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What is Harmony One: A Sharding-Based Blockchain

Launched in 2017, Harmony is a blockchain platform that aims to solve scalability issues through sharding. Harmony’s token ONE trades at $0.075 per token with a circulating supply of 10 billion and a total market cap of $750 million.

harmony one

What Is Harmony (ONE)?

As renowned as it is, the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain still struggles with some major issues — most notably, high gas fees, slow transaction speeds, and limited scalability. Many new cryptocurrencies have been launched with innovative features designed to fix these problems. None, however, have managed to create a balance between decentralization and transaction speed.

A blockchain called Zilliqa (ZIL) attempted to solve these problems by introducing sharding. In sharding, the database is divided into smaller parts stored in different nodes around the world. These smaller shards can handle the same tasks as the entire network. The higher the number of shards, the faster the node validation time and transaction speed.

The Harmony blockchain was created to improve upon existing sharding solutions. Harmony uses an innovative consensus protocol that’s more energy-efficient and cheaper than Zilliqa’s Proof of Work (PoW). In addition, Harmony strengthens its network security through the Verifiable Random Function (VRF) method, which selects validators and nodes in a random, unpredictable manner.

With the help of Harmony, developers can create DApps much in the same way as they can on Ethereum. Harmony and Ethereum both use the Solidity programming language and Ether.js library, which means developers used to Ethereum will feel no difference when building DApps on the Harmony blockchain.

What Makes Harmony Unique?

Harmony is much more scalable, secure, and decentralized than other sharding-based blockchains. Its nodes are run by a large community called Pangaea that contains members from over 100 countries.

Specifically, Harmony features four key elements:

Fast Byzantine Fault Tolerance

Inspired by Zilliqa’s Practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance (PBFT), Harmony uses an algorithm called Fast Byzantine Fault Tolerance (FBFT), which is more energy-efficient, cheaper, and confirms blocks in just 2 seconds.

To strengthen network security, Harmony uses a process called Effective PoS, a sharding-based PoS system that lets validators with more staked tokens run more nodes. In simpler words, Harmony does not have a voting system and validators are chosen based on the number of tokens they own. Effective PoS is the first staking mechanism that improves security while also making the network more decentralized.

Sharding and cross-shard communication

Harmony was the first blockchain to combine PoS and sharding. Unlike other PoS blockchains that give out higher rewards to large stakers, Harmony uses effective PoS to make sure that the smaller stakers are also rewarded.
Harmony uses four types of shards: shard 0 (the “Beacon Chain”, responsible for transmitting information between different shards), 1, 2, and 3. Each shard has a limit of 250 validators. A single Harmony shard is capable of reaching 1,000 transactions per second.
Harmony also supports cross-shard communication with the help of Kademlia. Kademlia facilitates the communication process by generating shard IDs, allowing nodes within a shard to send and receive information within it, removing the need to communicate with other shards.
Looking at the chart, you might wonder how Harmony has fewer shards than Ethereum and Polkadot but is still faster than both. It is Harmony’s aforementioned consensus protocol, which allows for 2-second block formation, that gives it its fast transaction speed.

Harmony ecosystem comparison
Harmony’s ecosystem compared to that of other blockchains (Source: harmony.one)

The ONE token

ONE is used to pay for various activities on the platform, and also allows holders to become validators based on the amount they are holding. The token is used as a stake on the platform and holders are rewarded and incentivized. ONE was released in 2019 and its name was inspired by the company’s vision “For One And for All.”
A minimum of 10,000 ONE tokens needs to be staked. Based on a certain percentage of tokens staked, users are rewarded. Stakers who double sign are slashed out of a portion of their stake and even removed from the network.

Distributed Randomness Generation (DRG)

Harmony created its own unique DRG method after studying solutions used by OmniLedger and RapidChain. Harmony uses a combination of VRF and Verifiable Delay Function (VDF) to assign the role of validator to nodes in a randomized manner. First, a random number is generated with the help of VRF, and then the revealing of this number is postponed with VDF, making the entire process more secure.
Harmony recently released Horizon, an “Ethereum-Harmony cross-chain bridge.” Horizon will allow users to seamlessly switch between the Harmony and Ethereum blockchains. The team is currently working on developing a cross-chain ecosystem that will allow developers to use multiple chains.

Who Is Behind Harmony?

Harmony was founded in 2017 by Stephen Tse, an engineer specializing in cryptographic protocols. Tse has worked as a senior infrastructure engineer at Google and was one of the core developers working on Google Maps. He has also worked as a principal engineer for search ranking at Apple, and founded a startup that Apple eventually acquired. Before founding Harmony, he created a programming language called Min for the purpose of creating blockchains.
Working alongside Tse at Harmony are 20 other people, all experts in fields like software development, machine learning, AI, and blockchain technology. To promote the project, the team held regular meetups in San Francisco and managed to raise over $18 million in 2019.

Harmony ONE Price History

ONE’s price at the start of 2021 was $0.042. It soared in February after Harmony announced the platform’s capability of running apps that run on Ethereum, and then reached its all-time high of $0.223 in late March. This peak was mainly attributable to increased interest in Harmony after Ethereum’s gas fees reached record highs that precluded casual investors from using its decentralized finance (DeFi) apps.
After Bitcoin’s value dropped dramatically in April due to FUD created by Elon Musk’s tweets and China’s banning of Bitcoin mining, ONE’s price plunged to $0.085. By May, however, it had managed to regain over 60% of its value, reaching a price of $0.148. Currently, ONE trades at $0.075 USD and ranks #88 on CoinMarketCap.

ONE price history
ONE’s price history for December 2020 to August 2021 (Source: TradingView.com)

What Is the Future of Harmony?

Harmony is a unique project created to improve transfer speed and decentralization. The sharding method and the VRF process it uses make the network faster and more secure than other blockchains. Platforms such as Solana (SOL) and Cosmos (ATOM) have also introduced ways to improve scalability, but Harmony stands out in that it already has 1,000 nodes, 640 of which are run by its community. It seems to be gaining adoption at a much faster rate than other similar blockchains.

The Harmony team has also shown that it cares about its community. In 2019, it announced that it would distribute around $10,000 worth of ONE tokens every month among its Harmony Social Mining Community. Community members with the most contributions are rewarded with the highest number of coins.

These efforts to engage users indicate that Harmony understands the importance of marketing and catering to its audience. Not only do these activities keep the current users loyal, but also they attract new users. To stay updated on Harmony’s new events, you can check out its Medium page.

Harmony has achieved all of its milestones so far and has positioned itself as one of the most important crypto projects capable of solving the longstanding scalability problem. It seems highly likely that Harmony will see greater adoption in the future.

Harmony recently launched the Validator DAO, its first decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), and it plans to launch more this year and next year. Harmony will also be holding a $1 million hackathon with Gitcoin and Dorahacks soon.

The Harmony team is currently working on improving interoperability with the help of Ethereum Bridge which allows users to work across both networks. The team is also working on the Bitcoin Bridge to further improve interoperability. However, after the price of ONE increased earlier this year, Ethereum’s developers accused Harmony of violating software licenses. The issue was quickly resolved after one of Harmony’s developers relicensed the project’s code.

Conclusion

In founding Harmony, founder Stephen Tse aimed to create a fast and secure blockchain platform that would serve as a solution to Ethereum’s major problems and enable cross-chain finance. By increasing transfer speeds, improving scalability, and introducing Ethereum compatibility, Harmony has proven that it is well-prepared to take the project to the next level. Harmony’s team members all have years of experience in their fields and have been working consistently to improve Harmony. All in all, Harmony is a promising project backed by a determined and active team and community.


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