Ark: Creating One Ecosystem of Connected Chains

The Ark ICO ended on the 11th of December, 2016. Ark is an innovative new project which aims to unify many different previously incompatible blockchain networks.

Instead of creating yet another investment vehicle, Ark is building an all-inclusive blockchain ecosystem of linked chains, and a virtual spider web of endless use-cases that make ARK highly flexible, adaptable, and scalable.

Blockchain has not yet seen high adoption. The blockchain space consists of tens of blockchain platforms. Ark wants to create one ecosystem by combining the power of different platforms, and accessing the best functionality of each chain. All the different chains can be accessed using their own native asset ARK.

The SmartBridge

“SmartBridge gives users the ability to connect and communicate between blockchains. By connecting blockchains, we can solve the great question of the last few years in the altcoin community.”, as reported to us by Travis Walker, co-founder of Ark, “Which coin will replace bitcoin? The answer…none of them, and all of them”.

SmartBridge is basically a piece of software that allows connectivity between blockchains. SmartBridge consists of two elements. The first element is called a vendor field, which is present in every single ark transaction. Currently, you can send functions, strings of code or even text in every transaction. The second element is called encoded listeners. These are specialized nodes that listen to the Ark network, and a predetermined second blockchain, for specific triggers sent via the vendor field. These nodes then perform functions such as token swaps and issuing contracts.

Ark Smart Bridge (Source:

Currently, there are encoded listeners with 2-way transfers connected to BTC, LTC, and ETH. Also, you can even issue smart contracts on Ethereum directly from ARK, via the community-driven ACES project. And you never need to even use Ether or touch an Ethereum token.

With this underlying technology, Ark becomes interoperable in two ways. Encoded listeners allow connection to any blockchain, and the vendor field allows more direct atomic swap-like actions. This will also play a role in their push-button deployable blockchains, connecting every ark-based blockchain in a virtual spider web of connected blockchains that can interoperate with each other. At the moment, you can spin up your own Ark based blockchain in minutes using the Ark deployer, which will soon be more user-friendly. SmartBridge will turn Ark into the interoperable WordPress of the blockchain world.

Note, not all blockchains are always SmartBridge compatible. Travis Walker explained to us how to make a blockchain SmartBridge compatible, “The blockchain project has to insert a small snippet of code in the core code. This snippet allows for connectivity with the Ark blockchain. It’s not an easy task to convince other blockchain projects to insert a snippet of code into their code base to allow other chains to trigger functions on their chain while not even needing their native token.”

Use case

You want to add a data record in the Factom blockchain, but you only hold ARK tokens, and you don’t want to spend time buying other altcoins like FCT.

Ark lets you enter the correct data for the Factom chain, and sends the instructions together with the required amount of ARK, through the SmartBridge. The SmartBridge handles the instructions and sends the information to the Factom chain as it has the small snippet of code embedded. Factom will add the data record, completing your request.

Deploy Customized Blockchain

ARK makes it easy to build your own customizable blockchain in minutes using their plugin modules. You can pick your block times, your transactions per second, your number of tokens, your number of nodes, the virtual machine engine for smart contracts, and much more. You will also be interoperable with any ARK based blockchain, giving you the ability to use another chain’s use case or simply swap tokens between them.

Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS)

As ARK is derived from Lisk, they utilize a modified Delegated Proof of Stake consensus featuring 51 delegates instead of 101 (like Lisk). DPoS is one of the fastest consensus mechanisms, and currently has 8 second block times for Ark. The protocol has been designed to be very flexible. In case of consensus issues, stakeholder voting is used to resolve issues in a democratic way. All network parameters like fees, block intervals, and transaction sizes can be tuned via elected delegates.

The 51 delegates are elected by Proof of Stake (PoS). It’s a representative democracy wherein individual users utilize their stakes in order to nominate delegates to serve on their behalf. The elected delegates are responsible for voting on network parameters, and for validating transactions, and securing the ARK network. The delegates receive fees for validating transactions. Most of the delegates use a large part of the money to fund new projects and help others, so they vote for them. A greedy delegate can be off-voted easily.



  • Centralization: When too many wealthy private investors take part in the voting process for delegates, especially when there are only 51 delegates. A “whale” is restricted to only picking eight delegates, which is still a lot.
  • Ark is trying to solve many problems together, such as the push-to-go deployable blockchains. Their core product should be the SmartBridge functionality.
  • It can be a difficult task to convince other blockchain projects to implement a piece of code in their core code. This will enable users from another chain to use that chain’s functionality without owning their native token.


There are not many projects focusing on inter-chain communication yet. Ark aims to build an all-inclusive blockchain ecosystem of linked chains. As Travis W. said, we need a whole ecosystem of blockchains instead of limiting ourselves to just one blockchain island. Decentralized applications deployed via Ark can reach much more of the available blockchains, reaching a greater audience.

For more info

Website | Developer resources | Telegram

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