Quantstamp Set to Assist Japanese Firms With Creating Secure Smart Contracts

Siamak Masnavi

Smart contract security firm Quantstamp has announced that, following "significant investment" from Japan's Nomura Holdings and Digital Garage, it is establishing a Japanese subsidiary (Quantstamp Japan GK) that will "assist Japanese startups and enterprises in using secure blockchain technology."

Although Quantstamp provides consulting services for companies that need help with evaluation and system integration of their blockchain strategy, its main area of expertise is auditing of smart contracts. So far, its smart contract auditing services "have been used to secure more than $500 million of transaction value."

Quantstamp, which is backed by Y Combinator, is "developing a protocol that audits smart contracts using formal verification in order to find bugs before contracts are published to the blockchain." Its developers aim to "secure and verify audits using a distributed network of nodes, similar to how an Ethereum node secures and validates a transaction. The Quantstamp protocol aims to be a scalable and cost-effective solution to the smart contract crisis." The "crisis" that Quantstamp is talking about here is the fact that "over $250 million dollars worth of Ether" have been "either locked or stolen from the Ethereum network due to bugs in smart contracts." In fact, its CEO, Richard Ma, "experienced the problem firsthand after his funds were stolen during the DAO hack." 

Quantstamp is different from most other smart contract auditing firms in that it does not only provide manual auditing, and that it is also developing the Quantstamp Protocol, which consists of two parts:

  • "An automated and upgradeable software verification system that checks smart contract code such as Solidity programs."
  • "An automated payout system that rewards human participants in QSP tokens for finding errors in smart contracts. The purpose of this system is to bridge the gap while moving towards the goal of full automation."

The great thing about the Quantstamp Protocol is that it is "automated, scalable and without the need of a trusted 3rd party." Via this automation, the protocol "will be able to handle audits much faster than a centralized manual auditing company."

According to Quantstamp's press release, Richard Ma, Co-Founder and CEO Quantstamp Inc., had this to say about the expansion of Quanstamp's presence to Japan:

“I’m pleased to announce Quantstamp’s formal expansion to Japan, Japan is an important market in digital payments. We’re expanding our presence as we think that the market for smart contract-driven applications here is strong and will only be growing.”

Chuzaburo Yagi, Senior Managing Director in charge of Innovations at Nomura Holdings, Inc., stated:

“As blockchain technology is adopted in the financial world, smart contracts will play an increasingly important role. Security assurances through auditing and certification will become increasingly indispensable. I believe Quantstamp is well positioned to support this role as they work to secure smart contract technology.”

And finally, Yasuhiro Mimura, Managing Director of DG Incubation Co., Ltd., commented:

“I think that Quantstamp offers the best service on the market. It’s the best solution for identifying and mitigating smart contract vulnerabilities. With their knowledge and experience on smart contract security, we are hoping for further breakthroughs in the future.“

 

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Ampleforth Seeks to Become the Perfect Digital Asset for Portfolio Managers

A new token is seeking to change up the existing paradigm in the cryptoasset market.

Billing itself as “smart commodity money” - a token that has the benefits of commodity-monies like gold and silver, but can respond efficiently to changes in demand - Ampleforth is keen to emphasize that its token represents a new kind of asset in the space.

The Evolution of Money 

Money has been reinvented many times over: for many centuries mankind did without it, instead simply assigning value to particular goods in exchange for other goods. Then gold and silver formed the basis of money, whether coins were made directly out of these precious materials or "stamped" as a standard into baser metals.

Indeed, gold as a standard for global money transfer lasted for many centuries: the official gold standard was dropped by Britain and the US in the early 1930s and by 1971 the system was abandoned completely to be replaced fully by what we now call the fiat money system where global currencies (to a large degree) freely float against each other on foreign exchange markets.

The Crypto-Evangelists

Niall Ferguson is an expert in this field and, as an Oxford and Harvard lecturer, has written and spoken about money and capital many times. He may be a little late to the crypto party but is none-the-less evangelical about it: in a Bank of England seminar last year he called cryptocurrencies "the financial system of the future".

Ferguson has now thrown his weight behind the Ampleforth Project, which - on June 13 - raised $4.9 million in 11 seconds in its initial exchange offering (IEO) of its "Ample" (AMPL) tokens.

The digital asset explains in its white paper that it’s a "synthetic commodity" that aims to become truly uncorrelated from both traditional assets, stocks and currencies as well as from Bitcoin, other cryptoassets and other synthetic commodities. The problem with existing synthetic commodities, the paper explains, is that they have so far failed to do both. 

Ampleforth Explained

While Ampleforth seeks the price target of $1 for the Ample, instead of pegging directly to the dollar - like Tether - or to a basket of fiat currencies - as Facebook's Libra intends - the Ample will allow the quantity of assets a user holds to fluctuate, in addition to price, as it seeks a price supply equilibrium.

The system's protocol will actively seek this equilibrium by either proportionally increasing the quantity of tokens every user holds when prices climb, or proportionally decreasing the quantity of tokens every user holds when prices fall.

This is called money supply and has been one of the tools used by central banks to control inflation for many years. But Ferguson's criticism of this - in his book The Ascent of Money - is that it reflects human sentiment too much:

Money amplifies our tendency to overreact, to swing from exuberance when things are going well to deep depression when they go wrong. Booms and busts are products, at root, of our emotional volatility.

Ampleforth seeks to overcome these problems algorithmically by applying countercyclical pressures that dampen volatility, encouraging markets to self-correct. Supply updates will be freely visible in the market ahead of any changes, allowing the market to anticipate these changes and respond accordingly.

Ferguson explains his enthusiasm for the project:

The ingenious thing about Amples is that this they are not stablecoins, pegged in some way to existing fiat money. They are a special kind of digital asset, the quantity of which varies in response to the behavior of investors and traders.

Crypto Rivals

Ampleforth is unlikely to challenge Bitcoin any time soon as the number one crypto investment, but offers a compelling three-stage plan for the use of Amples. 

In the near-term, the token’s lack of correlation to both traditional assets and Bitcoin, will make it a useful portfolio diversifier. 

In the more medium-term, Amples may be used as reserve collateral in decentralized banks, such as Maker DAO.

Ultimately, the long-term goal however, is that Amples will serve as an independent alternative to central bank money. The team describes it as a “macroeconomically friendly” Bitcoin that averts the deflationary problems associated with fixed supply commodities when used as reserve collateral by banks.

Ampleforth Moves Forward

Such was the success of its first token sale on Bitfinex, that Ampleforth is conducting a second round of funding on the same exchange on Thursday.

The company aims to raise close to $7 million in this IEO, with a maximum contribution per investor of $7,060 and a minimum of $28, with each Ample token worth $0.98.