On January 3, 2019, Israeli startup Beam launched the main network of the project of the same name – a new cryptocurrency based on the Bitcoin blockchain aimed at ensuring user privacy. The release date was not chosen by chance: it was on this day 10 years ago that the genesis block of bitcoin was created.
Beam tokens use the version of the MimbleWimble protocol, first introduced in 2016. Initially, it was created to solve the problems of scalability and confidentiality of the Bitcoin blockchain, but later the developers decided to create their own Grin cryptocurrency. Despite the general technical base, Beam tokens in many aspects differ from the initiative of the “grandparents”.
The Beam team is also working on two additional projects – Project Lumini and Beam Lightning. The first is designed to combine Beam and Ethereum, the second – integrates Beam with the Lightning Network.
Key features of Beam:
- full user control over the privacy of translations;
- all transactions are confidential by default;
- the blockchain does not store addresses or other private information;
- high scalability is ensured by a small block size;
- audits at the request of users;
- asset confidentiality;
- support for online and offline transactions, atomic swaps and hardware wallets;
- wallets in the form of applications for smartphones and PCs.
For a long time, Grin remained the most famous cryptocurrency project based on MimbleWimble, however, Beam creators implemented the protocol for the first time – the project started in the spring of 2018. Unlike Grin developers, who chose the democratic blockchain management model and refused to conduct ICOs in favor of voluntary donations, the Israeli startup was originally held a round of venture financing, due to which he was able to get ahead of Grin with the launch.
This was reflected in the network management model:
- after the launch of the main network, a specially created non-profit fund must manage the protocol;
- no pre-mining;
- no ICO;
- tokens are backed up by an internal treasury.
How transaction privacy is maintained
On their website, Beam developers described the principle of transaction processing step by step:
- The wallet owner creates a new transaction through a secure channel online or offline. Both involved in the transfer of the wallet sign it using the Schnorr protocol.
- The wallet sends the transaction to the node. Each transfer contains a list of incoming and outgoing data, presented by Pedersen’s obligations scheme, as well as information on commissions. Each transaction contains non-interactive evidence with a zero-knowledge range to verify a positive value.
- Noda verifies the transaction, taking into account the last state of the blockchain stored in the form of a hash tree. Its root hash is written in the block header along with the Proof-of-Work data. In addition, each node regularly creates a compact version of the blockchain, with which you can implement “fast synchronization”.
- The transaction is added to the mining pool. New blocks are mined once a minute and sent to the node for verification and distribution.
- Mined blocks with new transactions are sent to well-known peers. A validated block that exceeds the chain length at that time is adopted as a new “tip” and distributed further until a new consensus is reached.
- Fast sync. When a new node connects to the network for the first time, it can request a compact version of the blockchain history that contains only information about the state of the system and block headers.
According to the creators of Beam, they are not going to slow down the pace of developing a token and implementing new functions. For example, in March 2019, they plan to introduce Beam / BTC atomic swaps, to finalize the integration of hardware wallets and a payment platform, as well as to carry out the Lightning “proof of concept” phase.