Raiblocks to Nano: can a name change make a big difference?

Can a simple name change effect a cryptocurrency’s prospects and price? It seems to have worked for Nano…

Ever heard of Raiblocks (XRB)? If you’ve been following cryptocurrency developments for the six months, you may have. If you’ve been watching the cryptocurrency markets over the last few weeks, you’ll almost certainly have come across Nano. You may not know they are one and the same, though.

Colin LeMahieu’s innovative ‘blockchain lattice’ low-latency cryptocurrency, which utilises “a message-passing data-structure where each account has the ability to add transactions to their account with zero contention”, and thus doesn’t require mining resources, gained a little traction as Raiblocks through late 2017, with its potential for providing low-to-no-cost P2P transactions and almost barely-there waiting times.

However, among some of the feedback the Raiblocks team received from early adopters, was that they were not happy with the name. Was it Ray-blocks? Rye-blocks? Nobody could seem to work it out. While you may scoff at this as a minor issue, LeMahieu and Co. did not. Thus, at the end of January, Raiblocks rebranded itself, adopting the far shinier moniker ‘Nano’.

In an ever-evolving market area that is disproportionately influenced by word of mouth, newsflashes, social media influencers, and no little hype, the effect was immediate: a 40% bump in value – literally – overnight. Though that leap was followed by something of a downwards correction through February – and didn’t propel the coin back to it’s boomy Jan 2nd high of US$36+ – the second half of the month once again saw a decent leap in its price, and an eye-catching growth in trading volume.

This increase in trading peaked with US$389m of the currency moving around on Feb 25th as speculators moved across to XRB from other declining cryptos, making Nano one of the few green numbers on that day. Now, to put things in perspective a little, that’s not a stellar amount of trade (according to Coinmarketcap.com, LiteCoin’s 24h volume on the same day was very close to $1.3bn), but it sent Nano rocketing up the volume leagues of exchanges like Binance, where it topped LiteCoin on the day, and into many more people’s eye-lines.

All-in-all, it was another significant tick on an – admittedly volatile – upward trend for the coin since it was sitting at around US$0.35 not too many months ago. It is also something of a testament to the healthy level of interest there is in the market for a technological proposition that looks to address some of the core problems with Bitcoin. Chief among these, of course, is Bitcoin’s resource-hungry blockchain, that ultimately leads to long transaction times and relatively high transaction fees, both of which are problems exacerbated by an ever-growing number of users and make it problematic for smaller P2P transaction purposes.

Nano’s lattice system works to mitigate all of these factors, and appears to be capable of doing it. Rather than being beholden to one blockchain, which must be mined in order to be populated with multiple transactions, Nano essentially provides all its accounts with their own “account-chain”.  This account-chain is comprised of discreet Pay and Receive blocks that equates to an individual account’s transaction/balance history, these blocks then communicate with each other to create the block-lattice of interwoven accounts that makes up the system.

Nano Block-lattice

An account-chain is updated only by the account’s owner, meaning transactions are instant, and asynchronous to other members of the block-lattice. It also means hardware and network requirements are minimal for clients, and that the system is – in the words of its creators – “infinitely scalable”. For a transfer to be considered complete, however, both a send block and a receive block are required, each signed by their account-chain’s owner. This asynchronous system means that Raiblock/Nano systems designers have had to spend a lot of time looking at and foreseeing potential attempts to spam it or scam it, something that the Raiblock whitepaper spends a fair bit of wordage looking in to.

Nano is still a long way from usurping its competitors as a viable crypto payment system – either in the eyes of crypto-watchers or the general public. This is not least because nobody is yet absolutely sure where crypto’s big breakthrough into the genuine personal finance mainstream will come. Until we see that, all such currency replacements can be charged with being overpriced in value, and Nano is no exception. Even within the field of runners in the race to become crypto’s PayPal (if you will), Nano needs to turn more heads, become better known and better appreciated.

It is, though, a lot closer to that distant goal than Raiblocks ever was, or was probably ever going to be. Thus, it serves as proof-positive that, as crypto continues its journey towards the mainstream, coins are going to have to worry almost as much about presenting the technology they are proposing in a palatable, attractive manner as they are about how they are going to actually make them work.