Nearly three years on from its $5 million ICO, Augur has finally launched its decentralised platform for betting markets.
Augur, which Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin once described as “Uber for knowledge”, allows users to make bets on anything which can be objectively verified. Rather than rely on a central bookkeeper, the counter-parties to a bet nominate a trusted “reporter” to judge the winner. To keep incentives properly aligned, reporters must deposit “reputation” tokens (REP) to adjudicate the bet. This deposit will be lost should other REP holders challenge the reporter’s decision.
The Forecast Foundation, the team behind Augur, thanked its community for “the words of support received today,” and said that it would never have got to this point without “the hundreds of unique contributors, community members, software developers, hackers and advocates” who had worked for three years to make the original vision a reality.
The Foundation also took care to warn its first users that these were “early days” and that as such they should expect “compatibility issues, bugs, and a learning curve for new users of decentralised applications.”
Ethereum Scaling Issues
Tom Kysar, head of operations at the Forecast Foundation, told Coindesk in February that Augur would likely be “the largest and most complex application to be attempted on Ethereum.”
This complexity has led to some concern that if the Augur platform manages to attract even a modest number of regular users it may put considerable strain on the Ethereum blockchain, as happened during Cryptokitties’ peak popularity in December last year.
The Forecast Foundation itself is well aware of these risks. When asked if it had thought about using a different blockchain, co-founder Joey Krug said “we considered it” but at the current moment “there aren’t any alternatives that are live and viable”. However, “there are a few we are looking at pretty closely.”
Though Krug says that it’s “pretty obvious” that Ethereum has scaling issues, though for now this is not a problem. In fact, having the blockchain act as a limiter on growth will enable the team to ensure there are no security vulnerabilities until Ethereum becomes truly scalable, at which Auger is hoping to be ready for mass market adoption.