RTA Public Alpha Release

GRAFT Development Status Update November 12, 2018

Today is a very big day for GRAFT project – we’re releasing the new baby into the world!

The RTA Supernode is a linchpin of the GRAFT project, allowing the real-time transaction authorizations. To get to this point it took a lot of work engineering reliable transport protocol, supernode sample selection, all in a maintainable and modular way.

With the RTA Public alpha release, we’re opening the testing up to the wider public to further test and optimize its performance and reliability.

How to participate in RTA Public Alpha

  • Follow these instructions to install the RTA supernode
  • Submit this form to request the alphanet supernode PoS stake.
  • Join the RTA Alpha Telegram group to get more info about the testing process and share your findings and ideas with the community and developers.

What kinds of goals is RTA public alpha pursuing?

There are several goals for the RTA Public Alpha testing stage:

  • Find potential issues and bugs that cannot be found on a low scale network of closed alpha (about 50 participants/supernodes)
  • Allow supernode owners to get familiar with the supernode setup and maintenance processes so they will be fully prepared for the RTA Beta launch on the mainnet
  • Allow the supernode owners to estimate the earnings on the real network (the stimulus transactions will be running on public alphanet on the same or similar scale as they will be available on the mainnet after the Beta launch)
  • Most importantly, work on preparing the network for the mainnet launch by allowing community to discover any security holes and potential exploits
The RTA alpha is time to find vulnerabilities in the design, from both scaling and exploits point of view. We expect the RTA alpha testers to contribute to pushing the network’s scalability limits as well as security and usability. To that end we’re working on a bug bounty reward program that will be announced shortly.

What to expect?

  • November 12 – the RTA SN instructions are available to the community to build their RTA supernodes, configure them and connect to the Alphanet (RTA Alpha testnet)
  • November 14 – Transaction simulator availability – a special bot that will generate regular test transactions in the system
  • November 15 – Alphanet hard fork to enable the latest release of RTA supernodes and client apps; Wallet/POS RTA-compatible clients updates available via Apple app store
  • November 26Stimulus Tx package testing…

How long with the RTA public alpha last?

We don’t know what kind of things are going to get uncovered during the course of the public alpha, so it’s hard to put a date on the Mainnet beta release. 8 weeks is a good case scenario, but at this point it’s a rough target.

How to report bugs / suggestions?

Please funnel the bug reports and suggestions through our community dev liason – Jason R @jagerman..

Happy GRAFTing!

GRAFT Weekly Development Status Update October 22nd, 2018

Hi everyone, this is our weekly update on GRAFT development activities. Last week we were focused on RTA alpha debugging and new release, exchange broker development, and payment gateway UI, while dealing with an “anti-ASIC” major network update. Let’s review the status of all these activities.

The new RTA alpha release with stabilized communication is ready, the only reason we did not release it to the alpha testers last week was the work on the hard fork patch, so the release will happen later this week. This RTA release is a close version of the upcoming beta release to the mainnet, with a few things still in development.

Before RTA beta, however, we are going to open the RTA alpha to the public, so everyone will be able to “touch” and try to break it while still in test mode (right now it is only available to the 50 alpha testers.) Once we get a “confirmation” from the RTA Public Alpha testers, we will release the beta to the mainnet. This way we can test the supernode network scalability in environment pretty close to the real world operations before it goes to full production.

While the core dev team was focused on RTA and the upcoming major network update, another team continued working on payment terminal apps, exchange broker, and payment gateway. More specifically, last week there were working on an enhanced GUI for exchange broker and payment gateway (as shown on the screenshot below). Since the payment gateway is aimed towards the less technical, more business operations oriented audience, the quality and functionality of the user interface is very important.

Also, the core team is working on a patch for the upcoming major network update that will introduce a new variation of the hash algorithm that prevents ASIC mining. Network hashrate is important, but it is not the only factor in blockchain security. The way this hash power is distributed between the miners is also important. ASICs break the balance and facilitate centralization (concentration of hash power) which can be dangerous for the network.

The patch will apply a new variation of CryptoNight hash algorithm (CryptoNight V8 / CN variant 2) which is currently ASIC-resistant. The patch is still being tested – thanks to the group of GRAFT miners’ who help with the testing. We will announce the hard fork block number and date once the testing is finished (probably tomorrow). As usual, we remind that the major network update (aka “hard fork”) is only relevant to the miners and other full node operators; if you use one of the GRAFT mobile or desktop wallet apps you don’t need to do anything.

Finally, please check out the questions and answers from our first official AMA (“Ask Me Anything”) session which took place last week. We tried to answer all the questions from the community, but if you don’t find an answer to your question in the list – don’t worry, we plan to conduct periodic (shooting for monthly) AMA sessions!

Happy GRAFTing!

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!

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.

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 GRAFT 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 equipment (e.g. payment terminals), 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)
  • Maintain transaction reporting and analyyics 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 our 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

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 to Release the First Supernode that Provides Real-time Authorizations for Cryptocurrency Payments

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate distribution

July 26, 2018

With RTA Supernodes release, GRAFT makes first step into the era of blockchain being a viable option at the point of sale, providing level of service comparable to that of the credit/debit card networks.

Supernodes (aka Masternodes) are gaining traction in the blockchain space as a mean of expediting transactions. They work by constructing a second layer network around the nodes that maintain the blockchain itself, and are able to provide additional functionality on top of the blockchain such as “off-chain” transaction processing or governance. Supernodes/ Masternodes usually run on a Proof-of-Stake model requiring staking for collateralization, and provide passive income to their owners, which explains their popularity.

GRAFT is building an eco-system of Supernodes – some are used to perform quick (credit-card speed) transaction authorizations, others to provide external system connectivity, yet others to act as service brokers performing currency exchanges and hosting various applications for merchants.

Enabling cryptocurrency to pay for goods and services has been a hot topic recently, with integrated payment providers like BitPay and Coinbase, enabling e-commerce payments via a gateway solution of their own. These services act as fully integrated service providers performing settlement and payout functions. Multiple (predominantly online) merchants have rolled out alternative payment options based on these integrated services, with most notable example of Expedia, however rolled them back citing high unpredictable fees, high risks, and lack of universal coverage. Stripe’s short-lived experiment to offer cryptocurrency payments is another example of the centralized approach failure.

GRAFT is working to give the space an equivalent of a payment network (such as the ones provided by Visa, Discover, and Mastercard) by offering a network fabric that connects gateways and services together, crossing locales and making sure the network works with existing point-of-sale solutions and payment terminals. In fact, GRAFT utilizes the recently added ability of the leading payment terminal networks to run 3rd party applications on their platforms. Most notable is GRAFT’s integration with Verifone’s Enagage line of terminals.

“GRAFT’s solution makes a lot of sense both technically and economically, staying true to decentralized model of cryptocurrency, and enabling regular people to service various parts of the network. We look at it as people ARE the network.” – said Dan I, one of the GRAFT Blockchain project leads. “At the end of the day the network functions – hosting blockchain nodes, doing authorizations / validations, providing exchange services, ensuring compliance, taking care of distribution and support, and even offering credit is best done by lots of individuals or small businesses and that’s the promise of ultimate decentralization”

GRAFT Network was originally conceived by Slava Gomzin, author of “Hacking Point of Sale” and “Bitcoin for Nonmathematicians” – some of the seminal work in the point of sale and cryptocurrency spaces. The network is designed to address all issues that cryptocurrency faced at the point of sale – speed, fee, and privacy, while taking advantage of the “smart” nature of digital money backed by the smart contract capabilities. The project is an open platform / open source and the network is free to use with the low 0.5% network fee paying the Supernodes for their service.

The RTA Supernode alpha release is scheduled tentatively for August 1st and will be released on a TestNet with the RTA test volunteer team. To sign up for Supernode testing, follow the link

More information about GRAFT Blockchain can be found on WWW.GRAFT.NETWORK

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!