GRAFT Weekly Development Status Update October 15th, 2018

It’s been another hard working week for GRAFT devs, and here is our brief weekly update.

We are continuing work on debugging and improvement of the RTA communication protocol. During the last week we merged “blocking doubled RTA notifications” PR, fixed connection and white peer lists management, and did some internal debugging, merging, and testing. Also, we just finished creating a couple of diagnostics tools – an automated communication test framework and GraftnetExplorer (see the screenshots below).

The supernodes communicate to each other through “tunnels” which they build using the existing network of underlying cryptonodes. They use a special mechanism that allows creating a set of shortest and fastest tunnels. Currently, the protocol works but not in the most efficient way, so we are looking for weak spots and bugs. These diagnostic tools have already allowed us to find and fix a couple of bugs in communication between the supernodes. At some point we may release them to the alpha group (and then to the public as well).

As you can see on the GraftnetExplorer screenshot above, several supernodes in this dev network are interconnected, which means they can send each other instant notifications or broadcast messages to a larger group or even the entire network – all without knowing the IP addresses of other nodes, just by using their logical IDs. This is one of the major features (but not the only one) that differentiates the GRAFT supernodes from similar protocols such as Dash masternodes as it significantly enhances both the privacy and security of the GRAFT network.

The automated testing framework is another utility, recently developed by the team, that allows us to simulate various scenarios of communication between the supernodes and print the resulting diagnostics and statistics.

On the screenshot above you can see one of the results of the test run. There is a detailed backtrace located before the red line, while the next test is the same but without the details. 3 out of 4 the communication tests were successful, while one was failed (‘broadcast’, marked by letter ‘F’).

Another part of the team continues working on terminal apps, payment gateway, and exchange broker – optimizing the API, preparing for the production environment deployment, and developing reports. They are in the middle of the sprint, and the results will be reported next week.

Also, please check out a new version of the GRAFT white paper which now can be downloaded from the website. In this version, we have added recent proposals created since the previous white paper release, and summarized the changes in the original functionality. As the ideas initially set forth in the original GRAFT white paper gradually materialize, we need to make adjustments as we get deeper into the project. There are three areas of new or updated content in this version of the white paper:

And finally, the GRAFT Team will be hosting an AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) live on Telegram and Discord on October 18th, at 12pm EDT, so if you have not submitted your questions yet please do so!

Happy GRAFTing!

AMA With the Devs – October 18th

GRAFT AMA with the Devs
Have a burning question about the GRAFT Network? Marketing plan? Adoption? Community involvement? Technical questions? Submit your question(s) and get an answer! In a continued effort to increase engagement with our community and educate the market, the GRAFT Team will be hosting an AMA live on Telegram and Discord on October 18th, at 12pm EDT.

Questions will be categorized and collected through a Google form to make the best use of time and format.

* PLEASE SUBMIT ONE QUESTION AT A TIME. You will have the opportunity to post another question after submission. This allows us to keep the questions concise, organized and minimize duplication.

SUBMIT QUESTIONS HERE: https://goo.gl/forms/10VVUaqcWqp9Kg2y1

FORMAT:
  • Questions will be moderated by our Discord Community Manager, and answered by GRAFT devs.
  • Q&A will be delivered simultaneously on Telegram and Discord via the GRAFT Bridge Bot.
  • We have an hour for the AMA. Will try to get through as many questions as we can, with target of 20. The remaining questions will be held over for the future monthly AMA rounds.
  • Afterword, a summary will be posted to the GRAFT blog, and then pushed to all social media channels.
Happy GRAFTing!

GRAFT Development Status Update October 8, 2018

It’s been a week since the previous dev status update, and, as we promised last time, we would like to keep our community posted weekly, so here is another update on GRAFT development status.

Last week we continued working on RTA implementation in several directions including fixing bugs discovered during alpha testing, implementing the full automated test suite, preparing a new supernode release, and continuing working on stability of the communication protocol. The fixes include the bugs in initial seed connection, p2p logging, and storing of p2p state data. The automated test suite is built on python-based test framework and will allow to automate the regression and other QA tests.

The new supernode release for alpha testers will be available later this week. In addition, we are finalizing the supernode plugin framework which will be used for plugging extra apps such as exchange brokers into the supernode.

Speaking of exchange brokers and other components of GRAFT network ecosystem, we almost finished developing a live demo that showcases the payment flow on a hardware payment terminal. One of the main goals of GRAFT project is bringing crypto payments into the physical world of brick-and-mortar stores. Unlike most other projects in the area of crypto payments, we realize that the shortest way to adoption by brick-and-mortar retailers and service providers is using their existing hardware payment terminals (aka “pinpads”), because these terminals are already integrated with various point of sale systems. While there are only a few major payment terminal brands, there are hundreds if not thousands of types of point of sale applications they are connected to.

Hardware payment terminals can be loaded with additional software such as GRAFT payment app, without requiring retailers to purchase, test, certify, and maintain a new hardware in their stores. But how to showcase such an app online if it’s designed to run on particular hardware? Our payment application emulator is the first version of such a showcase application that will allow the demonstration of altcoin acceptance on a Verifone terminal using GRAFT network. The initial version of the emulator (see the screenshot below) will be released later this week and available for anyone to try a Bitcoin/GRAFT payment.

From the last week’s events, it’s also important to mention the following two things. First, the incentives for RTA supernodes. Although this is not directly related to development process, the additional rewards will help boost the RTA network once it’s released to public beta on the mainnet. Second, the patch fixing the code execution vulnerability which was “silently” released last Monday. The fix for this denial of service vulnerability is merged into master under 1.4.5 and can be downloaded and built by anyone running GRAFT network nodes (please do not confuse it with the previous “burning bug” patch 1.4.4 for exchanges that was released a few days before the last one).

See you next week! Happy GRAFTing!

Incentives for Full Supernodes

Any network needs to be stimulated to get off the ground. A simple marketplace network might require bringing in sellers when there are not enough buyers, or bringing in buyers when there are not enough sellers. All the prominent networks of today – Uber, AirBnB, eBay, Amazon – faced this issue and were able to overcome it by tapping into existing users or providers of similar services, and by creating extra startup incentives for people joining their platforms.

GRAFT is no exception. It is a complex network with many participants – users, miners, full supernode operators, service brokers, proxy supernode operators, merchants, application developers. Having so many players is both a blessing and a challenge.

Miners represent the first layer of the network (settlement), and they are already incentivized through both network transaction fees and block mining rewards, which do not depend on the number of settled transactions and provide a steady income for miners. Beyond the miners, the next group without which the network will not function are the full supernodes which are critical for real-time authorizations (RTA) and the pay-in/pay-out facilitation.

Full supernodes get paid for performing validations for the network and preventing double-spending while processing authorizations in real time. Their income depends exclusively on the number of transactions that they get to work on as well as the total number of full supernodes in the network. Full supernodes are chosen randomly in each block, with two selected from each of the four tiers for a total eight supernodes, which equally split the 0.5% fee of the transaction they authorize. The problem, however, is that a small transaction volume of the brand new payment network would result in low initial full supernode income, and thus little incentive to run full supernodes before the network volume ramps up.

The good news is that there is a fairly easy way to incentivize the full supernode hosts without resorting to simple airdrop-type incentives or block reward sharing. What we will do instead is send enough RTA transactions across the network to provide a healthy transaction volume until the network is fully ramped up. This way we reward full supernodes for the real work they are supposed to do – validating transactions – unlike most other second layer reward models where masternodes receive passive income for just “being there” (which does little to promote network robustness or self-optimization).

The incentive program is designed to maintain a robust daily transaction volume until merchant-generated RTA transactions reach that level on their own. The number and size of stimulus transactions will depend on overall transaction volume and will be reduced gradually as the network gains momentum. We estimate the cost of this program to range between 50 and 100 million GRFT.

As with any new network, especially one with lots of participant types, the GRAFT Network needs to be stimulated to maintain a level of involvement ensuring stability of the network and availability of network services. We believe that the most critical part needing extra stimulation at this early stage is the full supernode layer. To stimulate the network as a whole, however, we are also considering additional groups of participants that may require stimulus going forward. For example, buyers may need to receive cashback incentives (similar to some credit cards) in order to choose GRFT over other methods of payment available at the checkout.

As always, we’re open to other suggestions from the community.

Fundraising Initiative (clarification)

Earlier this week we published a form for project contributions in form of donations on the home page. We would like to take a moment to explain the rationale behind it and address the concerns raised by some members of the community.

We collected modest funds during the ICO, further affected by the falling market. While sufficient to carry out the main development track we’ve committed to, there are ancillary initiatives the community has expressed interest in or that have potential to increase awareness or improve adoption, that do not fit into our current budget.

Tier 1-2 exchange listings are expensive, and while they add to the liquidity of the token, they do not represent the “critical path” for the project and therefore are not allocated for in our current budget. We do however recognize there are different groups within the community for which liquidity is important. We also recognize that in order to speed adoption of the GRAFT ecosystem, it’s important to have as many gateways to the GRFT token as possible for increased visibility and to present opportunities for participants to engage where they feel most comfortable, i.e. their favorite exchange.

In addition to exchange listings, we have additional projects we can get involved in, like the ColdPay card. These projects require significant capital investment upfront.

To enable these new initiatives, we are opening up the project to voting and donations as a way for the community to indicate their appetite for us delivering on these initiatives and help fund these projects.

We have heard a few concerns so far from the community and would like to address those:

  • No specifics on the exchanges
    Most exchanges we enter into negotiations with ask for a non-disclosure agreement. They do it so that the negotiated amounts are not widely known and to avoid getting inundated with inquiries from the community. We will disclose what we can, when we can. (This is of course not applicable to community vote listings)
  • No transparency on the donation wallet
    The criteria for the payment system was that we could collect the shipping address data alongside the donation, and the promotion claim would be inextricably linked to the donation to prevent abuse. We can and will create a separate swipe wallet for the balance to be seen by the community.
  • Community doesn’t have enough visibility into the projects and use of funds
    We heard you – we’re adding a way to vote for these initiatives. Vote here


GRAFT Development Status Update October 1st, 2018

We listened to our community and decided to publish development status updates more often (bi-weekly or even weekly). However, since one week cannot accommodate the same amount of news as one month, don’t expect to receive long updates anymore!

Here is a quick round up of the news since the previous dev update.

First Working Prototype of Bitcoin Pay-In Broker

We have completed the first working prototype of a Bitcoin Pay-In Broker, which allows merchants to accept Bitcoin at checkout (both in brick-and-mortar stores and online) using GRAFT mobile point of sale or hardware payment terminal apps. The buyer can pay with any wallet supporting Bitcoin, as designed in the original GRAFT white paper. This is a big milestone for the GRAFT project, along with the ongoing RTA alpha, as the main concept of GRAFT is supporting multiple cryptocurrencies as a method of payment for merchants and buyers.



Some time next week we will place a button on the web site that will allow anyone to try out this workflow on the live network with live brokers and payment gateway!

RTA Alpha

The Dev team is continuing working on RTA alpha issues. Currently, we are focused on communication stability and optimization of RTA communication. We still have several issues with tunnel construction (the base mechanism for RTA communication based on P2P network), and optimizing the amount of messages traveling between the nodes – to provide more lightweight and stable communication.

As a reminder, RTA alpha is closed release to a group of 50 alpha testers selected from the large community of volunteers. Not surprisingly, these people are going to be the first full supernode owners and operators, although we have a much larger group of future supernode owners waiting for the beta release. The plan is to release beta to the mainnet as soon as the alpha is stable and fully featured with the functionality required for RTA transaction processing.

By the way, we have some exciting news for supernode owners coming out this week – we’re formulating an incentive program to stimulate the supernode network as part of ramping up the GRAFT network as a whole. We believe we’ve come up with a very elegant solution for it. More details will be released soon.

“Burning bug” Patch

There was a bug found in CryptoNote wallet code, the full description of the issue can be found here. The short story is that the bug affected only exchanges and only the wallet – no implications for regular users, and no need (even for exchanges) to update the network node daemon. Since GRAFT is not a direct clone of Monero (unlike some other CryptoNote blockchains), it took some time to adjust the Monero patch to current GRAFT wallet code, which was eventually done successfully last week, and the patch was “silently” released to the exchanges. TradeOgre and STEX updated their wallets immediately and as usual, Cryptopia is behind schedule but communicated to us that they are working on the update and it will be ready “asap” (no ETA provided).

As a side note – such bugs and patches mean that some part of engineering resources had to be diverted, but the impact on RTA timelines should be minimal.

Stay tuned, happy GRAFTing!

Engineering Update: Pay-in Broker and Payment Gateway Demo

While we’ve been focusing on stabilizing the Full Supernode based RTA (real-time authorizations), part of the team has been diligently working on the other components that are necessary to make the main GRAFT Network use case (paying with any digital currency with your favorite wallet) a reality – namely Payment Gateway and an Pay-in (aka Accept) Broker, and it’s time to show some progress!

Pay-in broker is a type of an exchange broker that provides alt-currency acceptance for the network. It’s a critical piece required to enable any digital currency acceptance at the POS with the wallets of user preference.

Payment Gateway provides a layer between the payment terminal and a network that’s meant to handle business logic and part of the remote wallet functionality.

Real-time Transactions – GRAFT vs Electroneum, etc.

Electroneum recently announced real-time transactions available as beta on their network. We wanted to take some time to shed some light on the difference in approaches between solutions like Electroneum and GRAFT.

With their approach, Electroneum is effectively following the centralized model of Bitpay, Coinbase, Coingate, GoUrl.io, and many other centralized crypto payment processing gateways in that they issue an authorization immediately as the transaction enters the transaction pool, without waiting for confirmations on the network. There is little innovation in this approach which is well-known to the industry. With centralized entity in the middle, the buyer and the merchant must rely on trusted party just like with traditional plastic payment processing, which means compromise on privacy, security, and a single point of control.

Unlike Bitpay and other centralized payment gateways, Electroneum shifts the risk of transaction not getting confirmed onto the merchant rather than absorbing it themselves.

The vendor does not get the cryptocurrency instantly, but our system acts as a trusted 3rd party to ensure the ETN or other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin is sent (our patent covers ETN, Bitcoin and other cryptos). The vendor knows the payment is sent and will make its way to the blockchain, so they can allow instant checkout – and the customer can walk out of the store with their cup of coffee or checkout online etc.
https://electroneum.com/2018/06/12/announcing-instant-payment-beta-vendor-application/

This illustrates the fundamental difference in approach where GRAFT is decentralized and utilizes an independent authorization sample (selected from the distributed network of supernodes) to validate the transaction, and independent exchange brokers to handle off-network (alt currency) acceptance risks when handling real-time payments.

GRAFT’s approach not only minimizes the risk of real-time transaction processing, but distributes to remaining risk (and reward) to the right party. It also allows acceptance of alternative cryptocurrencies, where Electroneum’s current approach is limited to ETN currency.

Finally, but importantly, GRAFT builds a payment network eco-system as opposed to providing a single vendor solution, which is the essence of decentralization that’s at the very core of the blockchain-based cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin.

*** Note that our intent is not to pick on Electroneum with this article – we’re merely trying only to bring some clarity in what sets GRAFT apart from other payment solutions, using Electroneum as one of the better representatives of this class of centralized solutions.

Cryptocurrency is a “Boys’ Club.” Is This Good or Bad?

Guest post by Pauline Farris

Back in the early 2000’s, the “dot.com” bubble burst, and investors lost huge amounts. One of the interesting elements of that entire bubble was that it was an investment niche dominated by men. Women, for some reason, just didn’t take the risks involved. And while they were scoffed at for not investing, they had the last laugh.

Studies have shown that women who invest in markets—either for themselves or for organizations— are more cautious and risk-averse than men (and it should be noted that their approach tends to work well in terms of long-term income/revenue growth). We are witnessing the same phenomenon with cryptocurrencies as with the “dot.com” bubble. While anonymity is part of the attraction of investing in cryptos, there are surveys that point to a large underrepresentation of women. In fact, the latest Google Analytics result for the bitcoin gender divide, as reported in Coin Dance, is as follows:

Obviously, males “rule” this investment product. For those who remember the history of such investment gender divides, this should serve as a warning. On the other hand, there are those who predict that, over time, women will enter this investment market, for some clear reasons:

1. Cryptos are becoming more mainstream

Companies from a variety of sectors, as well as non-profits and even political campaigns, are now accepting Bitcoin payments. As early as 2014, Dell began to accept them as a legitimate source of payment. Most companies and organizations that accept payments do so through third-party services, as they facilitate the exchange between Bitcoin and fiat currencies. Among companies and organizations now accepting Bitcoin are: Steam, Save the Children, Shopify, Microsoft, Overstock, and eGifter. And this was as of the end of 2017.

2. Global Acceptance

Cryptos are moving into the global marketplace as a preferred method of international financial transactions. As companies continue to move into foreign markets, they will also begin to use cryptos and the blockchain technology that undergirds them in everything from smart contracts, to logistics, to payments. As Margaret Reid, content writer for The Word Point, a professional translation service, has pointed out: “We are seeing an increase in requests for contract translations from clients who are dealing in Bitcoin and who want to record and store those contracts in the Bitcoin blockchain. This is a growing sector of translations that is not going away.”

3. The Technology Holds Great Promise

While blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are rather intimately tied to one another, the technology is now becoming recognized as having the potential to disrupt almost every economic sector. Because of its distributed ledgers of blocks that are immutable, there is the potential for security and fraud prevention that traditional technologies do not offer. Identities, contracts, purchases, shipments, personal records, and more can be stored in these blocks and provide permanent information and data that cannot be altered and only accessed by keycodes. The implications for government, insurance, travel, healthcare, education, and almost any business are huge. As everyone begins to recognize its potential, blockchain is becoming highly reputable. Interestingly, the cryptos that it undergirds are being pulled into reputable phenomena with it.

4. There are a Few Women Role Models

Iliana Oris Valiete is an accountant by profession. She moved into the Bitcoin market when it was fully new. Now working for Accenture on blockchain innovations, she has also made it her mission to encourage more females to move into the cryptocurrency investment market. According to Valiete, of the current ICO’s (initial coin offerings that are basically investment fundraising), about 13% are headed by females, and this represents good gender participation growth. She believes that these women will act as role models for the gender-mates, but that growth in female participation will still be rather slow.

So, Is It Good or Bad?

The debate continues on this one. And the verdict is certainly still out. Among those who are raising a red flag of alarm is Duncan Stewart, Research Director of Deloitte’s technology division in Canada. According to Stewart, just the fact that the gender divide is so large constitutes a bubble in itself. He further states that, throughout history, there is no such gender divide of this magnitude, in any stock or security, that has resulted in survival of that asset.

And yet, there are other considerations. First, when men get into an investment, they tend to share that investment potential and make recommendations to their “buddies,” usually men. And this may have factored in to the current gender divide. Couple that with the fact that the Bitcoin foundation Board of Directors is 100% male, and you have a rather “perfect storm” of male domination.

But bitcoin is still relatively new. And many certainly predict that it will become a critical currency whose use will only continue to grow, steadily and impactfully. As consumers continue to increase their use of Bitcoin to purchase legal products and services, and as it continues to be a valuable holding, women will increase their participation.

Time will tell. For now, Bitcoin remains a male “thing.” Whether it turns into another “dot.com” bubble or not is simply a matter of waiting and watching.

Pauline Farris speaks Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She travelled the world to immerse herself in the new cultures and learn languages. Today she is proud to be a voting member of the American Translators Association and an active participant of the Leadership Council of its Portuguese Language Division.

GRAFT Major Network Update 1.4.2 (“v10”)

As previously announced, we have released network node version 1.4.2 (“v10”) for a major network update. This update will correct the emission curve by reducing block rewards by 50% starting at block 176,000, which will be reached around September 17, 2018.

The new block reward formula will be as following:

reward = (M – A) * 2^-19 * 10^-10 / 2

Where M is the maximum total supply and A is the current supply.

This correction will not change the maximum supply of GRAFT that will be ever created, it will just stretch the emission curve such that it will take longer to mine the maximum supply. All GRAFT supporters should benefit from the corrected emission formula because it will stabilize the growth of the circulating supply.

In addition, GRAFT v10 will drop the mining difficulty algorithm adjustment made in the previous (v9) major network update (LWMA+tweak) and return to a standard LWMA difficulty calculation. The adjustment was originally added in an attempt to make the difficulty drop faster after a network attack, as it was believed that such network attacks were responsible for block delays and network stalls in the turbulent days between the first (v8) and second (v9) major network updates. As it turned out, however, those issues were caused by an unrelated bug inherited from Monero and have been long-since fixed on Graft’s network (the fix did not require a fork).

In retrospect, the v9 algorithm adjustment had the unintended side effect of inducing larger swings in mining difficulty because it made difficulty drop too quickly. Over time, opportunistic miners learned to exploit those difficulty swings by mining on the graft network with huge hashrates whenever difficulty dropped to win a handful of low-difficulty blocks, then leaving the network as soon as difficulty increased again. This would, in turn, result in long block times that would then trigger another difficulty drop, thus repeating the cycle. While such difficulty shifts are unavoidable, the v9 difficulty adjustment made the swings a little worse and are being removed in this fork to help make the mining difficulty more stable.

The major network update means that each GRAFT network node must be updated to the new software version before the specified block/date. Otherwise, any node that isn’t updated will be on the wrong version of the blockchain. The source code and the Linux and Windows binaries are currently available for download. The installation instructions are unchanged.

As another reminder, a major network update means that if you are running the GRAFT network node (graftnoded daemon), you must upgrade it to the current software release as soon as possible. If you do not install the updated node before block 176,000, it will be disconnected from the mainnet after block 176,000.

Note that the users of GRAFT mobile and desktop wallets will not be affected by the upcoming major network update and don’t need to do anything—as long as they are still connected to the default proxy supernodes (if you are connected to your own supernode, however, do not forget to upgrade the underlying network node to stay on the right network).