ICP Meaning: Everything to Know

By  Beluga Research October 23, 2023

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  • ICP is a cryptocurrency that powers the Internet Computer Protocol, a decentralized network aiming to revolutionize the internet infrastructure
  • The Internet Computer protocol is a blockchain-based protocol developed by the DFINITY Foundation that aims to create a decentralized internet
  • ICP functions as a utility token for the Internet Computer network, facilitating network governance, payment for computation/storage resources and transaction fees
  • ICP offers advantages such as scalability, decentralization and interoperability, but faces disadvantages such as centralization concerns and network immaturity


ICP is a cryptocurrency that powers the Internet Computer protocol, a decentralized network aiming to revolutionize the internet infrastructure. The Internet Computer leverages blockchain technology to offer several advantages. It eliminates intermediaries and reduces reliance on centralized entities, making the internet more resilient and less susceptible to censorship.

It also enables the execution of smart contracts, allowing for the development of decentralized applications (dapps) that run on the Internet Computer network. Finally, the Internet Computer provides a highly scalable and efficient platform for hosting websites and services, capable of handling massive amounts of traffic and data.

A Brief History

ICP's development began in 2016 when the DFINITY Foundation was founded by Dominic Williams. The foundation aimed to build a secure and efficient platform for hosting and executing software. In May 2021, the Internet Computer was officially launched, marking a significant milestone in the evolution of blockchain technology and offering a more decentralized and secure alternative to traditional internet infrastructure.

ICP Meaning: Everything to Know

ICP is the native cryptocurrency of the Internet Computer network and plays a crucial role in the operation. It functions as a utility token that enables users to interact with the network and access associated services.

The Internet Computer facilitates network governance, allowing holders to participate in decision-making processes such as proposing and voting on protocol upgrades or changes. This democratic governance model ensures decentralized and community-driven network evolution.

Furthermore, ICP is used to pay for computation and storage resources on the Internet Computer network. Developers stake ICP as collateral when deploying applications or websites, securing the network and incentivizing participants. In return, developers gain access to the network's computational power and storage capabilities, enabling decentralized and secure application execution.

ICP is also used for transaction fees within the network, as users may need to pay small fees when interacting with dapps or performing transactions. These fees incentivize node operators who provide computational resources, maintaining network security and integrity.

ICP has a fixed supply, meaning that the total number of tokens is predetermined and cannot be changed. This fixed supply ensures value retention and prevents inflation. However, ICP can be divided into smaller units, similar to cents for a dollar, allowing flexibility in pricing and accessibility for users with varying budgets.

Getting Started

To get started with ICP, users need to understand the three main components: The "Internet Computer Blockchain," the "Network Nervous System" (NNS) and "Internet Identity."

The Internet Computer Blockchain is the decentralized network of nodes that maintains a tamper-proof ledger of transactions. It can scale horizontally by adding more nodes and uses the Threshold Relay consensus algorithm for security and consistency.

The Network Nervous System (NNS) governs the Internet Computer and allows token holders to participate in decision-making and vote on proposals. It also manages the network's economics, including the issuance and distribution of ICP tokens.

Internet Identity enables users to have a decentralized digital identity, enhancing privacy and security while giving them control over personal data.

Unique Aspects

Unique features are offered by the Internet Computer that distinguish it from other blockchain platforms. It supports unlimited smart contract canisters, enabling seamless scaling for complex applications without gas fees or computational limits.

The Internet Computer also integrates with the traditional internet, bridging the gap between web services and dapps. Developers can leverage existing internet protocols and application programming interfaces (APIs) for easier application building and deployment.

Finally, the Internet Computer introduces "cycles" as a measure of computation and storage resources, serving as the native utility token. Cycles are minted and burned based on supply and demand, ensuring an efficient and scalable network with a fair economic system.


  • Scalability - Scalability within the Internet Computer sets it apart from traditional blockchains. It uses Chain Key Technology (CKT), a consensus mechanism that allows for horizontal scaling, which means that the network can handle more transactions as it grows without sacrificing performance.
  • Decentralization - ICP enables the creation of dapps that can run directly on the network, removing the need for intermediaries. This empowers individuals and organizations to have greater control over data and digital assets.
  • Interoperability - Seamless communication is supported within the Internet Computer and data exchange with other blockchain networks. This fosters collaboration and enables cross-chain applications and services.
  • Security - Network security is ensured by the Internet Computer through advanced cryptography, consensus algorithms and threshold cryptography to mitigate single points of failure. The protocol also employs formal verification techniques to guarantee the correctness and security of smart contracts.
  • Governance - The Internet Computer follows a decentralized governance model, allowing token holders to participate in decision-making. This ensures a transparent and community-driven network, reducing the influence of centralized entities.


  • Centralization Concerns - Critics argue that the Internet Computer's governance structure may lead to centralization over time, as token concentration among a few large holders could influence network decisions significantly.
  • Learning Curve - ICP's technology and concepts may be challenging for newcomers. Understanding the protocol, consensus mechanisms and smart contract development requires technical expertise, potentially limiting adoption by non-technical users.
  • Regulatory Uncertainty - Like any cryptocurrency, ICP operates within a rapidly evolving regulatory landscape. Thus, uncertainty surrounding legal and regulatory frameworks introduces risks and obstacles to widespread adoption.
  • Energy Consumption - The consensus mechanism utilized by the Internet Computer requires significant computational power, resulting in energy consumption. This raises concerns about the environmental impact and long-term sustainability of cryptocurrencies.
  • Network Immaturity - As a new cryptocurrency, ICP is still in the early stages of development, so technical challenges and limitations may arise and require addressing. Improvements in infrastructure, developer tools and user-friendly interfaces are necessary.