Omni (formerly Mastercoin) is a digital currency and communications protocol built on the bitcoin block chain. 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.
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"
As of February 2014, Mastercoin was the world's seventh largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization according to coinmarketcap.com.
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, MaidSafe COO Nick Lambert was among a number of people joining the Mastercoin board as observers.
In March 2015 Mastercoin efforts were rebranded as Omni. Omni role in bitcoin ecosystem is declared as being a platform for decentralized protocols like Factom and MaidSafe. «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.»
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