This new grassroots initiative implements some amazing new tech, and has already gained a huge amount of interest from the community.
Two weeks ago we gave an overview of MimbleWimble, the new blockchain protocol that we believe is one of the most exciting things to come out of the crypto space in the last year or more. As a brief summary, MimbleWimble manages to combine both privacy and scalability – a tricky circle to square – and does so in a completely new and very powerful way. Some impressive cryptography ensures that no addresses or transaction amounts are stored on the blockchain, while simultaneously guaranteeing the integrity of the system (i.e. that no new coins have been created). Transaction cut-through, which prunes unnecessary transactions from the record, both reduces bloat and improves privacy. Where other privacy-focused blockchain solutions obscure transactions in various ways, MimbleWimble goes a step beyond this by ensuring privacy by not recording sensitive information at all. It is, in short, extremely impressive and very promising.
Last week, we looked at one of two implementations of MW, called Beam. You can read more about our thoughts on it here. This week we’re looking at the other implementation, a grassroots initiative called Grin.
Firstly, we need to say that much about Grin and Beam is very similar, because they’re both building on MimbleWimble. The biggest differences are not tech, but economics and culture. And in those two things, they couldn’t be more different.
We’ll get it out of the way now because it’s a big one for the crypto faithful: Grin has infinite supply. Yes, that’s right. Each block sees 60 new Grin created, so on average there will be another Grin every second. Forever.
This means massive early inflation. The early months will see a huge increase in supply (as is fairly normal with a PoW coin). But year 2 will see 100% inflation, year 3 50%, year 4 33%, and so on. Basically, there are going to be a lot of Grin.
This inflation is intentional, since the creators did not want to unduly benefit early adopters or disadvantage later ones. Economically, we might see Grin more as a transactional currency than a store of value. And after a couple of decades, inflation as a percentage drops to a minimal level since the proportion of supply represented by those new coins gets less and less over time. Ultimately, lost coins will offset new supply and it may even prove to be deflationary – maybe. But to begin with, you’re looking at significant downward pressure on coin price simply through new coins being mined.
Grin looks to replicate the cypherpunk culture of early Bitcoin – a grassroots effort, without external funding. Its sole full-time dev is funded by donations, which is not ideal and necessitates a slower pace of development, but means there’s less chance of corporate interference, and therefore greater appeal to the crypto-libertarian crowd.
So Grin has more of an indie feel to it that surfaces in various ways. It’s more experimental; for example, it uses Cuckoo Cycle for its consensus algo, rather than a better-established algo like Equihash (used by Beam). But it also means its software is far rougher round the edges; its wallet is a lot harder to install and use, and is only available for Linux or MacOS. Using a Grin wallet means running a node of your own and using the commandline wallet as a separate piece of software – and probably sending transaction files between sender and recipient. Accessible and intuitive, it is not. There’s plenty of room for improvement and no doubt that will come, but right now Grin is not exactly a beginner-friendly crypto.
For all that, Grin has captured a lot of interest. There are die-hard bitcoin maximalists who are saying it’s the only altcoin they think is worth a look.
Next week, we’ll wind up our MimbleWimble series by make a more detailed comparison of the coins that currently use it – Grin, Beam and possibly soon Litecoin too.
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