Chickens and Eggs – How Do You Grow a Global Network from Scratch?

Earlier this year, to commemorate the occasion of Bitcoin having reached a $1 trillion market cap, the data-centric website Visual Capitalist ran a comparison. It looked at how long the major tech stocks had taken to achieve their own $1 trillion valuation compared to BTC.

This analysis is interesting because you can chart the impact of technology on the time it takes to reach a $1 trillion market cap. As the earliest pre-internet tech pioneers, Microsoft and Apple had to wait over four decades to hit $1 trillion. The advent of the internet cut the time in half for dot-com babies Amazon and Google, which hit their $1 trillion valuations in 24 and 21 years, respectively.

With the introduction of blockchain, Bitcoin’s $1 trillion market cap came after half as much time again – just twelve years.

Reach is What Matters

It’s not the technology by itself that has created this accelerating pace of adoption. It’s the fact that these two major developments – the internet and blockchain-enabled reach. The connectivity of the internet allowed tech firms to reach exponentially more users. The emergence of blockchain and its innovative economic model provided a new way for users to become engaged and participate in the value of a network.

And now, projects are using the unique properties of blockchain to build and scale vast global networks. The creators of Nodle started out with the idea of a mesh network powered by smartphones. However, when experimenting with early prototypes in 2016, they decided to base their network on blockchain as they believed decentralization was the key to massive growth and scalability.

Fast forward to 2021, and Nodle has grown to become the world’s largest decentralized wireless network. It works by harnessing the Bluetooth Low Energy connectivity feature in smartphones. Users who download the Nodle Cash app can download the app, which then acts as a node on the Nodle wireless network.

The network is designed to be used by IoT devices, supporting the infrastructure needed to power over 30 billion connected “Things” by 2025. The idea is that when a Nodle-enabled smartphone comes into the range of a connected device, it acts as a relay for information for the device. Ultimately, it means IoT devices can be deployed even in areas where there’s no WiFi or even a cellular service, as the entire network depends on Bluetooth.

Incentivizing Participation

It’s proven to be an attractive concept among enterprises seeking to deploy IoT devices at scale. For example, Nodle has been used by a global beverage distributor to track hundreds of displays across the US and by the City of Paris to pilot IoT-enabled interactive street furniture.

But why would a user participate? That’s why the Nodle team chose to base their network on blockchain. Users who download the Nodle Cash app can start earning instant rewards for participating in Nodle as a smartphone node.

Furthermore, Nodle also allows developers to integrate the Nodle SDK into their apps. When users download the app, they agree to the terms, which enables the developer to start generating the Nodle rewards from the users’ activity while the user enjoys an ad-free app.

The incentive mechanism has allowed Nodle to grow its user base rapidly since launching in 2017. By the second half of 2020, the network had amassed 5.8 million nodes, with nearly 29,000 connected devices. It estimates that there are around 550,000 unique active nodes at any given moment, and it’s undergoing an annual growth of 38%.

The project will soon launch a “smart missions” feature that will promote user engagement and offer even more rewards for completing specific tasks enabled by smart contracts. Partnerships with Cisco Meraki and DeFi platform Acala are also an indicator of growing value within the network.

One of the most challenging elements of executing on any good idea is growing the network and scaling the reach. Bitcoin provided the proof of concept, but the next generation of projects will be aiming to reach even bigger global audiences thanks to the economic participation opportunities of blockchain.

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