All-in-one NKN FAQ

Editor’s note: this was originally authored by NKN Community member Tanner, and assisted by Lukas. It was originally posted on NKN Reddit:

Technology and Use-case

  • NKN is a peer-to-peer decentralised network aiming to disrupt the traditional centralised client-server model of internet and telecoms networks, which are expensive, inefficient and prone to attacks.
  • By incorporating a blockchain layer on top of existing TCP/IP, NKN aims to help utilise unused bandwidth and data, which is often distributed inefficiently across different users, allowing both individuals and large ISPs to better optimise data usage for improved network speeds and reduced costs. NKN can also be used to develop decentralised web 3.0 applications with much less cost than traditional server-based applications. This entails web applications which currently depend on centralized servers being able to run more cheaply, steadily and in a distributed way over NKN. Whether messenger applications, online games or any app which can be negatively affected by downtime of centralised servers. From a developer standpoint, it is easier and cheaper to develop on NKN’s distributed network than the traditional approach.
  • This distributed network is powered by the NKN token, an intrinsic self-incentivised digital asset which powers and secures the network.
  • NKN utilises a mechanism called Proof-of-Relay, also referred to as “useful Proof-of-Work”. Unlike traditional Proof-of-Work systems which reward based on computing hash functions, PoR rewards miners for relaying real-world (useful) data along the network.
  • Scalable consensus is achieved through an entirely novel consensus algorithm labelled MOCA (Majority vOting Cellular Automata), based on mathematical concepts of Ising model and cellular automata. Also known as gossip protocol, where nodes only need to reach consensus with nodes immediately neighbouring to them, which will spread to a fast global consensus. In this way, it is scalable to millions of nodes.
  • NKN’s medium (1-2 year) term scalability target is 1 million full consensus nodes with 10k TPS, both of which have been demonstrated in simulations detailed in the whitepaper without requiring sharding or state channels. NKN has simulated 10 million nodes working in MOCA consensus.
  • NKN launched its public testnet in August and currently stable above 5000 distributed global nodes (full mining nodes, participating actively in the consensus), over 98 % of which are run by the community, making the network larger than all crypto projects except BTC and ETH.
  • Anyone can run an NKN node simply by relaying data with their internet connection - no expensive hardware or GPUs are required, nothing more than a laptop with broadband access. NKN will support miners and early adopters by making testnet mining profitable according to the market conditions, meaning there can be another early redeem to ETH in the future Early redemption of NKN testnet tokens.

Core Team and Experience

  • Founder and CEO Yanbo Li is one of the co-founders of Chinese blockchain technology giant Onchain. While the other two co-founders started the well-known projects NEO and Ontology, Yanbo started NKN in 2016. He is the top code contributor to the DNA (Distributed Network Architecture) that underpins the blockchains used in NEO, Ontology and Elastos. He also has years of enterprise experience working for Nokia, Qualcomm and Siemens.
  • Co-founder and CTO Yilun Zhang has a PhD in Physics from the University of California, with particular expertise in Ising model cellular automata, Hopfield Network in computer science, as well as recurrent neural networks in computational neuroscience.
  • Co-founder and Co-CEO Zheng “Bruce” Li has decades of professional experience in the telecoms sector, having held management level positions at Nokia, Google and Nortel, and having led multi-million dollar internal startup projects while there. He holds five patents and has co-authored three scientific publications all in the domain of networks and telecoms.
  • Allen Dixon is NKN’s senior business development expert and has decades of experience both in engineering and BD for Nokia, Motorola, and startups.
  • The team has over 10 other full time developers and continue to hire and expand, with a team based in the Bay Area, California and a team based in Beijing, China.


  • Whitfield Diffie is a pioneering cryptographer and one of the founding fathers of modern public key cryptography. His 1976 paper alongside Martin Hellman solved key distribution with a technique called the Diffie-Hellman key exchange. His research institute Cryptic Labs, which includes Diffie and several other nobel laureate researchers serving as technical advisors, regularly works with NKN in R&D relating to Ising model for cellular automata, with Dr. Diffie serving as technical advisor.
  • Stephen Wolfram is a computer scientist, physicist and entrepreneur who is the founder and CEO of the software company Wolfram Research. He was the chief architect of the Wolfram Alpha engine as well as the computing system Mathematica used in many complex computing, engineering and science fields and by many of the worlds foremost tech companies. As one of the most recognised experts in Cellular Automata, detailed in his publication A New Kind of Science, Wolfram provides further technical advise to the NKN team in this area.

Business Development and Use Cases

Tokenomics and Investors

  • NKN has a maximum supply of 1 billion tokens. 350 million are currently circulating with all private investor tokens already unlocked. A further 180 million tokens are reserved for developers and advisors and are released over a 3 year period starting in May 2019. A further 170 million tokens are reserved for the foundation and are similarly released over a 3 year period starting mid 2019. The final 300 million tokens will be gradually generated through mining rewards over an estimated 25 year period.
  • Private investors in the token include some of the largest VCs in the blockchain space, including Fenbushi Capital, Arrington XRP Capital, BlockVC, NEO Global Capital, Node Capital, OKEX, among others. All have reaffirmed their long term commitment to the project with the majority of private sale tokens having never been moved from their original address.
  • Investors are informed frequently on all channels including (but not limited to) Twitter, Telegram, Discord, Reddit, Weibo, Blockfolio Signal, Delta Direct and V label certified Binance Info page. To make cryptocurrency a real world success with wide adoption, NKN aims to achieve full transparency, spot-on accuracy, universal fairness, and high level of ethics.
  • NKN is primarily trading on Bittrex, and UPbit exchanges, but the team are in constant communication with all the major exchanges to secure improved liquidity and access for purchasing the token.
  • NKN is currently trading as both a NEP5 token and an ERC20 token. A non-mandatory token swap from the original NEP5 to the ERC20 is ongoing; this is being done following community, private investor and exchange feedback to increase NKN’s liquidity. Both versions will continue to exist until the final June 2019 token swap to the NKN mainnet token, but the ERC20 version is considered the primary placeholder token till that time.


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NKN main website

NKN testnet page

NKNx explorer/wallet/node manager

NKN youtube channel

NKN twitter

NKN medium

NKN discord - mostly for mining and technical discussion