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 – 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!!!

GRAFT Development Status Update May 2018

It’s time for another status update! Y’all are busy people, so let’s not waste any time and get right to the point.

Payment Apps

Let’s start from really good news – our Merchant Marketplace app just received certification from Verifone – big step towards GRAFT acceptance by brick-and-mortar merchants and a product of 6 months long development cycle in close communication with Verifone. We are working on improving this application as well as building apps for other major players in the area of hardware payment terminals such as Ingenico.

Also, we just started designing the online shopping cart integrations – the first implementation is going to be an integration with Shopify, one of the most popular online store platforms. While it’s not within GRAFT’s charter to produce all the integrations, we take it upon ourselves to provide reference integrations with few leading platforms, paving the way for the independent software developers to take GRAFT to all other platforms.

Blockchain

It’s not a big secret that GRAFT has been forked from Monero – in order to be able to reuse the best (as of today) implementation of Cryptonote protocol, which is the most secure blockchain protocol so far, at least for people who care about their privacy. The idea was (and still is!) to take the open source Cryptonote technology and use it as a tier-1 foundation of the future 2-tier application platform, when the 2nd tier consists of the network of full supernodes (please read the white paper for more details). So the GRAFT dev team was supposed to be mostly focused on design and implementation of the tier 2 from the beginning. Unfortunately, sometimes our plans diverge reality in unpredictable ways, and we admit that it was naive assumption. Instead of working on core development tasks, significant part of the team had to address several problems caused by network difficulty and timestamp manipulation attacks. As a result, we switched to more efficient difficulty adjustment algorithm, which is already used by a few other blockchains, and even managed to improve it. We also followed the majority of Cryptonote community and implemented ASIC-resistant code.

We appreciate a concrete help we receive from the community, including individual contributors zawy12 and jagerman – thank you guys! It’s also worth mentioning that our full time core dev team has been growing as well – we have added two senior core developers and project/product manager.

We are working on another potential modification – Cryptonote Heavy hash algorithm. Although the code change is ready, we are still testing, and haven’t made a final decision when (if at all) to switch to Heavy. We continue monitoring the situation in order to find the best time for changes that require major network update.

Real Time Authorizations (RTA)

Our top-most development priority right now is RTA and we’ve been hard at work doing the R&D and laying the foundation to meet our delivery timeframes. For those of you who are interested in details, here is the “10,000 foot view” of RTA – simplistic, optimistic sequence diagram of the RTA flow: Note that every line of text in this diagram correspondents to hundreds or even thousands of lines of the source code, so this diagram just demonstrates interactions between the main players, without going deeply into the details such as auth sample selection, fee distribution, message broadcasting, etc. We are working on various modules of the RTA so we could compile the full picture: supernode-ng server framework, porting DAPI/business logic into a new framework, and authorization sample communication, which includes both super-fast UDP-based direct communication protocol (for “urgent” messages) and “unhurried” protocol (for regular message transmissions) based on existing P2P implementation.

CryptoFind

Although CryptoFind was not designed to be the core product, its popularity recently skyrocketed, and so now we cannot imagine GRAFT without CryptoFind, which becomes the most comprehensive worldwide database of businesses that accept crypto. We have implemented some new features and improvements in CryptoFind since the last update: added a text search function, which allows you to find nearby points by name or type (cafe, store, refueling, etc.), enhanced the user interface, and created statistics page.

Network Monitoring

Also we are internally monitoring multiple parameters of GRAFT servers using special tools such as CloudWatch and Nagios, we thought that the community should be able to know about the basic status (“up/down”) in real time as well, without the need to ask and repeat the same questions on forums. So we have created a simple public network status monitoring page – don’t forget to check it out!

Happy Grafting!

GRAFT Development Status Update March 2018

It’s been a while since our last development status update. Please excuse us – everyone at GRAFT, including dev team, was super busy with supporting both ICO and mainnet, which happened to be launched almost on the same day. We had to make sure the best experience for users. There were issues, of course, but in general we succeeded because there were no major incidents, and even more important – there were no security issues! In addition, we implemented and conducted an automated swap between the old temporary NEM Mosaic grf:tokens and new shiny GRFT coins. All these important activities, however, did not interrupt completely our core development.

Wallet Apps

We have pretty good progress with wallet apps. Now, in addition to mobile wallets, we have desktop wallets for both Windows and Mac (you probably forgot already there weren’t any about a month ago?). All wallet apps now able to send GRFT to other wallets or exchanges, which is functionality that initially was available only in CLI wallet. We also added support for longer integrated addresses required for sending funds to exchanges. And finally, the wallet apps (and supernode DAPI) are more stable now (less timeouts and downtimes) as we added a lot of error handling and other enhancements such as load balancing.

RTA

The core dev team is now focused again on implementing RTA (Real Time Authorizations), which is currently the stumbling block for some other features. If you remember, in order to adjust to reality after the mainnet became live, we recently had to make some significant changes in design of RTA, including decoupling PoW and PoS, which obviously required significant changes in implementation. Currently we put all efforts and available resources to finalize the RTA implementation and release it to beta phase as soon as possible.

POS and Hardware Payment Terminals Apps

We continue working on hardware terminal apps, specifically – the one for new generation Verifone payment terminals. We should be able to certify our point of sale app and put it on the Verifone Merchant Marketplace soon.

CryptoFind App

We’ve made some changes in CryptoFind to make our database more relevant and consistent. The owner/manager email is a mandatory field from now and it must be unique. We set a limit of 100 as the number of added places per user for now (we will be adding a separate entry mechanism for large chains who want to list many locations at once). When you adding a place, we need to know your location and search results will be related to this particular location.

And finally, as a reminder – all GRAFT core software components and most apps are free and most important are open source, which means that anyone in the world can validate all the statements about the progress listed above. Although GRAFT mainnet (production blockchain) is up and running successfully since January 16th, please don’t forget that most applications, including some wallets and supernode components, are still in alpha or beta phases. We do our best to make them more stable and bugless, but those who are familiar with software development know that this task is almost impossible to achieve (just kidding).

Software Component/App — Release Phase — Source Code

Network node — production — https://github.com/graft-project/GraftNetwork

Proxy Supernode/DAPI — production — https://github.com/graft-project/GraftNetwork

Full Supernode/DAPI — alpha — https://github.com/graft-project/GraftNetwork

Blockchain Explorer — production — https://github.com/graft-project/graft-blockchain-explorer

CLI wallet — production — https://github.com/graft-project/GraftNetwork

Mobile wallets — production — https://github.com/graft-project/GraftMobile

Desktop wallets (Windows, Mac) — beta — https://github.com/graft-project/GraftMobile

Mobile Point of Sale — alpha — https://github.com/graft-project/GraftMobile

CryptoFind mobile app (iOS, Android) — production — proprietary

Hardware Payment Terminal apps (Verifone, Ingenico) — alpha — proprietary