Harmony (ONE) was launched as part of the Binance Launchpad's initial exchange offering (IEO) in May 2019. It is aimed to be a bridge between scalability and decentralization efforts. It was built with the motto 'decentralization at scale' in mind, emphasizing data sharing and the construction of fungible token and nonfungible asset marketplaces.
Furthermore, Harmony promises to give high throughput with two lows: latency and costs. They're expected to put the platform at the center of efforts to establish the groundwork for future decentralized trustless economies when they're combined.
Harmony began as a company in 2018 before the IEO. But, who is behind Harmony (ONE)? Multiple investors, including Silicon Valley's Consensus Capital, Hong Kong's Lemniscap VC and others, were interested in its fundraising endeavor, which raised $18 million in April 2019. Investors bought almost $2.8 billion of the company's ONE tokens, with $12.6 billion put aside for pre-mining.
Harmony gives investors access to an ecosystem that will enable the company's adoption across a variety of businesses, with a focus on data sharing, decentralized marketplaces, supply chain monitoring, ad exchanges, credit rating systems and gaming.
Harmony’s blockchain is divided into four networks known as 'shards', which run in parallel but are validated by separate groups of stakeholders — a kind of division of blockchain labor that makes the blockchain more efficient and reduces latency. Harmony calls this approach 'Effective Proof of Stake.'
Harmony stakeholders deposit Harmony’s native ONE token and are assigned to one of the four shards (only one of which, Shard 0, is currently in use). Validators have to maintain a full copy of the transactions of a given shard, but — critically — not a full copy of the entire network, as is typical. As a reward they receive newly minted coins and a portion of the transaction fees generated. They are rotated among shards after a period known as an 'epoch' to stop them from getting too comfortable. Each shard currently has 250 spots for validators but scaling may introduce more.
Harmony’s clever idea is to assign stakeholders randomly to each shard so as to avoid coordinated attempts to take over the network. Harmony also discourages the hoarding of tokens by fining those who stake above a certain limit and rewarding those who invest less. The (supposed) upshot? Faster transactions and lower fees, without undermining security.
Harmony’s native token, ONE, can be staked, earned and mined and also confers governance rights on holders, allowing them to participate in decisions pertaining to the future of the network.
It has also created a $300 million fund called Harmony Grants which aims to finance further research in the proof of stake field. It has, for instance, rolled out a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, whose goal is to fund research into zk-proofs, a way to communicate sensitive data across blockchains anonymously.