Omni (formerly Mastercoin) is a digital currency and communications protocol built on the bitcoin blockchain. It is one of several efforts to enable complex financial functions in a cryptocurrency. Planned features include the development of a decentralized exchange and the implementation of smart property and savings wallets.
«A common analogy that is used to describe the relation of the Omni Layer to bitcoin is that of HTTP to TCP/IP: HTTP, like the Omni Layer, is the application layer to the more fundamental transport and internet layer of TCP/IP, like bitcoin.»
J. R. Willett published the first draft of the Mastercoin protocol in January 2012 as a white paper, in which he proposed that existing bitcoin protocol “can be used as a protocol layer, on top of which new currency layers with new rules can be built without changing the foundation.”
The Mastercoin project officially launched on July 31, 2013, with a month-long fundraiser in which anyone could buy Mastercoins - the digital tokens that the protocol uses to conduct transactions – by sending bitcoins to a special “Exodus Address”. The idea was that as the platform was being developed, the tokens would become more valuable and investors could sell their Mastercoins to realize a return. A nonprofit organization called the Mastercoin Foundation was formed to handle the funds sent to the address.Despite warnings that Mastercoin might just be an elaborate scam, some 500 people invested, sending a total of about 5000 bitcoins worth about US$500,000 at the time.
As of January 2014, J.R. Willet is employed full-time by the Mastercoin Foundation as "chief architect"
In April 2014, MaidSafe used a crowdsale to raise over $7,000,000 in Mastercoins and bitcoins. The value of the Mastercoins (half the currency) subsequently declined, leaving the total from the sale at $5,500,000. In July 2014, MaidSafe COO Nick Lambert was among a number of people joining the Mastercoin board as observers.
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