The Orchid Protocol is a P2P bandwidth network marketplace for anonymous, secure internet access. Users who access the internet unprotected through an ISP risk having their data stored and shared. Orchid is designed as an alternative to existing security-focused internet access solutions, such as VPNs and the Tor onion routing network. In contrast to Tor, where node owners face considerable legal risks and limited avenues to monetizing services, Orchid incentivizes nodes to provide secure bandwidth to users through a tokenized marketplace. Orchid is also distinct from existing blockchain-based VPN projects, such as Mysterium, as user data is routed through several randomized nodes as opposed to a single VPN provider. Orchid will implement a whitelist system, allowing individual nodes to specify websites that they will not route to, such as darknet markets.
Orchid protects traffic from surveillance en route, but the destination website can still determine that it is being accessed from Orchid. Orchid does not intend to build a user-facing browser like the Tor browser, and will focus solely on the internet routing layer. The Orchid marketplace consists of 3 primary user groups:
- Relays are intermediary relay nodes providing traffic anonymization. Traffic is randomly routed through provably secure relays in proportion to their capacity. Relays can earn tokens by selling bandwidth on the Orchid Market, and can set prices dynamically according to demand.
- Proxies are ‘border’ nodes that makes the final connection with the destination website. These nodes can restrict connections to a whitelisted set of websites. Proxies also can earn tokens by selling bandwidth on the Orchid Market.
- Users spend tokens in proportion to bandwidth used, and communicate with Relay nodes in advance to establish a estimated bandwidth price.
The Ethereum-based Orchid token will function as the exclusive payment token for the Orchid Network’s bandwidth marketplace. The primary use of blockchain technology in Orchid is to provide a scalable and private micropayment system; other stack elements exist off-chain. The founding team has significant industry experience, including crypto venture investing at Pantera Capital, an early security lead at Ethereum, and development at Dfinity. The token is not yet live - Orchid completed a $4.5m SAFT in mid 2017, and an ongoing SAFT aims to raise up to $125m proposed. This funding will be used to bootstrap an initial network of bandwidth-providing nodes. Several Silicon Valley VCs have announced participation in the Orchid SAFT, including Sequoia, A16Z, Polychain, and Blockchain Capital.