What is the Orchid project?

The Orchid Project [1] was founded in 2017 by a team based in San Francisco and Berlin. Its CEO, Steven Waterhouse, a former partner at Pantera Capital and the Bitstamp office, is a recognized specialist in the block chain.

48 million has been raised from various investors to achieve the various objectives of the roadmap. Several partnerships with specialized companies have increased the confidence of professionals in the sector (with VPN secure a month ago) and increased its notoriety.

Since the launch, some thirty members have been working on the development of the project and the network was launched in December 2019 with the aim of allowing the entire population to freely access the Internet, limiting the monitoring and sale of user data. In addition, it also attempts to circumvent the limits set by censorship in certain regions of the world. Finally, it promises to offer users total confidentiality. To do so, the Orchid network allows the use of a decentralized, open source and peer-to-peer VPN with the project’s token: OXT, running directly on the Ethereum blockchain (ERC20).

The interest of a decentralized VPN

A VPN (virtual private network) is a secure virtual link allowing communication between two entities. Metaphorically speaking, it can be likened to a tunnel. The data sent through these links are encrypted and protected, making them unreadable in case of interception. The use of a VPN makes it possible to anonymize and mask the IP address of its user.

Therefore, what is the interest of opting for a decentralized VPN? As always, decentralization has an essential advantage: no longer involving a trusted third party. A dVPN is also very interesting for torrenting [2]. When it comes to a subject as sensitive as Internet surveillance, the presence of a third party necessarily raises questions about the good intentions and reliability of the third party, as the stakes are sometimes crucial for users (even physical integrity in repressive regimes). Some VPN vendors have been implicated for collaborating with governments (particularly in the U.S. and China) by providing data to government authorities. In addition, others have experienced considerable security breaches (such as the case of NordVPN last October). It is to these problems that Orchid is trying to provide answers.

Orchid, how does it work?

Orchid, how does it work?As explained on its website and in its white paper, the Orchid network relies on four essential elements that make it unique: its application, its protocol, the nano-payments and its crypto-money.

An application dedicated to securing your navigation

The Orchid application is now available on iOS, Android, MacOS and Linux. It should soon be available on Windows. It is the application that allows you to access the Orchid network on your different devices (computers, laptops, etc.) and customize your usage settings. These are quite similar to those offered by traditional centralized VPN providers. However, this application includes a private key to authenticate the bandwidth purchase with the project crypto-money (OXT).

The Orchid protocol: a specific protocol

The Orchid protocol is quite similar to a classic Open VPN protocol. Concretely, the latter is a widely used protocol because due to its nature, any publicly reported security vulnerability is usually fixed by the community. It also allows most firewalls to be bypassed by supporting multiple ports. However, the Orchid protocol has a particularity, it allows its members to request access to remote network resources, using OXTs to pay for access to these resources, via the
nano-payments.

Nano-payments, essential in system architecture

This nano-payment system is perhaps the cornerstone of the project, providing essential solutions for its development and sustainability. In a simplified way, this system allows users to pay suppliers using OXTs in order to benefit from bandwidth. It has been designed to handle high transaction throughput demands on the network and to cope with possible restrictions imposed on Ethereum, the main blockchain . It is a probability based system. Thus, the user does not directly pay a supplier. The provider has “a chance” to be remunerated for the use of his bandwidth. This method is intended to reduce supplier costs.

The consensus system is also original: “stake weighting”. The bandwidth providers thus block OXTs during deposits and receive rewards according to their importance. The larger the amount, the more rewards they are likely to get. If it is possible to withdraw all or part of the deposits, a period of three months is required before funds can be transferred that are “locked” during this time. This consensus system ensures the security of the network in this way.

Orchid (OXT) – The crypto-money of the network

Anyone can use the Orchid network as long as they have a wallet containing OXTs. It is available since December 2019 on the Coinbase platform. Unlike the usual centralized VPNs, Orchid users don’t pay a monthly fee. They only pay for the bandwidth they consume to ensure the security of their connection. It’s a “pay-as-you-go” payment system. This currency, as previously mentioned, also has the functionality to pay the bandwidth providers.

Two entities have audited OXT: Consentys and Certora, allowing to bring confidence in the currency. Currently ranked 286th in terms of capitalization on Coinmarketcap at around 9 million euros, an OXT is currently trading at the time of writing at 0.13 euros. The supply of OXT is set at one billion units, thus limiting the possibility of inflation.

The project facing its limits

The team in charge of the project seems experienced and Orchid Network has an undeniable interest based on the use of innovative and ambitious technologies. But the democratization of its use seems to be its main limitation. The process enabling its adoption requires the abandonment of centralized VPNs and is likely to be quite long. The project will have to be able to provide a user experience at least equivalent to that of the usual providers, so that the latter can be convinced to switch to a decentralized tool. The token’s price volatility and its presence on a single exchange platform are also hindering its adoption by the majority of users.

Indeed, for the moment and despite a real craze when it was launched on Coinbase, the community is still fairly modest. With 33,000 subscribers on Twitter, less than 2,000 on Facebook and barely more on Telegram, the project is showing the first signs of running out of steam. Aware of these difficulties, the team decided to join the Digital Chamber of Commerce in the middle of the month, an organization whose main mission is to promote blockchain technology [3]. Good news never comes alone, Orchid is now integrated with Ledger, the creator of the most famous hardware wallet of the moment, and a new partnership has just been concluded with TrustWallet, Binance’s official portfolio. All the more so since for the past three days, OXT has been accessible to New Yorkers, who were previously deprived of it. Enough to rekindle the flame?

[1] https://www.orchidproject.org/
[2] https://www.vpncomparison.org/best-vpn-for-torrenting/
[3] https://guarium.io/blockchains-4-ways-to-redefine-ecommerce/

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