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Avalanche is an umbrella platform for launching decentralized finance (DeFi) applications, financial assets, trading and other services.
It aims to be something of a global assets exchange, allowing anyone to launch or trade any form of asset and control it in a decentralized manner using smart contracts and other cutting-edge technologies.
Developers at Ava Labs claim that Avalanche is the first smart contracts network to offer transaction finalization in under one second as standard.
Avalanche launched its mainnet in September 2020. The platform’s native token, AVAX, performs various tasks within Avalanche and also functions as a rewards and payment system for users.
Ava Labs has three co-founders, among whom is Emin Gün Sirer, the veteran computer scientist long associated with Bitcoin (BTC) and decentralized networks.
Sirer has long been concerned with Bitcoin scaling, and the Avalanche Consensus is a direct follow-on from this research, allowing transaction volumes significantly higher than Bitcoin and competing with the likes of Visa.
Like Sirer, fellow co-founders Kevin Sekniqi and Maofan “Ted” Yin are also associated with Cornell University. Sirer is an advisor to Yin, who is undertaking a PhD in computer science.
The remainder of the team is made up of computer science, economics, finance and law experts.
Avalanche provides decentralized asset trading which anyone can launch and use, and does so with a network which is unique in the digital realm in providing subsecond transaction confirmations.
Developers aim to bring together the huge, fragmented and often opaque world of asset trading under one roof, allowing barrier-free access. Developers can create and release all manner of entities from blockchains to digital representations of any asset, and allow them to trade according to any given parameters. These include, for example, mimicking compliance regulations in various jurisdictions.
The AVAX token forms the in-house payment method for Avalanche, and is used for fee collection during transactions, as well as for incentives and related purposes. Users can also earn passive income by staking their coins on the network.
AVAX has a maximum capped supply of 720,000,000 (720 million) tokens. The genesis block contained half of that supply.
The other half will be released according to an emission curve detailed in the Avalanche whitepaper. A key difference to the emission of Bitcoin — which is unalterable — is that the AVAX release rate can be changed by community consensus. The supply cannot be changed; all that can differ from consensus is the rate at which the supply cap is reached.
In another contrast to Bitcoin and many other networks, transaction fees are “burnt” in order to increase token scarcity. This process is offset by the release, or “minting,” of new coins.
Transaction fees themselves vary according to the type of operation that the AVAX transaction is performing on the Avalanche network.
Avalanche is a proof-of-stake (PoS) protocol which rewards users for staking coins. PoS networks have come under fire for their low attack cost, which in some cases has exposed serious vulnerabilities.
According to Ava Labs, Avalanche gets around this by changing governance to make it all but impossible for an attacker to covertly gain the necessary consensus.