Minima


Founded 2018 | HQ Zug, Switzerland and London, UK | <20 employees | <$10M revenue

In our interactions with enterprises and software technology firms, the number one concern raised regarding blockchain is the vast processing and energy resources involved. It’s far too early to tell if Minima addresses that problem, but its approach is undoubtedly innovative and requires far fewer resources than more traditional approaches.


The Company

Minima is a blockchain start-up based in Zug, Switzerland, and London, UK. It was founded in 2018 by UK-based CEO Hugo Feiler and CTO Paddy Cerri. The firm closed a Series A funding round of $6.5 million in October 2021, led by AGE Crypto Asset Investment Fund and SMO Capital, following a $2.5 million venture round from Blockchange Ventures in December 2020. Minima is focused on delivering a low-footprint decentralized and distributed blockchain protocol. This report will cover in depth how Minima achieves this.

The Technology

Blockchain platforms are now reasonably well understood; they are constructed through distributed nodes, each holding a copy of the entire ledger. But the words “node” and “copy” can mean different things. A node can hold a copy of everything associated with a transaction or only part of the transactional data. Nodes are typically servers that store, manage, and mine blocks at physical endpoints. While many might mistake the Minima node for a “light node” that stores only the minimum amount of data required to verify the blockchain, on Minima, every node is fully validating and constructing. Each node stores only the data associated with its own transactions as well as the status of the blockchain to achieve this. Consequently, Minima nodes run in full on a minimal processor such as a mobile phone or
IoT device.

The blockchain concept itself is unchanged in Minima. But the physical operating environment is radically altered. Instead of running an energy-intensive network of bulky hardware, storing vast volumes of data, Minima lives on a minimal hardware network, running minimal volumes of data. That’s intriguing and appealing on several levels. Let’s dig a little deeper into the Minima platform.
As mentioned earlier, the nodes on Minima run on smaller devices rather than dedicated hardware. In Minima’s approach, every node is treated equally. There are no miners, nor are there any other entities in control. For this to work, considering the limited storage and processing capabilities of small devices, each node stores only its own data alongside a copy of the ledger of the entire blockchain, which is updated continuously over the peer-to-peer (P2P) network. To prevent the stored ledger file size from growing out of control, Minima enforces both compression techniques and regular pruning of the blockchain.

This approach also means that, in theory, the network of nodes itself will be much more extensive than most blockchains in operation today. The company aims to bring one million nodes online by Q3 2022, which is vast and brings both challenges and opportunities. The most obvious challenge is managing such a large number, which is the same challenge that any massively distributed network faces whether it is a social media platform or a blockchain. There can be a tremendous amount of churn, and – as these are, after all, small devices – the potential for data loss and breaks as devices are removed from service or change hands.

Then again, Minima’s massive network of devices is configured so that every node plays an equal role in securing the network and removing potential breakpoints, thus increasing resilience and providing massive edge scalability while removing the need to rely on cloud-based blockchain infrastructure. There are two (arguably three) protocol layers to make this work (see Figure 1). The first is the network setup described above; the second is the transactional information layer, an operational environment for P2P data transactions. This is where the business value of Minima emerges. This token-based processing layer, which has the Minima Coin core, allows end users (presumably mostly enterprise) to create customized sub-tokens. These sub-tokens can be used for almost anything, from bringing consistency to a loyalty scheme to making actual payments or confirming and valuing IoT transactions. Though Minima is only just launching, the firm says that this layer operates exceptionally fast and guarantees near-unlimited transactions without fees.

The third layer (of sorts) is the Minima Enterprise Gateway (MEG). At its core, this layer provides a Docker-based service that runs on an enterprise’s infrastructure and supports business applications integrating Minima data sources. The MEG is also used as an administration point to create transactional events, rules, tokens, etc.

Figure 1
Minima Ecosystem Impact

Our Opinion

The question we ask is, what might enterprises build on and do with Minima in the future, beyond what they might already wish to do with a traditional blockchain platform? The most obvious answer is that though many potential use cases leverage its low footprint, machine-to-machine (M2M) transactions seem the most likely starting place. And indeed, one of the first target markets that Minima is focusing on is the emerging vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) sector. Though it is early days, the platform is officially launching and gaining critical mass. Still, it certainly has great potential in, for example, telecoms and any IoT-based enterprise use cases, particularly considering the impending impact of 5G.

Advice to Buyers

In our interactions with enterprises and software technology firms, the number one concern raised regarding blockchain is the vast processing and energy resources involved. Some of this is misguided, but most blockchains are energy-hungry, and with an increased awareness of the environmental impact of computing services, sustainability is a valid concern. It’s far too early to tell if Minima addresses that problem, but its approach is undoubtedly innovative and requires far fewer resources than more traditional approaches.

Using the enormous number of IoT and mobile devices to run the platform rather than energy-sucking server farms makes a great deal of sense and holds a lot of promise. It’s a novel approach and one that is worthy of consideration if you are looking to leverage blockchain in your enterprise.


SOAR Analysis

Strengths

  • Novel low-footprint approach to blockchain
  • Timely market entrance

Aspirations

  • Become the go-to platform for M2M use cases
  • Reach one million nodes in 2022

Opportunities

  • Edge-related use case
  • Be the modern alternative to traditional blockchain

Results

  • Solid early investment
  • Successful soft launch in Q1 2022

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