What Is Orchid in 5 Minutes
The Orchid Network is a peer-to-peer marketplace for virtual private network (VPN) providers and network users, and OXT is the token used to purchase VPN bandwidth.
To understand Orchid it is first useful to understand VPN.
When you connect to the internet through an internet service provider (ISP) you are connecting through public servers. These servers are, in many ways, unsecure and highly vulnerable to hackers, governments and other bad actors who are looking to either discover your location, build a profile of your online activity, or steal sensitive personal information like your date of birth, social security number, or credit card number.
A VPN connects your device to the internet through a private server. This effectively masks your online actions from governments, hackers, and third parties like advertisers, and social networks. You retain control of your personal data and have more privacy while online.
However, traditional, centralized VPNs have some challenges. For example, many collect your private browsing data and sell it to advertisers or share it with governments, undermining the fundamental reasons users might use a VPN in the first place. That’s how they can provide a “free” VPN service. A single VPN provider is also a central data collection point where governments and hackers can potentially go to steal your information or discover your location.
Orchid aims to solve these problems and provide a more private, more secure internet browsing experience.
Orchid is a global, decentralized network of VPN service providers. You use the OXT token to buy bandwidth on Orchid for private internet browsing, paying only for what you use.
So, instead of going through one centralized VPN provider, every time you want to browse the internet privately and securely you log on to Orchid and are matched with a trusted and high-quality VPN provider.
But wait. How is going through one traditional, centralized VPN any different than going through one of many decentralized VPN providers. Aren’t I still going through one provider?
Yes and no.
First of all, with a decentralized VPN like Orchid, if you’re not happy with your connection or provider – if for example your load times are slow – you can quickly and easily connect through a different provider and continue browsing privately. With a traditional VPN you can switch to another private server in that VPN’s network but you can’t switch providers. That’s one huge difference.
Connecting to the internet through any public or private source just once isn’t really the problem. Third parties infringe upon your privacy by aggregating your browsing data over time, building a profile of your identity, interests, and location. They can then sell that profile to advertisers, who in turn send you unsolicited ads or hand over your profile to an intrusive government that monitors its population. Also, VPNs route your personal information like your name, credit card details, and home address when you’re transacting online. This info is also vulnerable to hackers and other bad actors.
Having the option to connect to the internet through a large variety of providers enables you to randomize your VPN connections to the internet, making it harder for third parties to track, profile, or interfere with your online activity. But that’s not all.
Orchid allows you to route a single internet connection through multiple providers, dramatically decreasing any possibility that any third party can track, profile, or steal your information. This is called multi-hop routing and is a unique feature of a decentralized, blockchain-based service. Paying for each hop out of a different Ethereum wallet further obscures your identity and activities. Multi-hop routing adds a significant layer of privacy to your internet access.
Yet another layer of security and anonymity is added by using a trusted, centralized exchange to fund your Orchid app. You can do this easily by requesting a wallet address from your cryptocurrency exchange. This ensures payments to Orchid come from a commingled fund of OXT in the exchange’s hot wallet, not from a personal wallet where third parties might be able to figure out your identity or location from public, on-blockchain payments.
It’s also important to understand how the OXT digital currency works on the Orchid network.
VPN bandwidth providers must “stake” OXT, meaning, they must deposit OXT with Orchid and if they want it back, they have to wait three months. This incentivizes them to provide secure, high-quality bandwidth, and if they don’t, users can choose to jump to a better provider. With no customers, providers aren’t making money, and their stake is stuck on the network. So, it makes sense for them to work hard to provide secure and high-quality bandwidth for their customers.
The more a provider stakes with Orchid, the higher the likelihood that they will be chosen by the Orchid protocol to provide bandwidth to users. Thus, providers are rewarded for their commitment to the network, reinforcing a virtuous cycle of quality of service and greater staking. This is how the directory of trusted and high-quality providers is created.
OXT allows users to only pay for the bandwidth they consume rather than a set fee or subscription, as is often the model with centralized VPN providers. All a user has to do is download the VPN app and add OXT to a wallet. Then they can access the internet through a secure connection anywhere in the world and “pay per packet,” which means paying just for the websites browsed. Like electricity and other utilities – you pay only for what you use.
Orchid uses an ingenious “probabilistic nanopayment” structure that takes micropayments out of your OXT wallet to pay for your internet usage. These micropayments do not occur on the Ethereum blockchain, which solves for Ethereum’s limited processing power. Instead, they occur continuously as you browse and are reconciled approximately once a week on the blockchain. This structure allows Orchid to provide seamless, secure service for millions of users at a time. It adds yet another layer of security by limiting exposure of user information when transactions for service are posted to the public blockchain.
Orchid’s mission is to "build Open Source software that keeps the Internet open and accessible.”
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