Aiming for the stars: The Apollo cryptocurrency is making waves in the industry

Privacy, scalability, and sharding are just some of the promises being made by the Apollo team

After I wrote a one-sided version of the recent Jelurida vs Apollo story, I was called out (and rightly so) by Steve McCullah, Apollo’s founder, and the entire Apollo community.

However, there were no insults or trash-talk – rather the opposite. With much grace and dignity, it was pointed out to me that the article I chose to base my opinion on is not as up-to-date as it should be.

In the meantime, I would hope that the Jelurida team puts a notice somewhere on their blog post with an updated statement concerning the matter, otherwise more people might get confused as well. As stated by McCullah:

“They [Jelurida] try to act like our privacy is limited but their snake-oil page only worked for a VERY short time a long time ago, before we launched Olympus 2.0.”

One thing is certain: from the Twitter interactions I had with the Apollo community, it was immediately clear there is some kind of war going on between Jelurida and Apollo, mainly because of Jelurida’s efforts to call out Apollo for “mischeiving”. Despite that, McCullah has faced all challenges head-on and responded to the comments concerning Apollo’s privacy with a bold move:

“Bitfi is going to offer $10,000 to anyone who can track a single Apollo private transaction.”

The cryptocurrency uses TOR and a coin mixer to provide privacy. Although there are some technical concerns surrounding the effectiveness of coin mixing as a full-on privacy feature, the truth is it has been widely accepted as a capable privacy enhancement. This article’s goal is not to compare privacy features between privacy coins (as I’ve done that here), but to understand if the points Jelurida pointed out are still relevant or not at the time of writing.

A great review of the Apollo project was done by Journey to 100k, a cryptocurrency YouTuber, who highlighted how business-savvy and technically skilled the project is.

Initial findings

Apollo’s blockchain and technology was initially a copy of Ardor’s Nxt platform, the very first Proof-of-Stake (PoS) cryptocurrency ever created – by an anonymous Bitcointalk user for that matter – and later bought by a Dutch company called Jelurida, led by Lior Yaffe.

Much like Stellar derives from Ripple, or Litecoin from Bitcoin, most cryptocurrencies were initially something else. My point is that being an initial copy means little in the medium to long term.

McCullah did not hide the fact that Apollo initially started off as a copy of Ardor’s Nxt, saying the achievements of the cryptocurrency will always be treasured and much respected by him and his team. Still, many changes have taken place since:

“On top of refactoring their code we have developed many technologies which we believe are completely groundbreaking to blockchain. Just to name a few: our Apolloupdater allows us to upgrade something as large as the consensus without ever hard forking. Not even large projects, such as ETH, have been able to do this. Because of this technology and another technology, called ChainID, we have been able to speed up our blockchain to support two-second blocks. This facilitates two-second transactions (the fastest in blockchain that we have found).”

Despite that, Jelurida chief Lior Yaffe tweeted his belief that a two-second block time results in a non-secure chain.

It is true that Apollo is considerably more scalable as a result of this, but as my dear readers know, we cannot scale and maintain decentralisation at the same time, meaning we can conclude that in order to speed up the forging process, there is a higher chance of a central point of failure. Still, there’s always positive and negative things when you’re the fastest.

Any project scaling up can hardly do so without adding a degree of centralisation. That is the price one usually pays to have faster transaction times – just look at EOS, NEO, or Stellar when compared to Bitcoin or Ethereum in terms of node decentralisation.

Apollo aiming for the stars

Even though there is truth in saying centralisation leads to less security, it’s not only transaction speeds that Apollo wants to improve. Security can be influenced by other technologies, such as privacy-based ones.

During my conversation with Steve McCullah, he was kind enough to explain there are key differences in the privacy features of Apollo when compared to other privacy-based cryptocurrencies:

“Privacy wise, we have developed an advanced coin mixer (our private ledger is coming soon) and two levels of IP masking which make the user’s transactions and IP untraceable. Unlike the IP masking solutions of coins like Verge, ours cannot be blocked by firewalls (such as China’s great firewall).”

Also, an Apollo community member has offered up the following challenge for anyone who wants to prove them wrong. The prize pool is quite attractive: 1 million APL.

In my opinion, those are huge improvements when compared to Jelurida’s Nxt platform. Focusing on both privacy features and scalability seems to be an interesting add-on to what Nxt had initially designed. Plus, these are not the only improvements McCullah wants to see implemented.

Sharding, a technology still being developed by Ziliqa and Ethereum, will supposedly be implemented soon in the Apollo protocol (as of April 2019). I can’t say whether that is true or not as I haven’t seen the sharding test/live implementation, but I’m looking forward to it.

Only through these types of enhancements will people be able to use cryptocurrency on a daily basis.

Conclusion

I would like to conclude by stating it was a pleasure to discuss the Apollo project with Steve McCullah, and I hope we can arrange a full interview soon – hopefully after sharding is stabilized.

Up until now, it seems the roadmap has been respected by the team and new implementations are being delivered on schedule. Sharding is supposed to be implemented this month (April 2019).

As McCullah stated:

“When we distributed Apollo over a year ago we made some big promises, and we have stood by those promises and worked our butts off to make them happen.”

I hope my views are better explained now, and I’d like to reiterate that I personally do not think Apollo is a scam. Until proven otherwise, I don’t see a reason for doubting someone who keeps pushing forward in an open and transparent manner. Of course I don’t have access to all information, so always do your own due diligence.

The fact Jelurida is fighting Apollo for using the same underlying protocol makes little sense to me. Open source and decentralisation means people will copy good things and ignore bad projects. Plus, it seems to me when one makes that argument they forget the purpose of cryptocurrency: you can never really copy a project because you cannot copy the network effect.

There are some independent findings on Reddit you should read, especially this one. However, from my point of view, I don’t have a reason to doubt that Apollo will deliver its promises.

Remember, this is not financial advisement and I have not personally invested in Apollo. My opinions are always my own and should not be attributed to Coin Rivet.

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