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ORC-8 AMA: The Future of the Project

13 August 2023Chris McCabe

ORC-8 Community AMA

Change is an integral part of growth, but it’s rarely met without a mix of excitement, apprehension, and a thirst for understanding. As OXEN begins its transformation from a Monero fork to an EVM compatible token, we recognise the wave of emotions our community might be riding.

In a bid to bridge the gap between uncertainty and understanding, we put out a call for questions from the community with the aim to address any concerns that may have arisen.

The shift from the OXEN privacy coin to a Session Token / SENT is arguably the most monumental change in the project’s history. It’s not just a change in function or branding, it’s a strategic pivot that seeks to redefine our position and potential in the Web3 world.

Taking part in the AMA we had Chris, our CEO; Kee, our CTO; Josh, our CMO; Jason, our Chief Software Architect; and Alex, who moderated the discussion.

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If you want the full experience of the AMA as it happened, check out the video here. For the main thrust of the answers in a condensed state, read on below.

Q&A Summary

What does ORC-8 stand for?

ORC stands for Oxen Request for Comment. You have probably heard the term ERC-20, ORC-8 is similar to this. In this context, ORC-8 indicates that, for us, there have been 7 prior ORC’s, though not all have been under the Oxen banner — early ones were LRC’s, or Loki Request for Comment.

What will be the main differences between OXEN and SENT?

The key differences are transaction privacy, token economics, and branding.

OXEN is capable of private transactions, and SENT is an EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine) compatible token. SENT will streamline the user experience, bringing easier access to staking and secure wallets. SENT also comes under the Session brand, where OXEN, while technically linked to Session as the underlying network, was quite separate in terms of the brand. This change makes the brand more cohesive and easier to understand for new users, like Proton apps. It also makes engaging with the token and wider Web3 ecosystem a simpler experience.

Will this be a fork of OXEN, a new chain, or something else entirely?

Something else entirely. The OXEN blockchain will change to the OXEN work chain, tasked with keeping up with the state of the Service Node network — registrations, deregistrations, uptime proofs, etc. The EVM side of things is where value is transferred, and the place where user stakes and balances will be represented.

How will the transition from OXEN to SENT work? Is it an immediate change, or something that will happen over time?

We are still working out the details for this. In terms of earning rewards, that will be a fairly quick transition. There will be a hard fork that says Service Nodes can be staked with either OXEN or SENT, however new stakes will require SENT. A grace period will be applied to allow people to take their existing OXEN Service Nodes and register them with a SENT contribution. We’re still working out how that will look for shared Service Nodes.

Transitioning may be a manual process but we’re also discussing the possibility of allowing you to register in advance to have your OXEN wallet transition into a SENT wallet, which could allow for a more automated process when the fork occurs. There are some technical issues around that implementation, but if we can figure those issues out, that is something we’d like to do.

Will we move forward with the launch of Session Pro during the transition period, or will we wait to be moved across to SENT before it is launched? How will that process be handled?

We’re not looking to delay Session Pro. If we can launch it, we will. There’s a lot of building on both fronts and we will keep pushing in both directions, launching as soon as we can.

How involved do we want the community to be in the branding and decision-making process?

We want community involvement. Community member sc0t was a spark to this idea, so we are paying attention to your ideas. We noticed discussion about how the connection between OXEN and Session wasn’t strong enough, and now we’re making the move to unify the brands under the Session banner. We do, however, need to make sure there is a balance. We can’t put every decision to a community vote, as that can delay the process and extend the time it takes for us to complete the transition.

For people with ONS records, will they be retained after the switch? How will that transition work?

They will be retained. Keeping existing ONS records intact is important, but there are a lot of details to consider. We may keep ONS on the OXEN work chain in a way that allows them to be registered on the SENT side and picked up by the Service Nodes.

Will moving away from ONS on the OXEN work chain compromise privacy? How will we look to preserve privacy for those names on the namespace system?

By default, ERC-20 tokens don’t have privacy, but we have various ideas about how we may implement some level of privacy on the Ethereum chain. One method would be to have a centralised gateway that would pay for the registration on your behalf, allowing you to pay in a number of different cryptocurrencies. Another way is to look at how we could do this on the Ethereum chain itself, with platforms like Railgun that offer privacy using zero-knowledge cryptography on the Ethereum blockchain.

The level of privacy may not compare to the current level with OXEN, but we do have to make some trade-offs here to increase the user experience on the Ethereum side. Obviously being a privacy-based project, privacy is important to us, so we’ll investigate if there is a way to maintain privacy while still preserving the user experience.

Finding a means of preserving privacy for ONS also means we may be able to use that to allow private purchasing of Session Pro.

Will OXEN holders be able to swap to SENT?

We are looking to offer some form of swapping between OXEN and SENT. That is part of the plan, but still need to finalise specific details.

How badly are OXEN holders going to be diluted in this process?

No exact figure right now, as this is still being finalised. We are doing our best to ensure Service Node operators and OXEN holders are being thought of throughout the process.

Will Service Node operators receive rewards in SENT?

Yes, that’s the plan. Once we launch the SENT token, and once you’ve transitioned your Service Node wallet to SENT, you will earn rewards in SENT. The rewards may work differently than they do in the current state of accumulating rewards and getting a payout twice a week. At the moment, we’re looking at having your SENT address accumulating rewards until a point where you are ready to claim, then you will need to submit a transaction to get the rewards transferred to your wallet. It’s still there, it’s still tied to your wallet, you just decide when it hits your wallet.

I am losing money each month running my nodes, why should I stick around?

Service Nodes are the backbone of the network and the project, so thank you to all the node operators. That’s what’s supporting the 750,000+ monthly active users on Session. We’re not here to lock anyone in, you can do what you need to do. If you’re operating at a loss and don’t want to continue, that’s okay. If you can see what we’re building and where we’re trying to go, we hope you can continue on this journey with us, and we’re appreciative of anyone who chooses to stay.

EVM-based privacy is unproven at the moment. If that comes along and we are able to embrace it with SENT, wouldn’t we assume that we’re going to end up under similar regulatory pressure that privacy coins are under right now? Is it worth going through all of this and changing OXEN to a token if that is going to be the end game?

The Ethereum world is taking a different approach to this. Their privacy tends to be opt-in privacy, based around zero-knowledge proofs, rather than default privacy based around ring signatures. For regulators, they’re much more comfortable with opt-in privacy. While the privacy may be removed at the base layer, but it does open up options for third-party services to provide privacy.

Does the transition from a private chain to a public transparent chain sacrifice privacy, a key ethos of the project?

Yes and no. Session and Lokinet contribute to privacy technology far more than the OXEN coin does. We are, more or less, still just a Monero fork and haven’t progressed far beyond that. We want to create the best privacy tools we can, and while we might be sacrificing the privacy coin, we’re contributing much more, with Session and Lokinet, than we’re losing with OXEN.

What is the team going to do to channel the success of Session into SENT?

By leveraging the brand capital of Session, we can give the other products a platform to be easily seen — similar to how Proton and Google do it. If someone likes Session, they should easily be able to find the Session token. Similarly, if we rename Lokinet to Session Router, it should be far easier to find. Bundling everything under the Session umbrella makes the connection between the applications stronger, making the ecosystem stronger.

Will the EVM-compatible changes allow for monetisation to happen with smart contracts?

Yes. Part of the monetisation strategy will need to happen with smart contracts. With the way we’re thinking about token economics design, there would be a pool of funds that is paid out to Service Nodes that would utilise smart contracts.

In addition to this, we always liked the idea of pegging ONS prices to a USD value, around $5-7, but we were never really able to do that with OXEN inside of the OXEN chain. With SENT being EVM compatible, we could easily access oracles for the SENT-USD trading pair that would enable us to peg the ONS price to a USD value in SENT.

How does the marketing team plan to sell the long-term value of the project?

The three main areas are branding, interoperability, and tokenomics. We’ll create one cohesive ecosystem that is simple to understand and see the connection between each of the individual components. OXEN was isolated on its own little island, which made integrations and interoperability difficult. These days a lot of the building is happening on EVM-compatible chains. By launching SENT on an EVM-compatible platform, it makes onboarding new users and integrating with other protocols a simpler experience — it also makes dealing with exchanges, and hardware wallet integration much easier.

Is the OPTF considering a change of jurisdiction?

On the Foundation side, we have looked at different jurisdictions before, but it isn’t a straightforward move, and isn’t a high priority of ours at this time. There are a lot of challenges and the upside is small.

Has the OPTF sold any OXEN in the past 3, 6, or 12 months?

No, no, and no.

How will the OPTF utilise the FLIP they will be receiving?

We will look to use that FLIP to run Chainflip Validators, which are similar to our OXEN Service Nodes. Long-term, that’s our goal, but we will also use some of that allocation to accelerate and fund the OPTF.

While we’re on Chainflip, it could offer an interesting programmatic way to buy an ONS or Session Pro with, for example, Monero, and have that converted to SENT which then flows into the Service Node rewards pool.

When will SENT launch?

There is no date yet, as there are still a lot of technical aspects to be figured out and built before we can accurately estimate a launch date. It also depends on how fleshed out we want to make the system before migration occurs. For example, we could launch a token and, in a centralised way, migrate people from OXEN over to SENT, but that wouldn’t have any of the decentralised bridging aspects we might need to run both the OXEN work chain and the SENT EVM side of things on Ethereum. We’ll be pushing as fast as we can to get it launched to try and minimise the time the community is left in flux.

Is OXEN turning into a Layer 2 the real reason that Jeff left the project a few months ago?

No, Jeff left the project before we committed to going down this path — Jason made a video addressing Jeff’s departure. The Layer 2 idea was mentioned to Jeff in an offhand way and Jeff did seem receptive to the idea, so we don’t believe it was the reason why he left, and if it was, it was not conveyed to us.

The current OXEN operators and holders have been patiently supporting the project for the last 5 years. How are we going to take care of those people who are out there holding OXEN and operating Service Nodes at the moment?

A lot of people have put their blood, sweat, and tears into this project to get it where it is. Most projects raise capital, collapse, and disappear within 12-24 months — in that regard, we’ve done better than a lot of projects. 5 years on and we’re still here. However, that doesn’t mean there haven’t been challenges along the way. We’re constantly trying our best to solve the problems that arise, just like we’re doing now. We’re using this as an opportunity to not only redesign how our products interact with each other, but how they interact with the wider ecosystem.

We’ve been able to get Session to a point where it is seen as a legitimate player in the private messaging space. With SENT and Lokinet coming under the Session umbrella, we’re looking to bring them up to the same level as Session too. We’ve taken a step back and tried to look at things from a long-term perspective, so that our products can be used 5 years, 10 years down the road, and even further into the future.

Wrapping up

We hope these insights were able to answer your questions and alleviate concerns. If you do have more questions or are looking for further clarification, feel free to jump into the community channels and ask your questions there and we can discuss it with you.

There’s a good chance we’ll hold another AMA in the near future, so make sure to keep an eye out for that.

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

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