Altcoin.io is a peer-to-peer, decentralized trading platform that was developed by traders to iron out the difficulties with traditional peer-to-peer platforms. Namely, Altcoin.io was designed to be easy to use with plenty of available liquidity to reduce the bottlenecks usually associated with peer-to-peer trading.
Altcoin.io is not currently live. However, you register your email to secure early access to the platform when it comes online. That’s slated for sometime in the second quarter of 2018, with atomic swaps to be offered by the end of the year.
In this post we will be taking a look at this new exchange but holding off on any ratings until the full launch later on this year. The post will then be updated accordingly.
Altcoin.io maintains a test net for its future user interface, bare in mind, this is a proof-of-concept and a preview of the fully functional interface to come. At first glance, it seems very similar to the user interface of any number of other exchanges.
It bears particular resemblance, in fact, to the user interface presented by most centralized exchanges. Here is perhaps one of the greatest potential advantages for Altcoin.io. Its user interface apes centralized exchanges while giving you true peer-to-peer, decentralized trading via its atomic swap system. This makes it accessible to newcomers used to the traditional list of coins and buy/sell window while providing the behind-the-scenes functionality that true decentralized exchange users have come to expect.
One thing’s for sure – it’s a lot easier on the eyes than the inscrutable walls of text found on other decentralized exchanges. If the final product remains true to this form, it should be a breeze to navigate with large, clear icons and a shortage of confusing menu options.
It’s important to note here that Altcoin.io plans to use the Plasma system for its decentralized exchange. Plasma is essentially a smart contract system running on the Ethereum network that makes heavy use of sidechains to address scalability issues.
Using Plasma allows Altcoin.io to exist in its own sidechain, permitting greater numbers of transactions. Plasma generates consensus via proof of authority, so it is an Altcoin.io main node that is responsible for signing transactions and placing them in blocks.
What’s the Atomic Swap Wallet?
Altcoin.io allows you to generate a wallet for your atomic swaps by entering a password and immediately receiving a 12-word phrase to interact with the wallet. Like all Altcoin.io features, this wallet is for testing purposes only, so the website helpfully reminds you not to send real cryptocurrency funds to the test net wallet.
Let’s talk a little bit about what atomic swaps are in the first place. Atomic swaps either happen or they don’t, in simplest terms. In other words, when you agree to make a trade with another trader on a decentralized exchange, like Altcoin.io, the swap either happens totally or fails completely. Since it’s a peer-to-peer interface, there’s no chance of your coins getting lost in the shuffle from a centralized exchange to another user. In fact, all funds are stored on the blockchain and cannot be directly accessed by Altcoin.io.
The company views this as the best way for cryptocurrency exchanges to develop in the future. Cryptocurrencies are, for the most part, a decentralized enterprise anyway. By leveraging that inherent feature of the blockchain, exchanges can operate securely and with a degree of privacy that centralized exchanges just can’t match.
“We believe atomic swaps are going to change everything and in the future can take down giants like Bittrix, potentially even Coinbase,” the Altcoin.io team wrote in the lite paper. “At the core of it, atomic swaps take out the middleman that centralized exchanges charge for and replace it with a floating mathematical algorithm that gives you the ability to switch both tokens simultaneously so the next time that you check your cryptocurrency wallet, whatever you agree to exchange is there.”
This mimics a smart contract interface, the team explained further. Funds are only released when a certain set of conditions are met. Smart contracts are bits of code that contain all the information they need to execute – or default – within them. The analog equivalent is a vending machine, whereby on the correct sequence of pressed buttons and entered change releases an item. In the same way, only by satisfying certain conditions are atomic swaps or smart contracts executed.
“Atomic swaps are a decentralized exchange’s best friend,” the team continued. “While there are many peer-to-peer solutions, the toughest challenge with peer-to-peer is trust.”
That trust element is almost completely mitigated using an atomic swap system, the team said, comparing it both to a bank vault that requires two keys to open and to an escrow account that only releases funds when both parties are satisfied.
Safety is guaranteed during this process, as your funds never leave your wallet until the moment the exchange actually takes place. There is no central depository, and because atomic swaps are similar but not exactly identical to smart contracts, you don’t even have to rely on the infallibility of the code itself.
Eventually, Altcoin.io hopes to expand its atomic swap capabilities by offering two different trading modes.
“In the future, using our atomic swap matching engine, you will be able to trade in two ways,” the team wrote. “Either by setting your own token price, or by using a fair market value as calculated using other markets’ relative price. This lets you list niche coins that can’t be traded on other exchanges. You get the best of both worlds – a larger selections of coins to trade, but at prices lower than other exchanges.”
What’s the Benefit of a Decentralized Exchange?
Decentralized exchanges do not rely on the same centralized architecture of traditional exchanges. Instead, they are a platform for traders to connect directly with one another and exchange cryptocurrencies on a peer-to-peer basis.
This has several distinct advantages, which Altcoin.io outlines in its introduction. Trading can be conducted anonymously and securely. Since there is no centralized server – or “honeypot,” as Altcoin.io puts it – decentralized exchange users do not have to worry about their funds disappearing in the event of a catastrophic hack, natural disaster, or simple bankruptcy.
“Many centralized exchanges keep you in the dark, leaving no-one accountable when things go wrong,” according to Altcoin.io. “It’s like handing your car keys to a stranger and asking them to park your car for you. They could crash it, steal it, park it in the wrong place, lose the keys or sell them to someone else. Once they’ve taken the keys, you’ve got no control, no transparency, and no guarantees. At Altcoin.io, we believe the centralized exchange model has had its day. Using atomic swap technology, we’re creating a decentralized exchange that guarantees the security of your funds.”
Who Is the Team Behind Altcoin.io?
Compared to other exchanges, Altcoin.io is surprisingly open about its leadership and development teams. This is a breath of fresh air in the cryptocurrency arena, where exchanges frequently pop up with little to no background information.
The project lead and CEO is Andrew Gazdecki. Gazdecki also serves as the CEO of Bizness Apps Inc. Curiously, his name is spelled incorrectly on the Altcoin.io’s exchange preview, although this is likely a simple typographical error. One of Altcoin.io’s lead advisors is Fabian Vogelsteller, an open-source developer who worked on the Ethereum Mist browser and Ethereum Wallet projects.
What Sets Altcoin.io Apart from Other Decentralized Exchanges?
In an interview with Decentralize Today, Gazdecki said Altcoin.io was formed to combine the inherent security of a decentralized exchange with the user-friendly atmosphere associated with centralized exchanges.
“Our team is heavily focused on user experience as we see this to be an area of advantage over other exchanges,” he said. “There are a few decentralized exchanges that are fully operational today but typically the trading volume is fairly low for a number of reasons which we’re focused on improving upon. We’re also building our exchange through feedback directly from traders with every decision we make and ultimately we want to deliver a user experience that enables our users to make trades faster and without worrying if they’re exposing themselves to risk.”
Gazdecki also noted that Altcoin.io sought to make itself financially independent from the start. This is an important part of building trust, he said. Some exchanges concern themselves primarily with plumping their native tokens – this is especially true of centralized exchanges. By starting off relatively independent, Altcoin.io can concentrate on developing the platform first and foremost, he told Decentralize Today.
“We have no ICO planned and have raised no outside funding,” Gazdecki said. “I think this makes us stand out as a project out when compared to other cryptocurrency projects as we’re less concerned with writing a white paper or conducting an ICO as we are with delivering on our promise to build to build a decentralized exchange. Without funding, you’re forced to find product/market fit through customer feedback and at a much faster pace. You simply don’t have the luxury of a 36-month burn rate, vacations included. Every blockchain project does not need a utility token or needs to do an ICO right out of the gates to be successful and we’re looking to earn trader’s trust with our developments first.”
Altcoin.io shows a lot of promise. Unfortunately, that’s all there is to it at the moment.
That shouldn’t be taken as a negative. The team is unusually solid, the updates are regular, and definite progress has been made toward creating a test net and a display-only user interface. The team has also created a mock atomic wallet, so that potential new users are already familiar with the wallet creation process. There also is a referral program in place so that the exchange is ready when it’s slated to go live in the second quarter of 2018.
Liquidity, as always, is a concern with decentralized exchanges. However, the team seems to have put a lot of thought into this and developed an atomic swap system that provides a good deal of flexibility. That flexibility is likely to improve in the future due to the two-facet trading system of either setting your own token price or relying on an equivalent exchange’s price.
The decentralized model is a natural fit for cryptocurrency. While it may not exactly please regulators due to traders’ ability to conduct transactions anonymously and privately, it’s hard to escape the fact that cryptocurrencies were originally invented primarily to circumvent those top-heavy regulatory and financial institutions.
Altcoin.io has a veneer of polish that other decentralized exchanges lack. Not to be glib – but it looks trustworthy. The centralized exchange interface, the transparency of the team members, the coherent lite paper, and the honesty about the mission of the project put it miles ahead of other decentralized exchanges. Altcoin.io appears to prove that you can be decentralized and privacy focused without being shady, and that’s likely to speak volumes during its operational years.
All that remains to be seen is whether the team can stick to the timeline and get a working main net out sometime in 2018. Delays on the project so far have been refreshingly well-documented, and all the right pieces seem to be in place for a smooth transition to true operational status.
And that’s perhaps the biggest disappointment about Altcoin.io – it’s not yet available for trading as of June 2018, when the market appears to have taken a pause and trading activity is reaching a fever pitch.
Once the exchange launches and we can test it, we will update this review with our thoughts on the final product.