The Mimblewimble-based coin has stormed ahead in its development, with an aggressive roadmap and lots of cool features on the way.
Atomic Swaps are like a dragon in the blockchain world: a really cool and powerful but unfortunately mythical creature that lots of people talk about but no one has ever really seen in the wild. While much has been written about Atomic Swaps and many platforms are working on them, there are few if any examples that have been deployed on mainnet blockchains and that are used on a day-to-day basis to exchange coins across chains.
What are Atomic Swaps?
As everyone in the crypto world should be absolutely clear about, unless you own your private keys, you don’t truly own your crypto. Traditional exchanges require that you give up control of your coins, leaving the exchange to look after them while you trade. All too often, that ends in tears as coins are lost or stolen by hackers.
Atomic Swaps are a way of exchanging coins in a completely peer-to-peer way, across blockchains. A smart contract is created by each party to the exchange, locking the coins they agree to swap until an agreed signal is given – at which point, the swap is made automatically. They are called ‘atomic’ swaps because the coins are exchanged either in their entirety, or not at all. (There are no partially filled orders.)
Beam: well on the way
We’ve liked Beam since the outset, due to their use of Mimblewimble and their impressive roadmap. The team has really delivered on some very impressive goals. And now they seem to have done it again with Atomic Swaps.
Right now, swaps are only available from the commandline interface (CLI), though they’re building a GUI for it in the wallet. You can place orders to swap Beam against LTC or BTC. The major catch at this stage is that you’ll need to run both a full Beam node (no big deal) and a full Bitcoin or Litecoin node (which requires more resources).
You can read the documentation for how to conduct Beam <> LTC and Beam <> BTC swaps to find out more. For most users at this point, it won’t be something that’s user friendly enough to adopt instead of trading on a centralised exchange, and there won’t be the orderbook and liquidity required to make it worthwhile. But this is a hugely important step towards something that the crypto world badly needs. Now that the proof of concept has been completed, we hope to see this in the GUI soon – and start to replace some of the shadier exchanges that have plagued the crypto sector.
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