Current state of Factom/M3 rollout

The third and final milestone of the Factom Protocol, dubbed M3, rolled out last month. With the M3 protocol, Factom Inc.’s founding mission (as outlined in its white paper) of creating a fully distributed and autonomous blockchain protocol has been realized. Factom M3’s distributed consensus model is unique in that it combines elements of proof of stake and proof of usage, as well as proof of development (through strict community governance). It was also designed to ensure that no single entity can ever gain control of the network. Prior to the roll out of M3, Factom Inc. hosted and controlled all of the existing Factom ‘Authority Nodes’. As of this writing, Factom Inc. no longer has the majority share of nodes – instead, they are running three Authority Nodes (only two are collecting Factoids). The goal is to eventually have 65 Authority Node servers operated by 65 different entities. Currently, 21 Authority Node operators have been chosen and 11companies are currently running two nodes each (that are actively collecting Factoids). The selection process for the node operators is extensive and involves a significant amount of work and capital investment on behalf of the operators themselves – a sure sign that they are dedicated to the Factom mission of providing trust and transparency in modern record keeping. The beauty of Factom is that once data is entered into the blockchain via Factom, it cannot be altered or tampered with.

Why Join the Authority Set?

The Authority Node operators were tasked with campaigning for their place in the Factom ecosystem. It is a formal process and still open for the remaining 44 positions. More details can be found on Factom or within the Factom channels on both Discord and Reddit. One of the  interesting elements about this process is that the Authority Node operators not only need to prove that they can run a stable server for processing Factom tasks, but they must also be working to further the Factom protocol with the end goal of proving Factom’s blockchain technology and exposing Factom (and its FCT currency) to more potential users. For this service to the Factom community, each Authority Node is awarded a monthly stipend of 1,123 FCT (valued at approximately $17,406 as of today’s writing). However, each Authority Node also sets an ‘efficiency’ percentage. For example, if a node’s efficiency is set to 25%, then the node operator will retail 75% of the FCT it gathers and the other 25% will go directly into the Factom ‘grant pool’.  An application for grant pool FCTs can come from anyone interested in furthering the Factom protocol – whether that be through development, marketing, research, or to use Factom for charitable causes looking for trust and transparency in record keeping.

Guides Responsible for Keeping Factom M3 on Track

While M3 is in its infancy, five official ‘Guides’ have been named to maintain orderly operation of the protocol. As the tasks they are charged with become automated, the Guides will be phased out, but, in the beginning, Guides will be instrumental in allowing flexibility and experimentation to improve the governance processes before they are committed to code. The Guides were elected and chosen from the active Factom community and have all demonstrated interest in the long-term best interests of the Factom protocol. The first 11 Authority Nodes were on-boarded in May 2018 and include both ‘Federated’ and ‘Audit’ servers. Federated servers from consensus: as the lead servers they are creating the directory blocks, Factoid blocks, entry credit blocks, and basically writing information onto the blockchain; while Audit servers cannot write to the blockchain and audit the information the Federated servers create. However, if a Federated server is performing poorly, an Audit server is ready and able to replace it.

Introducing the First 11 Authority Node Operators outside of Factom, Inc.

Blockchain Innovation Foundation is a Dutch Non-Profit that will initially be operating at 50% efficiency. They plan to further the protocol via core development, Hyperledger, BigchainDB and Multichain public witness support and integrated enterprise scanning solutions.

Block Party plans to further the protocol by building IT security and supply chain management applications for Factom, initially focused on serving the Visual Effects (VFX) industry.

DBGrow plans a host of software for the Factom protocol including a Factom Dapps framework and Factom ObjectDB.

Factom Inc. is an Austin-based blockchain technology company that is on a mission to provide blockchain data provenance for complex industries. 

Factomize are the owners of the unofficial Factom Community Forum.

Factoshi Ltd will develop data analytics and intellectual property tools that make use of the Factom blockchain.

Federate This will be furthering the protocol in a host of ways including the development of “Off-Blocks,” a software suite for the aviation industry which utilizes the Factom Protocol.

Go Immutable plans to identify what enterprise clients need, and either develop requisite applications or funnel them into the Factom ecosystem.

LUCIAP’s lead developer has already created factom.js, which is an enterprise grade javascript library to easily interact with the Factom blockchain, as well as Factom Storage, which allows entire files to be stored on Factom.

Matter of Fact (factombeat.com) operates this website and serves as a primary marketing and news arm for the Factom Protocol, community and Authority Node Operators.

The Factoid Authority’s primarily focused on software development and projects will ensure the Factom Authority Nodes are stable.