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Even among hardened crypto enthusiasts, many are still learning about the vast array of blockchain systems out there.

While plenty may already be aware, Flow is one of the plethora of blockchains you may not have even heard about yet.

But don’t be too concerned. The crypto space as a whole is still in its infancy, and everyone within it will come across some seemingly alien subjects from time to time.

Let’s learn more about Flow…

The story behind the creation of Flow

For those who may not be aware, the need for the Flow blockchain system was necessitated after the Etherum blockchain became congested by DeFi communities where gas fees were becoming unbearable.

Let’s turn back the clock to four years ago, when Cryptokitties suddenly became a thing.

Cryptokitties, if you are wondering, is a kind of non-fungible token (NFT) that launched in 2017 and was one of the first to go mainstream. Created by Dapper Labs, Cryptokitties was a kind of game that allows players to buy, breed, and trade animated cats dubbed as NFT kitties.

While each of the NFTs was uniquely designed, they were valued quite differently. As such, players were trooping in to acquire and hoard the most valuable pieces in an attempt to sell for higher profits.

Given that it was one of the earliest forms of NFTs, Cryptokitties faced several challenges on the former host blockchain. Notably, there was congestion on the Ethereum blockchain which resulted in scaling issues, not only for them but also for integrated projects.

When the NBA hired Dapper Labs to lead its NFT project – Top Shot – earlier this year, they were forced to develop their own blockchain rather than depend on Ethereum’s. More importantly, the project was worth a third of a billion dollars, suggesting they had to go all out to guarantee that it was completed well.

Dapper officially became a principal owner of what may end up becoming one of the most sought after blockchain systems in the NFT sphere. The blockchain also has its own native digital currency – FLOW. 

Understanding Flow and $FLOW

To begin, it is important to note that the Flow blockchain is very unique, and unlike the majority out there, uses a proof of stake consensus model.

The consensus model requires that the blockchain network’s validation method be separated into up to four stages/nodes. They are the collection nodes, consensus nodes, execution nodes, and verification nodes, which together combine to make the blockchain system far more scalable and eco-sustainable than many of its counterparts.

Notably, Flow was ambitiously built for a specific market, owing to its sore experience with the Ethereum blockchain. According to the firm, the Flow blockchain, specifically, is suited for developing the next generation of apps, games, and digital assets like NFTs, thanks to its low gas fee and user-centric experience.

The NBA, Warner Music Group, Circle, the UFC, and others have, so far, partnered with Dapper Labs and its Flow blockchain. Dapper Labs has also received funding from Andreessen Horowitz, Google Ventures, Samsung, and several other noteworthy investors.

The $FLOW native token, on the other hand, also serves as the network’s exchange token, as well as an incentive token for both validators and developers alike.

While FLOW is key in maintaining and operating the Flow blockchain, developers can incorporate it as the main payment token, although, they can choose to create a custom cryptocurrency as well.

Also, a potential node is required to own and stake Flow to be able to participate within the network of validators or even in the governance of the platform. At time of writing, FLOW is currently trading at $22.56 and is ranked at 82nd in the overall market. 

How does the Flow blockchain work?

The adoption of the proof of stake (POS) consensus model, which effectively turns a one-man task into a four-man task, is the highlight of the Flow blockchain.

Unlike with proof of work consensus models for blockchain where a single node can execute the entire validation protocol, POS’s architecture requires four nodes to carry out the following unique activities…

Collection Nodes: This group of validators is responsible for improving network connectivity and ensuring data availability to dApps.

Execution Nodes: This category of validators is in charge of computing but does not have decision-making power. They also guarantee transaction speeds and ensure scalability on the network.

Verification Nodes: More like a double-checker, this set of validators keep tabs on accuracy in the work of execution nodes.

Consensus Nodes: Lastly, this set of validators decides the presence and order of every transaction that takes place on the network while keeping it decentralised at all times.

In general, the validation process proceeds in a chain pattern from the collection node through the execution node, verification node, and finally the consensus node.

Another interesting part of how Flow blockchain works is the application of smart contracts. Similar to the overall project, Flow blockchain smart contracts are unique, given that they are written in the platform’s native language – Cadence. 

Although they are written in a separate language, they work in the same manner as any other smart contract. They are used during an exchange when the parties or stakeholders involved must fulfil a requirement for a transaction to be self-executed.

It is also worthy of note that the Flow blockchain also has a dedicated “Flow Playground” where developers can visit to create and trade NFTs. The Flow playground also doubles as a learning kit for developers who are new to building blockchain applications. Here, they can get accustomed to  Cadence.

Developers will also be able to deploy fully functional dApps in a beta version, as well as change their code if issues occur after they are in use.

Ultimately, the Dapper Lab, which is also the creator of Cryptokitties, wants to build a platform that can accommodate their type of application without any of the limitations that they encountered on the Ethereum network.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the author should not be considered as financial advice. We do not give advice on financial products.