"Beam me up, Scotty" is a catchphrase that made its way into popular culture from the science fiction television series Star Trek and is now used in the communication by the Beam project. Source: fotoimage.org
The MimbleWimble privacy focused protocol is going to change the face of the crypto industry and it will be applied to more and more projects, believes Alexander Zaidelson. He’s the CEO of the Beam cryptocurrency project, which is currently one of the only two cryptocurrencies to integrate MimbleWimble.
“We’re striving to create a currency that can be used in all kinds of use cases, not just for anonymous transactions,” he tells in an interview with Cryptonews.com.
How are they going to achieve this? Zaidelson has a plan.
Alexander Zaidelson. Source: Twitter
“This year, we will be focusing on two main avenues. The first is Beam Core, where we’ll be developing all kinds of things related to wallet usability, different platforms, Lightning Network integration etc. The second avenue is what we call Beam Compliance, which is a set of tools for businesses and people who want and need to create an audit trail on the blockchain for their transactions while still staying confidential. We hope this will get to an early alpha version by the end of the year, as it’s a very complex subject matter.”
Beam Compliance will be a big part of the project, he tells us. “We think that’s the future. Our eventual vision is to create a cryptocurrency that is private on the one hand, but allows very rich disclosure options for certain parties that I choose, as the owner of the wallet. We believe that without that a currency cannot be functional for business – a currency must be confidential, but it must allow people to disclose their financials to people they choose, usually auditors or tax authorities. This should be strictly optional – strictly by the decision of the owner of every specific wallet.”
Also, they’re planning to publish the beta version of their Android cryptocurrency wallet within the next two to three weeks. iOS users will have to wait a little longer, as the project’s roadmap states that this version of the wallet is coming out in June. In the case of hardware wallets, Zaidelson would like to have something picked out by March or April this year, but he says they’re still looking for what fits their needs the best.
A mockup of the Beam wallet:
What about regulation?
Privacy focused coins are not very liked among state institutions. For example, in December, the US Department of Homeland Security published a pre-solicitation document stating that the agency seeks to develop methods to track transactions of privacy-focused cryptocurrencies, such as Monero and Zcash.
However, Zaidelson is not very worried.
“There is no regulation that transaction history has to be visible at all times,” he says. “I mean, cash does not have a transaction history. Current regulatory frameworks tell us that if I’m selling lemonade for cash, I have to print register slips. But if I’m paying for lemonade, I don’t have to report anything. We want to create exactly that experience in Beam.”
But whoever wants their transaction history to be visible can opt in for that without any limitations except those they set themselves. “First, the person or company needs to decide whether they want to create this data on the blockchain at all. Then, the authority will need to request this data from its owner. In case the owner did not create this data at all, they can ask as much as they won’t – it simply won’t be there. Even if somebody demands your twelve-word secret key at gunpoint – they can get your money, but they can’t get your transaction history, because it doesn’t exist.”
Competition and mass adoption
As mentioned earlier, Beam is not the only implementation of MimbleWimble. The other one is Grin, which launched only days after Beam, and the two share many similarities aside from the protocol. So why would anyone choose one but not the other?
“That’s a hard question. Both cryptocurrencies are MimbleWimble, both have great privacy and scalability. Right now, Beam has better usability. We have easy to use graphical wallets that people can play with. In terms of investors, many consider buying a coin with a capped supply a better investment than buying one with infinite supply. The main difference, however, is our vision of this optional compliance. We’re striving to create a currency that can be used in all kinds of use cases, not just for anonymous transactions, which are somewhat limited in their use.”
Other privacy coins are competitors as well, almost by default. “I think the incumbents like Monero and ZCash can be considered competitors, but Grin is what we call a co-petitor – we try to cooperate in certain points, but we’re obviously the two MimbleWimble cryptocurrencies. Again, I don’t necessarily see it as a competition.”
“Lack of privacy is a gaping hole in most of the existing cryptocurrencies, and people are starting to understand that privacy is necessary. With time, MimbleWimble will be applied to more and more projects,” Zaidelson believes.
Listing on exchanges is certainly a step towards mass adoption. “I think we’re available on six or seven exchanges now, and I know more exchanges are planned to list Beam in the coming weeks. As for how many will list us this year – well, I didn’t make a plan for such a long time, but definitely more than 20,” Zaidelson said.
Beam price chart:
State of the Beam
Beam raised USD 5 million from their investors, and they’re not looking to raise any more. As for how the company operates, Zaidelson told us, “We’re starting to incorporate it so the Foundation will get funds from the blockchain on a monthly basis. The Foundation gets 20% of the Treasury, which is 4% of all the minted coins in the first five years. We will bring people from the community to decide how to distribute those funds – maybe as grants for development, research, features, etc. We get a lot of inspiration from the ZCash Foundation. I think they’ve built something very valuable in the way they operate, with people submitting ideas and then the Foundation giving out grants.”
The Treasury will cease to exist after those five years, he says. “The goal is for the Treasury to help make the project as big as possible, and we think that five years is enough of a timeframe to do the most we can. Then, we’ll pass the control to the community and definitely dissolve the company, maybe even the Foundation.”
Blockchain Stoppage and Lessons Learned
Recently, Beam announced they were experiencing some technical difficulties. On their official Twitter account, the company wrote that their network “stopped at block 25709” and that they were investigating the matter. The problem was fixed, and they published a post mortem, explaining that, “The root cause of the issue was that two cloned wallets (most likely created by copying the same wallet.db file) both sent the same cloned UTXO [unspent transaction output] to the blockchain, which resulted in incorrect cut-through processing and ultimately to an invalid block.”
Could this happen again?
“The politically correct answer would be, ‘Oh no, of course not,’” Zaidelson laughed.
“But the right one is, yes, things happen, it’s software and sometimes there are bugs. The nature of bugs is that you don’t know they exist until they happen. We’re doing more testing to make sure this doesn’t happen again. However, the key is that whenever something like it happens, we respond quickly and transparently to the community, like we did last time.”
On lessons learned, he explains, “I think we should spend some more time on testing all kinds of corner cases. We’re doing some steps into that, using some complex simulated systems to try and test them, but there are always things you cannot really expect.”