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WTF Happened in 1971?

In a recent spillover of internet-based long-form intellectual new media into the mainstream, Eric Weinstein appeared as a guest on Ted Cruz's podcast. Eric was well prepared. Cruz played the role of a charitable and engaged critic while avoiding direct confrontation.
The conservation laid bare the intersection of the anti-corporate socialist left and anti-government libertarian right and the potential of these forces as a combined political interest. There was a strong sense of shared acknowledgement of the current crisis and they touched on all the culture war aspects. But I'm more interested in what Eric has pointed to now several times as the root cause of the systemic decline, and what seems to be the original trigger for the slow decay and building of tension that has ultimately led to the rise of darker elements on both the left and right that we see today: a Great Decoupling of productivity (GDP) and wage growth in the early 1970's. The significance of this time period has also been highlighted by Eric's boss, Peter Thiel.
We are referred to https://wtfhappenedin1971.com/, where a collection of charts give the impression that a profound change in the foundations of the economy took place, effectively causing a divergence of all kinds of metrics related to equality, wealth creation, the complexity of regulation, and implicitly downstream effects like political polarization, incarceration rates, and age of marriage.
The simple, seemingly persuasive answer is that the effective cancellation of the gold standard set us on a path towards borrowing ever larger sums to avert financial crises as they arise, and the return to a currency backed by something provably scarce, i.e. bitcoin, is a solution.
I can't say I'm convinced it's that simple. And Eric doesn't mention currency specifically as the problem.
So what I want to know is, was 1971 a real inflection point, the real root of inequality and dysfunction we see today? Was the removal of limits on the Fed's ability to print money a mistake? Or was there some other government action or change at that time that was the real cause? Do we need to let stock market crashes happen from time to time?
A year ago, u/gwern posted a 1986 Atlantic article that described a lot of the problems in black America that are still around 4 decades later and offered more in the way of nuance and insight than most of the discourse we see today. What struck me on revisiting it was how the timing of the decline of Chicago aligns with the early 1970's trigger hypothesis:
In 1970 thirty-seven percent of the population of the area was below the poverty line; in 1980 the figure was 51 percent. In 1970 the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent; in 1980 it was 24.2 percent. In 1970 forty percent of the residents of the neighborhood lived in families with a female head; in 1980 the number had grown to 72 percent. In 1980 of the 54,000 residents 33,000 were on welfare. Experts agree that all of the numbers are even worse today.
My mental model for social issues is that they are mostly rooted in economics. If you have a society that generates wealth, you can pay teachers, doctors, and police well enough to attract competent candidates and the competition necessary to create real expertise. You can afford to build and maintain good infrastructure and spend time on figuring out how to best help the disadvantaged. You have the resources to advance technology and support the arts. You get all the positive feedback loops that come with this.
When wealth generation becomes concentrated and restricted, public institutions start to struggle, people feel they have less opportunity, and social issues start to bubble up like the formation of outgroups of all kinds. A massive oversimplifation, I know, but a useful general framework to approaching issues that avoids (mis)placing blame on cultural degeneracy, "evil" corporations, or other common scapegoats that are largely symptoms of greater problems.
Today, this mindset seems to align with the conservative right, but in the 1986 article it's the "liberal answer" to the problem of ghettos that I identify with:
In Chicago the harbinger of the change was the closing in the late fifties of the stockyards, which for half a century were the sine qua non of lower-class grunt work and a heavy employer of blacks. Chicago lost 200,000 jobs in the seventies; small shut-down redbrick factories that used to make products like boxes and ball bearings dot the city, especially the West Side. The lack of jobs, the argument continues, caused young men in the ghetto to adopt a drifting, inconstant life; to turn to crime; to engage in exaggeratedly macho behavior -- acting tough, not studying, bullying women for money -- as a way to get the sense of male strength that their fathers had derived from working and supporting families. As Murray believes that one simple step, ending all welfare programs, would heal the ghettos, the unemployment school believes that another simple step, jobs, would heal them. "When there's a demand for the participation of the black underclass in the labor force, most of the so-called problems people talk about will evaporate in a generation," says John McKnight. an urban-research professor at Northwestern University.
Indeed, Mr. McKnight. And up until this spring, it looked like the Trump presidency's aggressively pro-jobs and pro-American workers policy was showing promise of vindicating this view - the presence of BLM and racial tensions leading up to 2016 had all but subsided by 2018-2019. I wonder just how little backlash the George Floyd incident would have caused if the pandemic hadn't undone the economic progress of the past 3 years.
Mind you, that "progress" was but a tiny step in the right direction in terms of improving wages and opportunities for the lowest earners. And for all the times the "audit the fed" meme hit the top of the_donald, it now seems impossible that the current administration has any capability or willingness to take the drastic steps needed to address the real root cause that apparently started 50 years ago. To do that, we may need an actual revolution.
submitted by curious-b to TheMotte [link] [comments]

Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Edit: TL;DR added in the comments
 
Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analyzed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk-reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralized and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis of why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise, just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction
 
The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since the end of January 2019 with daily transaction rates growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralized and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. The maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realized early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralized, secure, and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in the amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralization. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue dissecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour, no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts, etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as: “A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronize cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next, he states that: "blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”. For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber, and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa, this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network, etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever-changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralized and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimization on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and the University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (66%) double-spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT, etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralization.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently, there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so-called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralized nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics, you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching its transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end-users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public. They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public-facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers. The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translate to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non-custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS; shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralized too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralized in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. The faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time-stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalized: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object-oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: * “all programs have two basic components, data – what the program knows – and behavior – what the program can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviors in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behavior are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.” *
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: OCaml is a general-purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognized by academics and won a so-called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise, it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts, it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa or Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue: In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships
 
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organizations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggests that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already take advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, Airbnb, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are built on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human-readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They don't just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data, it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community-run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non-custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiative (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggests in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real-time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding of what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures, Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

How To End The Cryptocurrency Exchange "Wild West" Without Crippling Innovation


In case you haven't noticed the consultation paper, staff notice, and report on Quadriga, regulators are now clamping down on Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges. The OSC and other regulatory bodies are still interested in industry feedback. They have not put forward any official regulation yet. Below are some ideas/insights and a proposed framework.



Many of you have limited time to read the full proposal, so here are the highlights:

Offline Multi-Signature

Effective standards to prevent both internal and external theft. Exchange operators are trained and certified, and have a legal responsibility to users.

Regular Transparent Audits

Provides visibility to Canadians that their funds are fully backed on the exchange, while protecting privacy and sensitive platform information.

Insurance Requirements

Establishment of basic insurance standards/strategy, to expand over time. Removing risk to exchange users of any hot wallet theft.


Background and Justifications


Cold Storage Custody/Management
After reviewing close to 100 cases, all thefts tend to break down into more or less the same set of problems:
• Funds stored online or in a smart contract,
• Access controlled by one person or one system,
• 51% attacks (rare),
• Funds sent to the wrong address (also rare), or
• Some combination of the above.
For the first two cases, practical solutions exist and are widely implemented on exchanges already. Offline multi-signature solutions are already industry standard. No cases studied found an external theft or exit scam involving an offline multi-signature wallet implementation. Security can be further improved through minimum numbers of signatories, background checks, providing autonomy and legal protections to each signatory, establishing best practices, and a training/certification program.
The last two transaction risks occur more rarely, and have never resulted in a loss affecting the actual users of the exchange. In all cases to date where operators made the mistake, they've been fully covered by the exchange platforms.
• 51% attacks generally only occur on blockchains with less security. The most prominent cases have been Bitcoin Gold and Ethereum Classic. The simple solution is to enforce deposit limits and block delays such that a 51% attack is not cost-effective.
• The risk of transactions to incorrect addresses can be eliminated by a simple test transaction policy on large transactions. By sending a small amount of funds prior to any large withdrawals/transfers as a standard practice, the accuracy of the wallet address can be validated.
The proposal covers all loss cases and goes beyond, while avoiding significant additional costs, risks, and limitations which may be associated with other frameworks like SOC II.

On The Subject of Third Party Custodians
Many Canadian platforms are currently experimenting with third party custody. From the standpoint of the exchange operator, they can liberate themselves from some responsibility of custody, passing that off to someone else. For regulators, it puts crypto in similar categorization to oil, gold, and other commodities, with some common standards. Platform users would likely feel greater confidence if the custodian was a brand they recognized. If the custodian was knowledgeable and had a decent team that employed multi-sig, they could keep assets safe from internal theft. With the right protections in place, this could be a great solution for many exchanges, particularly those that lack the relevant experience or human resources for their own custody systems.
However, this system is vulnerable to anyone able to impersonate the exchange operators. You may have a situation where different employees who don't know each other that well are interacting between different companies (both the custodian and all their customers which presumably isn't just one exchange). A case study of what can go wrong in this type of environment might be Bitpay, where the CEO was tricked out of 5000 bitcoins over 3 separate payments by a series of emails sent legitimately from a breached computer of another company CEO. It's also still vulnerable to the platform being compromised, as in the really large $70M Bitfinex hack, where the third party Bitgo held one key in a multi-sig wallet. The hacker simply authorized the withdrawal using the same credentials as Bitfinex (requesting Bitgo to sign multiple withdrawal transactions). This succeeded even with the use of multi-sig and two heavily security-focused companies, due to the lack of human oversight (basically, hot wallet). Of course, you can learn from these cases and improve the security, but so can hackers improve their deception and at the end of the day, both of these would have been stopped by the much simpler solution of a qualified team who knew each other and employed multi-sig with properly protected keys. It's pretty hard to beat a human being who knows the business and the typical customer behaviour (or even knows their customers personally) at spotting fraud, and the proposed multi-sig means any hacker has to get through the scrutiny of 3 (or more) separate people, all of whom would have proper training including historical case studies.
There are strong arguments both for and against using use of third party custodians. The proposal sets mandatory minimum custody standards would apply regardless if the cold wallet signatories are exchange operators, independent custodians, or a mix of both.

On The Subject Of Insurance
ShakePay has taken the first steps into this new realm (congratulations). There is no question that crypto users could be better protected by the right insurance policies, and it certainly feels better to transact with insured platforms. The steps required to obtain insurance generally place attention in valuable security areas, and in this case included a review from CipherTrace. One of the key solutions in traditional finance comes from insurance from entities such as the CDIC.
However, historically, there wasn't found any actual insurance payout to any cryptocurrency exchange, and there are notable cases where insurance has not paid. With Bitpay, for example, the insurance agent refused because the issue happened to the third party CEO's computer instead of anything to do with Bitpay itself. With the Youbit exchange in South Korea, their insurance claim was denied, and the exchange ultimately ended up instead going bankrupt with all user's funds lost. To quote Matt Johnson in the original Lloyd's article: “You can create an insurance policy that protects no one – you know there are so many caveats to the policy that it’s not super protective.”
ShakePay's insurance was only reported to cover their cold storage, and “physical theft of the media where the private keys are held”. Physical theft has never, in the history of cryptocurrency exchange cases reviewed, been reported as the cause of loss. From the limited information of the article, ShakePay made it clear their funds are in the hands of a single US custodian, and at least part of their security strategy is to "decline[] to confirm the custodian’s name on the record". While this prevents scrutiny of the custodian, it's pretty silly to speculate that a reasonably competent hacking group couldn't determine who the custodian is. A far more common infiltration strategy historically would be social engineering, which has succeeded repeatedly. A hacker could trick their way into ShakePay's systems and request a fraudulent withdrawal, impersonate ShakePay and request the custodian to move funds, or socially engineer their way into the custodian to initiate the withdrawal of multiple accounts (a payout much larger than ShakePay) exploiting the standard procedures (for example, fraudulently initiating or override the wallet addresses of a real transfer). In each case, nothing was physically stolen and the loss is therefore not covered by insurance.
In order for any insurance to be effective, clear policies have to be established about what needs to be covered. Anything short of that gives Canadians false confidence that they are protected when they aren't in any meaningful way. At this time, the third party insurance market does not appear to provide adequate options or coverage, and effort is necessary to standardize custody standards, which is a likely first step in ultimately setting up an insurance framework.
A better solution compared to third party insurance providers might be for Canadian exchange operators to create their own collective insurance fund, or a specific federal organization similar to the CDIC. Such an organization would have a greater interest or obligation in paying out actual cases, and that would be it's purpose rather than maximizing it's own profit. This would be similar to the SAFU which Binance has launched, except it would cover multiple exchanges. There is little question whether the SAFU would pay out given a breach of Binance, and a similar argument could be made for a insurance fund managed by a collective of exchange operators or a government organization. While a third party insurance provider has the strong market incentive to provide the absolute minimum coverage and no market incentive to payout, an entity managed by exchange operators would have incentive to protect the reputation of exchange operators/the industry, and the government should have the interest of protecting Canadians.

On The Subject of Fractional Reserve
There is a long history of fractional reserve failures, from the first banks in ancient times, through the great depression (where hundreds of fractional reserve banks failed), right through to the 2008 banking collapse referenced in the first bitcoin block. The fractional reserve system allows banks to multiply the money supply far beyond the actual cash (or other assets) in existence, backed only by a system of debt obligations of others. Safely supporting a fractional reserve system is a topic of far greater complexity than can be addressed by a simple policy, and when it comes to cryptocurrency, there is presently no entity reasonably able to bail anyone out in the event of failure. Therefore, this framework is addressed around entities that aim to maintain 100% backing of funds.
There may be some firms that desire but have failed to maintain 100% backing. In this case, there are multiple solutions, including outside investment, merging with other exchanges, or enforcing a gradual restoration plan. All of these solutions are typically far better than shutting down the exchange, and there are multiple cases where they've been used successfully in the past.

Proof of Reserves/Transparency/Accountability
Canadians need to have visibility into the backing on an ongoing basis.
The best solution for crypto-assets is a Proof of Reserve. Such ideas go back all the way to 2013, before even Mt. Gox. However, no Canadian exchange has yet implemented such a system, and only a few international exchanges (CoinFloor in the UK being an example) have. Many firms like Kraken, BitBuy, and now ShakePay use the Proof of Reserve term to refer to lesser proofs which do not actually cryptographically prove the full backing of all user assets on the blockchain. In order for a Proof of Reserve to be effective, it must actually be a complete proof, and it needs to be understood by the public that is expected to use it. Many firms have expressed reservations about the level of transparency required in a complete Proof of Reserve (for example Kraken here). While a complete Proof of Reserves should be encouraged, and there are some solutions in the works (ie TxQuick), this is unlikely to be suitable universally for all exchange operators and users.
Given the limitations, and that firms also manage fiat assets, a more traditional audit process makes more sense. Some Canadian exchanges (CoinSquare, CoinBerry) have already subjected themselves to annual audits. However, these results are not presently shared publicly, and there is no guarantee over the process including all user assets or the integrity and independence of the auditor. The auditor has been typically not known, and in some cases, the identity of the auditor is protected by a NDA. Only in one case (BitBuy) was an actual report generated and publicly shared. There has been no attempt made to validate that user accounts provided during these audits have been complete or accurate. A fraudulent fractional exchange, or one which had suffered a breach they were unwilling to publicly accept (see CoinBene), could easily maintain a second set of books for auditors or simply exclude key accounts to pass an individual audit.
The proposed solution would see a reporting standard which includes at a minimum - percentage of backing for each asset relative to account balances and the nature of how those assets are stored, with ownership proven by the auditor. The auditor would also publicly provide a "hash list", which they independently generate from the accounts provided by the exchange. Every exchange user can then check their information against this public "hash list". A hash is a one-way form of encryption, which fully protects the private information, yet allows anyone who knows that information already to validate that it was included. Less experienced users can take advantage of public tools to calculate the hash from their information (provided by the exchange), and thus have certainty that the auditor received their full balance information. Easy instructions can be provided.
Auditors should be impartial, their identities and process public, and they should be rotated so that the same auditor is never used twice in a row. Balancing the cost of auditing against the needs for regular updates, a 6 month cycle likely makes the most sense.

Hot Wallet Management
The best solution for hot wallets is not to use them. CoinBerry reportedly uses multi-sig on all withdrawals, and Bitmex is an international example known for their structure devoid of hot wallets.
However, many platforms and customers desire fast withdrawal processes, and human validation has a cost of time and delay in this process.
A model of self-insurance or separate funds for hot wallets may be used in these cases. Under this model, a platform still has 100% of their client balance in cold storage and holds additional funds in hot wallets for quick withdrawal. Thus, the risk of those hot wallets is 100% on exchange operators and not affecting the exchange users. Since most platforms typically only have 1%-5% in hot wallets at any given time, it shouldn't be unreasonable to build/maintain these additional reserves over time using exchange fees or additional investment. Larger withdrawals would still be handled at regular intervals from the cold storage.
Hot wallet risks have historically posed a large risk and there is no established standard to guarantee secure hot wallets. When the government of South Korea dispatched security inspections to multiple exchanges, the results were still that 3 of them got hacked after the inspections. If standards develop such that an organization in the market is willing to insure the hot wallets, this could provide an acceptable alternative. Another option may be for multiple exchange operators to pool funds aside for a hot wallet insurance fund. Comprehensive coverage standards must be established and maintained for all hot wallet balances to make sure Canadians are adequately protected.

Current Draft Proposal

(1) Proper multi-signature cold wallet storage.
(a) Each private key is the personal and legal responsibility of one person - the “signatory”. Signatories have special rights and responsibilities to protect user assets. Signatories are trained and certified through a course covering (1) past hacking and fraud cases, (2) proper and secure key generation, and (3) proper safekeeping of private keys. All private keys must be generated and stored 100% offline by the signatory. If even one private keys is ever breached or suspected to be breached, the wallet must be regenerated and all funds relocated to a new wallet.
(b) All signatories must be separate background-checked individuals free of past criminal conviction. Canadians should have a right to know who holds their funds. All signing of transactions must take place with all signatories on Canadian soil or on the soil of a country with a solid legal system which agrees to uphold and support these rules (from an established white-list of countries which expands over time).
(c) 3-5 independent signatures are required for any withdrawal. There must be 1-3 spare signatories, and a maximum of 7 total signatories. The following are all valid combinations: 3of4, 3of5, 3of6, 4of5, 4of6, 4of7, 5of6, or 5of7.
(d) A security audit should be conducted to validate the cold wallet is set up correctly and provide any additional pertinent information. The primary purpose is to ensure that all signatories are acting independently and using best practices for private key storage. A report summarizing all steps taken and who did the audit will be made public. Canadians must be able to validate the right measures are in place to protect their funds.
(e) There is a simple approval process if signatories wish to visit any country outside Canada, with a potential whitelist of exempt countries. At most 2 signatories can be outside of aligned jurisdiction at any given time. All exchanges would be required to keep a compliant cold wallet for Canadian funds and have a Canadian office if they wish to serve Canadian customers.
(2) Regular and transparent solvency audits.
(a) An audit must be conducted at founding, after 3 months of operation, and at least once every 6 months to compare customer balances against all stored cryptocurrency and fiat balances. The auditor must be known, independent, and never the same twice in a row.
(b) An audit report will be published featuring the steps conducted in a readable format. This should be made available to all Canadians on the exchange website and on a government website. The report must include what percentage of each customer asset is backed on the exchange, and how those funds are stored.
(c) The auditor will independently produce a hash of each customer's identifying information and balance as they perform the audit. This will be made publicly available on the exchange and government website, along with simplified instructions that each customer can use to verify that their balance was included in the audit process.
(d) The audit needs to include a proof of ownership for any cryptocurrency wallets included. A satoshi test (spending a small amount) or partially signed transaction both qualify.
(e) Any platform without 100% reserves should be assessed on a regular basis by a government or industry watchdog. This entity should work to prevent any further drop, support any private investor to come in, or facilitate a merger so that 100% backing can be obtained as soon as possible.
(3) Protections for hot wallets and transactions.
(a) A standardized list of approved coins and procedures will be established to constitute valid cold storage wallets. Where a multi-sig process is not natively available, efforts will be undertaken to establish a suitable and stable smart contract standard. This list will be expanded and improved over time. Coins and procedures not on the list are considered hot wallets.
(b) Hot wallets can be backed by additional funds in cold storage or an acceptable third-party insurance provider with a comprehensive coverage policy.
(c) Exchanges are required to cover the full balance of all user funds as denominated in the same currency, or double the balance as denominated in bitcoin or CAD using an established trading rate. If the balance is ever insufficient due to market movements, the firm must rectify this within 24 hours by moving assets to cold storage or increasing insurance coverage.
(d) Any large transactions (above a set threshold) from cold storage to any new wallet addresses (not previously transacted with) must be tested with a smaller transaction first. Deposits of cryptocurrency must be limited to prevent economic 51% attacks. Any issues are to be covered by the exchange.
(e) Exchange platforms must provide suitable authentication for users, including making available approved forms of two-factor authentication. SMS-based authentication is not to be supported. Withdrawals must be blocked for 48 hours in the event of any account password change. Disputes on the negligence of exchanges should be governed by case law.

Steps Forward

Continued review of existing OSC feedback is still underway. More feedback and opinions on the framework and ideas as presented here are extremely valuable. The above is a draft and not finalized.
The process of further developing and bringing a suitable framework to protect Canadians will require the support of exchange operators, legal experts, and many others in the community. The costs of not doing such are tremendous. A large and convoluted framework, one based on flawed ideas or implementation, or one which fails to properly safeguard Canadians is not just extremely expensive and risky for all Canadians, severely limiting to the credibility and reputation of the industry, but an existential risk to many exchanges.
The responsibility falls to all of us to provide our insight and make our opinions heard on this critical matter. Please take the time to give your thoughts.
submitted by azoundria2 to QuadrigaInitiative [link] [comments]

The Privacy Coin Guide Part 1

As interest picks up in crypto again, I want to share this post I made on privacy coins again to just give the basics of their evolution. This is only part 1, and parts 2 and 3 are not available in this format, but this part is informative and basic.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to assess what the best privacy coin in the current space is, which has the best features, or which is most likely to give high returns, then this is not that guide. My goal is to give you the power to make your own decisions, to clearly state my biases, and educate. I really wanted to understand this niche of the crypto-space due to my background and current loyalties[1], and grasp the nuances of the features, origins and timelines of technologies used in privacy coins, while not being anything close to a developer myself. This is going to be a 3-part series, starting with an overview and basic review of the technology, then looking at its implications, and ending with why I like a specific project. It might be mildly interesting or delightfully educational. Cryptocurrencies are young and existing privacy coins are deploying technology that is a work in progress. This series assumes a basic understanding of how blockchains work, specifically as used in cryptocurrencies. If you don’t have that understanding, might I suggest that you get it? [2],[3],[4] Because cryptocurrencies have a long way to go before reaching their end-game: when the world relies on the technology without understanding it. So, shall we do a deep dive into the privacy coin space?

FIRST THERE WAS BITCOIN

Cryptocurrencies allow you to tokenize value and track its exchange between hands over time, with transaction information verified by a distributed network of users. The most famous version of a cryptocurrency in use is Bitcoin, defined as peer-to-peer electronic cash. [5] Posted anonymously in 2008, the whitepaper seemed to be in direct response to the global financial meltdown and public distrust of the conventional banking and financing systems. Although cryptographic techniques are used in Bitcoin to ensure that (i) only the owner of a specific wallet has the authority to spend funds from that wallet, (ii) the public address is linked but cannot be traced by a third party to the private address (iii) the information is stored via cryptographic hashing in a merkle tree structure to ensure data integrity, the actual transaction information is publicly visible on the blockchain and can be traced back to the individual through chain analysis.[6] This has raised fears of possible financial censorship or the metaphorical tainting of money due to its origination point, as demonstrated in the Silk Road marketplace disaster.[7] This can happen because fiat money is usually exchanged for cryptocurrency at some point, as crypto-enthusiasts are born in the real world and inevitably cash out. There are already chain analysis firms and software that are increasingly efficient at tracking transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.[8] This lack of privacy is one of the limitations of Bitcoin that has resulted in the creation of altcoins that experiment with the different features a cryptocurrency can have. Privacy coins are figuring out how to introduce privacy in addition to the payment network. The goal is to make the cryptocurrency fungible, each unit able to be exchanged for equal value without knowledge of its transaction history – like cash, while being publicly verifiable on a decentralized network. In other words, anyone can add the math up without being able to see the full details. Some privacy solutions and protocols have popped up as a result:

CRYPTONOTE – RING SIGNATURES AND STEALTH ADDRESSES

Used in: Monero and Particl as its successor RING-CT, Bytecoin
In December 2012, CryptoNote introduced the use of ring signatures and stealth addresses (along with other notable features such as its own codebase) to improve cryptocurrency privacy.[9] An updated CryptoNote version 2 came in October 2013 [10](though there is some dispute over this timeline [11]), also authored under the name Nicolas van Saberhagen. Ring signatures hide sender information by having the sender sign a transaction using a signature that could belong to multiple users. This makes a transaction untraceable. Stealth addresses allow a receiver to give a single address which generates a different public address for funds to be received at each time funds are sent to it. That makes a transaction unlinkable. In terms of privacy, CryptoNote gave us a protocol for untraceable and unlinkable transactions. The first implementation of CryptoNote technology was Bytecoin in March 2014 (timeline disputed [12]), which spawned many children (forks) in subsequent years, a notable example being Monero, based on CryptoNote v2 in April 2014.
RING SIGNATURES and STEALTH ADDRESSES

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
-Does not hide transaction information if not combined with another protocol.

COINJOIN

Used in: Dash
Bitcoin developer Gregory Maxwell proposed a set of solutions to bring privacy to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, the first being CoinJoin (January 28 – Aug 22, 2013).[13],[14] CoinJoin (sometimes called CoinSwap) allows multiple users to combine their transactions into a single transaction, by receiving inputs from multiple users, and then sending their outputs to the multiple users, irrespective of who in the group the inputs came from. So, the receiver will get whatever output amount they were supposed to, but it cannot be directly traced to its origination input. Similar proposals include Coinshuffle in 2014 and Tumblebit in 2016, building on CoinJoin but not terribly popular [15],[16]. They fixed the need for a trusted third party to ‘mix’ the transactions. There are CoinJoin implementations that are being actively worked on but are not the most popular privacy solutions of today. A notable coin that uses CoinJoin technology is Dash, launched in January 2014, with masternodes in place of a trusted party.
COINJOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Easy to implement on any cryptocurrency
– Lightweight
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Mature technology

CONS

– Least anonymous privacy solution. Transaction amounts can be calculated
– Even without third-party mixer, depends on wealth centralization of masternodes

ZEROCOIN

Used in: Zcoin, PIVX
In May 2013, the Zerocoin protocol was introduced by John Hopkins University professor Matthew D. Green and his graduate students Ian Miers and Christina Garman.[17] In response to the need for use of a third party to do CoinJoin, the Zerocoin proposal allowed for a coin to be destroyed and remade in order to erase its history whenever it is spent. Zero-knowledge cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs are used to prove that the new coins for spending are being appropriately made. A zero-knowledge proof allows one party to prove to another that they know specific information, without revealing any information about it, other than the fact that they know it. Zerocoin was not accepted by the Bitcoin community as an implementation to be added to Bitcoin, so a new cryptocurrency had to be formed. Zcoin was the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocoin protocol in 2016. [18]
ZEROCOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Supply can be audited
– Relatively mature technology
– Does not require a third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup (May not be required with Sigma protocol)
– Large proof sizes (not lightweight)
– Does not provide full privacy for transaction amounts

ZEROCASH

Used in: Zcash, Horizen, Komodo, Zclassic, Bitcoin Private
In May 2014, the current successor to the Zerocoin protocol, Zerocash, was created, also by Matthew Green and others (Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Eran Tromer, Madars Virza).[19] It improved upon the Zerocoin concept by taking advantage of zero-knowledge proofs called zk-snarks (zero knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge). Unlike Zerocoin, which hid coin origins and payment history, Zerocash was faster, with smaller transaction sizes, and hides transaction information on the sender, receiver and amount. Zcash is the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocash protocol in 2016. [20]
ZEROCASH

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Sender, receiver and amount hidden.
– Privacy can be default?
– Fast due to small proof sizes.
– Payment amount can be optionally disclosed for auditing
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup. (May be improved with zt-starks technology)
– Supply cannot be audited. And coins can potentially be forged without proper implementation.
– Private transactions computationally intensive (improved with Sapling upgrade)

CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

Used in: Monero and Particl with Ring Signatures as RING-CT
The next proposal from Maxwell was that of confidential transactions, proposed in June 2015 as part of the Sidechain Elements project from Blockstream, where Maxwell was Chief Technical Officer.[21],[22] It proposed to hide the transaction amount and asset type (e.g. deposits, currencies, shares), so that only the sender and receiver are aware of the amount, unless they choose to make the amount public. It uses homomorphic encryption[23] to encrypt the inputs and outputs by using blinding factors and a kind of ring signature in a commitment scheme, so the amount can be ‘committed’ to, without the amount actually being known. I’m terribly sorry if you now have the urge to go and research exactly what that means. The takeaway is that the transaction amount can be hidden from outsiders while being verifiable.
CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Only provides transaction amount privacy when used alone

RING-CT

Used in: Monero, Particl
Then came Ring Confidential transactions, proposed by Shen-Noether of Monero Research Labs in October 2015.[24] RingCT combines the use of ring signatures for hiding sender information, with the use of confidential transactions (which also uses ring signatures) for hiding amounts. The proposal described a new type of ring signature, A Multi-layered Linkable Spontaneous Anonymous Group signature which “allows for hidden amounts, origins and destinations of transactions with reasonable efficiency and verifiable, trustless coin generation”.[25] RingCT was implemented in Monero in January 2017 and made mandatory after September 2017.
RING -CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume

MIMBLEWIMBLE

Used in: Grin
Mimblewimble was proposed in July 2016 by pseudonymous contributor Tom Elvis Jedusorand further developed in October 2016 by Andrew Poelstra.[26],[27] Mimblewimble is a “privacy and fungibility focused cryptocoin transaction structure proposal”.[28] The key words are transaction structure proposal, so the way the blockchain is built is different, in order to accommodate privacy and fungibility features. Mimblewimble uses the concept of Confidential transactions to keep amounts hidden, looks at private keys and transaction information to prove ownership of funds rather than using addresses, and bundles transactions together instead of listing them separately on the blockchain. It also introduces a novel method of pruning the blockchain. Grin is a cryptocurrency in development that is applying Mimblewimble. Mimblewimble is early in development and you can understand it more here [29].
MIMBLEWIMBLE

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy is on by default
– Lightweight
– No public addresses?

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
– Sender and receiver must both be online
– Relatively new technology

ZEXE

Fresh off the minds of brilliant cryptographers (Sean Bowe, Alessandro Chiesa, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Pratyush Mishra, Howard Wu), in October 2018 Zexe proposed a new cryptographic primitive called ‘decentralized private computation.[30] It allows users of a decentralized ledger to “execute offline computations that result in transactions”[31], but also keeps transaction amounts hidden and allows transaction validation to happen at any time regardless of computations being done online. This can have far reaching implications for privacy coins in the future. Consider cases where transactions need to be automatic and private, without both parties being present.

NETWORK PRIVACY

Privacy technologies that look at network privacy as nodes communicate with each other on the network are important considerations, rather than just looking at privacy on the blockchain itself. Anonymous layers encrypt and/or reroute data as it moves among peers, so it is not obvious who they originate from on the network. They are used to protect against surveillance or censorship from ISPs and governments. The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) is an anonymous network layer that uses end to end encryption for peers on a network to communicate with each other.[32] Its history dates back to 2003. Kovri is a Monero created implementation of I2P.[33] The Onion Router (Tor) is another anonymity layer [34]) that Verge is a privacy cryptocurrency that uses. But its historical link to the US government may be is concerning to some[35]. Dandelion transaction relay is also an upcoming Bitcoin improvement proposal (BIP) that scrambles IP data that will provide network privacy for Bitcoin as transaction and other information is transmitted.[36],[37],[38]

UPCOMING

Monero completed bulletproofs protocol updates that reduce RINGCT transaction sizes and thus transaction fee costs. (Bulletproofs are a replacement for range proofs used in confidential transactions that aid in encrypting inputs and outputs by making sure they add to zero).
Sigma Protocol – being actively researched by Zcoin team as of 2018 to replace Zerocoin protocol so that a trusted setup is not required.[39] There is a possible replacement for zk-snarks, called zk-starks, another form of zero-knowledge proof technology, that may make a trusted set-up unnecessary for zero-knowledege proof coins.[40]

PART 1 CONCLUSION OF THE PRIVACY COIN GUIDE ON THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND PRIVACY COINS

Although Bitcoin is still a groundbreaking technology that gives us a trust-less transaction system, it has failed to live up to its expectations of privacy. Over time, new privacy technologies have arrived and are arriving with innovative and exciting solutions for Bitcoin’s lack of fungibility. It is important to note that these technologies are built on prior research and application, but we are considering their use in cryptocurrencies. Protocols are proposed based on cryptographic concepts that show how they would work, and then developers actually implement them. Please note that I did not include the possibility of improper implementation as a disadvantage, and the advantages assume that the technical development is well done. A very important point is that coins can also adapt new privacy technologies as their merits become obvious, even as they start with a specific privacy protocol. Furthermore, I am, unfortunately, positive that this is not an exhaustive overview and I am only covering publicized solutions. Next, we’ll talk more about the pros and cons and give an idea of how the coins can be compared.

There's a video version that can be watched, and you can find out how to get the second two parts if you want on my website (video link on the page): https://cryptoramble.com/guide-on-privacy-coins/
submitted by CryptoRamble to ethereum [link] [comments]

The Privacy Coin Guide Part 1

As interest picks up in crypto again, I want to share this post I made on privacy coins again to just give the basics of their evolution. This is only part 1, and parts 2 and 3 are not available in this format, but this part is informative and basic.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to assess what the best privacy coin in the current space is, which has the best features, or which is most likely to give high returns, then this is not that guide. My goal is to give you the power to make your own decisions, to clearly state my biases, and educate. I really wanted to understand this niche of the crypto-space due to my background and current loyalties[1], and grasp the nuances of the features, origins and timelines of technologies used in privacy coins, while not being anything close to a developer myself. This is going to be a 3-part series, starting with an overview and basic review of the technology, then looking at its implications, and ending with why I like a specific project. It might be mildly interesting or delightfully educational. Cryptocurrencies are young and existing privacy coins are deploying technology that is a work in progress. This series assumes a basic understanding of how blockchains work, specifically as used in cryptocurrencies. If you don’t have that understanding, might I suggest that you get it? [2],[3],[4] Because cryptocurrencies have a long way to go before reaching their end-game: when the world relies on the technology without understanding it. So, shall we do a deep dive into the privacy coin space?

FIRST THERE WAS BITCOIN

Cryptocurrencies allow you to tokenize value and track its exchange between hands over time, with transaction information verified by a distributed network of users. The most famous version of a cryptocurrency in use is Bitcoin, defined as peer-to-peer electronic cash. [5] Posted anonymously in 2008, the whitepaper seemed to be in direct response to the global financial meltdown and public distrust of the conventional banking and financing systems. Although cryptographic techniques are used in Bitcoin to ensure that (i) only the owner of a specific wallet has the authority to spend funds from that wallet, (ii) the public address is linked but cannot be traced by a third party to the private address (iii) the information is stored via cryptographic hashing in a merkle tree structure to ensure data integrity, the actual transaction information is publicly visible on the blockchain and can be traced back to the individual through chain analysis.[6] This has raised fears of possible financial censorship or the metaphorical tainting of money due to its origination point, as demonstrated in the Silk Road marketplace disaster.[7] This can happen because fiat money is usually exchanged for cryptocurrency at some point, as crypto-enthusiasts are born in the real world and inevitably cash out. There are already chain analysis firms and software that are increasingly efficient at tracking transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.[8] This lack of privacy is one of the limitations of Bitcoin that has resulted in the creation of altcoins that experiment with the different features a cryptocurrency can have. Privacy coins are figuring out how to introduce privacy in addition to the payment network. The goal is to make the cryptocurrency fungible, each unit able to be exchanged for equal value without knowledge of its transaction history – like cash, while being publicly verifiable on a decentralized network. In other words, anyone can add the math up without being able to see the full details. Some privacy solutions and protocols have popped up as a result:

CRYPTONOTE – RING SIGNATURES AND STEALTH ADDRESSES

Used in: Monero and Particl as its successor RING-CT, Bytecoin
In December 2012, CryptoNote introduced the use of ring signatures and stealth addresses (along with other notable features such as its own codebase) to improve cryptocurrency privacy.[9] An updated CryptoNote version 2 came in October 2013 [10](though there is some dispute over this timeline [11]), also authored under the name Nicolas van Saberhagen. Ring signatures hide sender information by having the sender sign a transaction using a signature that could belong to multiple users. This makes a transaction untraceable. Stealth addresses allow a receiver to give a single address which generates a different public address for funds to be received at each time funds are sent to it. That makes a transaction unlinkable. In terms of privacy, CryptoNote gave us a protocol for untraceable and unlinkable transactions. The first implementation of CryptoNote technology was Bytecoin in March 2014 (timeline disputed [12]), which spawned many children (forks) in subsequent years, a notable example being Monero, based on CryptoNote v2 in April 2014.
RING SIGNATURES and STEALTH ADDRESSES

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
-Does not hide transaction information if not combined with another protocol.

COINJOIN

Used in: Dash
Bitcoin developer Gregory Maxwell proposed a set of solutions to bring privacy to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, the first being CoinJoin (January 28 – Aug 22, 2013).[13],[14] CoinJoin (sometimes called CoinSwap) allows multiple users to combine their transactions into a single transaction, by receiving inputs from multiple users, and then sending their outputs to the multiple users, irrespective of who in the group the inputs came from. So, the receiver will get whatever output amount they were supposed to, but it cannot be directly traced to its origination input. Similar proposals include Coinshuffle in 2014 and Tumblebit in 2016, building on CoinJoin but not terribly popular [15],[16]. They fixed the need for a trusted third party to ‘mix’ the transactions. There are CoinJoin implementations that are being actively worked on but are not the most popular privacy solutions of today. A notable coin that uses CoinJoin technology is Dash, launched in January 2014, with masternodes in place of a trusted party.
COINJOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Easy to implement on any cryptocurrency
– Lightweight
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Mature technology

CONS

– Least anonymous privacy solution. Transaction amounts can be calculated
– Even without third-party mixer, depends on wealth centralization of masternodes

ZEROCOIN

Used in: Zcoin, PIVX
In May 2013, the Zerocoin protocol was introduced by John Hopkins University professor Matthew D. Green and his graduate students Ian Miers and Christina Garman.[17] In response to the need for use of a third party to do CoinJoin, the Zerocoin proposal allowed for a coin to be destroyed and remade in order to erase its history whenever it is spent. Zero-knowledge cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs are used to prove that the new coins for spending are being appropriately made. A zero-knowledge proof allows one party to prove to another that they know specific information, without revealing any information about it, other than the fact that they know it. Zerocoin was not accepted by the Bitcoin community as an implementation to be added to Bitcoin, so a new cryptocurrency had to be formed. Zcoin was the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocoin protocol in 2016. [18]
ZEROCOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Supply can be audited
– Relatively mature technology
– Does not require a third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup (May not be required with Sigma protocol)
– Large proof sizes (not lightweight)
– Does not provide full privacy for transaction amounts

ZEROCASH

Used in: Zcash, Horizen, Komodo, Zclassic, Bitcoin Private
In May 2014, the current successor to the Zerocoin protocol, Zerocash, was created, also by Matthew Green and others (Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Eran Tromer, Madars Virza).[19] It improved upon the Zerocoin concept by taking advantage of zero-knowledge proofs called zk-snarks (zero knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge). Unlike Zerocoin, which hid coin origins and payment history, Zerocash was faster, with smaller transaction sizes, and hides transaction information on the sender, receiver and amount. Zcash is the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocash protocol in 2016. [20]
ZEROCASH

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Sender, receiver and amount hidden.
– Privacy can be default?
– Fast due to small proof sizes.
– Payment amount can be optionally disclosed for auditing
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup. (May be improved with zt-starks technology)
– Supply cannot be audited. And coins can potentially be forged without proper implementation.
– Private transactions computationally intensive (improved with Sapling upgrade)

CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

Used in: Monero and Particl with Ring Signatures as RING-CT
The next proposal from Maxwell was that of confidential transactions, proposed in June 2015 as part of the Sidechain Elements project from Blockstream, where Maxwell was Chief Technical Officer.[21],[22] It proposed to hide the transaction amount and asset type (e.g. deposits, currencies, shares), so that only the sender and receiver are aware of the amount, unless they choose to make the amount public. It uses homomorphic encryption[23] to encrypt the inputs and outputs by using blinding factors and a kind of ring signature in a commitment scheme, so the amount can be ‘committed’ to, without the amount actually being known. I’m terribly sorry if you now have the urge to go and research exactly what that means. The takeaway is that the transaction amount can be hidden from outsiders while being verifiable.
CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Only provides transaction amount privacy when used alone

RING-CT

Used in: Monero, Particl
Then came Ring Confidential transactions, proposed by Shen-Noether of Monero Research Labs in October 2015.[24] RingCT combines the use of ring signatures for hiding sender information, with the use of confidential transactions (which also uses ring signatures) for hiding amounts. The proposal described a new type of ring signature, A Multi-layered Linkable Spontaneous Anonymous Group signature which “allows for hidden amounts, origins and destinations of transactions with reasonable efficiency and verifiable, trustless coin generation”.[25] RingCT was implemented in Monero in January 2017 and made mandatory after September 2017.
RING -CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume

MIMBLEWIMBLE

Used in: Grin
Mimblewimble was proposed in July 2016 by pseudonymous contributor Tom Elvis Jedusorand further developed in October 2016 by Andrew Poelstra.[26],[27] Mimblewimble is a “privacy and fungibility focused cryptocoin transaction structure proposal”.[28] The key words are transaction structure proposal, so the way the blockchain is built is different, in order to accommodate privacy and fungibility features. Mimblewimble uses the concept of Confidential transactions to keep amounts hidden, looks at private keys and transaction information to prove ownership of funds rather than using addresses, and bundles transactions together instead of listing them separately on the blockchain. It also introduces a novel method of pruning the blockchain. Grin is a cryptocurrency in development that is applying Mimblewimble. Mimblewimble is early in development and you can understand it more here [29].
MIMBLEWIMBLE

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy is on by default
– Lightweight
– No public addresses?

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
– Sender and receiver must both be online
– Relatively new technology

ZEXE

Fresh off the minds of brilliant cryptographers (Sean Bowe, Alessandro Chiesa, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Pratyush Mishra, Howard Wu), in October 2018 Zexe proposed a new cryptographic primitive called ‘decentralized private computation.[30] It allows users of a decentralized ledger to “execute offline computations that result in transactions”[31], but also keeps transaction amounts hidden and allows transaction validation to happen at any time regardless of computations being done online. This can have far reaching implications for privacy coins in the future. Consider cases where transactions need to be automatic and private, without both parties being present.

NETWORK PRIVACY

Privacy technologies that look at network privacy as nodes communicate with each other on the network are important considerations, rather than just looking at privacy on the blockchain itself. Anonymous layers encrypt and/or reroute data as it moves among peers, so it is not obvious who they originate from on the network. They are used to protect against surveillance or censorship from ISPs and governments. The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) is an anonymous network layer that uses end to end encryption for peers on a network to communicate with each other.[32] Its history dates back to 2003. Kovri is a Monero created implementation of I2P.[33] The Onion Router (Tor) is another anonymity layer [34]) that Verge is a privacy cryptocurrency that uses. But its historical link to the US government may be is concerning to some[35]. Dandelion transaction relay is also an upcoming Bitcoin improvement proposal (BIP) that scrambles IP data that will provide network privacy for Bitcoin as transaction and other information is transmitted.[36],[37],[38]

UPCOMING

Monero completed bulletproofs protocol updates that reduce RINGCT transaction sizes and thus transaction fee costs. (Bulletproofs are a replacement for range proofs used in confidential transactions that aid in encrypting inputs and outputs by making sure they add to zero).
Sigma Protocol – being actively researched by Zcoin team as of 2018 to replace Zerocoin protocol so that a trusted setup is not required.[39] There is a possible replacement for zk-snarks, called zk-starks, another form of zero-knowledge proof technology, that may make a trusted set-up unnecessary for zero-knowledege proof coins.[40]

PART 1 CONCLUSION OF THE PRIVACY COIN GUIDE ON THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND PRIVACY COINS

Although Bitcoin is still a groundbreaking technology that gives us a trust-less transaction system, it has failed to live up to its expectations of privacy. Over time, new privacy technologies have arrived and are arriving with innovative and exciting solutions for Bitcoin’s lack of fungibility. It is important to note that these technologies are built on prior research and application, but we are considering their use in cryptocurrencies. Protocols are proposed based on cryptographic concepts that show how they would work, and then developers actually implement them. Please note that I did not include the possibility of improper implementation as a disadvantage, and the advantages assume that the technical development is well done. A very important point is that coins can also adapt new privacy technologies as their merits become obvious, even as they start with a specific privacy protocol. Furthermore, I am, unfortunately, positive that this is not an exhaustive overview and I am only covering publicized solutions. Next, we’ll talk more about the pros and cons and give an idea of how the coins can be compared.

There's a video version that can be watched, and you can find out how to get the second two parts if you want on my website (video link on the page): https://cryptoramble.com/guide-on-privacy-coins/
submitted by CryptoRamble to privacycoins [link] [comments]

The Privacy Coin Guide Part 1

As interest picks up in crypto again, I want to share this post I made on privacy coins again to just give the basics of their evolution. This is only part 1, and parts 2 and 3 are not available in this format, but this part is informative and basic.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to assess what the best privacy coin in the current space is, which has the best features, or which is most likely to give high returns, then this is not that guide. My goal is to give you the power to make your own decisions, to clearly state my biases, and educate. I really wanted to understand this niche of the crypto-space due to my background and current loyalties[1], and grasp the nuances of the features, origins and timelines of technologies used in privacy coins, while not being anything close to a developer myself. This is going to be a 3-part series, starting with an overview and basic review of the technology, then looking at its implications, and ending with why I like a specific project. It might be mildly interesting or delightfully educational. Cryptocurrencies are young and existing privacy coins are deploying technology that is a work in progress. This series assumes a basic understanding of how blockchains work, specifically as used in cryptocurrencies. If you don’t have that understanding, might I suggest that you get it? [2],[3],[4] Because cryptocurrencies have a long way to go before reaching their end-game: when the world relies on the technology without understanding it. So, shall we do a deep dive into the privacy coin space?

FIRST THERE WAS BITCOIN

Cryptocurrencies allow you to tokenize value and track its exchange between hands over time, with transaction information verified by a distributed network of users. The most famous version of a cryptocurrency in use is Bitcoin, defined as peer-to-peer electronic cash. [5] Posted anonymously in 2008, the whitepaper seemed to be in direct response to the global financial meltdown and public distrust of the conventional banking and financing systems. Although cryptographic techniques are used in Bitcoin to ensure that (i) only the owner of a specific wallet has the authority to spend funds from that wallet, (ii) the public address is linked but cannot be traced by a third party to the private address (iii) the information is stored via cryptographic hashing in a merkle tree structure to ensure data integrity, the actual transaction information is publicly visible on the blockchain and can be traced back to the individual through chain analysis.[6] This has raised fears of possible financial censorship or the metaphorical tainting of money due to its origination point, as demonstrated in the Silk Road marketplace disaster.[7] This can happen because fiat money is usually exchanged for cryptocurrency at some point, as crypto-enthusiasts are born in the real world and inevitably cash out. There are already chain analysis firms and software that are increasingly efficient at tracking transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.[8] This lack of privacy is one of the limitations of Bitcoin that has resulted in the creation of altcoins that experiment with the different features a cryptocurrency can have. Privacy coins are figuring out how to introduce privacy in addition to the payment network. The goal is to make the cryptocurrency fungible, each unit able to be exchanged for equal value without knowledge of its transaction history – like cash, while being publicly verifiable on a decentralized network. In other words, anyone can add the math up without being able to see the full details. Some privacy solutions and protocols have popped up as a result:

CRYPTONOTE – RING SIGNATURES AND STEALTH ADDRESSES

Used in: Monero and Particl as its successor RING-CT, Bytecoin
In December 2012, CryptoNote introduced the use of ring signatures and stealth addresses (along with other notable features such as its own codebase) to improve cryptocurrency privacy.[9] An updated CryptoNote version 2 came in October 2013 [10](though there is some dispute over this timeline [11]), also authored under the name Nicolas van Saberhagen. Ring signatures hide sender information by having the sender sign a transaction using a signature that could belong to multiple users. This makes a transaction untraceable. Stealth addresses allow a receiver to give a single address which generates a different public address for funds to be received at each time funds are sent to it. That makes a transaction unlinkable. In terms of privacy, CryptoNote gave us a protocol for untraceable and unlinkable transactions. The first implementation of CryptoNote technology was Bytecoin in March 2014 (timeline disputed [12]), which spawned many children (forks) in subsequent years, a notable example being Monero, based on CryptoNote v2 in April 2014.
RING SIGNATURES and STEALTH ADDRESSES

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
-Does not hide transaction information if not combined with another protocol.

COINJOIN

Used in: Dash
Bitcoin developer Gregory Maxwell proposed a set of solutions to bring privacy to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, the first being CoinJoin (January 28 – Aug 22, 2013).[13],[14] CoinJoin (sometimes called CoinSwap) allows multiple users to combine their transactions into a single transaction, by receiving inputs from multiple users, and then sending their outputs to the multiple users, irrespective of who in the group the inputs came from. So, the receiver will get whatever output amount they were supposed to, but it cannot be directly traced to its origination input. Similar proposals include Coinshuffle in 2014 and Tumblebit in 2016, building on CoinJoin but not terribly popular [15],[16]. They fixed the need for a trusted third party to ‘mix’ the transactions. There are CoinJoin implementations that are being actively worked on but are not the most popular privacy solutions of today. A notable coin that uses CoinJoin technology is Dash, launched in January 2014, with masternodes in place of a trusted party.
COINJOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Easy to implement on any cryptocurrency
– Lightweight
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Mature technology

CONS

– Least anonymous privacy solution. Transaction amounts can be calculated
– Even without third-party mixer, depends on wealth centralization of masternodes

ZEROCOIN

Used in: Zcoin, PIVX
In May 2013, the Zerocoin protocol was introduced by John Hopkins University professor Matthew D. Green and his graduate students Ian Miers and Christina Garman.[17] In response to the need for use of a third party to do CoinJoin, the Zerocoin proposal allowed for a coin to be destroyed and remade in order to erase its history whenever it is spent. Zero-knowledge cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs are used to prove that the new coins for spending are being appropriately made. A zero-knowledge proof allows one party to prove to another that they know specific information, without revealing any information about it, other than the fact that they know it. Zerocoin was not accepted by the Bitcoin community as an implementation to be added to Bitcoin, so a new cryptocurrency had to be formed. Zcoin was the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocoin protocol in 2016. [18]
ZEROCOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Supply can be audited
– Relatively mature technology
– Does not require a third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup (May not be required with Sigma protocol)
– Large proof sizes (not lightweight)
– Does not provide full privacy for transaction amounts

ZEROCASH

Used in: Zcash, Horizen, Komodo, Zclassic, Bitcoin Private
In May 2014, the current successor to the Zerocoin protocol, Zerocash, was created, also by Matthew Green and others (Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Eran Tromer, Madars Virza).[19] It improved upon the Zerocoin concept by taking advantage of zero-knowledge proofs called zk-snarks (zero knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge). Unlike Zerocoin, which hid coin origins and payment history, Zerocash was faster, with smaller transaction sizes, and hides transaction information on the sender, receiver and amount. Zcash is the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocash protocol in 2016. [20]
ZEROCASH

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Sender, receiver and amount hidden.
– Privacy can be default?
– Fast due to small proof sizes.
– Payment amount can be optionally disclosed for auditing
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup. (May be improved with zt-starks technology)
– Supply cannot be audited. And coins can potentially be forged without proper implementation.
– Private transactions computationally intensive (improved with Sapling upgrade)

CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

Used in: Monero and Particl with Ring Signatures as RING-CT
The next proposal from Maxwell was that of confidential transactions, proposed in June 2015 as part of the Sidechain Elements project from Blockstream, where Maxwell was Chief Technical Officer.[21],[22] It proposed to hide the transaction amount and asset type (e.g. deposits, currencies, shares), so that only the sender and receiver are aware of the amount, unless they choose to make the amount public. It uses homomorphic encryption[23] to encrypt the inputs and outputs by using blinding factors and a kind of ring signature in a commitment scheme, so the amount can be ‘committed’ to, without the amount actually being known. I’m terribly sorry if you now have the urge to go and research exactly what that means. The takeaway is that the transaction amount can be hidden from outsiders while being verifiable.
CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Only provides transaction amount privacy when used alone

RING-CT

Used in: Monero, Particl
Then came Ring Confidential transactions, proposed by Shen-Noether of Monero Research Labs in October 2015.[24] RingCT combines the use of ring signatures for hiding sender information, with the use of confidential transactions (which also uses ring signatures) for hiding amounts. The proposal described a new type of ring signature, A Multi-layered Linkable Spontaneous Anonymous Group signature which “allows for hidden amounts, origins and destinations of transactions with reasonable efficiency and verifiable, trustless coin generation”.[25] RingCT was implemented in Monero in January 2017 and made mandatory after September 2017.
RING -CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume

MIMBLEWIMBLE

Used in: Grin
Mimblewimble was proposed in July 2016 by pseudonymous contributor Tom Elvis Jedusorand further developed in October 2016 by Andrew Poelstra.[26],[27] Mimblewimble is a “privacy and fungibility focused cryptocoin transaction structure proposal”.[28] The key words are transaction structure proposal, so the way the blockchain is built is different, in order to accommodate privacy and fungibility features. Mimblewimble uses the concept of Confidential transactions to keep amounts hidden, looks at private keys and transaction information to prove ownership of funds rather than using addresses, and bundles transactions together instead of listing them separately on the blockchain. It also introduces a novel method of pruning the blockchain. Grin is a cryptocurrency in development that is applying Mimblewimble. Mimblewimble is early in development and you can understand it more here [29].
MIMBLEWIMBLE

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy is on by default
– Lightweight
– No public addresses?

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
– Sender and receiver must both be online
– Relatively new technology

ZEXE

Fresh off the minds of brilliant cryptographers (Sean Bowe, Alessandro Chiesa, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Pratyush Mishra, Howard Wu), in October 2018 Zexe proposed a new cryptographic primitive called ‘decentralized private computation.[30] It allows users of a decentralized ledger to “execute offline computations that result in transactions”[31], but also keeps transaction amounts hidden and allows transaction validation to happen at any time regardless of computations being done online. This can have far reaching implications for privacy coins in the future. Consider cases where transactions need to be automatic and private, without both parties being present.

NETWORK PRIVACY

Privacy technologies that look at network privacy as nodes communicate with each other on the network are important considerations, rather than just looking at privacy on the blockchain itself. Anonymous layers encrypt and/or reroute data as it moves among peers, so it is not obvious who they originate from on the network. They are used to protect against surveillance or censorship from ISPs and governments. The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) is an anonymous network layer that uses end to end encryption for peers on a network to communicate with each other.[32] Its history dates back to 2003. Kovri is a Monero created implementation of I2P.[33] The Onion Router (Tor) is another anonymity layer [34]) that Verge is a privacy cryptocurrency that uses. But its historical link to the US government may be is concerning to some[35]. Dandelion transaction relay is also an upcoming Bitcoin improvement proposal (BIP) that scrambles IP data that will provide network privacy for Bitcoin as transaction and other information is transmitted.[36],[37],[38]

UPCOMING

Monero completed bulletproofs protocol updates that reduce RINGCT transaction sizes and thus transaction fee costs. (Bulletproofs are a replacement for range proofs used in confidential transactions that aid in encrypting inputs and outputs by making sure they add to zero).
Sigma Protocol – being actively researched by Zcoin team as of 2018 to replace Zerocoin protocol so that a trusted setup is not required.[39] There is a possible replacement for zk-snarks, called zk-starks, another form of zero-knowledge proof technology, that may make a trusted set-up unnecessary for zero-knowledege proof coins.[40]

PART 1 CONCLUSION OF THE PRIVACY COIN GUIDE ON THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND PRIVACY COINS

Although Bitcoin is still a groundbreaking technology that gives us a trust-less transaction system, it has failed to live up to its expectations of privacy. Over time, new privacy technologies have arrived and are arriving with innovative and exciting solutions for Bitcoin’s lack of fungibility. It is important to note that these technologies are built on prior research and application, but we are considering their use in cryptocurrencies. Protocols are proposed based on cryptographic concepts that show how they would work, and then developers actually implement them. Please note that I did not include the possibility of improper implementation as a disadvantage, and the advantages assume that the technical development is well done. A very important point is that coins can also adapt new privacy technologies as their merits become obvious, even as they start with a specific privacy protocol. Furthermore, I am, unfortunately, positive that this is not an exhaustive overview and I am only covering publicized solutions. Next, we’ll talk more about the pros and cons and give an idea of how the coins can be compared.

There's a video version that can be watched, and you can find out how to get the second two parts if you want on my website (video link on the page): https://cryptoramble.com/guide-on-privacy-coins/
submitted by CryptoRamble to ethtrader [link] [comments]

The Privacy Coin Guide Part 1

As interest picks up in crypto again, I want to share this post I made on privacy coins again to just give the basics of their evolution. This is only part 1, and parts 2 and 3 are not available in this format, but this part is informative and basic.
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to assess what the best privacy coin in the current space is, which has the best features, or which is most likely to give high returns, then this is not that guide. My goal is to give you the power to make your own decisions, to clearly state my biases, and educate. I really wanted to understand this niche of the crypto-space due to my background and current loyalties[1], and grasp the nuances of the features, origins and timelines of technologies used in privacy coins, while not being anything close to a developer myself. This is going to be a 3-part series, starting with an overview and basic review of the technology, then looking at its implications, and ending with why I like a specific project. It might be mildly interesting or delightfully educational. Cryptocurrencies are young and existing privacy coins are deploying technology that is a work in progress. This series assumes a basic understanding of how blockchains work, specifically as used in cryptocurrencies. If you don’t have that understanding, might I suggest that you get it? [2],[3],[4] Because cryptocurrencies have a long way to go before reaching their end-game: when the world relies on the technology without understanding it. So, shall we do a deep dive into the privacy coin space?

FIRST THERE WAS BITCOIN

Cryptocurrencies allow you to tokenize value and track its exchange between hands over time, with transaction information verified by a distributed network of users. The most famous version of a cryptocurrency in use is Bitcoin, defined as peer-to-peer electronic cash. [5] Posted anonymously in 2008, the whitepaper seemed to be in direct response to the global financial meltdown and public distrust of the conventional banking and financing systems. Although cryptographic techniques are used in Bitcoin to ensure that (i) only the owner of a specific wallet has the authority to spend funds from that wallet, (ii) the public address is linked but cannot be traced by a third party to the private address (iii) the information is stored via cryptographic hashing in a merkle tree structure to ensure data integrity, the actual transaction information is publicly visible on the blockchain and can be traced back to the individual through chain analysis.[6] This has raised fears of possible financial censorship or the metaphorical tainting of money due to its origination point, as demonstrated in the Silk Road marketplace disaster.[7] This can happen because fiat money is usually exchanged for cryptocurrency at some point, as crypto-enthusiasts are born in the real world and inevitably cash out. There are already chain analysis firms and software that are increasingly efficient at tracking transactions on the Bitcoin blockchain.[8] This lack of privacy is one of the limitations of Bitcoin that has resulted in the creation of altcoins that experiment with the different features a cryptocurrency can have. Privacy coins are figuring out how to introduce privacy in addition to the payment network. The goal is to make the cryptocurrency fungible, each unit able to be exchanged for equal value without knowledge of its transaction history – like cash, while being publicly verifiable on a decentralized network. In other words, anyone can add the math up without being able to see the full details. Some privacy solutions and protocols have popped up as a result:

CRYPTONOTE – RING SIGNATURES AND STEALTH ADDRESSES

Used in: Monero and Particl as its successor RING-CT, Bytecoin
In December 2012, CryptoNote introduced the use of ring signatures and stealth addresses (along with other notable features such as its own codebase) to improve cryptocurrency privacy.[9] An updated CryptoNote version 2 came in October 2013 [10](though there is some dispute over this timeline [11]), also authored under the name Nicolas van Saberhagen. Ring signatures hide sender information by having the sender sign a transaction using a signature that could belong to multiple users. This makes a transaction untraceable. Stealth addresses allow a receiver to give a single address which generates a different public address for funds to be received at each time funds are sent to it. That makes a transaction unlinkable. In terms of privacy, CryptoNote gave us a protocol for untraceable and unlinkable transactions. The first implementation of CryptoNote technology was Bytecoin in March 2014 (timeline disputed [12]), which spawned many children (forks) in subsequent years, a notable example being Monero, based on CryptoNote v2 in April 2014.
RING SIGNATURES and STEALTH ADDRESSES

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
-Does not hide transaction information if not combined with another protocol.

COINJOIN

Used in: Dash
Bitcoin developer Gregory Maxwell proposed a set of solutions to bring privacy to Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, the first being CoinJoin (January 28 – Aug 22, 2013).[13],[14] CoinJoin (sometimes called CoinSwap) allows multiple users to combine their transactions into a single transaction, by receiving inputs from multiple users, and then sending their outputs to the multiple users, irrespective of who in the group the inputs came from. So, the receiver will get whatever output amount they were supposed to, but it cannot be directly traced to its origination input. Similar proposals include Coinshuffle in 2014 and Tumblebit in 2016, building on CoinJoin but not terribly popular [15],[16]. They fixed the need for a trusted third party to ‘mix’ the transactions. There are CoinJoin implementations that are being actively worked on but are not the most popular privacy solutions of today. A notable coin that uses CoinJoin technology is Dash, launched in January 2014, with masternodes in place of a trusted party.
COINJOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Easy to implement on any cryptocurrency
– Lightweight
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Mature technology

CONS

– Least anonymous privacy solution. Transaction amounts can be calculated
– Even without third-party mixer, depends on wealth centralization of masternodes

ZEROCOIN

Used in: Zcoin, PIVX
In May 2013, the Zerocoin protocol was introduced by John Hopkins University professor Matthew D. Green and his graduate students Ian Miers and Christina Garman.[17] In response to the need for use of a third party to do CoinJoin, the Zerocoin proposal allowed for a coin to be destroyed and remade in order to erase its history whenever it is spent. Zero-knowledge cryptography and zero-knowledge proofs are used to prove that the new coins for spending are being appropriately made. A zero-knowledge proof allows one party to prove to another that they know specific information, without revealing any information about it, other than the fact that they know it. Zerocoin was not accepted by the Bitcoin community as an implementation to be added to Bitcoin, so a new cryptocurrency had to be formed. Zcoin was the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocoin protocol in 2016. [18]
ZEROCOIN

PROS

– Provides sender and receiver privacy
– Supply can be audited
– Relatively mature technology
– Does not require a third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup (May not be required with Sigma protocol)
– Large proof sizes (not lightweight)
– Does not provide full privacy for transaction amounts

ZEROCASH

Used in: Zcash, Horizen, Komodo, Zclassic, Bitcoin Private
In May 2014, the current successor to the Zerocoin protocol, Zerocash, was created, also by Matthew Green and others (Eli Ben-Sasson, Alessandro Chiesa, Christina Garman, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Eran Tromer, Madars Virza).[19] It improved upon the Zerocoin concept by taking advantage of zero-knowledge proofs called zk-snarks (zero knowledge succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge). Unlike Zerocoin, which hid coin origins and payment history, Zerocash was faster, with smaller transaction sizes, and hides transaction information on the sender, receiver and amount. Zcash is the first cryptocurrency to implement the Zerocash protocol in 2016. [20]
ZEROCASH

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Sender, receiver and amount hidden.
– Privacy can be default?
– Fast due to small proof sizes.
– Payment amount can be optionally disclosed for auditing
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Requires trusted setup. (May be improved with zt-starks technology)
– Supply cannot be audited. And coins can potentially be forged without proper implementation.
– Private transactions computationally intensive (improved with Sapling upgrade)

CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

Used in: Monero and Particl with Ring Signatures as RING-CT
The next proposal from Maxwell was that of confidential transactions, proposed in June 2015 as part of the Sidechain Elements project from Blockstream, where Maxwell was Chief Technical Officer.[21],[22] It proposed to hide the transaction amount and asset type (e.g. deposits, currencies, shares), so that only the sender and receiver are aware of the amount, unless they choose to make the amount public. It uses homomorphic encryption[23] to encrypt the inputs and outputs by using blinding factors and a kind of ring signature in a commitment scheme, so the amount can be ‘committed’ to, without the amount actually being known. I’m terribly sorry if you now have the urge to go and research exactly what that means. The takeaway is that the transaction amount can be hidden from outsiders while being verifiable.
CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Only provides transaction amount privacy when used alone

RING-CT

Used in: Monero, Particl
Then came Ring Confidential transactions, proposed by Shen-Noether of Monero Research Labs in October 2015.[24] RingCT combines the use of ring signatures for hiding sender information, with the use of confidential transactions (which also uses ring signatures) for hiding amounts. The proposal described a new type of ring signature, A Multi-layered Linkable Spontaneous Anonymous Group signature which “allows for hidden amounts, origins and destinations of transactions with reasonable efficiency and verifiable, trustless coin generation”.[25] RingCT was implemented in Monero in January 2017 and made mandatory after September 2017.
RING -CONFIDENTIAL TRANSACTIONS

PROS

– Provides full anonymity. Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy can be default
– Mature technology
– Greater scalability with bulletproofs
– Does not require any third-party

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume

MIMBLEWIMBLE

Used in: Grin
Mimblewimble was proposed in July 2016 by pseudonymous contributor Tom Elvis Jedusorand further developed in October 2016 by Andrew Poelstra.[26],[27] Mimblewimble is a “privacy and fungibility focused cryptocoin transaction structure proposal”.[28] The key words are transaction structure proposal, so the way the blockchain is built is different, in order to accommodate privacy and fungibility features. Mimblewimble uses the concept of Confidential transactions to keep amounts hidden, looks at private keys and transaction information to prove ownership of funds rather than using addresses, and bundles transactions together instead of listing them separately on the blockchain. It also introduces a novel method of pruning the blockchain. Grin is a cryptocurrency in development that is applying Mimblewimble. Mimblewimble is early in development and you can understand it more here [29].
MIMBLEWIMBLE

PROS

– Hides transaction amounts and receiver privacy
– Privacy is on by default
– Lightweight
– No public addresses?

CONS

– Privacy not very effective without high volume
– Sender and receiver must both be online
– Relatively new technology

ZEXE

Fresh off the minds of brilliant cryptographers (Sean Bowe, Alessandro Chiesa, Matthew Green, Ian Miers, Pratyush Mishra, Howard Wu), in October 2018 Zexe proposed a new cryptographic primitive called ‘decentralized private computation.[30] It allows users of a decentralized ledger to “execute offline computations that result in transactions”[31], but also keeps transaction amounts hidden and allows transaction validation to happen at any time regardless of computations being done online. This can have far reaching implications for privacy coins in the future. Consider cases where transactions need to be automatic and private, without both parties being present.

NETWORK PRIVACY

Privacy technologies that look at network privacy as nodes communicate with each other on the network are important considerations, rather than just looking at privacy on the blockchain itself. Anonymous layers encrypt and/or reroute data as it moves among peers, so it is not obvious who they originate from on the network. They are used to protect against surveillance or censorship from ISPs and governments. The Invisible Internet Project (I2P) is an anonymous network layer that uses end to end encryption for peers on a network to communicate with each other.[32] Its history dates back to 2003. Kovri is a Monero created implementation of I2P.[33] The Onion Router (Tor) is another anonymity layer [34]) that Verge is a privacy cryptocurrency that uses. But its historical link to the US government may be is concerning to some[35]. Dandelion transaction relay is also an upcoming Bitcoin improvement proposal (BIP) that scrambles IP data that will provide network privacy for Bitcoin as transaction and other information is transmitted.[36],[37],[38]

UPCOMING

Monero completed bulletproofs protocol updates that reduce RINGCT transaction sizes and thus transaction fee costs. (Bulletproofs are a replacement for range proofs used in confidential transactions that aid in encrypting inputs and outputs by making sure they add to zero).
Sigma Protocol – being actively researched by Zcoin team as of 2018 to replace Zerocoin protocol so that a trusted setup is not required.[39] There is a possible replacement for zk-snarks, called zk-starks, another form of zero-knowledge proof technology, that may make a trusted set-up unnecessary for zero-knowledege proof coins.[40]

PART 1 CONCLUSION OF THE PRIVACY COIN GUIDE ON THE TECHNOLOGY BEHIND PRIVACY COINS

Although Bitcoin is still a groundbreaking technology that gives us a trust-less transaction system, it has failed to live up to its expectations of privacy. Over time, new privacy technologies have arrived and are arriving with innovative and exciting solutions for Bitcoin’s lack of fungibility. It is important to note that these technologies are built on prior research and application, but we are considering their use in cryptocurrencies. Protocols are proposed based on cryptographic concepts that show how they would work, and then developers actually implement them. Please note that I did not include the possibility of improper implementation as a disadvantage, and the advantages assume that the technical development is well done. A very important point is that coins can also adapt new privacy technologies as their merits become obvious, even as they start with a specific privacy protocol. Furthermore, I am, unfortunately, positive that this is not an exhaustive overview and I am only covering publicized solutions. Next, we’ll talk more about the pros and cons and give an idea of how the coins can be compared.

There's a video version that can be watched, and you can find out how to get the second two parts if you want on my website (video link on the page): https://cryptoramble.com/guide-on-privacy-coins/
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ArCoin from Arca: how the first tokenized US government bonds work

ArCoin from Arca: how the first tokenized US government bonds work

ArCoin from Arca: how the first tokenized US government bonds work
On July 6, digital asset manager Arca registered his private crypto fund Arca U.S. Treasury Fund at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The fund invests most of its funds in short-term US bonds, while the fund’s shares are represented in the form of ArCoin Ethereum tokens of the new ERC1404 format, which fully comply with securities legislation.

Why SEC registration is important for Arca U.S. Treasury Fund.

Arca U.S. Treasury Fund is a closed-end hedge fund owned by the American digital asset management company Arca. It aims to combine the regulatory, legal and operational standards of the traditional financial sector with the efficiency of the blockchain. The company believes that actively managed hedge funds are the best way to address the volatility, immaturity, and rapidly changing nature of cryptocurrencies as an investment asset.
Registration with the SEC was not easy for the fund — Arca agreed on the form of its digital shares within 20 months. But now the fund’s securities comply with the 1940 Investment Companies Act, which regulates the work of investment funds, including those issuing their own securities.
For investors, SEC approval is an opportunity to receive guarantees from the traditional financial market: broker control by the regulator, independent audit and regular reporting, as well as the right to return their money in the event of a broker’s bankruptcy.
For an investment fund, registration with the SEC imposes obligations to provide information on the company’s financial position, investment policy and current operations, meet liquidity requirements, conduct an independent audit and transfer control over assets to an independent board of trustees. But this is what allowed Arca to release an institutional-grade product.

How Arca U.S. Treasury Fund works

Arca U.S. Treasury Fund invests 80% of its assets in short-term US Treasury bonds. The rest of the funds are invested in fixed income debt securities. As the fund plans to invest in low-risk assets, the ArCoin price is expected to be stable.
The fund operates just like any other fund holding US debt securities, but with the addition of blockchain to manage stocks. Investors do not invest their money directly in securities, but purchase shares of the fund — ArCoin tokens (ARCT). They were created by a special division of the company — Arca Labs. TokenSoft, a crypto startup that helps companies launch and sell tokens, has become a technical service provider.
ArCoin sets a new standard for Ethereum tokens — ERC1404. It is specifically designed to meet regulatory requirements. Unlike the universal ERC20 standard, ERC1404 is more strictly controlled: such a token can be frozen, and the addresses to which users can send it must also be predefined. This “whitelist” of permitted addresses allows the SEC to almost completely control and track their circulation and ensures that tokens are not transferred outside of regulatory oversight.
Each ArCoin grants the right to one share in the fund. The price of the coin is $1 with a minimum investment of $1000. A total of 100 million ArCoins will be available. Accrued interest is paid directly to ArCoin holders every quarter. You can buy shares directly through the website after passing the KYC / AML check. At the same time, investors can trade tokens with each other — the blockchain allows you to do without a broker.
The fund’s shares will not be available for trading on stock exchanges and for secondary trading on crypto exchanges. Notably, the prospectus filed with the SEC in April 2019 states that in the future, Arca coins “may be traded on a public decentralized or centralized electronic exchange platform that is registered with the SEC as an alternative trading system, although there is no guarantee that such systems or platforms will be available.” But, apparently, this situation did not suit the regulator, and in the latest version of the document it was changed.
The standard investor commission for fund management is 3.22%, but during the first year it will be reduced to 0.75%. Investors can keep ArCoin in their own wallets, but if the private keys from them are lost or compromised, the fund will replace the lost tokens with new ones. The digital assets are held in tokenized asset-oriented investment bank DTAC LLC, launched by TokenSoft last December.
ArCoin offers companies and investors several use cases and wide integration of the coin into the work of structures. Individuals can use ArCoin to hedge their cryptocurrency portfolio against volatility, and financial institutions and other companies can use ArCoin to clear, settle, pay and lend “more efficiently, less costly, faster and with the ability to directly track all transactions.”
The ability to pay for goods and services with tokens on US Treasury bonds is a revolutionary step that narrows the space between payment and investment funds.

Fight for a new trillion dollar market

US Treasuries, to which ArCoin is tied, are issued by the US Treasury Department and serve as a government debt financing instrument.
Traditionally, they have a credit rating equal to or close to the maximum AAA, and are considered one of the safest and most reliable assets in the world. This makes US Treasuries highly sought after by central banks, financial companies, and private investors around the world, as they act as a safe haven from volatility in stock and corporate bond markets in times of geopolitical or economic turmoil. The SEC cleared ArCoin linkage to US Treasuries makes the asset the safest and most regulated token on the market. This is a great choice in turbulent financial times.
The launch of Arca U.S. Treasury Fund is targeting one of Wall Street’s oldest outposts — investing in the US Treasury bond market.According to Brookings, its value is about $18 trillion. ArCoin is a modern alternative to existing methods of investing in Treasury securities (buying bonds from a broker or purchasing shares from an investment fund). Arca is clearly looking forward to the emergence and growth of a new market for fully regulated and SEC-approved digital shares in traditional assets. Moreover, their competitors are not other crypto funds, but traditional exchange-traded funds and ETFs.
The Arca team is made up of Wall Street veterans and knows what a product needs to be that will be successful. Blockchain aims to show investors that it simplifies, cheaper and speeds up the process compared to the traditional market. On the site, the Arca team describes ArCoin as a “blockchain-traded fund”, or BTF.
In comments to CoinDesk in February this year, CEO Ryan Steinberg said that Arca hopes to see large institutional investors as early buyers. It was for them that the company fought so long and hard to get registered with the SEC — it had to increase confidence in the products. “The answer to the question of why there are so few institutions in the crypto industry is simple: there are no institutional-grade products on the market,” Steinberg said, noting that ArCoin is just right for the needs of large investors.
“This is a huge leap forward in legitimizing securities on the blockchain.
Huge round of applause for the Arca team, great talent and domain expertise paired with great execution.” — TokenSoft CEO Mason Borda praised the Arca team.
However, the Arca team understands that success is not guaranteed. Treasury digital assets are a new and untested market. In its filing with the SEC, Arca recognizes the potential risks for investors. For example, digital asset markets may not have the liquidity that US Treasury investors currently enjoy in traditional markets. “The use of blockchain is relatively new and untested. Therefore, investors should initially expect greater price volatility in the secondary market than would be the case if the shares had greater liquidity, ”the application says. Other risks include congestion on the Ethereum network and “the possibility of breakdowns and trading stops as a result of undiscovered technological deficiencies.”

To the conclusion

SEC-registered crypto investment products are nothing new. Cryptocurrency investment fund Grayscale Investments, for example, is one of the largest bitcoin funds that is regularly audited by the SEC. But the point is, Arca offers its own cryptocurrency, not Bitcoin.
ArCoin is set to become just the first asset in the portfolio of SEC-approved financial products to be released by Arca. The increase in the number of such initiatives can convince the SEC that their launch does not carry enormous risks. For several years now, this regulator has refused to launch bitcoin ETFs, arguing this by the lack of a legal environment in the market, manipulation of asset prices, difficulties with liquidity, storage and arbitration, and non-compliance with the regulator’s rules. Now, amid the emergence of products such as ArCoin, the SEC may reconsider its opinion on Bitcoin ETFs.
The SEC approval for Arca has potentially opened the door to new and innovative blockchain-based financial products. Regulatory registration can be a challenge for many companies, but Arca has shown how to achieve it. The project has taken a pioneering and revolutionary step towards combining traditional finance with digital investments.
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Why i’m bullish on Zilliqa (long read)

Hey all, I've been researching coins since 2017 and have gone through 100s of them in the last 3 years. I got introduced to blockchain via Bitcoin of course, analysed Ethereum thereafter and from that moment I have a keen interest in smart contact platforms. I’m passionate about Ethereum but I find Zilliqa to have a better risk reward ratio. Especially because Zilliqa has found an elegant balance between being secure, decentralised and scalable in my opinion.
 
Below I post my analysis why from all the coins I went through I’m most bullish on Zilliqa (yes I went through Tezos, EOS, NEO, VeChain, Harmony, Algorand, Cardano etc.). Note that this is not investment advice and although it's a thorough analysis there is obviously some bias involved. Looking forward to what you all think!
 
Fun fact: the name Zilliqa is a play on ‘silica’ silicon dioxide which means “Silicon for the high-throughput consensus computer.”
 
This post is divided into (i) Technology, (ii) Business & Partnerships, and (iii) Marketing & Community. I’ve tried to make the technology part readable for a broad audience. If you’ve ever tried understanding the inner workings of Bitcoin and Ethereum you should be able to grasp most parts. Otherwise just skim through and once you are zoning out head to the next part.
 
Technology and some more:
 
Introduction The technology is one of the main reasons why I’m so bullish on Zilliqa. First thing you see on their website is: “Zilliqa is a high-performance, high-security blockchain platform for enterprises and next-generation applications.” These are some bold statements.
 
Before we deep dive into the technology let’s take a step back in time first as they have quite the history. The initial research paper from which Zilliqa originated dates back to August 2016: Elastico: A Secure Sharding Protocol For Open Blockchains where Loi Luu (Kyber Network) is one of the co-authors. Other ideas that led to the development of what Zilliqa has become today are: Bitcoin-NG, collective signing CoSi, ByzCoin and Omniledger.
 
The technical white paper was made public in August 2017 and since then they have achieved everything stated in the white paper and also created their own open source intermediate level smart contract language called Scilla (functional programming language similar to OCaml) too.
 
Mainnet is live since end of January 2019 with daily transaction rate growing continuously. About a week ago mainnet reached 5 million transactions, 500.000+ addresses in total along with 2400 nodes keeping the network decentralised and secure. Circulating supply is nearing 11 billion and currently only mining rewards are left. Maximum supply is 21 billion with annual inflation being 7.13% currently and will only decrease with time.
 
Zilliqa realised early on that the usage of public cryptocurrencies and smart contracts were increasing but decentralised, secure and scalable alternatives were lacking in the crypto space. They proposed to apply sharding onto a public smart contract blockchain where the transaction rate increases almost linear with the increase in amount of nodes. More nodes = higher transaction throughput and increased decentralisation. Sharding comes in many forms and Zilliqa uses network-, transaction- and computational sharding. Network sharding opens up the possibility of using transaction- and computational sharding on top. Zilliqa does not use state sharding for now. We’ll come back to this later.
 
Before we continue disecting how Zilliqa achieves such from a technological standpoint it’s good to keep in mind that a blockchain being decentralised and secure and scalable is still one of the main hurdles in allowing widespread usage of decentralised networks. In my opinion this needs to be solved first before blockchains can get to the point where they can create and add large scale value. So I invite you to read the next section to grasp the underlying fundamentals. Because after all these premises need to be true otherwise there isn’t a fundamental case to be bullish on Zilliqa, right?
 
Down the rabbit hole
 
How have they achieved this? Let’s define the basics first: key players on Zilliqa are the users and the miners. A user is anybody who uses the blockchain to transfer funds or run smart contracts. Miners are the (shard) nodes in the network who run the consensus protocol and get rewarded for their service in Zillings (ZIL). The mining network is divided into several smaller networks called shards, which is also referred to as ‘network sharding’. Miners subsequently are randomly assigned to a shard by another set of miners called DS (Directory Service) nodes. The regular shards process transactions and the outputs of these shards are eventually combined by the DS shard as they reach consensus on the final state. More on how these DS shards reach consensus (via pBFT) will be explained later on.
 
The Zilliqa network produces two types of blocks: DS blocks and Tx blocks. One DS Block consists of 100 Tx Blocks. And as previously mentioned there are two types of nodes concerned with reaching consensus: shard nodes and DS nodes. Becoming a shard node or DS node is being defined by the result of a PoW cycle (Ethash) at the beginning of the DS Block. All candidate mining nodes compete with each other and run the PoW (Proof-of-Work) cycle for 60 seconds and the submissions achieving the highest difficulty will be allowed on the network. And to put it in perspective: the average difficulty for one DS node is ~ 2 Th/s equaling 2.000.000 Mh/s or 55 thousand+ GeForce GTX 1070 / 8 GB GPUs at 35.4 Mh/s. Each DS Block 10 new DS nodes are allowed. And a shard node needs to provide around 8.53 GH/s currently (around 240 GTX 1070s). Dual mining ETH/ETC and ZIL is possible and can be done via mining software such as Phoenix and Claymore. There are pools and if you have large amounts of hashing power (Ethash) available you could mine solo.
 
The PoW cycle of 60 seconds is a peak performance and acts as an entry ticket to the network. The entry ticket is called a sybil resistance mechanism and makes it incredibly hard for adversaries to spawn lots of identities and manipulate the network with these identities. And after every 100 Tx Blocks which corresponds to roughly 1,5 hour this PoW process repeats. In between these 1,5 hour no PoW needs to be done meaning Zilliqa’s energy consumption to keep the network secure is low. For more detailed information on how mining works click here.
Okay, hats off to you. You have made it this far. Before we go any deeper down the rabbit hole we first must understand why Zilliqa goes through all of the above technicalities and understand a bit more what a blockchain on a more fundamental level is. Because the core of Zilliqa’s consensus protocol relies on the usage of pBFT (practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance) we need to know more about state machines and their function. Navigate to Viewblock, a Zilliqa block explorer, and just come back to this article. We will use this site to navigate through a few concepts.
 
We have established that Zilliqa is a public and distributed blockchain. Meaning that everyone with an internet connection can send ZILs, trigger smart contracts etc. and there is no central authority who fully controls the network. Zilliqa and other public and distributed blockchains (like Bitcoin and Ethereum) can also be defined as state machines.
 
Taking the liberty of paraphrasing examples and definitions given by Samuel Brooks’ medium article, he describes the definition of a blockchain (like Zilliqa) as:
“A peer-to-peer, append-only datastore that uses consensus to synchronise cryptographically-secure data”.
 
Next he states that: >“blockchains are fundamentally systems for managing valid state transitions”.* For some more context, I recommend reading the whole medium article to get a better grasp of the definitions and understanding of state machines. Nevertheless, let’s try to simplify and compile it into a single paragraph. Take traffic lights as an example: all its states (red, amber and green) are predefined, all possible outcomes are known and it doesn’t matter if you encounter the traffic light today or tomorrow. It will still behave the same. Managing the states of a traffic light can be done by triggering a sensor on the road or pushing a button resulting in one traffic lights’ state going from green to red (via amber) and another light from red to green.
 
With public blockchains like Zilliqa this isn’t so straightforward and simple. It started with block #1 almost 1,5 years ago and every 45 seconds or so a new block linked to the previous block is being added. Resulting in a chain of blocks with transactions in it that everyone can verify from block #1 to the current #647.000+ block. The state is ever changing and the states it can find itself in are infinite. And while the traffic light might work together in tandem with various other traffic lights, it’s rather insignificant comparing it to a public blockchain. Because Zilliqa consists of 2400 nodes who need to work together to achieve consensus on what the latest valid state is while some of these nodes may have latency or broadcast issues, drop offline or are deliberately trying to attack the network etc.
 
Now go back to the Viewblock page take a look at the amount of transaction, addresses, block and DS height and then hit refresh. Obviously as expected you see new incremented values on one or all parameters. And how did the Zilliqa blockchain manage to transition from a previous valid state to the latest valid state? By using pBFT to reach consensus on the latest valid state.
 
After having obtained the entry ticket, miners execute pBFT to reach consensus on the ever changing state of the blockchain. pBFT requires a series of network communication between nodes, and as such there is no GPU involved (but CPU). Resulting in the total energy consumed to keep the blockchain secure, decentralised and scalable being low.
 
pBFT stands for practical Byzantine Fault Tolerance and is an optimisation on the Byzantine Fault Tolerant algorithm. To quote Blockonomi: “In the context of distributed systems, Byzantine Fault Tolerance is the ability of a distributed computer network to function as desired and correctly reach a sufficient consensus despite malicious components (nodes) of the system failing or propagating incorrect information to other peers.” Zilliqa is such a distributed computer network and depends on the honesty of the nodes (shard and DS) to reach consensus and to continuously update the state with the latest block. If pBFT is a new term for you I can highly recommend the Blockonomi article.
 
The idea of pBFT was introduced in 1999 - one of the authors even won a Turing award for it - and it is well researched and applied in various blockchains and distributed systems nowadays. If you want more advanced information than the Blockonomi link provides click here. And if you’re in between Blockonomi and University of Singapore read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 2 dating from October 2017.
Quoting from the Zilliqa tech whitepaper: “pBFT relies upon a correct leader (which is randomly selected) to begin each phase and proceed when the sufficient majority exists. In case the leader is byzantine it can stall the entire consensus protocol. To address this challenge, pBFT offers a view change protocol to replace the byzantine leader with another one.”
 
pBFT can tolerate ⅓ of the nodes being dishonest (offline counts as Byzantine = dishonest) and the consensus protocol will function without stalling or hiccups. Once there are more than ⅓ of dishonest nodes but no more than ⅔ the network will be stalled and a view change will be triggered to elect a new DS leader. Only when more than ⅔ of the nodes are dishonest (>66%) double spend attacks become possible.
 
If the network stalls no transactions can be processed and one has to wait until a new honest leader has been elected. When the mainnet was just launched and in its early phases, view changes happened regularly. As of today the last stalling of the network - and view change being triggered - was at the end of October 2019.
 
Another benefit of using pBFT for consensus besides low energy is the immediate finality it provides. Once your transaction is included in a block and the block is added to the chain it’s done. Lastly, take a look at this article where three types of finality are being defined: probabilistic, absolute and economic finality. Zilliqa falls under the absolute finality (just like Tendermint for example). Although lengthy already we skipped through some of the inner workings from Zilliqa’s consensus: read the Zilliqa Design Story Part 3 and you will be close to having a complete picture on it. Enough about PoW, sybil resistance mechanism, pBFT etc. Another thing we haven’t looked at yet is the amount of decentralisation.
 
Decentralisation
 
Currently there are four shards, each one of them consisting of 600 nodes. 1 shard with 600 so called DS nodes (Directory Service - they need to achieve a higher difficulty than shard nodes) and 1800 shard nodes of which 250 are shard guards (centralised nodes controlled by the team). The amount of shard guards has been steadily declining from 1200 in January 2019 to 250 as of May 2020. On the Viewblock statistics you can see that many of the nodes are being located in the US but those are only the (CPU parts of the) shard nodes who perform pBFT. There is no data from where the PoW sources are coming. And when the Zilliqa blockchain starts reaching their transaction capacity limit, a network upgrade needs to be executed to lift the current cap of maximum 2400 nodes to allow more nodes and formation of more shards which will allow to network to keep on scaling according to demand.
Besides shard nodes there are also seed nodes. The main role of seed nodes is to serve as direct access points (for end users and clients) to the core Zilliqa network that validates transactions. Seed nodes consolidate transaction requests and forward these to the lookup nodes (another type of nodes) for distribution to the shards in the network. Seed nodes also maintain the entire transaction history and the global state of the blockchain which is needed to provide services such as block explorers. Seed nodes in the Zilliqa network are comparable to Infura on Ethereum.
 
The seed nodes were first only operated by Zilliqa themselves, exchanges and Viewblock. Operators of seed nodes like exchanges had no incentive to open them for the greater public.They were centralised at first. Decentralisation at the seed nodes level has been steadily rolled out since March 2020 ( Zilliqa Improvement Proposal 3 ). Currently the amount of seed nodes is being increased, they are public facing and at the same time PoS is applied to incentivize seed node operators and make it possible for ZIL holders to stake and earn passive yields. Important distinction: seed nodes are not involved with consensus! That is still PoW as entry ticket and pBFT for the actual consensus.
 
5% of the block rewards are being assigned to seed nodes (from the beginning in 2019) and those are being used to pay out ZIL stakers.The 5% block rewards with an annual yield of 10.03% translates to roughly 610 MM ZILs in total that can be staked. Exchanges use the custodial variant of staking and wallets like Moonlet will use the non custodial version (starting in Q3 2020). Staking is being done by sending ZILs to a smart contract created by Zilliqa and audited by Quantstamp.
 
With a high amount of DS & shard nodes and seed nodes becoming more decentralised too, Zilliqa qualifies for the label of decentralised in my opinion.
 
Smart contracts
 
Let me start by saying I’m not a developer and my programming skills are quite limited. So I‘m taking the ELI5 route (maybe 12) but if you are familiar with Javascript, Solidity or specifically OCaml please head straight to Scilla - read the docs to get a good initial grasp of how Zilliqa’s smart contract language Scilla works and if you ask yourself “why another programming language?” check this article. And if you want to play around with some sample contracts in an IDE click here. Faucet can be found here. And more information on architecture, dapp development and API can be found on the Developer Portal.
If you are more into listening and watching: check this recent webinar explaining Zilliqa and Scilla. Link is time stamped so you’ll start right away with a platform introduction, R&D roadmap 2020 and afterwards a proper Scilla introduction.
 
Generalised: programming languages can be divided into being ‘object oriented’ or ‘functional’. Here is an ELI5 given by software development academy: > “all programmes have two basic components, data – what the programme knows – and behaviour – what the programme can do with that data. So object-oriented programming states that combining data and related behaviours in one place, is called “object”, which makes it easier to understand how a particular program works. On the other hand, functional programming argues that data and behaviour are different things and should be separated to ensure their clarity.”
 
Scilla is on the functional side and shares similarities with OCaml: > OCaml is a general purpose programming language with an emphasis on expressiveness and safety. It has an advanced type system that helps catch your mistakes without getting in your way. It's used in environments where a single mistake can cost millions and speed matters, is supported by an active community, and has a rich set of libraries and development tools. For all its power, OCaml is also pretty simple, which is one reason it's often used as a teaching language.
 
Scilla is blockchain agnostic, can be implemented onto other blockchains as well, is recognised by academics and won a so called Distinguished Artifact Award award at the end of last year.
 
One of the reasons why the Zilliqa team decided to create their own programming language focused on preventing smart contract vulnerabilities safety is that adding logic on a blockchain, programming, means that you cannot afford to make mistakes. Otherwise it could cost you. It’s all great and fun blockchains being immutable but updating your code because you found a bug isn’t the same as with a regular web application for example. And with smart contracts it inherently involves cryptocurrencies in some form thus value.
 
Another difference with programming languages on a blockchain is gas. Every transaction you do on a smart contract platform like Zilliqa for Ethereum costs gas. With gas you basically pay for computational costs. Sending a ZIL from address A to address B costs 0.001 ZIL currently. Smart contracts are more complex, often involve various functions and require more gas (if gas is a new concept click here ).
 
So with Scilla, similar to Solidity, you need to make sure that “every function in your smart contract will run as expected without hitting gas limits. An improper resource analysis may lead to situations where funds may get stuck simply because a part of the smart contract code cannot be executed due to gas limits. Such constraints are not present in traditional software systems”. Scilla design story part 1
 
Some examples of smart contract issues you’d want to avoid are: leaking funds, ‘unexpected changes to critical state variables’ (example: someone other than you setting his or her address as the owner of the smart contract after creation) or simply killing a contract.
 
Scilla also allows for formal verification. Wikipedia to the rescue:
In the context of hardware and software systems, formal verification is the act of proving or disproving the correctness of intended algorithms underlying a system with respect to a certain formal specification or property, using formal methods of mathematics.
 
Formal verification can be helpful in proving the correctness of systems such as: cryptographic protocols, combinational circuits, digital circuits with internal memory, and software expressed as source code.
 
Scilla is being developed hand-in-hand with formalization of its semantics and its embedding into the Coq proof assistant — a state-of-the art tool for mechanized proofs about properties of programs.”
 
Simply put, with Scilla and accompanying tooling developers can be mathematically sure and proof that the smart contract they’ve written does what he or she intends it to do.
 
Smart contract on a sharded environment and state sharding
 
There is one more topic I’d like to touch on: smart contract execution in a sharded environment (and what is the effect of state sharding). This is a complex topic. I’m not able to explain it any easier than what is posted here. But I will try to compress the post into something easy to digest.
 
Earlier on we have established that Zilliqa can process transactions in parallel due to network sharding. This is where the linear scalability comes from. We can define simple transactions: a transaction from address A to B (Category 1), a transaction where a user interacts with one smart contract (Category 2) and the most complex ones where triggering a transaction results in multiple smart contracts being involved (Category 3). The shards are able to process transactions on their own without interference of the other shards. With Category 1 transactions that is doable, with Category 2 transactions sometimes if that address is in the same shard as the smart contract but with Category 3 you definitely need communication between the shards. Solving that requires to make a set of communication rules the protocol needs to follow in order to process all transactions in a generalised fashion.
 
And this is where the downsides of state sharding comes in currently. All shards in Zilliqa have access to the complete state. Yes the state size (0.1 GB at the moment) grows and all of the nodes need to store it but it also means that they don’t need to shop around for information available on other shards. Requiring more communication and adding more complexity. Computer science knowledge and/or developer knowledge required links if you want to dig further: Scilla - language grammar Scilla - Foundations for Verifiable Decentralised Computations on a Blockchain Gas Accounting NUS x Zilliqa: Smart contract language workshop
 
Easier to follow links on programming Scilla https://learnscilla.com/home Ivan on Tech
 
Roadmap / Zilliqa 2.0
 
There is no strict defined roadmap but here are topics being worked on. And via the Zilliqa website there is also more information on the projects they are working on.
 
Business & Partnerships  
It’s not only technology in which Zilliqa seems to be excelling as their ecosystem has been expanding and starting to grow rapidly. The project is on a mission to provide OpenFinance (OpFi) to the world and Singapore is the right place to be due to its progressive regulations and futuristic thinking. Singapore has taken a proactive approach towards cryptocurrencies by introducing the Payment Services Act 2019 (PS Act). Among other things, the PS Act will regulate intermediaries dealing with certain cryptocurrencies, with a particular focus on consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It will also provide a stable regulatory licensing and operating framework for cryptocurrency entities, effectively covering all crypto businesses and exchanges based in Singapore. According to PWC 82% of the surveyed executives in Singapore reported blockchain initiatives underway and 13% of them have already brought the initiatives live to the market. There is also an increasing list of organisations that are starting to provide digital payment services. Moreover, Singaporean blockchain developers Building Cities Beyond has recently created an innovation $15 million grant to encourage development on its ecosystem. This all suggest that Singapore tries to position itself as (one of) the leading blockchain hubs in the world.
 
Zilliqa seems to already taking advantage of this and recently helped launch Hg Exchange on their platform, together with financial institutions PhillipCapital, PrimePartners and Fundnel. Hg Exchange, which is now approved by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), uses smart contracts to represent digital assets. Through Hg Exchange financial institutions worldwide can use Zilliqa's safe-by-design smart contracts to enable the trading of private equities. For example, think of companies such as Grab, AirBnB, SpaceX that are not available for public trading right now. Hg Exchange will allow investors to buy shares of private companies & unicorns and capture their value before an IPO. Anquan, the main company behind Zilliqa, has also recently announced that they became a partner and shareholder in TEN31 Bank, which is a fully regulated bank allowing for tokenization of assets and is aiming to bridge the gap between conventional banking and the blockchain world. If STOs, the tokenization of assets, and equity trading will continue to increase, then Zilliqa’s public blockchain would be the ideal candidate due to its strategic positioning, partnerships, regulatory compliance and the technology that is being built on top of it.
 
What is also very encouraging is their focus on banking the un(der)banked. They are launching a stablecoin basket starting with XSGD. As many of you know, stablecoins are currently mostly used for trading. However, Zilliqa is actively trying to broaden the use case of stablecoins. I recommend everybody to read this text that Amrit Kumar wrote (one of the co-founders). These stablecoins will be integrated in the traditional markets and bridge the gap between the crypto world and the traditional world. This could potentially revolutionize and legitimise the crypto space if retailers and companies will for example start to use stablecoins for payments or remittances, instead of it solely being used for trading.
 
Zilliqa also released their DeFi strategic roadmap (dating November 2019) which seems to be aligning well with their OpFi strategy. A non-custodial DEX is coming to Zilliqa made by Switcheo which allows cross-chain trading (atomic swaps) between ETH, EOS and ZIL based tokens. They also signed a Memorandum of Understanding for a (soon to be announced) USD stablecoin. And as Zilliqa is all about regulations and being compliant, I’m speculating on it to be a regulated USD stablecoin. Furthermore, XSGD is already created and visible on block explorer and XIDR (Indonesian Stablecoin) is also coming soon via StraitsX. Here also an overview of the Tech Stack for Financial Applications from September 2019. Further quoting Amrit Kumar on this:
 
There are two basic building blocks in DeFi/OpFi though: 1) stablecoins as you need a non-volatile currency to get access to this market and 2) a dex to be able to trade all these financial assets. The rest are build on top of these blocks.
 
So far, together with our partners and community, we have worked on developing these building blocks with XSGD as a stablecoin. We are working on bringing a USD-backed stablecoin as well. We will soon have a decentralised exchange developed by Switcheo. And with HGX going live, we are also venturing into the tokenization space. More to come in the future.”*
 
Additionally, they also have this ZILHive initiative that injects capital into projects. There have been already 6 waves of various teams working on infrastructure, innovation and research, and they are not from ASEAN or Singapore only but global: see Grantees breakdown by country. Over 60 project teams from over 20 countries have contributed to Zilliqa's ecosystem. This includes individuals and teams developing wallets, explorers, developer toolkits, smart contract testing frameworks, dapps, etc. As some of you may know, Unstoppable Domains (UD) blew up when they launched on Zilliqa. UD aims to replace cryptocurrency addresses with a human readable name and allows for uncensorable websites. Zilliqa will probably be the only one able to handle all these transactions onchain due to ability to scale and its resulting low fees which is why the UD team launched this on Zilliqa in the first place. Furthermore, Zilliqa also has a strong emphasis on security, compliance, and privacy, which is why they partnered with companies like Elliptic, ChainSecurity (part of PwC Switzerland), and Incognito. Their sister company Aqilliz (Zilliqa spelled backwards) focuses on revolutionizing the digital advertising space and is doing interesting things like using Zilliqa to track outdoor digital ads with companies like Foodpanda.
 
Zilliqa is listed on nearly all major exchanges, having several different fiat-gateways and recently have been added to Binance’s margin trading and futures trading with really good volume. They also have a very impressive team with good credentials and experience. They dont just have “tech people”. They have a mix of tech people, business people, marketeers, scientists, and more. Naturally, it's good to have a mix of people with different skill sets if you work in the crypto space.
 
Marketing & Community
 
Zilliqa has a very strong community. If you just follow their Twitter their engagement is much higher for a coin that has approximately 80k followers. They also have been ‘coin of the day’ by LunarCrush many times. LunarCrush tracks real-time cryptocurrency value and social data. According to their data it seems Zilliqa has a more fundamental and deeper understanding of marketing and community engagement than almost all other coins. While almost all coins have been a bit frozen in the last months, Zilliqa seems to be on its own bull run. It was somewhere in the 100s a few months ago and is currently ranked #46 on CoinGecko. Their official Telegram also has over 20k people and is very active, and their community channel which is over 7k now is more active and larger than many other official channels. Their local communities) also seem to be growing.
 
Moreover, their community started ‘Zillacracy’ together with the Zilliqa core team ( see www.zillacracy.com ). It’s a community run initiative where people from all over the world are now helping with marketing and development on Zilliqa. Since its launch in February 2020 they have been doing a lot and will also run their own non custodial seed node for staking. This seed node will also allow them to start generating revenue for them to become a self sustaining entity that could potentially scale up to become a decentralized company working in parallel with the Zilliqa core team. Comparing it to all the other smart contract platforms (e.g. Cardano, EOS, Tezos etc.) they don't seem to have started a similar initiatives (correct me if I’m wrong though). This suggest in my opinion that these other smart contract platforms do not fully understand how to utilize the ‘power of the community’. This is something you cannot ‘buy with money’ and gives many projects in the space a disadvantage.
 
Zilliqa also released two social products called SocialPay and Zeeves. SocialPay allows users to earn ZILs while tweeting with a specific hashtag. They have recently used it in partnership with the Singapore Red Cross for a marketing campaign after their initial pilot program. It seems like a very valuable social product with a good use case. I can see a lot of traditional companies entering the space through this product, which they seem to suggest will happen. Tokenizing hashtags with smart contracts to get network effect is a very smart and innovative idea.
 
Regarding Zeeves, this is a tipping bot for Telegram. They already have 1000s of signups and they plan to keep upgrading it for more and more people to use it (e.g. they recently have added a quiz features). They also use it during AMAs to reward people in real time. It’s a very smart approach to grow their communities and get familiar with ZIL. I can see this becoming very big on Telegram. This tool suggests, again, that the Zilliqa team has a deeper understanding what the crypto space and community needs and is good at finding the right innovative tools to grow and scale.
 
To be honest, I haven’t covered everything (i’m also reaching the character limited haha). So many updates happening lately that it's hard to keep up, such as the International Monetary Fund mentioning Zilliqa in their report, custodial and non-custodial Staking, Binance Margin, Futures & Widget, entering the Indian market, and more. The Head of Marketing Colin Miles has also released this as an overview of what is coming next. And last but not least, Vitalik Buterin has been mentioning Zilliqa lately acknowledging Zilliqa and mentioning that both projects have a lot of room to grow. There is much more info of course and a good part of it has been served to you on a silver platter. I invite you to continue researching by yourself :-) And if you have any comments or questions please post here!
submitted by haveyouheardaboutit to CryptoCurrency [link] [comments]

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