Small apps, big ideas: unblock 2021’s winning blockchain hackathon DApps
April 16, 2021 by Manu Naik
blockchain hackathon ideas

Applications are the fuel of any software-based ecosystem’s growth, and this holds for all kinds of platforms, from smartphones and home appliances to centralized and decentralized networks. The blockchain industry is bursting at the seams with revolutionary ideas, hackathon-inspired innovative technologies, and dedicated people. While the space has certainly matured from its humble origins over a decade ago, bottlenecks around development resources have stifled its acceleration towards mainstream use.

Bitcoin’s market capitalization is worth more than nearly every world bank, but transactions can still take hours to confirm. Scalability has been an issue for cryptocurrencies since the advent of blockchain technology, but as more developers look at the problem, the solution appears to be almost within reach.

Nano is at the forefront of solving the scalability issue with decentralized payment networks. As the first cryptocurrency created using a directed acyclic graph (DAG), the Nano protocol’s Open Representative Voting (OVR) system allows it to reach speeds of thousands of transactions per second without involving any centralized third parties or intermediaries.

If applications are the fuel, developers are the drivers of this blockchain motorsport, steering the technology in ways that bring the most value to the market. With unblock 2021, we had two core goals: incentivize experienced blockchain developers to create innovative applications, and inspire newcomers to have a look at what the fuss is all about.

While Nano’s themes focused on using blockchain for payments, the NEAR protocol’s themes pushed participants to get creative with their applications’ scopes. As a platform primarily centered around supporting decentralized applications, NEAR’s community-based smart contract platform is perfect for managing high-value assets like money, identity, and more.

Partnering with Nano, unblock 2021 was a hotbed of wild ideas. Due to technical limitations on our end, we weren’t able to accept as many submissions as we wanted, having not anticipated how hearty the Nano community’s response would be. Participants from across the world competed to design robust applications on Nano, creating some of the most functional, practical DApps we’ve seen at Octaloop.

Dapper Applications

Team Fayco’s Nano Point of Sale (now NaoPay) project was a very popular submission, and a clear winner under the nano Blockchain for Payments theme with its feeless instant payment solution for merchants, clean interface, and great UX design. Customers pay by scanning a QR code, eliminating the hassle of tracking long account addresses while offering all the advantages of a secure, decentralized network.

The winning submission for the Payments theme’s KaiOS track was the elaborately named ‘Simplifying Nano payments on KaiOS with mobile number based virtual addresses.’ As the name suggests, team GG designed the application to map a user’s Kaiak wallet address to their phone number, creating an added level of convenience for making payments on the Nano network.

The team’s leader, Shardul Adeer, even documented his experience working with Daksha Aeer at the unblock 2021 blockchain hackathon to generate ideas for creating the application here. Though Nano’s judging team noted that the mapping would incur a gas fee, which could become a barrier for entry to adoption, they also offered their guidance to help develop the application further along with the Kaiak team – a potentially massive opportunity for the pair in the long-run.

While it didn’t win any prizes, Ms. Lily’s Volunteers was another standout submission in the Blockchain for Social Initiatives theme that uses the NEAR blockchain to connect NGOs and other charitable organizations with volunteers on the network. In its project description, the team spoke about our humane desire to give back to society and how blockchain technology can empower us as individuals to embolden us as a society.

Among the other submissions was an application that allows users to create websites and instantly begin accepting Nano payments. While the project’s scope is quite sizeable, the one-person army that designed it, Jeff Kilroy, a well established Nano community developer managed to pull it off using two plugins (CoinEmbed and Catnip) to implement its core functions.

Another solo project submission was VajraNet, developed to create a secure and scalable stablecoin streaming network for essential commodities. Using a fork of the Rainbow Bridge protocol from NEAR, Gokul Alex’s VajraNet offers a privacy-focused algorithmic stablecoin platform that accounts for both supply and demand-side dynamics and its effects on token stability.

Events to Eventualities

unblock 2021 was both productive and educational, familiarizing more novice blockchain developers with the field and encouraging more experienced hackathon participants to get creative with their ideas. Hackathon events are perfect for spreading awareness in blockchain developer communities, and by sparking interest in more developers around the world, blockchain is slowly creating more robust solutions through innovative ideas for the modern financial system.

Ideas can be expanded to solve all kinds of problems, but sometimes it takes an entirely different approach to allow the concept to evolve inventively. Blockchain is impossible to maintain or sustain without a thriving developer ecosystem, and unless we can continue to provide them with incentives to solve the industry’s bottlenecks, the rate of growth in this space will inevitably slow down.

A hackathon doesn’t just challenge your knowledge of blockchain or your programming skills, they also challenge your mental fitness to develop fresh ideas and come up with the effective solutions for days on end. The biggest problem with digital money is trusting someone to keep everyone’s interests safe. Cryptocurrencies are a form of money that transcends the physical world’s limitations while also removing trust from the financial equation.

While tasking developers to create innovative solutions in constrained environments doesn’t always lead to the most refined applications, most of the ideas we saw at unblock 2021 were just a quick polish away from popular DApps used by the crypto-community today.

We’ve always taken a more organic approach to make decentralized networks a significant part of everyone’s lives. Having hosted India’s largest blockchain meetups, our dedicated communities are built from real human interactions, and we’re constantly on the lookout for new projects and ideas to showcase at our events. As unblock grows and the blockchain industry as a whole continues to expand into the deeper crevices of our modern world, the quality and utility of the blockchain apps coming into the space appear not just promising but impressive too.