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Safecoin and the SAFE Network

The SAFE network is an attempt to create a new kind of peer to peer internet infrastructure, capable of delivering “all the Internet services currently available today” through a decentralized network. It is based on open source code which has been in development since 2006 under the name 'Maidsafe', and which is expected to be ready to launch its first full public test network in May 2014.

The acronym 'SAFE' which is used in the name stands for 'Secure Access for Everyone', and reflects the project's aims of providing secure and private internet access and network services to end users. Of course this is not a new goal – many projects before this have tried to do something similar, and some have had a certain degree of success. But the main problem with such projects has been that there have always been much greater incentives for users of such networks to use resources than to provide resources. This means that the network often becomes slow and unreliable, services are sparse and amateur, and at times the strength of the network is not sufficient to provide the desired level of privacy.

The SAFE Network is attempting to overcome these problems through an incentive structure based around an intrinsic cryptocurrency called Safecoin.

Safecoin and 'Proof of Resource'

Many readers will probably be familiar with things like 'proof of work', 'proof of stake', and even 'proof of burn' as ways to distribute a digital currency. Proof of work is the method used by Bitcoin, which distributes newly created coins to the 'miners' who run the network of computers that maintain the distributed public ledger which is at the heart of Bitcoin's blockchain technology. These miners must perform calculations to literally prove that they are contributing work to this distributed network of computers.

Within SAFE, users will be able to 'mine' Safecoins by running a node on the network. It is being promised that this will be a simple thing to do – something that the average user will be able to do without any particular technical know-how; you will just have to download and install a piece of software, which apparently will not even need any configuration: meaning that the mining process for safecoin may be even simpler than that for Bitcoin.

Once the software has been installed and you are running a network node on your machine, you will start to contribute resources to the network. These resources will include disk space on your hard drive, CPU processing power, online time and internet bandwidth. Rather than performing proof of work calculations which serve no useful purpose other than to demonstrate who is offering the most (of a very particular kind of) computing power to the network, as is the case with 'proof of work', Safecoin node owners will be rewarded for all of the resources they provide to the network of regular users.

What Does a SAFE Network Node Do?

The ultimate aim of the SAFE network is for a decentralized web of nodes to replace the huge data centres currently serving internet requests to home users. Regular home computers would perform the job of servers as the workhorses of the internet. This means that the primary purpose of a node will be to store data and to answer requests for data sent by other network users. Because of this the proof of resource mechanism for coin distribution will initially focus on the amount of storage space which a node offers to the network.

In the future nodes will also be rewarded for other resources such as CPU power and bandwidth.

In addition to running the software which allows a computer to provide resources to the network, users will also be able to access the network and use the resources of other machines. In order to be rewarded with Safecoins, therefore, a node must provide more services to the network than it uses. If you want to use more resources than you are providing – for example if you want to take advantage of cloud storage solutions, host a service, or run a resource hungry application on the distributed computing network, you would instead have to pay safecoins according to the amount of resources you want to use.

How to Get Safecoins

In addition to 'mining' safecoins by running a network node, you will also be able to earn them as a developer or buy them from others.

Developers will be able to earn Safecoins through two different routes. The first is to contribute to the core source code of the network and claim bounties through the Safecoin Foundation. The second method is to develop applications to run on the network. App developers who contribute free apps will be able to include their wallet address in the app code and be rewarded based on their usage.

Starting on 21st April 2014 you will also be able to buy safecoin through an official 'crowd sale'. The money raised from this crowd sale of the initial round of coins will be used to pay back the founders and early investors, meaning that once this sale is over the network will be 100% public owned, and the foundation guiding its development will have no direct ownership over the network or the coin. An incentive for early backers is included within this sale, meaning that you can get bonus coins for buying early. The sale will last for 4 weeks, and after that any unsold coins will be destroyed and you will only be able to buy from third party exchanges which facilitate peer to peer transactions. Purchases will be made using Bitcoin.

After the initial sale, the first public test networks will be made live. At this point anyone will be able to download the software and run a public node (the software is already available to developers if you want to set up a private test network, see below for more info on that). Because the network may need to be reset depending on the results of these tests, which would reset any coin balances, early backers purchasing in the crowd sale will actually be buying 'Maidsafecoins', which will be exchanged 1-1 for Safecoins once the initial public testing has taken place. These maidsafecoins will be created using the Mastercoin protocol, meaning that you will need to have a Mastercoin wallet, or a Mastercoin friendly Bitcoin wallet, in order to receive them.


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