Exclusive Interview with CEO of privacy coin BEAM, Alexander Zaidelson

Apr 16 · 10 min read

This article contains a verbatim transcript of excerpts from an interview with Alexander Zaidelson, CEO of Beam.

With the recent announcement from trade.io that privacy coin BEAM has been listed on the exchange, we took the opportunity to ask CEO Alexander Zaidelson some of his personal views on BEAM and the wider crypto sphere.

trade.io is no stranger to upcoming, high-potential projects, and for this reason has proceeded with the listing of BEAM — an innovative privacy coin based on the same MimbleWimble protocol that GRIN functions on.

Privacy is one of the primary issues of concern in the crypto world, and BEAM harnesses enhanced safety features for its coin, by using the famed MimbleWimble protocol, which enables confidential transactions at a large scale.

We recently caught up with Alexander Zaidelson, the CEO of Beam, to tell us all about the advantages of the coin, and his hopes of it spurring widespread acceptance, adoption, and usage for everyday transactions.

Q: Can you tell us about yourself and your journey into the crypto world?

I’m a relative late-comer to the party, I first got interested [in crypto] back in summer 2017, when I started learning about Bitcoin and Ethereum when there was a huge surge in the price. What really fascinated me was the idea that this technology can potentially replace a large part of the world’s money, or at least gold and store of value.

I began to understand that the potential is really huge, so that’s what got me more interested. So I bought some Bitcoin, in the short term maybe it wasn’t a great financial decision, but I do believe that in the long term, the prices of crypto will grow hundreds, if not thousands, of percent.

And then I got involved with Beam in 2018, which was my first official participation in the crypto space… I’m really excited about the face of innovation of all the technology, it’s never dull.

Q: Since privacy is such an important issue, could you elaborate for those not in the know, how BEAM differentiates itself from other cryptocurrencies?

BEAM is first and foremost a scalable and confidential cryptocurrency. So today, we know there are around 2,000 different crypto coins, but the absolute majority of them are fully non-confidential, fully transparent. So whenever someone uses Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, or any of the other well-known coins, they need to realize that their transactions are observable and will remain on the blockchain forever.

So even, 20 years from now, somebody will be able to view the blockchain and start asking questions, “oh why did you transfer 5,000 USD to this guy 20 years ago” or “why did you transfer 100 USD to this website 25 years ago?” Some people have put it like ‘having a Twitter attached to your bank account’.

Every transaction is immediately visible by everyone and with some level of technical knowledge, anyone can review the transaction… and even if you don’t have anything to hide, people will still be like “oh she spent too much money on clothing” or “we saw this guy was at a bar, paying for a drink at 3am so what’s going on here?”

Privacy is super important. People realize that. Several other privacy coins have sprung up, the most notable being…probably… Monero, ZCash, ZCoins…they provide a certain level of privacy, with Monero and ZCash being the strongest right now, but they do so at the price of scalability. So their blockchain is much bigger than Bitcoin’s because they use the same basic architecture of Bitcoin but they have to add stuff onto the blockchain to hide the transaction history.

MimbleWimble, as a protocol, actually solves the problem. Whoever invented it is an anonymous person, we don’t know who that is. They’ve created a system where it has all the benefits of the blockchain, it’s fully permission-less, decentralized, proof-of-work, but, it gives you full confidentiality, so nobody can see what you’re doing, who you’re sending to and what you’re sending, and it does that without the penalty of scalability. So the blockchain is actually much smaller, than that of bitcoin.

So, BEAM implements this protocol. Now, the vision of BEAM is first and foremost to build the best-of-breed confidential coin. But, we also wanted to play ball with the existing financial ecosystem. So eventually, we want to create a coin that is confidential but can also be used by businesses. What I mean by that is that businesses often need to undergo audit…so the financial system needs those. So our vision is to gradually add those compliance features to the coin, and make it usable for businesses and then it’ll be possible to realize the dream of crypto to be used as money and replacing a significant portion of financial activity with crypto.

To round-up BEAM, imagine the following:

- Complete control over your privacy
- All transactions are private by default
- No addresses or other private information are stored on the blockchain
- Superior scalability due to compact blockchain size
- Opt-in auditability
- Confidential assets
- Support online and offline transactions, atomic swaps, hardware-wallet integration
- Wallet app for mobile and desktop

Q: In layman terms, is that how MimbleWimble actually solves scalability and privacy issues?

MimbleWimble is built in such a way that privacy comes right from the get-go. There is no such thing as an address, there is no user identity. On the blockchain, it looks like a big sense of safe deposit boxes, and it all looks more or less the same. Each box is unlocked with a special key and every user has several keys. But when you look at a box, you kind of know who the key belongs to. When a transaction happens, two users need to connect and they create the transaction, so basically what they create, send or take their deposit box (or several boxes) and transfer them to the recipient by changing the key.

What the blockchain sees and validates is that the amount of inputs in a transaction equals the amount of output. But they don’t know who the sender is, who the receiver is, or what the amounts are. So there is total privacy on the blockchain, so you do the transaction and you can be sure that nobody can know how much money you have… or that you sent any money to anyone.

So it solves privacy by turning the Bitcoin architecture upside down, by letting go of the concept of addresses and by creating an alternative architecture of creating transactions.

[Publicly, the blockchain looks like one giant transaction. All of this equates to an attempt at very rigorous privacy for those transacting with MimbleWimble. These privacy features are built-in and fundamental to MimbleWimble, not added at a great computational expense.]

Q: What are some of the similarities/differences between BEAM and GRIN?

Both BEAM and GRIN are leading coins in the space, and are implementing the MimbleWimble protocol, but in different ways.

[The differences are summarized in four different areas: technology, emission, features, and governance.]

The differences between them are numerous. The first important difference is the emission schedule.

The GRIN team chose to do constant emission. They’re printing a new GRIN coin every minute forever, creating thus an inflationary coin, with unlimited supply. GRIN uses a constant emission of 1 grin per second (60 per 1-minute block).

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 100 coins per block
  • Years 2,3,4 and 50 coins per block
  • Afterwards, halving every four years until year 133, when emission stops

[It can be seen that their 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.]

So this year is the best year to mine and acquire BEAM, because while we’re issuing a lot this year, next year there will be half that… and so on…

Another difference is governance. GRIN is a full community project, it’s not funded. The funding that they received is from donations only. So, I think they have two or three people on payroll.

[GRIN is a 100% volunteer project fueled by the 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.]

While, we [Beam] have a team of about 25…who raised funds from VCs…and…because of that, we’re able to move much faster. And also, we’re able to spend much more effort on usability.

[BEAM runs as a classical startup. They raised money from investors and pay salaries. In the future, BEAM plans to pass governance of the protocol to a Beam Foundation — a foundation responsible for supporting, promoting and further developing Beam in the years to come. The foundation will be set up as a non-profit.]

The third difference, as I mentioned…the longer-term vision…we feel that the world will not all move to crypto at some point. There won’t be like a revolution where all the banks will go up in flames and people will start using just crypto. We believe the role of crypto is to replace some part of the financial activity, to make things cheaper, faster and better for a lot of people. But it won’t be a revolution — we want crypto to eventually play bull with the financial ecosystem and this is where our compliance ideas come in.

Q: So let’s talk about BEAM as a currency and who it benefits.

There is no statistics used of this currency that we have in mind. It’s the currency that anyone can use, to store value or transfer value in a confidential way. We believe that everyone and anyone who has value… and wants to send money to others, needs confidentiality and scalability. And that’s what BEAM is providing.

It benefits all of the community, all of the crypto community, all of the people who are actually interested in realizing the crypto dream. And this technology brings us closer to realizing the crypto dream.

Q: Is it the same for your everyday crypto enthusiast vs. your seasoned-crypto trader?

I do believe it’s the same overall.

For example, if you ask who does Bitcoin benefit? It benefits your average crypto enthusiast, traders, institutional traders, and businesses. It’s like asking ‘who does the dollar benefit?’ Whoever has it and everyone wants to have it. It’s a general purpose thing. It’s money.

Q: What about the potential of the crypto industry, what do you see in store for the future?

A lot of hard work. The crypto industry began 10 years ago, something that very few people understood, and something people were scared of. Then there was the ICO craze in 2016 and 2017, followed by the craze when people made huge amounts of money.

All of this hype, while it brought a lot of serious players, it also brought a lot of dishonest ones. People who just wanted to get rich quick at the expense of fooling others. So in my view, what happened right now, this hype… now it’s cooled off, and people started learning a lot more. So it’s much harder now to scam people. All the scammers are pulling themselves out of the industry, while the serious players remain. And now the people that remain, understand that it’s not something where you can just pull out a whitepaper and earn tens of millions of dollars. It’s like any other industry, probably with much bigger potential right now, because it’s just starting.

But it’s something that will require all this hard work, a lot of substance, to actually get out of the crowd, attract attention, users, traders and so on. The potential is huge but it’s not something that will happen overnight. So that’s my view.

Q: Why is it good for a crypto such a beam to list on an exchange like trade.io?

So first of all, we want BEAM to be on more exchanges so more people can be exposed to it.

It’s a valuable partnership. Our goal is to make our currency available and usable by as many people as there are. So we’re open to help and to do things together.

I just want to welcome all the traders on your exchange, wish them good luck and a successful launch! I think it’s important for everyone to understand the emission curve of BEAM. Right now, we are right at the beginning, BEAM is four months old. We are excited to do much more work to make it more usable, better, integrated with other blockchains. We have big plans to make it a top 10 or top 5 crypto, in several years.

Q: Finally, out of curiosity and for any avid Harry Potter fans…what’s the link between the saga and the MimbleWimble name?

Apparently, the guy who invented the protocol is a big fan of the Harry Potter saga. The inventor of MimbleWimble signed the original paper by “Tom Elvis Jedusor,” the name given to Voldemort in the French translation of the Harry Potter books.

MimbleWimle is based on a curse in Harry Potter that once you’re cast under the spell, a person cannot talk about a certain thing. It’s a spell that makes others keep secret.

Trade in confidence on our exchange!

That’s a wrap folks. There’s only one thing left to do…Kick off your super-private trading experience with a bang. Signing up to trade.io in just a short few steps provides crypto fans and traders with access to the new privacy coin of crypto.


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