What is Ren? (REN)

The Beginner’s Guide

Ren is a software that aims to incentivize a global network of users to allow anyone to transfer both new and existing assets across different blockchains.

For example, with Ren, users can lock bitcoins (or other assets) in a smart contract, and in return, receive the equivalent of ether on the Ethereum blockchain. From there, Bitcoin holders could use Ren to access Ethereum’s suite of decentralized finance (DeFi) products without having to sell their bitcoins or even transferring their assets across blockchains. 

Using these Ethereum tokens, a user could even participate in Ethereum’s DeFi ecosystem, including on lending and borrowing platforms such as Compound or Aave. All the while, the user’s bitcoins would remain locked in Ren software. 

Should a user seek to unlock their funds, they would need to use the REN cryptocurrency, which is needed to pay nodes for operating and maintaining the network. 

Those wishing to stay up to date with the Ren project can follow its roadmap and blog.

what is ren


Who Created Ren?

Ren was founded by software developer Taiyang Zhang and Loong Wang in 2017. Originally named Republic Protocol, the platform rebranded to Ren in 2019. 

In 2018, Ren conducted a private sale, selling 56.5% of its REN token supply and raising $28.9 million in ETH. Participants in the sale included investors Polychain Capital and FBG Capital.

Ren then proceeded to conduct a public token sale, selling 8.6% of the token supply and raising $4.8 million in ETH. 

In total, 65.2% of REN tokens were sold in various sales, raising over $30 million in funding. The remaining tokens were allocated to the team and advisers (19.9%), community development (5%) and a company reserve (9.9%). 



How Does Ren Work?

To manage and execute its complex operations, the Ren software uses a custom virtual machine that deploys its smart contract code to the Ren network. 

If you’re unfamiliar, virtual machines are emulations of physical computers that can perform computation over a distributed network without revealing the underlying information.

To achieve this, Ren’s virtual machine uses zkSnarks, a cryptographic technique popularized by Zcash to shield transactions, and the Shamir Secret Sharing Scheme, which fragments orders to hide information from the nodes.

The Ren team argues this design allows anyone accessing Ren to fund an application on any blockchain without exposing information about themselves or their transaction.


The Ren virtual machine is maintained by a network of computers called DarkNodes. Anyone can run a DarkNode, provided they lock up a certain amount of REN tokens in smart contracts. 

Ren DarkNodes help power the Ren virtual machine by contributing bandwidth, computational power and storage capacity to the network, which together allow users to move crypto assets across blockchains. 

In exchange for helping maintain the network, DarkNode operators earn rewards from the network fees in the form of REN tokens.


To swap assets across blockchains, the Ren virtual machine accepts tokens on one chain, and creates new tokens representing the original ones on another chain through its RenBridge. 

For example, a user can send bitcoins to the RenVM, which then creates a new token on Ethereum called renBTC representing the original bitcoins. The Ren virtual machine holds the original funds in storage, allowing for the process to be reversed when the user wishes to retrieve their bitcoins. 

As of 2020, the Ren virtual machine can swap Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash and Zcash to Ethereum. Over $1.2 billion worth of these assets have been swapped since the Ren virtual machine was released in May 2020. 


Why Does REN Have Value?

Ren’s native cryptocurrency, REN, is needed to pay for operations on the Ren network. 

DarkNode operators need to stake 100,000 REN in order to operate a node. Since REN tokens are required to run a DarkNode, and REN has a total fixed supply of 1 billion REN, the number of possible DarkNodes is limited, which could help increase demand for REN tokens.

Of note, unlike other cryptocurrencies, users are not required to buy or hold REN to access its platform. Rather, users pay fees in the cryptocurrency of the blockchain on which they are conducting their economic activities.


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