What Is IOTA?

IOTA, which trades under the ticker symbol MIOTA, is a digital currency specifically designed for the Internet of Things (IoT). This cryptocurrency is used to make transactions on IOTA’s distributed ledger, which is known as the tangle.

IOTA was created with the intention of improving upon the blockchain, a more basic distributed ledger system, and solving its inherent problems.1)Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://blog.iota.org/a-primer-on-iota-with-presentation-e0a6eb2cc621 Because it eliminates fees, IOTA has been envisioned as enabling a “Machine Economy” that leverages a high number of devices.

Blockchain Challenges

The first known blockchain, which was implemented for Bitcoin, divided users and miners. Users would make transactions, and miners would confirm them.

The problem with this situation is that it gave the two groups different incentives. While users naturally benefited from low fees, miners would reap greater rewards when these fees were higher.

This created conflict between users and miners. While the Bitcoin Protocol gave miners the ability to upgrade the Bitcoin network and increase its bandwidth, doing so would have reduced the fees they collected by processing transactions.

To bring about a major change such as increasing the size of blocks in the blockchain, a hard fork would be required, which in turn could not happen unless a supermajority of miners signalled their support of such a change. Generating this kind of consensus proved difficult given the bitcoin community’s decentralised nature.

As a result, bitcoin suffered from a drawn-out scaling dilemma, where different groups proposed solutions that were met with repeated failure.2)Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://hackernoon.com/the-great-bitcoin-scaling-debate-a-timeline-6108081dbada At the time of this writing (May 2018), bitcoin has the same 1MB blocks it had when it was first created.

IOTA Basics

To overcome these challenges, IOTA created a next-generation distributed ledger called the tangle, which gets its name from the way it links transactions. “The tangle naturally succeeds the blockchain as its next evolutionary step, and offers features that are required to establish a machine-to-machine micropayment system,” the IOTA whitepaper states.3)Retrieved 27 April 2018 http://iotatoken.com/IOTA_Whitepaper.pdf

The tangle is made up of sites and nodes.4)Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://medium.com/@jj1385jeff850527/iota-tangle-introductory-overview-of-white-paper-for-beginners-df9b14882b64 Nodes are simply devices that issue and confirm transactions, and sites are transactions.5)Retrieved 27 April 2018 http://iotatoken.com/IOTA_Whitepaper.pdf

To issue a new transaction, a node must contribute toward confirming other transactions.6)Retrieved 27 April 2018 http://iotatoken.com/IOTA_Whitepaper.pdf The more approvals a transaction gets, the more assurance there is that the system accepts it. Every time a node makes a transaction, it contributes to the security of the overall IOTA system.

In order to issue a transaction, a node must confirm two other transactions, which are chosen at random using a specific algorithm.7)Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://www.iota.org/get-started/faqs Next, the algorithm ensures that the transactions that have been selected in this manner do not conflict with one another.

Once this is verified, the node looking to issue the transaction must contribute some of its computational resources in order to solve a cryptographic puzzle.8)Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://www.iota.org/get-started/faqs Finally, this information can be passed along to other nodes in IOTA’s network as devices spread the news to their neighbor devices.

While a blockchain is deterministic and verifies a certain number of transactions per second, IOTA’s tangle is probabilistic.9)Retrieved 18 June 2018 http://iotatoken.com/IOTA_Whitepaper.pdf The system’s algorithm randomly selects transactions for verification, so some transactions are confirmed by the tangle more quickly than others.

Scaling Capabilities

IOTA’s tangle does not depend on the linear addition of blocks to grow, and can instead expand in parallel.10)Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://blog.iota.org/a-primer-on-iota-with-presentation-e0a6eb2cc621 As a result, it can scale more easily in response to greater user demands than the blockchain could.

The Coordinator

Unlike many digital currencies, which are decentralised by design, IOTA is partially centralised. It uses a special node called the Coordinator, which is in place to protect the network from the threat of one party (or a group of parties working together) from getting too much influence over the digital currency’s network.11)Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://www.iota.org/get-started/faqs

The Coordinator, which is run by the IOTA Foundation, digitally confirms transactions, as well as their location. Basically, the Coordinator is just like any other node, except that by signing both a transaction and its location, it prevents that particular transaction from then being reattached somewhere else.

Because IOTA relies on the Coordinator, it is not a trustless network like bitcoin. When leveraging IOTA, users must be willing to trust the IOTA Foundation and its staff.

Summary

IOTA represents innovative technology that could hold great potential. However, investors should keep in mind that IOTA, like many other digital currencies, is a speculative investment.

While potential investors may find this particular cryptocurrency appealing, they should be sure to conduct the proper due diligence before buying, selling or otherwise investing in this digital currency.

Any opinions, news, research, analyses, prices, other information, or links to third-party sites contained on this website are provided as general market commentary and do not constitute investment advice. The market commentary has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research, and it is therefore not subject to any prohibition on dealing ahead of dissemination. FXCM will not accept liability for any loss or damage including, without limitation, to any loss of profit which may arise directly or indirectly from use of or reliance on such information.

References   [ + ]

1, 10. Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://blog.iota.org/a-primer-on-iota-with-presentation-e0a6eb2cc621
2. Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://hackernoon.com/the-great-bitcoin-scaling-debate-a-timeline-6108081dbada
3, 5, 6. Retrieved 27 April 2018 http://iotatoken.com/IOTA_Whitepaper.pdf
4. Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://medium.com/@jj1385jeff850527/iota-tangle-introductory-overview-of-white-paper-for-beginners-df9b14882b64
7, 8, 11. Retrieved 27 April 2018 https://www.iota.org/get-started/faqs
9. Retrieved 18 June 2018 http://iotatoken.com/IOTA_Whitepaper.pdf