Investigating the Top Cryptocurrencies #4: Siacoin

SiaCoin is a digital protocol for decentralized file storage with remarkably affordable prices. One Terabyte of online storage for a month costs just $2 in Siacoin tokens.

The Sia app interface

I’ve heard about Siacoin in the past. Compared to the last couple of tokens I’ve posted about, it looks amazing. The app works and the development plan for the protocol is clear and ambitious.

The only complaint that I have so far is that the app is very slow. This is a common problem for blockchain projects right now, and I hope that Sia will be able to improve the speeds going forward.

About This Series + Disclaimer

This post is part of a new series where I investigate each of the top 50 coins by marketcap (based on coinmarketcap.com’s rankings on October 11, 2017). My goal is to help steem’s userbase become the most knowledgable blockchain community in the world.

*Disclaimer:** I am not an investment expert and will not be providing investment advice. I will teach you about the top 50 coins, and you can do what you want with that info.

My Experience With the Sia Token

As soon as I found out that there was a tangible use for this token, I had to put it to the test. I transferred a few steem dollars into Sia tokens via Bittrex, then sent them to my app’s wallet address.

It took a long time — hours — to sync to the blockchain after I opened the app for the first time.

look at the top right corner to see the sync bar

Eventually it synced up. I moved forward with my goal to buy 1TB of storage:

With today’s prices, it only costs 250 tokens, or about $1.06 in USD, for every six weeks that I want to store up to 1TB of data… that’s crazy! Great deal. I paid up.

When I tried to upload my first file, I got an error message:

I had to wait another 45 minutes while it slowly picked up “contracts,” whatever those are — finally, I was able to upload my file:

It uploads the file a “redundant” number of times. I think that’s to reduce the risk of losing your data. Each file gets uploaded triple.

It took another 20+ minutes to upload the 250 MB file. Speed is not Sia’s strong suit right now.

Overall though I do find the app impressive. It’s a serious value proposition to get data storage for $1 per TB per six weeks. I could see myself using this from now on for a lot of data backups.

Other Benefits of Sia

Another benefit claimed by Sia is privacy. When you host a file with an encrypted key and store it across dozens of different computers around the world, there is no single entity that can look at what you are uploading.

This is a big privacy boost when compared to Amazon Cloud Services and other centralized companies. Those institutions are easy targets for secret government subpoenas.

Over time they are planning to add file sharing into the app — first to share with other Sia members, but eventually to host files for anybody on the internet. The website says this: “Breaking into this market is a multi-billion dollar endeavor. The long term goal of Sia is to be the backbone storage layer of the Internet.”

Sia has a long way to go before they will be a viable platform to act as the backbone storage layer of the Internet. I am starting to suspect that *multiple* protocols will end up sharing the blockchain storage market.

The Sia Team

The Sia website only has one specific mention of the team who built Sia: *”Sia was created by **David Vorick** and **Luke Champine** of Nebulous Inc, a VC-funded startup in Boston. “*

David Vorick’s Linkedin profile shows that he attended college from 2011–2014, working for less than a year at IBM in 2013, and then after graduation founded his own company called “Nebulous.”

Luke Champine attended the same college at the same time as David. His work experience prior to Nebulous consists of two short internships: Kronos (Presales Technical Intern) and Akamai Technologies (Platform Mapping Engineering Intern).

It’s not necessarily a bad thing that they started their company (and with it, Siacoin) right after college… but it does merit a healthy dose of skepticism. I will need to see more progress on the protocol to become confident in it.

Market History

Source: https://coinmarketcap.com/currencies/siacoin/

SiaCoin has had a mostly steady valuation with a brief spike and subsequent fall in summer 2017. So far seeing this token at #47 in the market cap ranking makes sense to me — it’s a token with great potential and decent execution so far.

What I’m curious to see is how well the app evolves in the next 6 months. Sia has an ambitious public roadmap, if they keep on that timeline then I’ll become more of a true believer in this technology.

If you are curious about the inflation rate of Siacoin (spoilers: it goes down to 2% over the next 10 years), there’s a great and detailed post about it by tobo on the sia forums.

A Note on Monetization of Sia

A portion of all Siacoin storage rewards (3.9%) are paid out as dividends to holders of a second token: Siafund tokens. There are only 10,000 Siafund tokens in existence and no new ones are printed.

Of these 10,000 tokens, 8835 are held by the parent company of Sia, Nebulous. The rest were sold off to raise funds. This seems like a reasonable monetization scheme to me, especially if more of the tokens are sold off in the future.

Final Thoughts

Siacoin was much less dramatic to write about than the last few tokens I’ve researched. It is good to see a protocol with a working app and a real use case. In my opinion, any top 50 token should have real people actively using the token in some way.

If you want affordable online storage and are willing to deal with some slow load times, Siacoin is a great solution. The rates are so affordable it is ridiculous.

To get serious about Siacoin, like any cryptocurrency, read the white paper.

Question

Have you had any experience with Siacoin? What do you think about it?

This article was originally published on my steemit blog in October 2017.

Former radio broadcaster turned gamer and musician.