BEAM — the privacy-focused cryptocurrency — officially launched their mainnet today of the first full implementation of the Mimblewimble blockchain protocol. BEAM’s launch comes just before the scheduled launch of Grin — an open-source cryptocurrency also utilizing Mimblewimble.
Mimblewimble is a stripped down blockchain protocol that employs a novel method for constructing transactions to provide a compelling layer of anonymity in the network. The protocol was originally proposed by an anonymous figure Tom Elvis Jedusor in 2016 and has since undergone some optimizations as the underlying protocol for BEAM and Grin.
Mimblewimble and Privacy
Mimblewimble is a complex protocol explicitly designed to improve the scalability and privacy of a blockchain network by relying on the properties of Elliptic Curve Cryptography.
The protocol uses confidential transactions and ‘blinding factors’ to obfuscate transaction details, with blocks in the blockchain appearing as one large, scrambled transaction with inputs and outputs that cannot be associated with each other. Mimblewimble also enhances efficiency across the network by removing the older transactions from the blockchain and using a method called ‘cut-through’ to eliminate intermediary transactions over time.
Both BEAM and Grin are full Mimblewimble implementations but focus on becoming different forms of cryptocurrencies. While Grin strives to be an anonymous medium of payment with a consistent value, BEAM is tailored more towards a confidential and sustainable store of value.
Aspects of Mimblewimble have also been floated for eventual integration into Bitcoin, as it would provide efficiency and privacy improvements for the legacy cryptocurrency. Further, Mimblewimble is compatible with Schnorr signatures — widely considered the best cryptographic signature — that Bitcoin developers plan on adding to the protocol in the near future, and have wanted to for a long time.
The BEAM launch comes with full desktop clients for Mac, Windows, and Linux as well as a CLI wallet and BEAM node for the same operating systems. Like all initial launches, BEAM notes that there will be bugs and to take necessary cautionary steps before interacting with large sums of value.
BEAM also provides a suite of documentation, including a user guide to get started. BEAM plans on adding several features including atomic swaps with Bitcoin and a mobile wallet as development continues.
Excitement has surrounded Mimblewimble’s potential since its anonymous proposal in 2016. Finally, BEAM has launched the first full implementation of the blockchain protocol, and Grin is set to follow suit soon.