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What is Chainlink (LINK)?

The digital cryptocurrency of Chainlink has hit the headlines of late, having soared to a new all-time high above $25.Incredibly, the LINK coin is now up 105% since January 1st, 2021, while other crypto tokens (including Bitcoin) have seen their value depreciate during the same period. However, there’s considerably more to the Chainlink Ledger than its increasingly popular LINK coin.

We’ll explore this in the article below while appraising this secure blockchain technology’s advantages and potential pitfalls.

Exploring the Chainlink Ledger and LINK Coin – What Do You Need to Know?

Despite the exponential price growth experienced by the LINK coin at the beginning of 2021, you could be forgiven if you haven’t heard much about Chainlink’s blockchain network throughout its lifetime.

After all, its developers have done little to market their product at all proactively. At the same time, its founder Sergey Nazarov rarely tweets and refuses to conduct interviews outside of the Chainlink bubble.

However, in simple terms, Chainlink is a decentralized oracle network, which provides a secure blockchain middleware that effectively bridges the gap between smart contracting platforms and the corporeal world.

Chainlink embodies a blockchain oracle’s primary function, which connects a deterministic blockchain with off-chain data and different application programming interfaces (APIs) in a secure and utterly immutable manner.

By allowing smart contracts to securely access an array of off-chain data resources (such as web APIs and even traditional bank account transactions or retail payments), Chainlink creates a scenario where real-time digital agreements can be executed based on various real-world factors.

Chainlink’s ability to securely link smart contracts to external APIs has helped drive the retail payment space’s evolution, with this borne out by the brand’s existing partnerships with financial giant Swift (we’ll have a little more on this later in the piece).

It’s also possible to execute automatic smart contracts based on financial market movements with Chainlink, simply by communicating securely and in real-time with external programs and trading platforms.

The Chainlink ecosystem currently revolves around the aforementioned LINK token and its surrounding network. This ERC-20 coin has been designed with so-called “transfer and call” functionality, which enables it to be seamlessly processed and received by smart contracts as part of a single transaction.

Most importantly, it’s widely used within the Chainlink network to compensate Node operators for the secure retrieval of data from external data sources. So, if a third-party firm wants to use a smart contract that has been enhanced with a Chainlink node, this can only be done with LINK tokens.

The information gathered by Node operators is subsequently processed with Chainlink Core, which connects the virtual and physical realms and sends off-chain data to an on-chain oracle. These operators will therefore translate external data sets into a readable and accessible blockchain format. In this respect, they play a central role in the network’s functionality and the formation of decentralised smart contracts.

Then and Now – A Brief History of Chainlink

We touched earlier on the LINK coin’s recent price growth, while the Chainlink network boasts a current market capitalisation of around $9.71 billion (as of January 25th, 2021).

In this respect, Chainlink has grown considerably since its inception, with the network able to trace its origins back to September 2014.

At this time, the network’s parent company SmartContract.com was founded with the broad objective of revolutionizing business contracts and creating a secure link between external data and public blockchains.

SmartContract.com’s original model ran into a prominent and familiar problem, as it was forced to rely on centralized oracles. This contrasted sharply with the transparent and immutable nature of blockchain, as it required the involvement of third parties who retained control of the external data they supplied. This meant that all digital agreements would theoretically be embedded in code that could be altered or manipulated in real-time by controlling third-parties, rendering the on-chain element of the network and the core benefits of smart contracts largely obsolete.

In late 2017, however, Nazarov’s SmartContract.com sought to resolve this problem with its Chainlink network launch. This was designed to operate as a completely decentralized oracle network, and it was in September 2017 when the company successfully raised $32 million in an ICO to build the project out.

It took some time for Chainlink and its LINK coin to achieve any sustained price growth, initially due to the sharp depreciation of alternative tokens following the crypto bull run of 2017. This saw Chainlink’s price reach a paltry $0.16 in June 2018 (from a starting point of just $0.12 in September 2017), while it took a further 12 months for the token to break the $1.00 mark.

Things changed when Chainlink’s ‘Mainnet’ (a blockchain that can securely transfer a digital currency from sender to recipient) went live on the Ethereum network on June 1st, 2019. Since then, Chainlink’s price has embarked on a mostly upward trajectory through 2020 and 2021 (spare for a brief depreciation last autumn), culminating with its recent high above the $25 mark.

What are Chainlink’s Advantages and Potential Pitfalls?

Interestingly, Chainlink has always retained something of a cult following in the technology world and has done it ever since its premise created a vast social media buzz on 4chan back in 2017.

While this sentiment remains central to Chainlink’s fast-growing market capitalization value, the network’s main selling point is undoubtedly its utilization of a decentralized oracle.

Make no mistake; there aren’t a large number of active competitors within the oracle space at present, while barely any have attempted to create a decentralized service that securely connects public blockchains to external APIs.

Instead, the majority of Chainlink’s competitors adopt a different approach, eschewing the need to offer a decentralized oracle in favor of a closed service that attempts to guarantee the APIs’ trustworthiness that supply external data. However, this doesn’t directly tackle the concerns posed by centralized oracles, if not from the security perspective, then at least on the understanding that external sets remain under the direct control of a third-party firm at all times.

While it can be argued that the established centralized oracles provided by brands such as Microsoft have negated this concern by building trust and experience over decades, Chainlink’s functionality and underlying tech model is far more aligned with the core values of transparency and immutability that are associated with blockchain.

In addition to connecting public blockchains securely with external APIs, the Chainlink project can also support all major smart contract chains.

As a result of this, it can provide compatibility between rival tokens such as Bitcoin and Ethereum and enable banks, retailers, and payment platforms to be integrated into a decentralized financial system.

This is also borne out by Chainlink’s vast array of commercial partnerships, including agreements with entities such as SWIFT, Google Cloud, and Oracle. The collaboration with SWIFT is particularly telling. This is one of the first agreements of its type to connect a cryptocurrency project or network with one of the world’s largest new financial institutions. In particular, this arrangement has lent credibility to the Chainlink network while inspiring confidence in the platform’s ability to supply secure and decentralized data on a large scale.

This partnership also highlights the potential of Chainlink to allow for the formulation of smart contracts that replicate existing financial agreements. This is ideal for clients that want to leverage a decentralized oracle while continuing their various financial arrangements, while it holds particular appeal for payment service providers and banking organizations. There is also a knock-on effect on the fast-growing LINK coin, as the technological capabilities of Chainlink and its blue-chip partnerships make it incredibly appealing amongst investors.

When measured against the finite supply of LINK tokens, the rising demand has contributed to a sustained increase in prices (particularly since August 2020). This increase is more than sustainable, too, especially considering the potential growth of Chainlink within the commercial world in the future.

Are there any disadvantages associated with Chainlink?

It can be argued that the network suffers as a result of low development speed, as it’s hard to decipher how long it will take for Chainlink to implement a real working solution for specific applications and transactions. This also contributes to the lack of an official roadmap for the technology, making it hard for potential clients who are new to smart contracts and investors who want to make more informed decisions.

It has also been suggested that the current Chainlink model remains a little too reliant on its partnership with SWIFT, especially as an entity of this size is likely to invest in its proprietary oracle at some point in the future. However, this overlooks the unique premise that underpins the Chainlink network and its community’s growth over the last 18 months.

The Key Perspectives and Takeaways

The substantive (albeit relatively understated) hype around Chainlink’s innovative offering is undoubtedly well-founded, and not only because it offers smart contracts based around reputation assessment and aggregation in addition to those that make use of external datasets.

The network has also emerged as a leading choice for decentralized oracle services since the launch of its Mainnet on the Ethereum network in 2019, with the Chainlink Community Grant Program’s unveiling in July of last year driving a massive increase in mainstream usage and actual network size.

Beyond this, the network’s Proof of Reserve contributes to the fast-growing Decentralised Finance ecosystem, reinforcing tokens with real-time visibility on the blockchain. Of course, some may argue that the network’s unique selling point may not be enough to sustain it without more intensive marketing, particularly as the marketplace becomes more competitive in the future. This concern has been largely offset by the sheer range of Chainlink’s viable applications, extending into the lucrative world of investment.

To provide an example, Chainlink has forged a recent partnership with Signal Capital, a London-based private asset firm, and Request Network, a cryptocurrency competitor that aims to become the market leader for exchanging fiat with digital currencies. Such transactions are driven through the forex market, which currently sees an estimated $6.6 trillion traded globally every single day.

Investors in this space often profit by accessing real-time information and capitalizing on short-term price movements, creating a pressing need for decentralized smart contracts that remove the risk posed by manipulated and volatile datasets. Given this and the fact that Chainlink is well ahead of the game when it comes to bridging the once cavernous gap between smart contracts and the corporeal world, the short and medium-term outlook for this network remains enduringly positive.

How to Store and Manage Your Link Tokens

As the LINK token price has soared, so too has its accessibility across a wide range of cryptocurrency exchanges. Since it launched on the Ethereum blockchain, the coin can be stored and accessed in any wallet that supports this platform or associated ERC20 tokens.

Currently, Chainlink is supported by Atomic Wallet, which enables you to seamlessly manage and even exchange LINK tokens securely and in complete anonymity. Through Atomic Wallet, you’ll also retain full control over your funds in real-time while being able to access more than 60 additional assets through a single interface.

By storing and managing your LINK tokens in Atomic Wallet, you’ll also benefit from the platform’s unique backend system. This is capable of aggregating data from different sources, guaranteeing a reliable supply of information to users at all times.

In Conclusion

There’s no doubt that smart contracts represent the future of commercial arrangements, as businesses look to build immutable and secure agreements that adequately protect all parties involved.

Chainlink’s network and decentralized oracle are central to bringing smart contracts into the commercial mainstream by creating more secure and trustworthy agreements that appeal across a broad range of business applications.

Chainlink offers complete transparency to users and full visibility of price movements and trends in real-time, from setting up consumer loans and converting assets into tokens to exchanging digital and fiat currencies.

Ultimately, the Chainlink network is fulfilling its promise of bridging the gap between corporeal datasets and smart contracts while building on its advantage as the first to market within this space.

These facts alone highlight the network and the LINK coin as viable assets in 2021, and this trend is likely to gather momentum in the year ahead.

Read the full complete guide here.