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Link (LINK) is a cryptoasset that powers the Chainlink decentralized oracle network. This network allows smart contracts on the Ethereum platform to securely connect to external data sources, payment systems, and application program interfaces (APIs) that exist outside the blockchain.
Although smart contracts (agreements between two parties written in computer code) have tremendous potential, the underlying consensus mechanisms of blockchain technology make it so smart contracts are unable to communicate with external data systems. Some smart contracts can’t execute without off-chain information (e.g., a price fluctuation for a specific asset). To solve this issue, oracles are used.
An oracle finds and verifies real-world events and submits this data to smart contracts on the blockchain. Although oracles help, they also present another point of concern: oracles are centralized third-party sources. A user must trust that the oracle is providing accurate data. This is called the “oracle problem.”
SmartContract (a San Francisco based fintech company) launched Chainlink in June of 2017 in response to the “oracle problem.” Originally called SmartContract Oracle, Chainlink is a blockchain middleware that connects smart contracts across blockchains and allows them to access off-chain information from multiple oracles in the network.
Instead of relying on a single oracle to provide smart contracts with external data, Chainlink’s decentralized network of independent nodes can perform computations to determine the accuracy of off-chain data from several oracles before it is passed to a smart contract.
The ChainLink network uses Link, an ERC-20 token, as an incentive for Node operators to retrieve data from off-chain data feeds, structure data into readable formats on the blockchain, execute off-chain computation, and maintain uptime guarantees.
SmartContract was cofounded in 2014 by Sergey Nazarov (CEO). Before starting SmartContract, Sergey founded Secure Asset Exchange and CryptoMail.
ChainLink’s ICO was held in September of 2017 and raised $32 million USD.
Chainlink launched on Ethereum’s mainnet on May 30, 2019.
According to SmartContract, Chainlink has partnerships with Google Cloud, Oracle, and SWIFT.