Real-time Transactions – GRAFT vs Electroneum

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 no privacy, no 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.

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 Development Status Update September 2018

It’s time for another dev update! It’s no secret that RTAs (real time authorizations) remain the main focus for the GRAFT development team, so let’s start from the alpha review.

RTA Alpha

We are excited to announce that RTA transaction now works end to end for the entire sale workflow – it is stable, and takes just a couple of seconds to get approval on both wallet and point of sale as expected. There is still some work to be done before we move to beta release, and there are many ways to do even more improvements. But here is the most important thing: the first instant payment on a private CryptoNote blockchain is now a reality!

The RTA alpha release contains a full set of components necessary to conduct an end-to-end point of sale transaction in real time:

  • completely redesigned full supernode, i.e. the supernode that can participate in authorization sample and approve a GRAFT transaction in real time;
  • completely redesigned wallet and point-of-sale proxy supernodes, i.e. the supernodes that provides an “entry point” to the RTA network and participate in RTA transactions;
  • mobile and desktop wallet and point of sale apps for iOS and Mac OS X redesigned for RTA.

In addition, there is a special testing environment created for RTA alpha testing – alphanet – a dedicated testnet which contains several seed nodes, a miner, proxy supernode cluster with load balancer, and blockchain explorer.

We managed to assemble a very efficient and quite large team of alpha testers – 50+ active members who are able to run both RTA supernode and iOS/Mac clients (wallet, POS). In addition, we have selected an extra “reserve” group of volunteers (also 50+) that will be able to join the testing once it’s extended to the next phases – additional clients for Android/Windows and then beta release.

People familiar with development release cycle know that alpha releases are usually unstable and may lack some features. RTA alpha was not an exception. Once the RTA functionality was released to the alphanet, we discovered issues that we could not see during regular testing. We are able to simulate the real network very well because the alphanet consists of real participants running on different networks and different hardware or hardware abstractions, rather than artificially cloned nodes and supernodes. We really appreciate the patience and positive attitude of alpha testers team!

So it’s time to learn more about the RTA transaction flow, which you will be able to experience in retail stores soon! It is very simple – a couple of clicks (literally) in the wallet app and a couple of clicks at the point of sale app: Figure 1: GRAFT RTA Workflow Between Mobile Wallet and Point-of-sale Apps

Payment Gateway for Merchants and Service Providers

As recently described in the Fees and economics update post, one of the important profiles in the ecosystem is a Merchant Service Provider (MSP). An MSP’s role is to provide and support payment network services to the merchant, ensure the uptime of the network (usually referred to as Service Level agreement or SLA), provide and manage equimpent (e.g. payment temrinals), provide reporting, etc.

To enable an MSP to do this, another type of server is needed – one that would:

  • Manage the terminal’s configuration (including wallet address)
  • Handle the MSP specific fee economics for the MSP (an MSP could choose to handle tiers of service differently or charge different fees for different transaction amounts)
  • Transaction reporting and analysis for merchants

In theory, such payment gateway can be designed and implemented by a third party such as traditional payment processor that wants to add cryptocurrency payments to their portfolio of services. However, we decided to create a “reference implementation” to enable faster adoption rate as a part of out go-to-market strategy.
Since GRAFT is a decentralized payment network, the payment gateway is multi-tenant, multi-instance, open source app, and everyone can host their own payment gateway and become a service provider on the network.

Payment Gateway is this “fifth element” that is supposed to manage the GRAFT payment apps on hardware payment terminals and GRAFT ecommerce interfaces, and link them with the GRAFT supernodes. Since it has transaction visibility, it is considered part of merchant’s ‘back office’ applications. Figure 2: GRAFT Payment Gateway, Service Provider Dashboard Figure 3: GRAFT Payment Gateway, Merchant Dashboard

* Note: With GRAFT network, the merchant can be their own MSP, but would still require the functions of a Gateway in order to manage the terminals setup, reporting, etc.

Upcoming Dev Updates

We’re moving forward with every track on the development roadmap and even pulling some of them forward. An interesting upcoming project, which is currently in design and not even announced yet, is GRAFT ColdPay Supercard. This is a smart card that combines functionality of cold wallet, which can be used with mobile or desktop host app, and payment card, which can be used for making a payment at hardware payment terminals and mobile points of sale. More details about this exciting development will be unleashed very soon. Stay tuned, happy grafting!

Changes in Transaction Fee Structure: Even More Ways to Earn with GRAFT Network

As the ideas initially set forth in original GRAFT white paper gradually come to fruition, we have to adjust some “game rules” as we get one reality check after another. One of the most important rules in payment processing is the transaction fee structure. Transaction fees are equally important for all players including merchants, buyers, full (RTA) supernode owners, proxy (gateway) supernode owners, exchange brokers, miners, and service providers. After several white paper editions and other adjustments, we propose the following fee structure to be implemented in the GRAFT ecosystem:
  • Full Supernodes RTA Fee (any RTA Tx): 0.5%

    1/8 of this fee, or 0.0625% of the total RTA Tx amount, goes to each supernode participating in the RTA authorization sample.

  • Proxy Supernodes Fee (any RTA Tx): 0.1%

    1/2 of this fee, or 0.05% of the total RTA Tx amount, goes to each supernode in the proxy pair that provides connectivity into the network (wallet and POS proxy supernodes).

  • Wallet Proxy Supernode Fee (non-RTA transfer): 0.1 GRFT

    This small fee is going to be charged by the wallet proxy supernode to the mobile or desktop sender’s wallet in addition to the existing network fee (miner’s reward).

  • Exchange Broker Fee (RTA with altcoins): 0.25%

    Exchange brokers include pay-in, payout, top-up, and interchange brokers.

  • Miner Transaction Fee (RTA): variable

    Determined by the merchant service provider through the payment gateway, but not lower than 0.1 GRFT.

Figure 1: GRAFT Ecosystem Fees

If a particular RTA transaction is processed via the payment gateway, which will be the case for most hardware payment terminals, the fees are set and calculated by the MSP (merchant service provider). This occurs through the payment gateway plugin to the POS proxy supernode using the information about the pay-in and payout currencies as input, and setting a miner fee commensurate with the service level they are obligated to provide to the merchant.

Here’s a table-form summary of various fees in combination with various workflows:

1 2 3
Regular P2P Transfer RTA Tx (GRFT) RTA Tx with altcoin exchange broker (i.e. bitcoin acceptance)
a Sender’s wallet proxy Supernode Reward 0.1 GRFT * 0.05% * 0.05% *
b Full Supernode (auth sample member) Reward N/A 0.0625% ** 0.0625% **
c Exchange Broker Reward N/A N/A 0.25% **
d Miner (settlement) Reward Variable, based on Tx size in KB Configurable *** Min: 0.1 GRFT Configurable *** Min: 0.1 GRFT
e Merchant POS/Recipient Gateway Proxy Supernode Reward **** N/A 0.05% **** 0.05% ****
Total Fee Amount paid by the Tx sender (buyer in RTA) a1 + d1 0 0 *****
Total fee amount paid by the Tx recipient (merchant in RTA) 0 a2 + b2*8 + d2 + e2 a3 + b3*8 + c3 + d3 + e3
Total amount charged to the Tx sender Tx amt + a1 + d1 Tx amt Tx amt
Total funds available to the Tx recipient Tx amt Tx amt – (a2 + b2*8 + d2 + e2) Tx amt – (a3 + b3*8 + c3 + d3 + e3)
Table 1: GRAFT Transaction Fees/Rewards Structure

* wallet proxy supernode can be a proprietary server or a public cluster hosted by a service provider. You can run and use your own proprietary proxy supernode to avoid the proxy fee altogether. The supernode must have a stake in order to be able to charge the fee.

** stake is required for full supernode or exchange broker in order to participate in RTA Tx processing and receive this reward

*** set by the merchant service provider or the owner of the POS proxy supernode

**** POS proxy supernode can be a proprietary standalone server, a part of the merchant infrastructure, or a part of a payment terminal or/and ecommerce gateway maintained by the merchant service provider. POS supernode must have a stake in order to be able to receive this reward

***** does not include the altcoin network fee

You can see that the new fees have been introduced on proxy supernodes—both wallet proxy and point-of-sale/payment gateway (a1, a2, a3, e2, and e3 in Table 1). Those changes will achieve increased decentralization of the infrastructure, which means no more complaints about GRAFT wallet downtime or delays! If you don’t like the proxy supernode cluster hosted by GRAFT, there will be alternative providers ready to serve your wallet or POS. In order to receive the reward, the proxy supernode must demonstrate the unique stake wallet linked to the supernode’s public IP address. The amount of proxy stake is 250,000 GRFT.

Unlike an authorization sample supernode, the proxy supernode will still be operational even without the stake, however an unstaked proxy supernode won’t be able to charge the fee. This option is reserved for proprietary proxy supernodes, so the users with elevated privacy needs can host their own entry points to the network. Without the stake, the proxy reward will be sent to the GRAFT community donation wallet address. This way the total transaction fee, which is assembled from several components, always remains consistent regardless of the status of the proxy supernodes.

Another major change, which was partially proposed earlier, is the flat fee paid to the miner for RTA transaction settlements (d2, d3). The miner’s fee is traditionally calculated based on transaction record size in KB (d1). With RTAs, however, we cannot make the miner fee variable as it would make the total fee paid by the merchant inconsistent and unpredictable, which is unacceptable in most situations. Additionally, we cannot make this fee proportional to the value of the transaction (similar to the supernode fees) because miner fees are visible on the blockchain, meaning the transaction amount could be calculated from a proportional fee (although we may fix this in the future). Therefore, we made it a simple configurable flat fee, with a minimum amount of 0.1 GRFT.

The fees associated with RTA transaction with exchange brokers are the same as RTA fees (column 2) with an extra 0.25% taken by the broker (and paid also by the merchant).

Merchant Fees and Service Providers

The MSP sets a fee schedule that’s consistent with their business model and fees could be structured in tiers with options, for example:

  • Transactions below $10: 2%
  • Transactions above $10: 1%
  • Min transaction amount: $1
  • Miner: 0.1 GRFT
  • Transactions in altcoins: + 0.25%
  • Instant payouts in altcoin or fiat: + 0.25%

Below is an example of a sample $20 altcoin transaction and the associated fees given a reference Merchant Service Provider fee schedule. Figure 2: Example of GRAFT RTA Altcoin Tx Fees and Rewards with Service Provider

GRAFT Emission Correction

When you take a look at whattomine, mining GRAFT is as profitable as mining Monero. At first glance, this seems like a good situation for everyone who cares about GRAFT, especially for the miners. But let’s compare Monero and GRAFT market capitalization (the dollar price of one GRFT multiplied by the number of tokens in current circulation): $1.68 billion (Monero) vs. $3.76 million (GRAFT). There is a huge difference between these two market caps, but they have the same mining profitability (actually GRAFT is even higher).

The current GRAFT block reward (the proof-of-work fee that the miners receive when they “solve” the block and successfully add it to the blockchain) today is approximately 1,420 GRFT, so every day the GRAFT circulation grows by more than 1 million (!) GRFT. Unfortunately, many miners use the high profitability of GRAFT to immediately sell their mining rewards on exchanges, which keeps bringing the price down as the demand cannot keep up with such a rapidly growing supply. Even growing demand cannot catch up to the emission rate because the project is too young.

Although the block reward is designed to decrease with every block, the current rate by which emissions are decreasing is not significant enough to counteract the overall supply increase rate from miners dumping. It will be significantly lower in, let’s say, one or two years, but the GRAFT team and supporters (including miners) cannot wait that long. We all need the economics to stabilize in the near term in order for the project to regain its footing and bring things into balance.

It is hard to anticipate these imbalances ahead of time as we’re trail blazing in a lot of respects. The only thing we can do is react quickly and adjust things whenever we see the “go off the rails” potential.

Note that ERC20 token-based projects do not have the problem described above because they don’t have a real blockchain. Their token supply remains the same (actually, it is even reduced with every exchange transaction), so they just need to make sure their demand at least remains the same in order to constantly pump the price and the market cap.

With that said, in order to rebalance the network economics, we have decided to correct the emission by reducing the block reward by 50%, so the new block reward formula will be as following:

reward = (M – A) * 2^-19 * 10^-10 / 2

Where M is max total supply and A is current supply.

As you can see, the correction will not change the total maximum amount of GRAFT that will be ever created, it will just stretch the emission curve such that it will take longer to mine the total supply (see the existing and the new emission curves on the diagrams below).

All GRAFT supporters should benefit from the corrected emission formula because it is supposed to limit the daily increase in circulating supply, which will reduce the overall supply growth rate and stabilize the price. Long-term miners will benefit from the reduced emission for two reasons: 1) the price will go up so they will receive the same, or even better, revenue, and 2) the emission curve will be stretch, so they will get a more steady income over the extra years without the need to rely on transaction fees.

The emission reduction change requires a major network update (aka “hard fork”), which will be scheduled for block 176,000 (September 17, 2018). The major network update means that each GRAFT network node must be updated to the new software version before that block/date. Otherwise, the node that wasn’t updated is going to be on the wrong version of the blockchain. The new release will be available for download on September 10, 2018.

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 the block 176,000, it will be disconnected from the mainnet after block 176,000.

Note that the users of 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).

Comments on Square’s Cryptocurrency Payment Network patent

Square has made the news recently with a patent on Cryptocurrency payment network with real-time transactions.

We’re very excited about this development as it completely validates the approach we’ve taken with the GRAFT blockchain!

Another important question one might ask is “Will GRAFT project be impacted by this development”?

We will be studying Square patent further and any action we might want to take, but we wanted to provide a brief summary of our initial thoughts on the subject:

  • Square’s provisional application was dated later than GRAFT published its first white paper (July 15, 2017), providing GRAFT an excellent basis for prior art argument should this ever come to a head.
  • There are enough substantial differences in GRAFT and Square’s approaches starting with Square’s emphasis on a private, closed system, while GRAFT’s being on an open, decentralized approach
  • Decentralized open source projects are extremely resistant to outdated IP prosecution practices as there’s not single central commercial entity to go after
  • Square is not known for predatory IP behavior, which could be the case if the patent was issued or sold to a patent troll. We believe that Square filed the patent to ensure their own “freedom to operate”.
  • Additionally, the fact that the patent was granted proves that there was little known prior art (GRAFT nonwithstanding) before July 2017 which is when GRAFT white paper was published and Square provisional application filed.

    Finally, patent doesn’t equal product. Square and its competitors will be considering whether to develop these systems in-house or to use an existing public network like GRAFT.

    All in all, we view this development as a very positive one both for the industry and for GRAFT.

    With that said, we would like to ask for our community’s help in raising the visibility of the fact that GRAFT implementing the system that Square has attempted to patent – this is a very opportune time to do this building on the attention this patent has generated. Please help bring this up on the appropriate social media and discussion threads.

How GRAFT is Going to Conquer the Crypto Payments World. Part 1: Blockchain and CryptoNote

Slava Gomzin, GRAFT Co-Founder

Although we have created a lot of materials explaining GRAFT (both existing features and future developments), including countless technical or semi-technical pages, marketing brochures, blog posts, and educational videos, it’s often difficult to see the whole picture while going through all of the specifics. A focus on the multiple features and their design details can obscure the view of the entire system, creating a so-called “you can’t see the forest through the trees” effect. We are getting many questions from supporting community members as well as potential customers and partners about “the big plan”: what is the ultimate goal, and how exactly are we going to achieve it? Whereas the answer to the first part of this question is quite simple and short, the answer to the second part requires some time and efforts. In this series of blog posts we will iterate through the various GRAFT features and try to explain why they are there, and how they help achieve our ultimate goal: Conquest of the crypto payments world.

Part 1: Blockchain and CryptoNote

Let’s start from the very beginning with the blockchain, or layer one of GRAFT. The blockchain is maintained by a peer-to-peer network of computers, or network nodes. We refer to these network nodes as “cryptonodes” to distinguish them from our “supernodes” (a.k.a. “masternodes” in other networks), which constitute the second layer of the GRAFT network (to be explained in a future blog post). The GRAFT blockchain is based on the CryptoNote protocol, which is the most private blockchain protocol in use as of today. In order to save time and resources, we used the luxury of the open source principle and forked the initial code of the GRAFT cryptonode from Monero — the best implementation of the CryptoNote protocol. In addition to acquiring fundamental privacy features “out of the box”, forking Monero provided a high degree of confidence in our blockchain from day one of the mainnet existence. It’s important to note that the code of GRAFT supernodes, which we create from scratch, is also open source, so essentially everything that we add on top of the previously existing features is also available for others to reuse.

Now let’s go back to the initial question and apply it to the blockchain layer: Why a brand new blockchain and why CryptoNote?

We’ll start with the new, dedicated blockchain: Yes, it would have been easy-peasy to run the GRAFT ICO on ERC20 or a similar token, as most people do these days to avoid blockchain maintenance, mainnet, mining, emission, seed nodes, etc. However, creation of the GRAFT payment network requires our own blockchain because we have to modify the cryptonodes as we develop the supernodes so they will support each other and work together. Without the ability to modify the code, we wouldn’t be able to create the network of supernodes and implement features like real time authorization or exchange brokers on top of any existing blockchain or token platform. In addition, there are features such as payout tokens, loyalty points, store credits, gift certificates, and discount coupons that are required for merchants — all of these are based on the merchant tokens platform, which cannot be built without a dedicated blockchain.

Now for CryptoNote: it’s not just “nice to have”, it is absolutely required in order to be competitive with traditional payment systems such as Visa network or PayPal. Ironically, Visa and PayPal provide much better privacy to their customers than most existing cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Let me explain. When you swipe/insert your payment card at the point of sale terminal, or click the PayPal’s pay button online, there are two entities in the world that are aware of your transaction: the payment network (Visa or PayPal in our case) and the merchant. In reality, of course, there are more organisations that “know” about your transaction because the payment network is more complex. This network includes, at the very least, the issuing bank (the one that gave you the payment card), the acquiring bank (the one that approves the payment), the payment gateway (the one that routes your transaction to the right payment processor/acquiring bank) and the payment processor (which processes the payment and merchant’s payout). However, in any case, this list of organizations is limited because they are under security and privacy regulations, and they have typically implemented some decent security controls that protect your transaction records from prying eyes. Of course, everyone in this list can be hacked or give away your info to a law enforcement agency, but this is a different story (which is, by the way, another good reason to switch to cryptocurrency payments and throw away your plastic cards!). For the sake of simplicity though, let’s assume that random people cannot gain access to your data in most situations.

Finally, let’s see what happens with blockchains. The key innovation of Bitcoin (the first blockchain and cryptocurrency) was the open ledger that is accessible to every node participating in the network because your transaction must be verified to make sure you are not trying to spend your money twice. But this also means that anyone in the world can see your transactions and how much money you have in your wallet! Now, unlike plastic cards, Bitcoin wallets are, in principle, anonymous because transaction records are not directly linked to your identity. At first glance, this feature appears to compensate for the fact that your transaction records are laying there in plain sight on the blockchain for anyone to see. Well, the problem is that there are ways to link addresses to identities. Once this happens, all of your transactions magically become visible forever because the blockchain is always there and it cannot be erased!

Fortunately, there is a solution: the CryptoNote protocol, which hides the sender’s address, the recipient’s address, and the transaction amount , while still preserving the ability to validate each transaction and prevent double spending — and it’s all thanks to advanced cryptography! One day I am going to explain how it works in layman’s terms to unveil the beauty of CryptoNote and its cryptography (the same as I have done to explain RSA and Elliptic Curves cryptography in my book about Bitcoin payments). But for now, let’s just take it on faith that CryptoNote ensures a high degree of privacy for all participants. Moreover, on top of existing CryptoNote features, GRAFT adds even more privacy and hides transaction fees!

Summary of Part 1:

Why a brand new blockchain and why CryptoNote?

The dedicated blockchain allows GRAFT to create a merchant token platform. This is required for features like payout tokens and loyalty programs, and the second layer supernode network, which enables special retail features such as real time authorizations and exchange brokers.

The Cryptonote blockchain protocol provides an absolute privacy to all participants of the transaction, which is required in order to compete with existing payment platforms such as Visa or PayPal that are more private than most exciting (non-Cryptonote) cryptocurrencies.

To Be Continued — Part 2: Supernodes and RTA

GRAFT Development Status Update June 2018

Supernodes and Real Time Authorizations

Let’s start from implementation of full supernode, which is essentially an implementation of real-time authorizations (RTA). Although we are close to the finish line, we do not release it yet to public alpha. We need more time for optimization, fine-tuning, and QA testing. One of the main reasons for the delay is an issue with communication. Unlike other two-layer cryptocurrency networks which use a separate mechanism for communication between their second-layer nodes, we reuse the existing peer-to-peer network as a basic transport. Our original algorithm finds the shortest and fastest routes between the supernonodes by maintaining a set of P2P tunnels through the network of cryptonodes. The main difference and greatest benefit of using the same communication base for two layers (both cryptonode and supernode networks) is not exposing the authorization sample’s supernodes – because in our design they are not required to have a public IP. Such design is the major difference and significant improvement comparing to other layer two implementations such as Dash masternodes.

Remember that one of GRAFT’s key differentiators and goals is absolute privacy initially provided by underlying CryptoNote blockchain protocol, which is the first layer of GRAFT platform. The fact that the auth sample supernode does not require a public IP attached to it makes GRAFT even more private and decentralized, because the supernodes are less dependant on regulated hosting providers. Without public IP the supernodes are “hidden” behind the large, distributed, and complex P2P network, which makes them less vulnerable to DDOS attacks. At the same time, the hosting and maintenance are less complicated and less expensive for supernode owners. (Note that wallet/POS proxy supernodes, which typically belong to service providers and large merchants, still require public IP address in order to be able to serve wallets and POS/payment apps).

However, such great benefits do not come for free. Along the way we found several issues in existing CryptoNote/Monero P2P communication implementation, which we are fixing in order to make it more efficient, stable, and suitable transport for our purposes. With that said, we anticipate the public alpha of supernode with RTA to be released by the end of July. Meanwhile, we will start a private alpha release for testing in a coupe of weeks, so if you are interested in helping us with preliminary testing please contact us at [email protected]

While working hard on RTA implementation and getting ready to its production launch, we realized that hosting a supernode, either full (authorization) or proxy/gateway, requires a special DevOps skill set, so we are working through making arrangements and building relationships to provide turnkey solutions to supernode owners and merchant service providers.

Payment Apps

We are continuously working on improving the Verifone terminal app so it will be fully polished for production by the time RTA is released. As Verifone have written on their merchant marketplace website, where GRAFT app is listed as the Featured Apps Partner, “Our app partners are working around the clock to help empower our merchants with applications that enrich the customer experience and provide business productivity.” This is absolutely true statement, there is not much to add. Since the Verifone certification was achieved last month, we have done several improvements such as UI redesign (in both terminal app and our wallet), enhanced configuration utility for merchants, integration with CoinMarketCap for real-time exchange rates, and some bug fixes. Also, we are working on Ingenico terminal app integration into their marketplace.

One of important and promising features we are planning to develop is using NFC (Near Field Communication) for initial engagement between the mobile wallet and terminal app, so instead of scanning QR code displayed on payment terminal the buyer will just wave the phone (the same technology is used by contactless payment cards and Apple Pay). Implementation of such a feature will help improve both buyer and merchant user experiences and reduce the overall transaction time. We will keep you posted about our progress in this area.

We just finished design and now are ready to start implementation of the payment gateway which will facilitate GRAFT payments on online shopping platforms. Once implemented, integration with GRAFT payment gateway, among other features, will bring to online merchants and buyers a unique combination of absolute privacy and instant transaction confirmations (using RTA) – something they have never seen before. Plus, after we finish RTA and move to accept broker implementation, they will be able to accept various cryptocurrencies, while keeping the same benefits of privacy and transaction speed.

Wallet Apps

We finally redesigned the app downloads page on our website, so now it’s easier to find all our apps, including wallets, and their releases for various mobile and desktop operating systems: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. In recent wallet releases, we fixed some bugs and added new configuration options. The upcoming wallet release will support purchases with real time authorizations using full supernodes (currently it supports a limited version of RTA on testnet only).

CryptoFind App

As our app for discovering and listing crypto-friendly merchants is gaining more popularity among crypto enthusiasts, we periodically release new features and bug fixes. In recent CryptoFind version, in addition to bug fixes, we added a possibility to take a picture of the GRAFT sticker on the merchant’s window so the users can earn better bonuses.

Happy Grafting!

New Element of GRAFT Ecosystem – Stable Value Payout Token

Designing Payout Tokens and Real Time Decentralized Exchange

As we’re working on the design and development of the features defined in the original GRAFT white paper, we are monitoring industry trends, listening to the community, and constantly looking for new ways to enhance and extend functionality of GRAFT network and its applications. Currently, we are in a process of refining several sections of the white paper, adding new features that will help GRAFT become an even more comfortable place for both merchants and buyers. In order to do that, we are designing two very important ingredients: a payout tokens and a real-time decentralized exchange. These two new features will enable optimal flow of funds, either crypto or fiat between GRAFT users on both sides of retail payment transaction. We will publish information about those new elements of GRAFT ecosystem in this blog, in two different posts, before it goes to the next version of the white paper. The first article below describes payout tokens, and the second one, which will be published soon, will describe real-time DEX using atomic swaps on network of GRAFT supernodes. The product roadmap will be also updated along with the publication of the updated white paper.

GRAFT Merchant Token Platform:

Introducing Payout Token

Although recent version of the GRAFT white paper provides pretty detailed definition of merchant token concept, it does not contain (yet) some important details which are described in this article. In addition, we introduce a concept of payout token – a special type of a merchant token that will be used to facilitate merchant payouts in local fiat currency. Before we move to payout token definition, let’s refresh our memories to recollect the concept of a GRAFT merchant token, which is a foundation of GRAFT payout token. Here is the definition from the GRAFT white paper:
In addition to fast and inexpensive transactions, merchants place high value on customer loyalty and branding. This functionality will be enabled by the token layer of the GRAFT currency. The token represents domain (merchant) specific GRAFT use, and offers smart contract-backed functionality like loyalty point accumulation and use, reward points, sale discounts, spending discounts, competitor discounts, coupons and store credit. Merchant token is a predefined smart contract that allows creating a private token that belongs to its owner. Unlike some other smart contracts and token platforms, creation of GRAFT merchant token does not require any programming and can be done by anyone.
Note that merchant tokens are not equivalent to “open” smart contracts: we do not try to build another Ethereum platform. Unlike Ethereum-like smart contracts that can be unpredictably customized through programming, flexibility of merchant tokens is limited to their necessary features, which makes them simple and inexpensive but powerful tool accessible to a merchant of any size – from individuals and small businesses to large retail chains. In addition, the main features of each particular merchant token type will be supported by supernode DAPI and GRAFT wallet and point of sale apps. Thus, those features are going to be available for merchants and buyers “out of the box”.

Stable Value

Since Graft tokens (GRFT) are tradable, when they are used for merchant payouts directly, volatility may become a problem. We cannot ignore the fact that many merchants would like to be able to accept cryptocurrencies but prefer to get paid in their local fiat currency. This is their reality: merchants still need to pay for restocking, utility bills, and employee salaries in fiat. At the same time, they don’t want to be involved in cryptocurrency exchange business, and they need to be isolated from the financial details of the crypto business. In order to finally fill the gap and connect the two worlds – cryptocurrency transactions and fiat currency merchant operations – we have created a concept of a payout token, which represents a local currency and can be transacted on GRAFT blockchain in real time using the supernode tier of the blockchain. Payout token is based on GRAFT merchant token technology, similar to gift, rewards, and other merchant token types.

Underwriting

The main goal for creating payout token is providing an easy and reliable way for merchants to get paid in stable local fiat currencies while avoiding usage of centralized payment processors. Payout tokens are issued and maintained by responsible token underwriters (such as banks). When someone (payout broker, for example) is buying payout tokens from the token underwriter, the company generates a necessary amount of tokens and transfers them to the buyer in exchange to an equivalent amount of fiat currency. When someone (merchant or payout broker on behalf of merchant) is selling payout tokens back to the token underwriter, the company destroys the tokens and pays an equivalent amount of local fiat currency to the seller. Thus, payout token is always backed by sufficient amount of fiat currency, and its price always remains the same and equals to the corresponding fiat currency float. For example, 100 USDG can be always bought or sold for US$100. Payout tokens will be issued by licensed token underwriters only in exchange to equal amounts of fiat currency. Furthermore, the rights to handle particular payout tokens can be delegated (licensed) to local commercial banks or even national governments. At this point, we’re open to partnership inquiries from financial institutions interested in underwriting payout tokens tied to the local currency. Please email info @ graft.network or contact us through other means if you represent an organization that wants to get involved.

Details

VChain name for all payout tokens is always “GRAFT”. Each payout token subtype matches a particular local fiat currency. For example, GRAFT.USDG token (ticker: USDG) matches US dollar. Payout Token Naming Format GRAFT.[Currency Ticker]G Examples:
GRAFT.USDG GRAFT.EURG
 

Vlog Version

Special shout-out to Jose D for making this wonderful video version of this important blog post, making our ramblings little easier to digest. Thanks Jose!!!

How we priced GRAFT ICO

  We get a lot of questions about the ICO pricing, including “Why GRAFT ICO is so expensive”. What follows is an attempt to explain how we arrived at the ICO pricing and what all contributed to it.  

Not All Altcoins Are the Same

There are two types of altcoins (aka tokens) out on the market today – one that sit on top of another blockchain (like Ethereum), and others that implement their own blockchain. The ratio of derivative tokens to custom blockchain ones are roughly 100:1.   It is a lot easier to do a derivative token based ICO – you just write a small amount of code in  Solidity (if Ethereum) – and you have a token you can sell. Doing or modifying a blockchain on the other hand involves a very substantial amount of engineering efforts – the team has to figure out the math and economics behind the blockchain, implement additional capabilities, secure that new functionality, create API’s, in many cases create applications like a wallet, etc. They also have to create a whole new network complete with node installation procedures, upgrade processes, and many other considerations. GRAFT is the latter of the two – while leveraging CryptoNote protocol which addresses privacy, decentralization and fungibility as well as  great work that Monero team has done to improve scalability among other things, GRAFT is having to implement a new communication protocol that allows instant authorizations, a distributed API (DAPI) that allows connections from the POS and other applications, and a set of reference applications for the point of sale  and the wallet – just to name a few high-profile tasks.    

Derivative Tokens Cost More

Tokens run on top of another blockchain (say Ethereum), so purchasing a token is not sufficient to run the application that the token represents – you also need to purchase “fuel” (which is the underlying coin/token). The amount of fuel depends on the amount of transactions that the token application represents. Compare this to the blockchain like GRAFT which encompasses the value of entire transaction. As you can see, the cost of a token is more than meets the eye, in some cases much more.  

Pay Attention to Valuation, not Token Cost

Valuation (or capitalization) follows a simple formula: (Number of tokens or coins) x (Price of the token / coin). It’s natural for people to think that smaller price of the token represents a bargain, but the critical piece in this equation is the number of coins or tokens that are being issued. For example, which is less expensive (has higher valuation) – 1 billion tokens at $1, or 10 million tokens at $10? It is as you could calculate the latter, with corresponding valuations of $1B vs $100MM.  So when you buy a $10 token from a 10 million token pool, you actually end up with a significantly (10x) larger piece of the pie than if you buy the same amount of the $1 token in a 1 billion token pool. Most token ICO’s are not burdened by emission math (the formula that guides how the coins are mined, making the later mined coins harder to mine than earlier mined coins), so they issue a very large number of tokens (often in 100’s of millions or even billions) and then pricing the tokens low for the perception of the low entry cost. Top 10 Derivative tokens (illustrating circulating supplies differences)  

GRAFT Valuation is 1/40 of Dash

GRAFT’s total final emission (the number of coins to ever be minted) is roughly 18 million (18,446,744 to be precise). We’re pre-mining certain number of coins (45%) to cover the ICO, marketing, reserves, and incentives. This is it. We will never be able to add or pre-mine any more coins!  We have also decided not to siphon off any fees from the transactions to fund the development like some of the other blockchains are doing.    As such we have to make sure that whatever we raise now will be sufficient to sustain GRAFT project until no further development or support from the core team are required (we estimate that to be roughly 7 years with the overall team growing to 30-40 people). This is roughly $25MM.   Now, we also have to account for additional unexpected expenses, crypto-currency fluctuations at the time of the raise, and potential taxable events. This means that we need to need to double the $25MM getting us to $50MM. Since the ICO represents 25% of the total coin supply, the $50MM has to be equal to 25%, which brings the valuation to $200MM, and subsequently the price of the coin to roughly equivalent of $11 USD.  

Summary

When evaluating GRF pricing, it’s really important to compare apples to apples in terms of:
  1. size of emission (or the number of tokens available)
  2. type of a token/coin – a blockchain or a token on top of another blockchain
  3. valuation which is a product of number of tokens multiplied by price
If you do such comparison, you will see that GRF token ICO compares very favorably against other blockchains on the market:
Current circulation Price Market Cap / Valuation
Bitcoin 16,678,650 $6,100.00 $100,000,000,000
Ethereum 95,715,037 $310.00 $29,500,000,000
Ripple 38,622,870,411 $0.20 $30,000,000,000
Litecoin 53,819,707 $60.00 $3,250,000,000
Dash 7,687,407 $340.00 $3,200,000,000
Monero 15,345,839 $118.00 $1,800,000,000
Graft (after ICO) 100,000,000 $.32 $32,000,000 (numbers are approximate)

Update:

We have made couple of changes to the ICO and token structure since the article was first written:
  1. decided to lower our ICO hard cap to 5% of the total emission (or around $11,000,000 in USD), down from 25%,  and keep the rest of the coins slated for ICO in reserve for subsequent raises as needed.
  2. Do a 1:100 split, multiplying the total emission by 100
These changes doesn’t really change any of the math, just help us improve usability of the coin at pont of sale, and address some of the perceived value concerns.