Beam AMA with Alexander Zaidelson
Beam is a private, scalable cryptocurrency based on the elegant Mimblewimble protocol, which completely hide the values and transacting parties, in a prunable way which reduces bloating of the blockchain. In addition to enhanced privacy and fungibility, this allows for much greater scalability.
Eric: Welcome to the AMA room Alexander Zaidelson
Alexander: Thanks for having me! Pleasure to be here
Eric: Please introduce yourself to the group. Your background, your crypto journey and how you came to work at Beam
Alexander: Sure! I am the Business Lead at Beam. My background is quite diverse — started as software developer, moved to entrepreneurship (several startups) and Product, spent some time as VC investor.
I am excited about Beam — it is a very unique project in the space, working to solve real problems for everyone and building a great ecosystem.
Eric: How did you get into crypto?
Alexander: I learned about crypto in 2017, and entered as investor in 2018. Somewhat of a late comer.
Eric: So in your own words, what is Beam?
Alexander: What really excited me then and still excites now is the huge potential. The dream of crypto is to replace the world’s money, so we should expect exponential growth.
Beam solves the problem of really using Crypto as money.
Think of it — Bitcoin and most other currencies are not private. Can your money be non-confidential, meaning that everyone can see how much you have , how much you earn and how you are spending it? Of course not!
Eric: Correct! its a downgrade from cash
Alexander: Indeed. On the other hand, without businesses using a currency it doesn’t have much chance for wide adoption. Businesses need a way to report their transactions, pay taxes, etc.
So while other privacy coins solve the privacy problem more or less well (usually less well, but still), businesses still cannot use them
So the vision of Beam is to be LIKE CASH. People who want to use it confidentially can do so. People or businesses who want to report to auditors or tax authorities can do that as well. This makes the crypto dream achievable
Eric: Tell us about this Mimblewimble protocol. Dare you to explain it us like we are 5 year olds.
Alexander: Sure. Mimblewimble is a very novel protocol. You can explain it as follows:
Imagine a long wall of safe deposit boxes. Each box has a code and holds some money inside. Only the owner of the box has the key to that box. If I want to send money to someone, I take my box (or several boxes), create one box for the change, and the recipient creates a new box for the funds he receives.
We then send all those boxes to the miners. The boxes are still closed, the miners do not know what is inside (or who the sender and receiver is).
Eric: Interesting approach
Alexander: However, due to the clever math, the miners can verify that the amount in the INPUT boxes equals the amount in OUTPUT boxes, so they can validate the transaction.
Eric: Wow. so what does the Beam token do?
Alexander: After the transaction, the “input” boxes are burnt, so they disappear and do not clog the blockchain. We now have the new “wall of boxes” that shows the current state
So, the blockchain does NOT store the history, just the current state and a proof that it is valid
Eric: does this result in a higher TPS?
Alexander: Result: blockchain is compact, so it is easy to run a node (you don’ t need to download a huge blockchain) — great for real decentralization
Beam is a proof-of-work coin with 1-minute blocks. Each block has up to 1000 transactions, so the TPS is about 17 transactions per second. That means about 1.5 million per day.
BTW, Beam processes more transactions than other privacy coins (Monero, Zcash and Grin)
Open Floor AMA
Q: How does BEAM privacy compare to MONERO, ZCOIN?
Can BEAM protect the privacy of transaction amounts like Monero will do with RingCT?
A: Better than Monero. Our transaction privacy is guaranteed by Mimblewimble protocol, Dandelion with Decoy Outputs. We are also implementing Lelantus-MW shielded pool for complete unlinkability of UTXOs (Lelantus was invented at ZCoin, and they will also use it). Zcoin has great tech, but they chose to make transaction amounts visible, which makes it much less private — you can understand a lot by looking at transaction amounts
Q: Adoption is really a challenge for every blockchain projects including BEAM, so how can we as end-users can help BEAM with this challenge?
A: Today we have over 150 stores that accept Beam and tens of exchanges. https://beam.mw/beam-accepted-here
Q: Where do you see your product actually being used by the community and solving real-world problems? What other types of strategies are you implementing to increase the network effect of BEAM?
A: Today people use Beam for buying privacy-related stuff such as VPNs, VPCs and some online goods.
We also identified a huge confidentiality issue in the world of DeFi, and we are now expanding Beam to include a full-fledged DeFi infrastructure. Once this is launched later this year, there will be many more real-world applications for Beam available
Q: How did BEAM evaluate long BEAR MARKET period as POSITIVE? What difficulties have you encountered during this period? What positive steps were taken?
A: Beam was born in the Bear market. I think the Bear period was actually quite good and made the industry much more sober and down-to-earth. The Bear market eliminated a lot of shitty and fraudulent projects. Beam survives it because Beam is REAL — REAL technology, REAL roadmap, REAL vision.
Q: Lots of privacy coins promise full anonymity but most fail.. How does BEAM fully anonymizes our transactions? What is mimblewimble? What makes it important at BEAM’s ecosystem?
A: Privacy is never 100%, people need to understand that. Even with best technology, there may be ways to compromise your privacy. Mimblewimble is a great protocol for privacy, and our implementation of Mimblewimble is the best out there (Grin doesn’t have Dummy Outputs which are critical for better privacy. However, a very sophisticated attacker may succeed to recreate parts of transaction graph with some probability. Therefore we are implementing Lelantus-MW — a shielded pool that makes linking of UTXOs impossible.
Q: Is Beam a perfect choice for fast transaction speeds? A lot of projects choose layer 2 solution for their products, does Beam intend to incorporate it? #beam
A: We have already done that. Laser Beam is our implementation of Payment Channels (similar to Lightning Network). https://github.com/BeamMW/beam/wiki/Lightning-Network
Q: What do you think of “the privacy coin will be the future of cryptocurrencies”? #beam
A: 100% agree. MONEY CANNOT FUNCTION WITHOUT PRIVACY.
Q:As Beam’s transactions are not visible to anyone! So, if i made payment to any merchants then, how merchant knows that sent transaction is mine or any other customer? #beam
A: That’s a smart question! You are right. On Bitcoin, I can send you a link to the explorer showing that I transferred a specific amount to your address. The price is of course that everyone else can also see that hehehe.
So, what do we do with a private currency like Beam? We invented Payment Proof — a way to prove that a certain amount was transferred. The proof is not on the blockchain, it is only available to the sender, and the sender can show it to anyone if she wants to. Here’s a vide explaining this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9X1F3qj-wcs
Q: As i see, Beam Coin doesn’t run ICO, Fundraising program ! So, How Beam generates revenue for their future Development & Growth? Whats the revenue Model of Beam Project? #beam
A: Beam is based on Treasury model. In the first five years of operation, 20% of all the mined coins go to the Treasury, and from there to investors, team and Beam Foundation. Investors are the VCs who funded the initial development of Beam — that’s where the funds came from in the beginning. You can see the list here: https://beam.mw/investors More details about Beam emission and Treasury are here: https://medium.com/beam-mw/mimblewimble-emission-schedule-215551948259
Q: Can you share with me the important milestones you have got from the beginning till now? Difficulties and risks, what motivated you to overcome difficulties to continue?
A: Good question. Lots and lot of milestones — over 70 releases last year, listing on tens of exchanges, successful Hard Fork, beautiful and usable wallets for all platforms, Atomic Swaps Marketplace, technology advances on Laser Beam, Lelantus-MW, Dandelion. Read more here: https://medium.com/@BeamFoundation/beam-foundation-presents-roadmap-update-q1-2020-161106894cf5
Q: Marketing is a significant factor for every project. What’s your plans for attracting users, developers towards Beam ecosystem? #beam
A: In 2019, we built a great and usable privacy coin and created a strong reputation for delivery and technology leadership. 2020 will be a year of Confidential DeFi — we will be developing an ecosystem where people will be able to trade not just Beam, but other tokens, and also use DeFi applications like lending, stablecoins and more. This will definitely attract additional users and traders to Beam.
Q: How does the company work? is it fully remote? whats the ratio of devs / non devs? What country does Beam have the most traction on? Does Beam plan to have a stablecoin in any way?
A: I. Yes, mostly remote. Devs are 90%. And, Beam is not a company anymore — we switched to a Foundation-based decentralized governance. II.USA, China, Russia. But we don’t know for sure — we don’t have any information on actual location of our user. III. Stay tuned!!!
Q: What is meant by Eager Electron Version ? and whats the benefits of Eager Electron in Beam Project ? #beam
A: In Eager Electron, we will have Confidential Assets and Bridges, and also Lelantus-MW. So you will be able to take your DAI coin and move it to Beam thru a bridge and send it in full confidentiality. We also plan to finish the hardware wallet development — that’s what people have been asking for for a long time.
Q: Currently, many exchanges have unlisted private tokens due to concerns about legal issues and money laundering, so BEAM is concerned about this?
A: Not really, and it is NOT MANY exchanges — only a couple in Korea. We are not concerned at the moment. In addition, we are working on the opt-in compliance feature, so that people who CHOOSE so, will be able to have a full transaction history that they can present to an auditor and go thru AML.
Q: What about blockchain security? Is the Beam blockchain completely secure and can handle large blockchain attacks? How does Beam handle these attacks? #beam
A: Beam is a PoW chain, so in principle it is vulnerable to a 51% attack (in the same way as any other PoW coin is — Bitcoin, Monero, Grin, you name it). Beam has some protection against that — 24 hour finality. we are not very worried about such attacks though.
Q: Beam has many different privacy coins competitors, and each one of them differs from each other, what makes Beam better than any other privacy coins, whats the advantages and disadvantages?
A: Advantages: great scalability of Mimblewimble — blockchain is 10–15 times smaller than Monero per transaction, 18–27 times smaller than Zcash.
Great privacy — combination of Mimblewimble and Lelantus-MW is unbeatable
Great usability — just compare our wonderful wallets to other privacy coins’ products — 100 times better
Great vision — privacy + opt-in compliance. Meaning that we are not trying to fight financial establishment, but we really try to build something that can replace money in all its functions
And of course the Confidential DeFi — others are not really talking about that at all
Q: Beam will transition to a community-driven Foundation-based model, but how will the community governance take place & be provably guaranteed while avoiding it becomes developer-controlled as it occurs in most “community” projects?
A: In the beginning, the Foundation will be controlled by a Board of Directors (they are independent and are not getting paid for this). Eventually, the Foundation will start involving community into the funding decisions, so that the community can suggest features and improvements, and decide what needs to be developed. Of course, Developers will still be super important, but they will comply with community requests
Q: If the transactions are 100% private (no info about sender and receiver, etc), how do you ensure that the consensus is fulfilled? that is, that there is no double expense and stuff? Why MimbleWimble and no other protocols?
A: Good one. That’s the magic of Mimblewimble. Miners can see that in each transaction the amount of inputs equals the amount of outputs, so you cannot print money. The miners also have consensus about the list of spent and unspent TXOs, so if you try to spend the same coin twice, miners will reject it. There are other protocols, but Mimblewimble is the most elegant and has the smallest blockchain.
Q: How much is the mining reward currently? Block time? How much money does that produce?
A: 50 coins per block, block time of 1 minute, 1440 minutes per day — 72,000 coins per day — $50K at current price
Q: Why is #Beam implementing Lelantus-MW and how will it benefit
A: Lelantus-MW breaks UTXO linkability. Without it, a very sophisticated attacker may try to build a probabilistic transaction graph (i.e. establish a probability that several coins are related). With Lelantus-MW, it becomes impossible.
Q: How do miners benefit from BEAM? What role do they play in the ecosystem of Beam? Why should miners of other coins switch to BEAM?
A: Miners are the key element of the ecosystem — they secure the network. The miners’ benefit is the Miner’s Reward — currently 40 coins per block. Smart miners mine Beam and hold the coins for the future. Regarding switching to Beam — every miner who is in the trade should learn about Beam and then make a decision whether to mine or not — I cannot advise here. But they definitely must learn about Beam.
Q: Why is financial privacy important? And how do you plan on educating users on the need for it? #beam
A: Good one. I ask everyone here: are you ready to tell us the details of your bank account, how much money you make, how exactly you spend it? If not, why not? You are not criminals, but still, we like to keep financial matters private. And, if I run a business, I definitely don’t want my customers and suppliers know how much money I am making. Without financial privacy businesses and people cannot operate, privacy is a fundamental requirement for money. Beam put privacy as one of our core values, and we are promoting it as much as we can. Our twitter handle is @BeamPrivacy :)
Everyone is welcome to join our privacy-oriented community here: https://t.me/BeamPrivacy
Our community is very helpful and very active — all your questions will be answered immediately, and there’s no bullshit or stupid shilling at Beam
Thanks for the time today and thanks to all those who participated. The questions are just getting better and better.