What Is MaidSafeCoin?
MaidSafe is a project for a decentralized internet, created in 2006 by Scottish engineer David Irvine. MaidSafe’s concept predates Bitcoin by several years, although it’s still in its alpha phase at the beginning of 2019. When completed, the SAFE network will work similarly to the TOR network, meaning that Internet content is distributed and accessed in a P2P mesh network.
MaidSafecoin is the temporary cryptocurrency coin used for the alpha and beta versions of the SAFE network, which stands for Secure Access For Everyone. MAID itself is an acronym for Massive Array of Internet Disks. The SAFE network was first envisioned in 2006 by MaidSafe to create a decentralized internet that’s safe and fair for everyone. With the FCC dismantling net neutrality in 2018, this goal may be more important than ever.
Using a decentralized internet resists censorship, as servers are harder to find. It’s why pirates switched from the centralized servers of Napster to the decentralized Gnutella and BitTorrent protocols.
Instead of mining, SAFE network users would be sharing system resources just like they control upload and download speeds in today’s BitTorrent clients. However, instead of just network bandwidth, users will also be sharing disk space, memory, and CPU processing power.
To see if MaidSafe can build the decentralized internet Richard Hendricks has been dreaming of for years, let’s start with a breakdown of the MAID and SAFE coins, and the project’s crypto market performance.
MAID Cryptocurrency Summary
MAID has a circulating supply of 452,552,412 as of March 24th 2019. Its peak price so far was $1.12, which occurred on January 2, 2018.
The MaidSafeCoin ICO presale occured on April 22, 2014 and 10 percent of the total MAID supply was released to the public, raising $8 million worth of BTC. An additional 15 percent was withheld by the founding development team.
The total supply is approximately 4.3 billion MAID, which is determined mathematically by each coin file being 32 bits, leaving that many possible number combinations. This is true of the SAFE coin, which is a file, but MAID in its current iteration is a cryptocurrency.
Instead of mining, MaidSafe uses the term “farming,” and there’s a difference between mining and farming. It’s called Proof of Resource.
Instead of solving complex algorithms, farmers essentially act as micro internet servers, storing data for users in vaults. As users access data, farmers are rewarded with SAFE for providing it first. We’ll talk about how this system is encrypted and secured more below. The distribution system uses a random coin generator, and if the coin generated is unowned, it becomes yours.
Vault Elders (the most trusted vaults by consensus) then perform required governance of the SAFE network. This is similar to a Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS) consensus model
Safecoins are based on an account system and are “network atomic“, meaning that the system stores the balances of all accounts. Transfers are based on the signature of the last owner, which MaidSafe claims is different from the “blockchain mechanism adopted in other projects, such as Bitcoin“. The system is clearly different from Bitcoin’s UTXO’s, but shares some similarities with Ethereum’s accounting system.
MAID is traded on HitBTC, Poloniex, and Cryptopia, along with the OpenLedger DEX. Just under $1 million MAID is traded on a daily basis on cryptocurrency exchanges, and its trading pairs are BTC, ETH, and USDT.
MAID can be stored in the OmniWallet until it’s converted to SAFE upon the mainnet launch. ICO token holders will receive 10% of the SAFE supply, though an additional 5% will be given to the founders and shareholders of the project, meaning they will own one third of the initial supply.
Decentralizing What’s Already Decentralized
If you’re not a networking wizard, you may not be aware that both the internet and cloud are just physical servers somewhere storing information. Facebook is just a website to you, but to Facebook, it’s a series of data centers and server farms – huge buildings housing tens of thousands of computer servers.
The problem with today’s Internet is similar to the problem with analog phone lines before the proliferation of the mobile phone. Back in 1982 a consent decree initiated by a 1974 Department of Justice lawsuit broke up a monopoly AT&T as a telephone service provider had over the Bell Operating Company, which controlled the physical telephone lines.
The breakup resulted in the creation of seven independent companies, one of which ended up purchasing 4 of them and taking over the AT&T brand. The remaining three are owned by Verizon and CenturyLink, who are using high-speed DSL service on those same lines to compete today with ISPs using fiber optic cable lines.
Comcast Xfinity, Time Warner, Charter, Cox, and others are fighting for a monopoly over our internet content, and the FCC’s net neutrality repeal gives them the power to control bandwidth and create pricing tiers for an internet system that looks more like traditional cable.
VPNs and distributed P2P mesh networks like TOR are proposed solutions to stopping these internet service providers from once again controlling our airwaves.
Even if net neutrality is preserved, we’re not out of the water. A small handful of companies, like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google hold most of the Internet’s information on their servers. They’re the ones with the most to lose if the ISPs gain control of the Internet. A P2P internet can save us from both the hardware and software tech giants truly controlling our internet.
This is what MaidSafeCoin is tapping into, but if it’s prepared for the task, why has it been under development for twelve years with no working product yet?
The proposed SAFE Network mainnet will need mass adoption to quickly reindex the entire internet, something Google and others have long been working and have decades-long head starts on.
Mesh networking and the PoR ledger work because, as you know if you’ve ever downloaded a torrent or Gnutella file, only small pieces from each file need to be stored on each node – just enough to keep what’s in front of you loading fast enough to not notice it.
It’s a sharding principle similar to how movie files were distributed in RAR directories on forums long before high-speed internet or even Napster. And in piracy is where we see the inherent problem of MaidSafeCoin that kept it stuck in development limbo for over a decade.
Even if it works flawlessly, it’ll face the same paradox the TOR browser and every other proposed P2P mesh network has: network speed and reliability is dependent on adoption, which is dependent upon network speed and reliability.
It’s the opposite of the Bitcoin and Ethereum bottlenecks, where mass user adoption bogged down the system. And one can only wonder if MaidSafe has the marketing power to succeed where soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo many others have failed at before.
Although created before Bitcoin, MaidSafe is clearly hoping hitching a ride on the blockchain bandwagon will lead it to success. The idea of a mesh internet isn’t new – TOR and torrents have used distributed and decentralized methods for years. MaidSafe simply tokenized the process and repacked it into these key ingredients:
- MaidSafe (the company) created MaidSafeCoin and MAID token as temporary placeholders during the alpha and beta phases of its SAFE network and SAFE cryptocurrency coin.
- Safecoins are used to tokenize transactions on the P2P distributed mesh internet residing on the devices of SAFE network users.
- Each user connected to the SAFE network can choose to become farmers that store information in vaults to present to users with available computing resources in exchange for Safecoins.
Tokenizing the distributed internet concept is the new ingredient MaidSafe brings to the table. It’ll be interesting to see if the development team can pull it off. It’ll take strong technology with a lot of marketing dollars behind it. This isn’t a SAFE bet by any means, but if they pull it off, this crypto founding team will have it MAID.
The author is not currently invested in any coin, token, or asset mentioned in this article.
The article has been amended after publication.