A new privacy coin is making its debut in the market, and some of its features might sound reminiscent of a certain other coin. No, not that one or that one. Beam XBM is the maiden crypto for Mimblewimble, a privacy protocol named after a tongue-tying spell from Harry Potter. The Beam white paper, like Bitcoin’s, was published anonymously, only eight years later.
And like Bitcoin, Beam seeks to be a store of value and payment cryptocurrency, but with greater scalability and privacy protections.
So do we really need another privacy coin? Between Monero and Zcash, crypto seems to have privacy covered. And with regulation expected to come down the pike soon, know-your-customer and anti-money laundering standards have seemingly become more de facto than privacy these days.
But, as Beam CEO Alexander Zaidelson explained, “KYC and AML are not contrary to privacy, as long as the person willingly wants to undergo those processes.” Beam defines privacy as “the freedom to decide when, where and to whom you would like to disclose information.”
Zaidelson told Crypto Briefing:
Beam is offering a true private and scalable environment for crypto transactions, but also offers a path to compliance by creating an optional auditability feature that will allow individuals and businesses to use Beam and also audit their transactions.
Beam vs. Monero vs. Zcash
When you think of Zcash, you probably think of zk-SNARKs, the zero-knowledge proof that makes transactions private and is gaining popularity among blockchain projects. It’s a complex technology that has earned the nickname “moon math,” and when activated it can obfuscate addresses and transaction amounts that would otherwise be transparent.
Monero, on the other hand, relies on ring signatures that are placed on top of transactions to shield them, which bolsters the size of the blockchain. This is not good for scalability, Zaidelson explained:
Both Zcash and Monero take the basic architecture of Bitcoin and add sophisticated obfuscation to it, resulting in much larger blockchain size that hurts scalability. We estimate that Zcash blockchain size is around 5.3KB per transaction, Monero’s is around 3KB per transaction (down from 15KB before the last upgrade) – significantly bigger than Bitcoin’s 0.62KB.
Mimblewimble, on the other hand, is designed to “keep the blockchain small.” He added:
Mimblewimble has transaction privacy built in from the ground up, so it does not need to obfuscate information. Beam does use zero-knowledge proofs, specifically the Bulletproofs protocol, in the process of validating transactions to prove that the transacted amounts are positive.
Try Saying Mimblewimble Three Times Fast
Unlike most recent cryptocurrencies, Beam is launching without an ICO. To receive Beam coins, users must mine transactions on the network, which Zaidelson says “is easy to do for everyday, casual computer users.” You can also look out for Beam on exchanges, which are showing robust interest; the privacy coin is expected to be listed sometime in February.
Even without an ICO, the Beam community is growing, as evidenced by a Discord channel with 1,300 “real users,” another 5,000 on Telegram and a “growing Chinese-language WeChat group” where debates about Mimblewimble can get quite technical.
As for us, we have a hard time saying Mimblewimble without smiling.
The author is invested in digital assets, including bitcoin and Zcash which are mentioned in this article.