Building a free-to-use social DApp


Cointelegraph is following the event of a completely new blockchain from inception to mainnet and past by means of its sequence, Contained in the Blockchain Developer’s Thoughts, written by Andrew Levine of Koinos Group.

In my first article on this sequence, I defined why Ethereum and Steem haven’t been in a position to ship a mainstream social decentralized utility (DApp). In my second article, I defined how EOS tried to mix options of each chains however it did so in a manner that also required customers to purchase high-priced random-access reminiscence (RAM) for accounts and good contracts.

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On this article, I wish to take a unique strategy to this downside, not primarily based on comparisons to current platforms however primarily based on first rules. As a substitute of constraining our imaginations primarily based on the constraints of the earliest makes an attempt at general-purpose blockchains, let’s, as a substitute, have a look at the issue from the developer’s perspective. What do they want as a way to ship the person expertise that mainstream customers require? In my earlier article, I described this as “fee-less with out exceptions.” In different phrases, they need completely free-to-use purposes.

Constructing a free-to-use DApp from first rules

The very very first thing {that a} person might want to use an utility of any form is an account, so introducing a charge right here would instantly create a damaging person expertise. We wish to reduce friction for the person in order that we will maximize virality — we actually don’t wish to pressure them to purchase an account. However, we don’t wish to remedy this downside by merely forcing the developer to pay that account creation value as a result of it will enhance their prices.

Associated: Gasoline-free transactions will revolutionize Web3

This downside is a simple one as a result of it has already been solved by Bitcoin and Ethereum, each of which permit customers to create addresses without spending a dime. Considering from first rules then, if we don’t need builders or end-users to must pay for accounts, we’d like a blockchain with addresses that operate as accounts.

Who pays?

Utilizing Bitcoin or Ethereum-style addresses permits us to create accounts with out both the end-user or the DApp developer having to eat the charge. Nice. However, now we wish individuals to truly use the decentralized utility which implies that we wish them to run a pc program on a decentralized laptop and eat among the laptop’s sources. We wish to allow them to do one thing that may have a real-world value that somebody has to pay. It’s only a matter of who, proper? Effectively, this assumes that there’s just one option to cost individuals.

That is exactly the place first-principles considering supplies a lot worth. Charges are the standard manner we cost individuals for utilizing blockchains, so if we simply assume that that is the one answer then the one conceivable choice turns into who pays the charge, not whether or not there may be an alternate strategy to the issue.

Associated: The ability of low-cost transactions: Can Solana’s development outpace Ethereum?

Charging alternative value

Taking individuals’s cash is one option to impose a value (i.e. lowering their token steadiness) however there may be one other form of value: alternative value. Taking individuals’s skill to make use of their tokens (i.e. their cash).

If we may create a decentralized system for “charging” individuals to make use of the blockchain, not by taking their tokens, however by taking away their skill to make use of their tokens (for a time period), then we may permit them to make use of the blockchain with out taking any of their tokens.

Not solely that, however as soon as that time period is over, they may select to make use of the blockchain extra, that means that they wouldn’t must always be shopping for extra tokens simply to have the ability to proceed utilizing the applying they love. This is able to dramatically enhance person retention and additional maximize development.

Online game expertise

We now have a mechanism for charging customers that doesn’t really feel like a charge, however our goal is to ship a mainstream person expertise. Requiring individuals to consciously lock cryptocurrency tokens earlier than they’ll use an utility is just not a mainstream person expertise.

If we will’t require individuals to consciously lock tokens, which means we’d like a system that permits individuals to easily use the blockchain with none thought. All which means is that the system has to resolve the dimensions of the chance value as a substitute of the person. Taking this determination out of the palms of the person permits us to design the system in order that the dimensions of the chance value is as little as potential, all whereas sustaining financial sustainability. This offers the person confidence that they’re by no means “overpaying” (even when it is just a chance value) whereas once more maximizing development by reducing limitations. The cheaper transactions are, the much less they really feel like charges — the higher the person expertise — and the sooner we will anticipate the person base to develop.

In fact, the person deserves to understand how a lot of their tokens shall be locked in the event that they select to carry out the motion. What we wish is principally a mana bar from a online game. The person ought to be capable to see how a lot free utilization of the blockchain they’ve primarily based on the liquid tokens that they’ve of their pockets. After they go to carry out some motion that consumes blockchain sources, they need to be capable to see how a lot of their mana will lower once they carry out the motion. In the event that they discover that value acceptable, they merely carry out the motion, resembling minting a nonfungible token (NFT), their mana is consumed and the correct amount of tokens are locked for the set time period. Wouldn’t that be nice?

The ultimate barrier

There may be one final downside: With the system we’ve got described, the end-user nonetheless has to have some tokens of their pockets. Typically, that implies that they nonetheless must make a purchase order (of tokens) earlier than they’ll use the applying. Whereas we nonetheless have a fairly good person expertise, telling individuals they must spend cash earlier than they’ll use an app is a barrier to entry and winds up feeling an entire lot like a charge. I might know, that is precisely what occurred on our earlier blockchain, Steem.

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To resolve that downside, we added a function referred to as “delegation” which might permit individuals with tokens (e.g. builders) to delegate their mana (referred to as Steem Energy) to their customers. This fashion, end-users may use Steem-based purposes even when they didn’t have any of the native token STEEM.

However, that design was very tailor-made to Steem, which didn’t have good contracts and required customers to first purchase accounts. The largest downside with delegations is that there was no option to management what a person did with that delegation. Builders need individuals to have the ability to use their DApps without spending a dime in order that they’ll maximize development and generate income in another manner like a subscription or by means of in-game merchandise gross sales. They don’t need individuals taking their delegation to commerce in decentralized finance (DeFi) or utilizing it to play another developer’s nice recreation like Splinterlands.

We would like customers to have the ability to use a particular DApp with out having to purchase tokens first, and, as at all times, we don’t need the developer to must spend any cash to make this occur. That final half is hard as a result of the standard option to remedy this downside is by designing the good contract in order that the developer can select to pay the charge as a substitute of the person. However, keep in mind, we’ve already solved this downside as a result of nobody is paying a charge for something, simply a chance value. So long as the developer has tokens, they’ll select to pay the “mana” that somebody wants to make use of their utility.

Free for builders?

However, what if the developer doesn’t wish to purchase tokens? What if they’ve an current utility with a thriving person base that the platform can be fortunate to draw? It’s in one of the best curiosity of enormous token holders to draw top quality builders to a platform to allow them to simply do the identical factor. The stakeholder may let the developer set them (the stakeholder) because the “payer” of mana for the developer’s good contracts.

The stakeholder isn’t shedding any cash by doing this however they’re nonetheless in a position to deploy their capital to assist worth creation and development, which is nice. If the stakeholder supplies their mana to a developer whose app provides great worth to the platform, then the worth of their token holdings will go up. If the developer’s app doesn’t add worth, the stakeholder has an incentive to cease offering their mana to that developer and discover another person who could make higher use of their mana.

Now we have now discovered not solely methods to make a DApp free-to-use for the end-user, as an added bonus we’ve got discovered methods to make the blockchain free-to-use for builders whereas giving massive stakeholders a option to spend money on development and worth creation with out sacrificing any of their token holdings.

Not possible?

However, all of that is simply in principle proper? Truly, no. What I’ve described right here is strictly how we’re constructing Koinos. Actually, all of those options are already reside on our present testnet with the third and ultimate model of the testnet coming quickly. If you wish to study extra about mana, you’ll be able to learn the white paper right here.

This text doesn’t include funding recommendation or suggestions. Each funding and buying and selling transfer entails danger and readers ought to conduct their very own analysis when making a call.

The views, ideas and opinions expressed listed here are the writer’s alone and don’t essentially mirror or signify the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Andrew Levine is the CEO of Koinos Group, a staff of trade veterans accelerating decentralization by means of accessible blockchain expertise. Their foundational product is Koinos, a fee-less and infinitely upgradeable blockchain with common language assist.