Flare Network’s Journey to FAssets
Graphic design by Mateusz Skrzypiec [X: @nikodemfocus]
Autor: Andrzej Mackowiak 07.02.2024r.
Since its inception, the creators of Flare Network have shown unwavering determination in their mission to enable safe and secure blockchain interoperability. Interoperability means that users can seamlessly transfer assets and information between different networks without the need for intermediaries.
One of the goals of this mission is to unlock the value trapped in networks that lack smart contract functionality by providing them with this functionality in a secure and trustless manner.
The Flare Network team has taken a unique approach to solving the problems facing the blockchain world today. Instead of building on existing protocols, they have decided to introduce their own solutions at the Layer-1 level (the fundamental protocol of a given network, encompassing the consensus mechanism, transaction validation model, block structure, and other fundamental aspects). In other words, Layer-1 is the foundation on which all other features and applications are built.
This stable and methodical approach has resulted in consistent and sustainable development, as evidenced by the tremendous progress made in the past few months.
All of the protocols released to date, which are essential components of the upcoming FAssets system, which provides secure and seamless interoperability between networks, have been meticulously tested first on the testnet, then on the canary network — Songbird, and finally on the Flare mainnet.
Let’s take a closer look at the individual components of the network, as well as the FAssets system itself.
2. What is the FAssets System?
FAssets are essentially wrapped versions of original tokens from other blockchains, referred to in Flare terminology as underlying networks.
Using the FAssets System, we will be able to add smart contract functionality to tokens that currently lack this feature. As a result, the solution developed by Flare Labs (the company behind FAssets) will allow users to unlock the potential of these tokens and open up the DeFi and NFT markets (which are currently the main use cases for cryptocurrencies) as well as enable their use in decentralized applications and introduce logic to transactions — the possibilities are endless.
Underlying assets in the FAssets system are the original tokens from underlying chains, such as BTC, DOGE, or XRP. In the FAssets system, underlying assets are prefixed with the letter “F”, e.g. FBTC for BTC, FXRP for XRP, and so on. Each FAsset (e.g. FXRP, FBTC, FDOGE) will have the same market value as its original counterpart and can be exchanged for the corresponding underlying asset at any time in a secure manner, without the risk of loss.
The FAssets System will enable tokens like BTC, XRP, and DOGE to have smart contract functionality in a trustless manner, leveraging a strong collateralization mechanism. Due to the specific requirement of collateralization with at least 200% of its USD value in the native FRL/SGB asset, widespread use will result in a significant influx of value into the Flare Network. The estimated market capitalization of non-smart contract projects currently stands at around $800 billion, which, if only a fraction of each underlying asset’s capitalization is utilized by FAssets system, will have a significant impact on the value of the Flare network.
3. The components of the FAssets System
Developing the FAssets System required the prior implementation of protocols that would become integral to its operation and enable its functionality. Rigorous and meticulous testing, followed by the introduction of protocols such as Flare Time Series Oracle, State Connector, and the upcoming LayerCake protocol, pave the way for achieving Flare’s network goal of seamless and secure interoperability for blockchains facilitated by the FAssets System.
The FTSO protocol will soon be updated, enabling it to provide prices for thousands of assets on demand to dApps with a frequency of one block (i.e., every few seconds).
The decentralization of the FTSO protocol is still ongoing, as new, independent Data Providers join. Their task is to collect data from various off-chain and on-chain sources, analyze it, predict the future outcome, and then send the result to the blockchain. Currently, there are about seventy Data Providers operating on the network. Each of them has a different price prediction algorithm and independent infrastructure, so in case of downtime / takeover of one or several of them, it will not affect the stability and reliability of the data provided on the blockchain. This makes the FTSO protocol the only fully decentralized price Oracle available on the market.
Each transfer using the Layercake protocol is insured in a 1:1 ratio (in transit — at the time of transfer) in the form of the actual transferred asset (such as SOL or ETH). This security allows for the construction of bridges that operate with minimal possible delay and without the need to trust the other party (trustless), eliminating the risk of loss of funds in the event of improper behavior of other participants in the transaction.
LayerCake is a solution that does not require multisignature, any management role, or any trusted third party in the system. The transfer using the protocol also protects against blockchain reorganization. After the completion of the exchange and the placement of the returned asset in the user’s account, the collateral is unlocked and ready for use in the next cross-chain exchange.
Here are some specific examples of the use of the LayerCake protocol:
- Transferring assets between different DeFi protocols: The LayerCake protocol can be used to transfer assets between different DeFi protocols, such as Uniswap, Compound, and Aave. This allows users to access a wider range of DeFi services and products. For example, a user could use the LayerCake protocol to transfer their assets from Uniswap to Compound in order to earn a higher interest rate.
- Transferring assets between different blockchains: The LayerCake protocol can be used to transfer assets between different blockchains, such as Ethereum and Solana. This allows users to take advantage of the different features of different blockchains, such as speed, scalability, and security. For example, a user could use the LayerCake protocol to transfer their assets from Ethereum to Solana in order to take advantage of Solana’s faster transaction speeds.
- Creating cross-chain swaps: The LayerCake protocol can be used to create cross-chain swaps, which are easy and efficient exchanges of assets between different blockchains. This allows users to exchange assets without having to go through a centralized exchange. For example, a user could use the LayerCake protocol to swap their ETH for SOL without having to use a centralized exchange like Binance.
- Providing liquidity to decentralized exchanges: The LayerCake protocol can be used to provide liquidity to Decentralized Exchanges. This will allow exchanges to offer a wider range of assets and better prices for users. For example, a user could use the LayerCake protocol to provide liquidity to a decentralized exchange like Uniswap. This would allow the exchange to offer a wider range of assets and better prices for users.
- Enabling cross-blockchain gaming: The LayerCake protocol can be used in the gaming industry, allowing gamers to use their assets in games on different blockchains. This would allow gamers to play games on different blockchains without having to transfer their assets between different blockchains. For example, a gamer could use the LayerCake protocol to use their ETH in a game on Solana.
- Enabling cross-chain payments: The LayerCake protocol can be used to enable cross-chain payments in different digital currencies. This would allow users to make payments in different digital currencies without having to go through a centralized exchange. For example, a user could use the LayerCake protocol to make a payment in ETH to a user on Solana.
LayerCake, a revolutionary solution enabling secure, fast, and trustless cross-chain transfers, empowers developers to create previously impossible applications by connecting diverse blockchains, facilitating seamless asset exchange, and eliminating the need for trusted intermediaries. This is poised to revolutionize the way dApps interact with the world.
Building the FAsset system required many components, therefore thorough testing was necessary to ensure reliable functionality of these core components. This demonstrates the responsible approach of the creators, who prioritize a gradual implementation without premature hype or rollout.
After years of anticipating the Flare network’s trustless cross-chain interoperability, we finally received update about this solution. The system is currently undergoing private beta testing on the testnet, with completion scheduled for the end of the first quarter of 2024.
The published documents revealed the details of how the FAssets system works, which I will discuss below.
4. The Roles in FAssets System
So far, we have learned about roles on the Flare Network such as FTSO Data Provider and Validator. Entities that take on both roles simultaneously are called INFRASTRUCTURE PROVIDERS. With the advent of the FASSETS system, new roles also appear on the network. There are new main roles in the FAssets system. Each role has a different set of responsibilities related to ensuring the smooth operation of the system.
- Minting: Users deposit base assets into an Agent’s address in exchange for an equivalent amount of FAssets minus a minting fee. The minting fee is split between the Agent and the Collateral Pool, which receives its fee in FAssets. During this operation, users are called “minters.”
- Redeeming: Users return FAssets to the system in exchange for an equivalent amount of base assets, paid from the Agent’s address. If the Agent fails to pay the base assets on time, the FAssets system will pay the redeemer from the Agent Vault or Collateral Pool plus a premium. To ensure that redemption is always possible, even with fluctuating price changes, the total value of the collateral is always higher than the value of the minted FAssets. During this operation, users are called “redeemers.”
- Agents help create and redeem FAsset tokens.
- Agents lock collateral to mint FAsset tokens.
- They hold the underlying assets ($BTC, $XRP, $DOGE) while the minted FAssets are in circulation.
- Agents manage an account that holds the underlying assets.
- They provide the main part of the collateral and pay out the underlying assets when users redeem them.
- To participate in the FAssets system, Agents must be verified by the governance and pass KYC verification.
- Once an Agent is verified, their management address is added to the Approved Agents list.
- Anyone can participate in the FAssets system by providing native FLR / SGB tokens to an Agent’s Collateral Pool and thus becoming a Collateral Provider.
- As long as these tokens remain locked in the pool, the Collateral Provider receives a share of each fee generated by FAssets minted using that pool.
- When an Agent’s collateral falls below the required minimum, it enters a liquidation state.
- In this state, Liquidators send FAssets to the system in exchange for collateral from the Agent’s Vault and Collateral Pool.
- The collateral received has the same value as the FAssets sent plus a premium.
- The FAssets sent by the liquidators are burned, which reduces the amount of FAssets that the Agent’s collateral must cover.
- Once the Agent’s collateral exceeds the safety margin, the liquidation state ends.
- Anyone can become a liquidator, contribute to the stability of the FAssets system, and earn rewards at the same time.
- If an Agent abuses the system, a Challenger can provide evidence, which will result in the Agent being penalized.
- They monitor the Agent’s underlying address to detect illegal transactions that reduce the amount of underlying assets below the collateral ratio.
- When Challengers detect an illegal transaction, they provide evidence to the FAssets system in exchange for a reward from the Agent’s Treasury.
- The offending Agent then enters a full liquidation state, and the Agent’s Vault is permanently locked from new minting.
- Anyone can become a Challenger, contribute to the stability of the FAssets system, and earn rewards at the same time.
It is worth noting that all of these roles will be operated by entities independent of the Flare Foundation, and each of the roles listed above will allow participants to earn fees in exchange for participating in the FAssets system.
5. Details of the FAssets System
Any token supported by the Flare Data Delivery System (FTSO) can be an FAsset. Currently, the FTSO protocol supports 18 token pairs with USD, of which 4 tokens do not have smart contract functionality: XRP, DOGE, BTC, LTC, and XLM.
As I mentioned earlier, the FTSO protocol will soon be updated to provide access to thousands of currency pairs. This means that potentially any asset without smart contracts can be integrated into the FAssets system.
FAsset assets are formally delta-neutral synthetic assets. In practice, this means that these assets have a balanced exposure to changes in the market value of the underlying asset and reflect its risk without exposing themselves to changes in the value of the FAsset asset itself. These financial instruments are specifically designed to keep the delta at zero.
Delta in this context represents the sensitivity of the price of an instrument to changes in the price of its underlying instrument. As a result, a delta-neutral instrument exhibits resistance to fluctuations in the price of the underlying instrument.
5.1. How the Collateral System Works in the FAssets System
FAsset assets are collateralized by stablecoins (USDT, USDC) and native tokens of the networks on which they are minted. In the case of the Flare network, this is the FLR token, and in the case of the Songbird canary network, it is the SGB token. In the future, any ERC-20 token approved by the Flare network Governance will be used for collateral.
FAssets are minted and collateralized at a minimum of 150% using collateral locked in contracts. This means:
- The ability to exchange FAssets for their corresponding underlying assets (BTC, XRP, DOGE) at any time.
- A guarantee of compensation from the locked collateral in case the exchange of FAssets for underlying assets is not possible.
In short: FAssets provide a decentralized way to own assets from other blockchains on the Flare network, with a security guarantee in the form of locked collateral.
Source : Andrzej Mackowiak
5.2. Types of Collateral in the FAssets System
FAssets collateral is locked in smart contracts, which guarantee that minted FAssets can always be redeemed for the underlying assets they represent or compensated using collateral. The FAssets system relies on two types of collateral that together guarantee its stability and reliability.
- Agent Vault Collateral
- Community Collateral Pool
This collateral solution provides stability and security for users, guaranteeing reliable operation and protection against the risk of market volatility. This solution is designed to work in the event of a sharp drop in the value of the assets in the vault, which would become insufficient to cover the underlying assets.
5.3. Agent Vault Collateral
Agents independently provide collateral to their vaults (Vault Collateral) on the Flare Network.
The Flare Network governance allows for different types of collateral, including stablecoins (e.g. USDC and USDT) and other highly liquid Flare Network tokens. Agents choose one of the approved types and assign it to their vault. Later change of the collateral type is not possible, but the Agent can create new vaults with different types of collateral.
Each type of collateral is associated with:
- A corresponding ERC-20 token
- Collateralization ratios
- A method of obtaining the price from the FTSO system
The Governance can add or remove collateral types by voting. If a given collateral type is withdrawn by Governance, Agents must convert their assets to a supported type.
Each vault has a unique address on the underlying chain, called the Agent address. This is where the underlying assets are sent when creating FAssets. It is also from here that the underlying assets are sent to the recipient when redeeming the underlying assets.
If the price of the collateral in the vault changes in such a way that it is not sufficient to fully cover all issued FAssets, the liquidation mechanism ensures that a sufficient number of FAssets are burned to restore balance.
5.4. Community Collateral Pool (CCP)
The Community Collateral Pool (CCP) is a pool that can be participated in by both Agents and holders of native FLR/SGB tokens. It provides an additional source of coverage in the event of such sharp price fluctuations that liquidations are unable to correct the imbalance in time.
The CCP always consists of native network tokens:
- For the Flare network — FLR
- For the Songbird network — SGB
These tokens can be used as an additional source of collateral for liquidations and failed executions. Anyone can participate in the FAssets system by providing native tokens to this pool.
5.5. Collateral Pool Token (CPT)
In return for participating in the Community Collateral Pool (CCP) and providing native tokens (FLR / SGB), providers receive Collateral Pool Tokens (CPT). These tokens are proof of participation in a specific Agent’s pool.
CPTs are ERC-20 tokens assigned to a specific Agent and Collateral Pool. Providers can exchange their CPTs for FLR / SGB, and even transfer or trade them after a period of time determined by the Governance from the moment of entering the pool.
In addition, CPT holders are entitled to a share of the fees that the Agent earns from issuing assets. Since CPT tokens are ERC-20 tokens, a secondary market is expected to develop for them.
If CPTs become more valuable than the FAsset fees they represent, it may be more profitable for providers to return FAssets and partially pay off their debt from fees.
CPT tokens can always be withdrawn from the pool by leaving it, but only that part that exceeds the fee debt can be transferred to another account. Therefore, CPTs held by providers are divided into two types:
- Transferable — Tokens whose time lock has expired and are free of fee debt are transferable. This means that they can be freely transferred and exchanged like any other ERC-20 token.
- Locked — Tokens only serve as proof of ownership of a portion of the collateral in the pool and cannot be transferred or exchanged.
Locked CPT Tokens are divided into several types:
- Time-locked: Tokens whose time lock has not expired must wait to become transferable or redeemable.
- Debt-locked: Tokens representing an amount of fees less than the provider’s debt cannot be transferred, as they would have to carry the debt with them. As new fees are paid into the pool, some previously debt-locked tokens will become transferable. These tokens can also become transferable by adding FAssets to the pool, which will partially or fully cover the fee debt.
Source : Andrzej Mackowiak
5.6. FAssets Minting Fees and Fee Debt
During the FAssets creation process, users pay a minting fee on the underlying network (e.g. BTC, XRP, DOGE). Part of this fee goes to the Agent and remains on the underlying network, while the part belonging to the (CCP) Collateral Pool triggers the minting of the corresponding amount of FAssets on the Flare network.
The proceeds from the minting fee are added to the Collateral Pool, where they are distributed among the collateral providers in proportion to the amount of CPT tokens they hold.
5.7. Fee Recovery by Providers
Providers can reclaim their share of the fees from the pool at any time. However, it is important to note that:
- Providers are only entitled to fees that were accrued after they entered the pool.
- Providers who enter the pool with existing fees are assigned a Fee Debt.
- The amount of fees that a provider can actually withdraw from the pool is calculated by subtracting their debt from the total amount of fees in the pool.
- When a provider withdraws their share of the fees, their debt increases by the same amount.
5.8. Collateral Ratio
The collateral ratio is the ratio of the value of all tokens used as collateral to the total value of the underlying assets held by the Agent at any given time. Both the Agent Vault Collateral and the Community Collateral Pool have their own unique collateral ratio, which constantly changes as the value of the underlying assets and collateral changes. These values are obtained using the FTSO system.
Source : Andrzej Mackowiak
6. Benefits of the FAssets System
The FAssets System has the potential to significantly increase the value and liquidity of non-smart contract tokens, opening the door to wider participation in the growing decentralized finance (DeFi) space.
Key benefits include:
- Flare Integration: Seamlessly transfer non-smart contract tokens to the Flare Network and use them in a secure smart contract environment.
- Direct System: No need for intermediaries.
- New Possibilities: Opens access to decentralized applications (dApps) such as DeFi and NFTs for non-smart contract token holders.
- Cross-Blockchain Transfer: Facilitates easier and more secure transfer of assets to other blockchains.
The system, thanks to its revolutionary architecture and innovative approach to security and the reward system, has many advantages that will undoubtedly be appreciated by users. Among the many advantages we can mention:
- Security: FAssets are secured by the network’s native token (FLR/SGB),stablecoins, or ETH, making them less susceptible to fraud or theft.
- Liquidity: FAssets can be traded on decentralized exchanges, making them liquid and easy to exchange for other assets.
- Interoperability: FAssets can be transferred between different blockchains,making them interoperable and accessible to a wider range of users.
- Scalability: FAssets are designed to be scalable, meaning they can be used to represent a large number of assets.
- Affordability: FAssets are relatively inexpensive to use.
Active users of the system will surely appreciate the benefits of creating FAssets, beyond the obvious benefits of enabling EVM for tokens that lack this functionality. The main benefits include:
- Additional rewards in the form of FLR tokens. FAsset holders will receive FLR tokens from the network’s incentives rewards pool (Crosschain Incentives Pool).
- Ability to participate in DeFi. Holders can simultaneously participate in DeFi,earning additional income. (e.g. by adding FAsset to a DEX liquidity pool or on a lending platform.)
- Ability to earn on underlying assets. Received FLR tokens qualify for monthly airdrops, and can then be delegated to FTSO, Staked, or supplied to the system as collateral for FAssets to earn fees from underlying assets (e.g. XRP, BTC, Doge).
- Increased value of FLR tokens. The higher the demand for minting FAssets, the more collateral in the form of FLR/SGB the system will require, which will ultimately lead to an increase in the value of native tokens.
Currently, two-thirds of the total blockchain market value is locked up in networks that do not have smart contract functionality. As a result, they cannot participate in the DeFi or NFT market, or even have the ability to host dApps. The FAssets System will add smart contract functionality to networks connected to the system. This will allow the wider community to participate in the decentralized economy in a secure, cheap and scalable way.
7. Current Status of FAssets
The FAssets System is currently in the private testing phase, where tools are being developed to track test scenarios involving multiple Agents on the Coston and XRP Testnet networks.
Testing is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of this year. The next step will be to implement the system on the Songbird canary network, where it will be tested in real-world conditions. The system is scheduled to go live on the Flare mainnet in late Q3 or early Q4 2024.
Here is the original roadmap for FAssets system testing:
Phase 1: In this phase, the FlareLab team tests the functionality of all FAsset system roles: minter, redeemer, challenger, liquidator, agent.
Phase 2: Selected external partners (including current #FTSO data providers) join the private beta tests.
Phase 3: Scenario testing. The system is tested in a controlled environment.
Phase 4: Competitive testing. The system is tested in an open environment. Performance rewards are expected.
Phase 5: Feedback and updates. The system will be updated and verified.
Once the FlareLabs team is satisfied that the FAssets system is robust enough, a graphical user interface will be launched and the community will be invited to participate in an open beta.
Groundbreaking solutions take time to be thoroughly tested and gradually implemented. Otherwise, a single error can jeopardize their chances of adoption and eventual success. Building such an innovative solution as the FAssets system is an extremely difficult and complex task, requiring the application of previously proven protocols and the appropriate design of a security system.
The Flare team, despite its minimalist but intelligent marketing strategy, has consistently executed on its plan, building, testing, and deploying solutions that ultimately enabled the creation of the FAssets system. This success would not have been possible without the involvement of the community, which actively supported the team by testing the provided solutions using their Flare Network tokens.
The current regulatory environment required finding an optimal solution that would not harm the project. To fit into the current regulatory climate, the Flare team took the time to establish the project’s foundations and build it without exposing itself to unnecessary legal problems. Examples of this include changes in the way tokens are distributed and the decision to have FAssets built by a third party or to change the company’s headquarters from the UK to Dubai.
Both the current market speculative cycle and the development of Flare Network are still in their early stages. Those who recognize the potential of this network early on will surely be rewarded. These rewards can take various forms, from FTSO delegation rewards, staking, or monthly airdrops, to future benefits from providing assets to the FAssets system, in all of which cases the use of compound interest will play a major role.
The project’s fundamentals are becoming stronger day by day, and the original ideas are being successfully implemented step by step. This will undoubtedly translate into speculative benefits in the future as well. However, for me personally, the foundations of the Flare Network are more important. Hugo’s team is building a sustainable and solid system that will be the foundation for next-generation interoperable blockchains. No one will be able to ignore this project.
The FAssets system solution will undoubtedly add value to the Flare network and increase demand for underlying assets, initially including BTC, XRP, and DOGE. This, in turn, will attract more users from different networks who will want to participate in the system and earn on their assets. The native tokens of the networks using the FAssets system (FLR and SGB) will also benefit, as a significant amount of them may be locked up to secure the system.
Flare definitely deserves a place in the top 10 in terms of market capitalization. However, for the health of the ecosystem, it is important that this is due to the usefulness of such solutions as FAssets, and not just to pure speculation.
The Flare team has committed to delivering all of the project’s original premises by the end of 2024. On Twitter, you can see the hashtag #ShipEverything, promoting this commitment. If they succeed, then this year promises to be exciting not only for everyone who has been involved in the network from the very beginning, but also for the entire cryptocurrency community. Delivering the promised functionality will make Flare Network a project of significant importance, a project that will radically change the way we currently interact between blockchains.