The legacy financial industry has an extremely tenuous relationship with digital currencies and blockchain technologies. Every company touts its proprietary ‘blockchain initiative’ or other centralized scheme intended to demonstrate that it is on the ‘cutting edge’ of technology. At the same time; however, these companies are either completely dismissive or openly hostile toward blockchain-related innovation.
A startup called Wanchain wants to be bankers’ worst nightmare. Until their Initial Coin Offering (ICO) last fall, Wanchain was way below the radar. The company was overshadowed to some degree by the Bancor project which raised approximately $150 million in its own ICO last Summer. Both Bancor and Wanchain seek to create a ‘decentralized value exchange platform,’ but the similarities seem to end there. There are concerns that the Bancor project’s developers and partners may have a significant concentration of unilateral power. Wanchain is built from the ground up to facilitate a financial protocol that is, per its white paper, ‘fully decentralized’.
Some have dismissed Wanchain as a ‘Chinese Ripple,’ but that may not be an accurate characterization. While Ripple has found traction by embracing the financial status quo, Wanchain wants to render the current world financial infrastructure obsolete.
In its white paper, it notes that with its protocol, “any institution or individual can set up their own virtual teller window in the “bank” and provide services such as loan origination, asset exchanges, credit payments and transaction settlements based on digital assets.” Its goal of creating a universal financial services platform accessible to anyone is probably terrifying for ‘big banking’ and the hierarchical power structures that enable them.
Wanchain is a hard fork of Ethereum that claims to offer ‘full decentralization” with a significantly higher degree of privacy and anonymity than its rivals. It can be used to facilitate private transactions between individual digital asset holders and allows the generation of ‘one time’ addresses to further enhance anonymity. This isn’t done at the expense of interoperability–in late 2017, Wanchain entered the Blockchain Interoperability Alliance (IOA) with ICON and Aion to promote greater synergy between individual blockchains through joint research and collaboration. And recently, the startup entered into a partnership with KyberNetwork to power a decentralized exchange offering what it says to be instant and private trading of protocol tokens.