Privacy, security, decentralization and individual financial sovereignty have become of major concerns during the past decade and will continue to dominate discussions especially in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space for the foreseeable future.
Though cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are technically secure, private and anonymous –in reality, the real-world identity of transacting parties can be linked and traced to specific transactions on the blockchain –using the right tools and resources.
Thus the need for a special breed of cryptocurrencies called “privacy coins”.
Privacy coins are designed to provide multiple extra layers of security and privacy to users by obfuscating transactions origin, destination and value involved through various cryptographic techniques.
A good privacy coin should provide its users with complete anonymity; shield you from censorship, and the prying eyes of interested third parties while keeping your transactions truly secure and efficient.
One of such privacy coins is BEAM.
What is Beam (BEAM)?
Beam is a next-generation, privacy-enhanced, scalable and confidential cryptocurrency that is based on the highly acclaimed Mimblewimble protocol, first published on July 19th, 2016, by a user with the pseudonym Tom Elvis Jedusor (Which is translated to mean I am Lord Voldemort).
The author of this Protocol is obviously a die-hard fan of the Harry Potter series as the title of the protocol, “Mimblewimble” was also derived from a spell within the adventurous movie. A spell which binds speech.
In his words,
“I call my creation Mimblewimble because it is used to prevent the blockchain from talking about all users’ information.”
The Mimblewimble is a privacy protocol which is based on Bulletproof – a recently developed zero-knowledge proof protocol – to make transactions confidential and virtually untraceable first implemented by the BEAM privacy coin. Proving ownership of Unspent Transaction Output (UTXO) by this protocol requires only the current state of the commitment (described properly below) and a blinding factor.
The protocol uses a method based on the elliptic curve cryptography, named Pedersen’s commitment to ensure confidentiality.
To put into perspective, the fundamental concept of Pederson Commitment, Consider the following Operation;
- 1375 – 236 = 1139
- 1375*3 – 236*3 = 1139*3
- 4125 – 708 = 3417
Operation (1) above represents the actual transaction that goes on the Mimblewimble protocol. It shows that no money was created – equation balanced.
With a blinding factor, which as a value of “3” in equation (2) the actual values of the transaction on the blockchain are masked without compromising the transaction.
It can be verified still that no new money was created, although the actual values of the transaction are unknown to the blockchain or any malicious viewer.
Only parties with the secret value, “3” (which is actually an encrypted key or signature) can determine the actual constituents of the operation. It is usually arrived at from a combination of part of the secret keys of both parties involved.
The output of equation (3) is called the Commitment.
The above is an oversimplification of the complex cryptographic process for the reader’s easy comprehension.
In actual sense, the mathematical expression for Pederson Commitment is given as;
C = r*G + v*H
C – Pedersen Commitment
r – A blinding factor ( secret key hiding v)
v – A real value
G-H – Specific Elliptic curve group generators.
If you don’t understand a single thing in the actual mathematical expression, you’re not alone.😂 The oversimplified explanation gives a good understanding of what actually happens though. Hold on to it.
However, if you need exact information about the protocol, you can find it in the Mimblewimble Whitepaper.
Unlike many other privacy coins that use optional privacy features which usually bloats up the blockchain, BEAM is private by default and does not record or store wallet addresses in a transaction on the blockchain.
The linear nature of the mathematical expression above enables the revelation of the blockchain state even from the genesis block, that no money is created or destroyed.
In addition, the BEAM cryptocurrency using the Dandelion privacy is able to obscure network traffic activity by randomizing the pathways through which transactions get dispersed on a decentralized network.
So that, not only is your transaction details hidden from prying eyes, your network details such as IP and other personal identifiers are obfuscated through a VPN-like decentralized network – thus effectively guaranteeing absolute privacy, anonymity, and security to its users.
Unique Features of Beam (BEAM) Coin
- Privacy: Beam gives its users full control over all their data. The user has the right, not obligation, to select whom his data would be reveal to or not. From other prying eyes it conceals actual transactions with commitments leaving a window for only the involved parties to view and make confirmation.
- Confidentiality without penalty – Other Blockchains in the quest to make transactions confidential, increase the data involved in a transaction hence the size of the block, hence the entire blockchain. In BEAM confidential transactions do not cause bloating of the blockchain, avoiding excessive computational overhead or penalty on performance or scalability while completely concealing the transaction value.
- No trusted third party setup required: Other blockchains require plugin-like integrations or extensions to either scale it up or ensure privacy. However, Beam is given an architecture that provides all these features in its standalone design.
- Compactibility: Blocks are mined using the Equihash Proof-of-Work algorithm to achieve a smaller blockchain size altogether. This makes the blockchain demand less processing power, allowing true decentralization to be feasible. As the use of expensive ASIC devices is discouraged given that average devices can run it as optimally. This algorithm has been modified to the Beam hash II algorithm. It is the plan of the project to discourage ASIC mining 12 – 18 months of its existence by changing mining algorithms.
- Limited emission using periodic halving. The next halving being January 4th, 2024.
- No addresses are stored in the blockchain – no information whatsoever about either the sender or the receiver of a transaction is stored in the blockchain.
- Superior scalability through compact blockchain size – The linearity of Pederson’s commitment allows using the “cut-through” feature of Mimblewimble which makes the BEAM blockchain orders of magnitude smaller than any other blockchain implementation.
- BEAM supports many transaction types such as escrow transactions; time-locked transactions, atomic swaps, and more even without the use of smart contracts through a technique called “Scriptless script” based on cryptographic signatures.
- There are no Beam coins pre-mined, neither will it be having an ICO. Its total supply is fixed and its mining will be initially ASIC Resistant.
- Mimblewimble is developer-friendly as it is built from scratch in C++ and the code is left open-source to the Beam community which is backed by the Beam growth pool – 20% of block mining rewards channeled towards community growth and development.
- Usability: Accessing the Beam Mimblewimble blockchain protocol is made really easy as wallet apps are available across a wide range of devices such as mobile devices and PC and operating systems such as windows etcetera. Download beam wallet on Playstore and on App store. The desktop wallet with varying amounts of features can be found here.
Fundamentals Of How Beam Works.
Transactions are created by Beam wallets and are sent to the nearest node through a secure channel. The transactions contain fees, lists of input, and outputs represented by Pedersen Commitments etcetera. Through a zero-knowledge proof, the node verifies the authenticity of the transaction and then adds it to a mining pool.
The transaction is then mined and sent back to the node for verification and distribution. A valid block, propagated for consensus is added to the blockchain.
Periodically, nodes create a compact copy of the blockchain comprising of a history of system states and headers. This is to enable fast synchronization of new nodes, as new nodes do not need to download the entire blockchain to join in.
The Beam (BEAM) Team and Community
The team led by Alexander Zaidelson, Alex Romanov, & Amir Aaronson as the CEO, CTO, and COO respectively, comprises blockchain veterans, deeply immersed cryptocurrency advocates, mathematicians, serial entrepreneurs, experienced designers and developers. It also backed by the power of well-experienced advisors from numerous tech fields and even art, including thought leaders in various aspects.
Beam also runs an online community forum where up to date information and tweets are embedded, it also has a lot of interesting sub-forums. My favorite is Community Art which holds several graphic designs for Beam. Other sub-forums or sections include Store, Resources, Faucet, Explorer, Mimblewimble resources etcetera.
How to Buy Beam (BEAM)
Beam has a fixed total supply of 262.8million coins and there are currently 64,255,200 beam coins in circulation.
Beam listed on over 40 exchanges, excluding the instant exchange or swap exchanges as well as the fiat-crypto exchanges. See the complete list of exchanges on the website.
Final Thoughts on Beam (BEAM)
The transparency which traditional blockchain offers to make it a trust machine as it is fondly called has its drawbacks – one of which is lack of privacy and confidentiality. Lack of scalability can also be counted amongst these drawbacks as its current structure makes attempts to increase confidentiality to further hamper scalability.
Considering how Beam and its Mimblewimble blockchain protocol are designed, these issues can be certainly eliminated, giving users the privacy they require without any penalty on scalability, as its privacy is not achieved by some plugin, extension or integration but by an in-built mechanism.
Who’d have thought the Mimblewimble spell would save the blockchain?😏
Let us know what you think about the BEAM coin in the comment section below.