ARPA Ask-Me-Anything with ChainNode
How Will Private Cloud Computing Networks Change the Blockchain World?
*the following content has been translated to English from Chinese
Since the beginning of this year, IEOs have become the hot topic in cryptocurrency markets. By the numbers, over 50 IEO projects have occurred in just the first four months of 2019. So far, 35 IEOs have completed, 10 are still in progress, and 16 planned worldwide has reached 50, with 35 completed, 10 in-progress and 16 IEO exchanges planned for the near future.
The first China-Korean joint IEO project to launch was ARPA, which was co-founded by Felix Xu (CEO) and Jiang Chen (Tech Lead). On April 23rd they jointly conducted an AMA at ChainNode, one of the most influential crypto news and communities in Chinese-speaking parts of the world.
The name ARPA comes from the APRAnet network program developed by the United States Department of Defense in 1969. APRAnet was the predecessor of the TCP/IP protocol, and is considered a forerunner of the modern internet.
The ARPA project aims to provide businesses and individuals with private computing power and secure data flow solutions. Based on the advanced secure multi-party computing (MPC) cryptosystem, the ARPA secure computing network can be used as a protocol layer (Layer 2) to provide privacy computing capabilities for any public blockchain, enabling developers to build efficient, secure computing networks on ARPA computing networks, while also protecting the data privacy of business applications. Enterprise and personal data can be safely analyzed or utilized on ARPA computing networks without worrying about exposing data to any third party.
The entry point of ARPA is enterprise-level privacy data sharing. This includes: multi-party joint credit information; data leasing; secure data analysis and other scenarios in the financial industry; multi-source data joint risk control in the insurance industry; pricing; sensitive information querying; joint user portraits within the Big Data marketing field; delivery efficiency tracking. In the future, applications will exist for corporate finance, marketing, medical applications, and even artificial intelligence.
The following are excellent community questions and answers, collected and edited by ChainNode:
Q: What was the original intention of launching the ARPA project? Why did you look in this direction?
Felix: This is an interesting question. I gave up my investor identity to work as an entrepreneur, mainly because of the long-term development of the security data exchange market. My investment experience gives me the opportunity to learn from many excellent entrepreneurs. Investment and post-investment management gave me a deep understanding of not only the industry at large, but also the daily management of enterprises.
Previously, I mainly invested in the direction of financial technologies and Big Data. I often encountered enterprises faced with data silos, unable to effectively use external data to solve business problems. At the same time, the data intermediaries, which control data flow, greatly increase the cost of using their data. Additionally, data ownership and the use of the data were not clear. Such pain points have been present for a long time.
So, in early 2018, my partner and I developed a more secure computing technology built for blockchains to solve privacy data exchange problems. Over the past year, our team has reached a firm foothold in this field, where the technology threshold is extremely high.
Q: Could you describe the technical highlights of ARPA? What have you accomplished?
Jiang: The secure multi-party computing (MPC) technology and the ARPA cryptographic protocol of the ARPA privacy computing network are our unique advantages. We can ultimately realize the separation in data of the right to use and the right of use, and directly calculate results on multi-source and heterogeneous ciphertext data. Computational operations do not need to decrypt the original data, as technical barriers are extremely high.
ARPA is becoming an emerging leader in general MPC computing. We have implemented an agreement to support the participation of any party, and as long as there is an honest node in it, it can ensure the security of the data. Either of these two points is a breakthrough. As far as we know, the vast majority of projects can only support the involvement of two parties.
On the other hand, connecting privacy computing to blockchains is also be a big innovation. Privacy computing within a network, of course, can also be used within organizations or enterprises. But from a logical point of view regarding the technology itself, it should be mainly used in cases which involve multiple parties. Now that there is multi-party collaboration, the introduction of blockchain is very natural. We sometimes hear people say they want to have their own Facebook, with their own data, so this needs to use ARPA-supported blockchains.
Q: How is ARPA progressing? Can you describe in detail the current development efforts, market expansion plans, expected applications, and when will they be commercially available?
Jiang: The ARPA project was launched in April 2018. At present, the test network based on safe multi-party computing (MPC) has been released ahead of the roadmap. The user can publish the calculation request to the ARPA security computing network through an Ethereum smart contract. The privacy calculation is done by the ARPA node, and many kinds of MPC computing functions are supported at present.
ARPA’s main chain is expected to be available in the fourth quarter of 2019, when Ethereum, IOST and other mainstream blockchain and alliance chains will be supported. At present, ARPA has reached strategic cooperation with more than 20 large enterprises at home and abroad, including large trading institutions, financial and insurance institutions, Big Data marketing agencies, and son on, several of which have been converted into orders.
ARPA products at present include multi-party joint risk control, supplier joint KYC, blacklist sharing, security model analysis, and other solutions. Their focus is on vertical fields such as finance and transactions, so as to extract data collaborative value for enterprises. ARPA is also participating in the development of national standards for safety multi-party computing, and has been recognized by authorities and professional peers.
“At present, we are the only project which can meet the requirements of enterprise-level computing MPC.”
Q: Can you compare the differences between star projects in the current market, which focus on privacy solutions? For example, PlatON?
Felix: At present, there are few privacy computing projects based on cryptography for competition. We are the only project in the world that can support multi-party MPC computing in the test network phase. Other MPC-related projects include: Keep Network, which uses secret sharing for storage; PlatON, which supports two-way secure computing (2PC). In the field of non-cryptographic computing, security hardware projects such as SGX have advantages of Enigma and Oasis Labs — speed, but centralized — and there are some engineering problems as well.
We’re the only multi-party secure computing (MPC)-based project, which means that we can meet the needs of enterprise computing. We work closely with many of the world’s leading cryptography professors, including those at Harvard, Carnegie Mellon, Tsinghua University, and the University of Michigan. They are also responsible for engineering technology implementation and location information from Google, Amazon, Huawei, Blackstone, Fidelity Investment and other international senior engineers, architects and consultants.
Q: ARPA’s entry point is enterprise-class privacy data sharing, and there are many projects in similar directions on the market, such as GXC. How does ARPA differ in this regard? What are the enterprise partnerships?
Felix: The key to privacy data sharing is to make the data “available but not visible”. At present, many projects in the market claim to have data sharing, but actually do data transactions. Even if the transaction process is encrypted/co-chained, once the data is decrypted by the user, it can be copied and shared off-blockchain, and the blockchain itself, alone, cannot solve the data privacy problem.
We also discussed this issue with GXC team, which has just released a white paper based on trusted hardware — something which I think is a good first step. At present, GXC mainly focuses on two & three elements querying, though function and shared data types are limited.
We cut into To-B vertical industries such as finance, insurance, and marketing, to conduct joint analysis of high-value privacy data. Our long-term goal is privacy cloud computing based on personal data, using secret sharing to store fragments of personal full-dimensional data in the cloud, where advertisers and financial institutions can call and analyze the MPC at any time, function can be customized, and individuals receive a return on data leases without disclosing any privacy.
“The IEO model is not new in South Korea.”
Q: How did ARPA become the first China-Korean joint IEO? On what trading platform will you conduct the IEO and what is the relationship between ARPA and the platform? Why do you choose to open both platforms in China and South Korea at the same time?
Felix: We think China and South Korea are the two most important crypto markets, and our partners are BISS and Tokenman. BISS is the world’s first crypto-to-crypto plus crypto-to-securities exchange, and Tokenman is backed by the Bitman community, which is South Korea’s largest and oldest blockchain community. We will invite more than 450,000 people who hope to be more deeply involved in the crypto world on Naver (a South Korean version of Baidu). In addition, we will also cooperate with the leading public chains in South Korea, and more project commercialization and business developments will be conducted in the future in South Korea.
Q: What do you think of the current IEO trend?
Jiang: From an industry point of view, rapid development needs financial support, and the growth of good projects will bring high returns to investors. Unlike previous ICOs, IEOs helped investors screen projects through exchanges, eliminating a large number of unqualified projects and scams — which means a lot to investors looking to protect themselves.
At the same time, for high-quality projects, exchanges can also help improve the visibility of the project, and improve access to users. Project teams and founders can focus on developing their products and accumulating underlying technologies, rather than spending a lot of time dealing with VC, pitching, marketing, and so on. This contributes to the growth of high-quality projects and ultimately contributes to the development of the industry;
Q: What are ARPA’s enterprise partners?
Felix: Information of our partners can be seen on our official website arpachain.io. Currently we have strategic cooperation with more than 20 large enterprises at home and abroad. With regard to our team, we have 10 full-time team members and 5 scientific researchers, who all have long-term overseas working experience in big enterprises. The team has outstanding scientific research, engineering, and BD capabilities, which forms the core of our competitiveness.
Q: How does ARPA make profits?
Jiang: We will make a profit by providing technical solutions for enterprises, building secure data sharing platforms, providing secure data analysis products, and so on.
Q: How do ordinary users participate in ARPA? Could one run nodes, for instance?
Jiang: In the future, our MPC network will be accessible for participants, and provide enforceable files, where users can download and run nodes.
To get more information about ARPA, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org