves, but now — everyone that comes after can stand on our shoulders. Privacy should be a non-negotiable part of modern technology, but a lot of the time it gets dumped in the too-hard basket.
Oxen puts privacy at the fingertips of developers and users alike. And to slingshot adoption of Oxen’s tech stack into the exosphere, we’re spinning up a new business development division to create new opportunities and build relationships with developers and organisations who will benefit from leveraging Oxen’s tech stack. This active stance will radically increase adoption and use of our technologies across every sector we’re involved in, and help to ensure that both the Oxen project and the wider technology ecosystem will benefit from what we’ve built.
Over the coming days, weeks, and months, Loki will evolve into Oxen. You’ll start to see the changes rolling in as you get a taste for the new brand, new tickers pop up on places like CoinMarketCap, and a brand-spanking-new website. We’re excited to take you on the journey with us — the journey from Loki to Oxen. As Loki, we’ve already accomplished so much together, and as Oxen we’ll do even more.
You’ve probably noticed that we haven’t mentioned Chainflip’s place in Oxen’s bold new plan just yet — and that’s because Chainflip has a bold new plan all of its own. Just like Oxen, there are lots of exciting new developments for Chainflip that we’re sharing with you today.
What’s next for Chainflip
The Chainflip team’s original plan was for Chainflip to be rolled out in several stages, each with decreasing levels of centralisation. That’s no longer possible, and although the initial centralised version has essentially been completed, releasing it as is would be unacceptably risky. To address this, the first version of Chainflip will now be fully decentralised — but this means extra development resources will be required to deliver Chainflip in a timely manner. Today, we’re announcing some changes which will give Chainflip the resources it needs to grow quickly, while ensuring that our major projects — Oxen, Lokinet, and Session — can continue to be developed without interruption.
Chainflip was always going to take significant work to build — and this is doubly true if it’s going to be decentralised from day one. Having said that, completion of the centralised version is still an enormous milestone for Chainflip- it will accelerate testing and development of the decentralised version. The current version has been modularised so that each of the components can be decentralised independently of one another, which means the Quoter and front-end work is already largely finished.
With that in mind, the process of building the decentralised version of Chainflip could really benefit from extended resources. The DeFi space is growing quickly, and we think Chainflip is one of the most crucial additions to the ecosystem. At the moment, there is a gap in the DeFi ecosystem — trustless asset swapping services with a positive permissionless user experience. This is a hole Chainflip will patch, and as the DeFi industry matures, it’s a gap that needs to be filled.
We want the Chainflip team to have all the resources they need to bring a fully-fledged version of the product to market as soon as possible. Chainflip needs its own blockchain to fulfil its potential.
With its own purpose-built blockchain, Chainflip will be delivered more quickly, more completely, and be well positioned to succeed as a long term project. Although it would still be possible, using the Loki blockchain would hold Chainflip back from both a technological and regulatory perspective. We want to deliver the best version of Chainflip, and this is the best way to achieve that.
With this plan, both Oxen and Chainflip will thrive. Not only will Chainflip have everything it needs to succeed, but we won’t have to divert any resources away from Oxen or its projects like Session and Lokinet. The Oxen community will be rewarded for all of their support for the project. Further, because the Foundation has already contributed to the Chainflip project, it has negotiated with the Chainflip team to ensure that this new direction for Chainflip will be significantly beneficial for the Foundation, too.
Chainflip ICO and OXEN swapping program
Now that Chainflip is standing on its own two feet, it’s going to need its own resources. Chainflip will be completing a fundraising round in order to give itself all the tools it needs to rapidly accelerate development timelines and ensure the product is released in a fully decentralised manner with all of the proposed features.
This way, the fully realised version of Chainflip will be delivered to your doorstep as soon as possible.
Loki has been a huge supporter of Chainflip, and there are plenty of people holding Loki because of their interest in the product. Chainflip wants to recognise those people, and so in order to bootstrap its own community, the project will be offering a token burning program using LOKI/OXEN. As much as 9% of the presale supply will be made available to swap LOKI/OXEN at preferential rates for Chainflip tokens. This program will be rolled out in 3 tranches at decreasing rates in each round, meaning the sooner users participate, the better rate they’ll get per LOKI/OXEN token. There are also plans being put in place to preference current SN operators at the best swap rates in the first round of the burn in recognition of the work they provide. This swap program gives current LOKI/OXEN holders the opportunity to decide whether they want to stay involved with both Oxen and Chainflip, or merely one or the other — without having to buy any new tokens to do so.
After the successful issuance of the main Chainflip token, the LOKI/OXEN collected in this program will be publicly burned. Details on the burning program will be released in the coming weeks, as there are still some important legal questions to be answered surrounding the specifics of this program.
Chainflip is still in the early stages of fundraising, and while entities are being spun up and legal advice is being finalised, very few details can be shared publicly. Based on early conversations, and with pre-seed funding already secured, lots of work has already been completed that — depending on the outcomes of the legal advice — could allow Chainflip to close the private components of the presale by the end of the year.
For the time being, though, the only way to gain exposure to Chainflip tokens is by holding Loki and waiting for the burning program. We believe this fact will stimulate organic demand for Loki as the project makes the transition to Oxen.
As for the 6 Loki per block that was earmarked for incentivising Chainflip liquidity, that allocation may be retargeted to support other aspects of the project — like further incentivising Service Node operators or supporting other community projects — or possibly removed entirely. We’ll consult the community in the near future about the best way to utilise this part of the block reward going forward, and your input will be key to this decision.
Session and Lokinet: The future is bright
Meanwhile, Session and Lokinet are full steam ahead.
Lokinet is about to get a rebrand all to itself. We’ve already mentioned this a couple of times over the last few months, but the rebrand is now getting close to being fully released. Over the years, our marketing team has gotten a lot better at building and establishing striking brands — and Lokinet is ready for a new look. On top of a completely overhauled visual identity, Lokinet will be getting a new name — just in time for the much-vaunted imminent release of exit node functionality.
We think Lokinet’s exit node marketplace is going to solve a lot of the problems faced by current traffic-anonymising applications. Of course, Tor has long been both a bulwark and a trailblazer in the privacy community, but it suffers from crippling speed and user experience issues due to being an application-layer protocol. You can download Lokinet right now and see for yourself its speed and ease of use. Likewise, while VPNs offer convenience and ease of use — they can only offer so much protection. A plug-and-play onion routing network like Lokinet represents a huge leap forward for anonymous internet usage, and we’re actively seeking out VPN companies to plug their existing VPN infrastructure into the Oxen onion VPN marketplace, which will help bootstrap the network’s capability and bring traffic to the Oxen marketplace.
On top of this, Session is already a fully-functioning product that thousands of people are using every day. Earlier this year, we showed that we can drive huge user numbers for Session. We have the data, we know we can do it. Session already has over 400,000 downloads. Our marketing efforts were put on pause to give our Session developers some wiggle room to polish the app — but now it’s ready. Session is in the best place it’s ever been, and we’re just about ready to unleash the marketing budget and strategy that we’ve been building up for the last six months. Session is ready to become a truly mass-market messaging app, with plans in place to grow the user base to over 1,000,000 users in 2021.
Oxen will be at the vanguard of a privacy technology revolution. Session and Lokinet are proof of the incredible applications that can be built using this platform, and now the tech stack we’ve spent three years building along the way can be put to work — for the benefit of the entire privacy community.
Of course, this is a lot of information to come out all at once. We are extremely excited about these changes, and we invite you to come and speak with Kee and Simon later today (Tuesday November 10) at 4pm AEDT on YouTube — keep an eye on our socials for a link. Simon will also be running additional AMA sessions at 10am AEDT on Wednesday November 11, and at some point on Thursday and Friday (times TBC), to ensure we can answer all your questions and respond to all your feedback. Submit your questions through Menti or share them in our community chats and social channels — we’ll be sure to address every question we can.
Welcome to Oxen. Loki, evolved.
Originally published at https://loki.network on November 10, 2020.