Frequently Asked Questions
Bitcoin was a great blessing, showing people a way to a truly decentralized and deflationary currency and blazing the path towards a future where our money and finances are neither controlled nor scrutinized by anyone. Hundreds of new coins appeared, some of them minor variations of Bitcoin, some offering new possibilities.
However, the fact that transactions on Bitcoin and many of its derivatives are not confidential (all transaction history is stored in a public ledger accessible to anyone), makes cryptocurrency use in real life quite problematic. Can anyone think of a business that would want all its income and expenses to be seen by its competitors?
Privacy coins (like Monero, Zcash and their derivatives) have great merits and technology while providing good confidentiality, but do not fully deliver on scalability and decentralization. Another important quality is auditability - with Monero or Zcash it is impossible to demonstrate a provable transaction graph to an external auditor, which is often needed for businesses.
The ideas behind Mimblewimble protocol allow for creation of a coin that is confidential, scalable and optionally auditable.
We believe that the Beam coin will serve as a truly usable confidential store of value, with an addition of second-layer solutions like Lightning to allow for day-to-day usage.
We believe that rapid innovation is best achieved in a startup model, where people are 100% focused on the project and are working on it literally 24/7. Also, we feel that some of the technical decisions made by the Grin team are less practical and use more “cutting-edge” technology. Since we are literally building money, we chose a more conservative approach and decided to use more proven technologies instead - that’s why we chose C++ and not Rust, Equihash and not Cuckoo Cycle, etc. That said, we have immense respect for the Grin team and wish them success. We are all working towards the same goal - bringing financial privacy back to people and making cryptocurrency more usable in the real world applications.
The cryptospace offers several privacy coins but what are the main differences between them, compared to Beam? Here we go.
Both Beam and Grin are implementing the Mimblewimble protocol, but in different ways. We summarize the differences in four different areas: Technology, Emission, Features, and Governance.
Technology Here’s a brief comparison of the technologies used by both projects:
- Programming Language
- Beam: C++
- Grin: Rust
- Mining Algorithm:
- Beam: Modified Equihash
- Grin: Cuckatoo32+, plus Cuckaroo29
Beam uses a capped emission model of about 263 million total coins (see “What’s Beam Emission Schedule”). Grin uses a constant emission of 1 grin per second (60 per 1-minute block).
While both projects are adding functionality all the time, the known feature list planned for launch is as follows:
- Desktop Wallet
- Beam: GUI and CLI (Command-line interface) for Windows, OSX and Linux
- Grin: CLI for Linux, OSX and Windows Web wallet interface
- Mobile Wallet
- Beam: Android, iOS
- Grin: None
- Interactive Transactions (both wallets online)
- Beam: Yes
- Grin: Yes
- Non-interactive transactions (wallets don’t have to be online at the same time)
- Beam: Yes, transparently from the Wallet, using Secure BBS
- Grin: Yes, using email or similar
- Transaction Graph Obfuscation
- Atomic Swaps
- Beam: Bitcoin <> BEAM
- Grin: Ethereum <> Grin
- Beam: Opt-in, see “What is Auditability”
- Grin: None
- Confidential Assets
- Beam: Available - possibility to issue additional tokens on Beam blockchain
- Grin: Not yet
Beam runs as a classical startup. We raised money from investors and pay salaries. In the future, Beam plans to pass governance of the protocol to a Beam Foundation (see “What is Beam Foundation”). Grin is a 100% volunteer project fueled by community enthusiasm and occasional donations, supporting one paid developer. For the first two years, Grin will be governed by the core development team with input from the community.
The groth is the smallest unit of Beam recorded on the blockchain. It is a one hundred millionth of a single Beam (0.00000001 BEAM).
The unit has been named in homage to Jen Groth, Prof. of Cryptology at UCL.
Beam has a capped total supply, standing at 262,800,000 total coins. Our emission schedule is as follows:
- First year’s block reward is 80 coins per block
- Years 2,3,4 and 5 - 40 coins per block
- In years 6-9 the block reward is 25 coins.
- Afterwards, halving every four years until year 133, when emission stops
In the first five years of Beam existence, additional coins will be emitted to the Treasury:
- First year: 20 coins per block
- Years 2,3,4 and 5 - 10 coins per block
It can be seen that our emission schedule is closely modeled on Bitcoin’s, the main difference being a higher block reward during the first year. The reasoning for the higher block reward in the first year is to make sure miners have strong interest in mining Beam early in its existence and help introduce Beam coin to the market.
A more detailed information on Beam emission schedule can be found here
Controlled supply, together with a lack of trusted controlling party, is one of the main benefits when it comes to cryptocurrencies; and Bitcoin’s success is a testimony to soundness of that approach. This is the reason why Beam chose to be deflationary.
Auditability feature is an extension that we added to original Mimblewimble protocol, allowing businesses or private individuals to report their financial history to their auditors or any other party of their choosing in a secure and provable way. If the user chooses to use Auditability (btw, we may change this unwieldy name in the future), her wallet generates several key pairs for audit. Alternatively, a public key can be provided by an auditor (think of EY, Deloitte, KPMG or PWC) and added to the wallet by the user. Transaction details are encrypted with that key and attached to the original transaction (that remains private), along with a proof that those details match. The user can also include additional information (e.g. digital documents, signatures, etc.) in the metadata of each transaction by storing the hash of such documents in the blockchain. With Auditability, each transaction is tagged, such that only an Auditor may identify it in the blockchain using the public key. The auditor is not however able to create such a transaction, nor spend any money. The auditor can retrieve all the tagged transactions form the blockchain, make sure that the transactions comply to the presented documents. Auditability is strictly an opt-in feature. If the user hasn’t chosen to be auditable, there is no way anyone can retrieve any information about her transactions from the blockchain.
Beam is not offered to the public - we are not doing an ICO. The best way to acquire Beam would be to start mining it when we launch our mainnet, or buy it from others on the market.
Beam has a fast growing Ambassador program based on locality. Our ambassadors promote Beam by organizing meetups, holding talks and conducting knowledge-sharing sessions. So if you are highly motivated, really good at conveying ideas and communicating with people, and excited by our implementation of Mimblewimble (or just crypto in general), we might need your help. Beyond the obvious reward of being first Beamer in your crypto community, we are happy to let you know there is compensation involved. Drop us an email to [email protected] with a brief bio and why you think you'd be a great fit to represent Beam in your area.
Beam will support around 17 transactions per second. While this number is higher than Bitcoin and other existing privacy coins, it is important to emphasize that it is not high enough to use Beam as a means of exchange. In the future, it will be possible to improve transaction throughout by using a second layer out-of-chain solution such as Lightning, Thunderella or similar. Then you should be able to pay for your lattes with beams. Until then, Beam’s primary use case is store of value rather than day-to-day payments.
In Beam, one block will be created approximately every minute. Each block will contain around 1,000 transactions.
Instead of storing the full transaction history as in Bitcoin and other coins, a Beam node only needs to store the current UTXO state, instead of the entire transaction history. Validity of the history that brought us to this state can be confirmed by storing only the headers of the previous blocks; which holds the proof of validity of previous states (using a structure called a Merkle tree) and Proof of Work that allows to reach consensus on which of the header chains should be considered the correct one in case of blockchain branching. This is achieved using cut-through, one of the core concepts in Mimblewimble. We are still experimenting and evaluating, but it is a reasonable estimate that the Beam blockchain will be less than 1/3 of Bitcoin’s blockchain size, possibly as low as 10% (assuming the same amount of activity). So, really small.
We chose Equihash because it has been around for a long time and Equihash PoW mining algorithm is well adopted by miners globally. Equihash is based on solving the Generalized Birthday Problem. It is I/O bound, meaning that it requires quite a large amount of memory as opposed to Bitcoin's SHA256 that requires a lot of processing power. Equihash is built in such a way that does not allow easy tradeoff between processing power and memory thus making it difficult to use with ASIC miners that existed at the time of its creation. Today there are dedicated ASIC miners that can mine Equihash ten times more efficiently than average CPU.
For mainnet launch, we will be using Equihash with parameters n=150 and k=5.
For more details, read this in-depth article about our Equihash implementation.
To ensure better decentralization, Beam plans to stay ASIC resistance in the first 12-18 months. To achieve this, we plan to perform one or two hard forks – first after approximately 6 months of existence and another one after approximately 12 months. Each hard fork will change the mining algorithm. The exact modifications will be revealed several weeks before the actual hard fork
The core team and Beam Development Ltd. do not have any intentions to govern Beam in the long run. There is no point to have a cryptocurrency governed in a centralized way by a corporation. Therefore, we offer our solution to our community. We are opening the code, welcoming Open Source Developers and setting up a non-profit foundation that will be unconditionally funded by the Treasury.
Beam Foundation will be responsible for supporting, promoting and further developing Beam in the years to come. The foundation will be set up as a non-profit, most likely in Switzerland, and will be governed by a Board of Directors comprising reputable industry figures. The foundation will be receiving a significant part of the Treasury, and will fund projects and initiatives in the areas of Applied and Basic research, Development of Beam and Mimblewimble, Awareness, Financial Literacy and more.
Beam has put together a remarkable team of first-class engineers and entrepreneurs, and a strong advisory board comprised of accomplished cryptocurrency veterans. We have 7 full-time developers, a growing marketing team and seasoned management. Beam CEO is Alexander Zaidelson, an experienced entrepreneur, executive and VC investor, the engineering team is led by CTO Alex Romanov (over 15 years experience running complex R&D projects in numerous industries), the operations are run by COO Amir Aaronson, experienced entrepreneur and executive, and marketing is under the lead of CMO Beni Issembert, who has vast experience in consumer marketing both in the crypto world and outside it. Our Chief Evangelist is Dylan Dewdney, a long-time entrepreneur, crypto enthusiast and investor, and Product Management is done by Sasha Abramovich, a top notch Product Owner with solid technical background, ex-Agora, AppsFlyer, Natural Intelligence and more. The list of advisors includes people like Guy Corem, Bryan Bishop, Gordon Chen, Rami Kasterstein, Ferdous Bhai, Liraz Siri and Addison Huegel. Check out our Team page for details. We are actively building a global community of developers who share our mission of creating a private digital currency and will maintain and improve Beam.
We believe a startup environment is best for innovation, that's why we are raising money. Treasury model is the best way to repay our investors and to provide a reward to the founding team. Treasury works in the following way: in the first five years of Beam existence, 20% of all emitted coins automatically go to the Treasury. Technically, the additional coins are emitted for each mined block. Our investors, the core team, our advisors and the non-profit Beam Foundation will be getting Beam coins from the Treasury on a monthly basis. We believe that the five year payout period creates an alignment of interest between all the parties and ensures that our coin will get the support it requires to succeed.