Privacy-focused protocol Mimblewimble is going live with two implementations over the next two weeks. Two cryptocurrencies that emphasize anonymity, Beam and Grin, will launch before January 15.
Beam is expected to launch on January 3rd, while Grin is scheduled to launch on January 15th. Both offer slightly different custom builds of the privacy-oriented protocol.
Grin was first proposed all the way back in 2016 by an anonymous cryptography going by the pseudonym Tom Elvis Jedusor – a play on Voldemort’s real name from the Harry Potter series. Grin’s goal was to solve privacy and scalability issues on the bitcoin network while still leveraging bitcoin’s fundamental blockchain technology. Mimblewimble, of course, is the name of a word jumbling spell from the Harry Potter universe.
The first implementation of Grin was developed in late 2016. Beam, a similar project, was launched in March 2018, and the two quickly adopted a spirit of friendly competition. However, as reported by CoinDesk, the two projects have occasionally broken out of that spirit and adopted outright hostility against one another.
Grin supporters describe the project as a cypherpunk-based cryptocurrency built with higher principles in mine. There’s no pre-mine or ICO, for example, and developers are participating on a volunteer basis.
Those same Grin supporters see Beam as a sell-out and a cash grab. Beam sought venture capital funding and hired a team of professional full-time software developers. While Grin trudged ahead with its slow development, Beam sped ahead of the project.
Some see Beam’s team as having sharp business sense. Others see Beam as sacrificing the main benefits of decentralization. While Grin emphasizes the power of community development – something seen in other cryptocurrency projects – Beam has launched a more centralized development trajectory.
Despite the differences, Beam and Grin are expected to complement one another as they both prepare to launch over the coming weeks. The project’s lead developers have acknowledged that there are hostilities within their respective communities but believe they can overcome these differences to create a better future.
How Do Grin And Beam Work?
Both Grin and Beam are built on Mimblewimble, a privacy-oriented protocol.
If the name Mimblewimble seems familiar, then you may be a Harry Potter fan: it’s the name of the spell that ties your tongue in knots. Just like that Harry Potter spell, Mimblewimble fuses transactions together to make them indecipherable, vastly enhancing the privacy of blockchain transactions.
Both Grin and Beam use this protocol, although they use it in slightly different ways.
Grin has been in development since 2016. It has a larger, more decentralized community of developers. Motivated by cypherpunk ideals, these devs have been quietly coding the project since late 2016.
Some have criticized Grin for being more of a research project than a project with realistic business ideals in mind. The project receives no outside funding except for donations, and the developers all work on Grin part time.
Grin And Beam Have Different Governance And Funding
Grin and Beam differ from each other in terms of governance. Grin relies on a community funding model similar to Monero. The funding is less reliable but more in line with the project’s goals: they’re not beholden to the wishes of any specific supporter or corporation. Grin’s supporters claim this increases the security of the project. There are no profits or corporate interests that would sway the goals of the project.
Beam, meanwhile, has a governance system more similar to Zcash, including a structure more similar to a corporation. A portion of the block reward is funneled into a foundation that will support the blockchain’s development in the future.
The two projects also differ in usability. Beam has put a huge emphasis on usability, spending significant resources developing a GUI wallet and mobile wallet to increase adoption and grow the number of transactions. More transactions means better privacy on the Mimblewimble network. The Beam wallet is available for multiple operating systems, including MacOS, Windows, and Linux, with a light client release also planned.
Grin, meanwhile, is the total opposite in terms of usability: Grin is only available via a command line interface, making it far less accessible to non-technical users. Since the Mimblewimble protocol’s anonymity is enhanced by the number of transactions, this could be a problem for Grin moving forward.
They’re Coded In Different Languages
Beam is coded in C++, while Grin is coded using Rust. Overall, there are slight architectural differences between the two cryptocurrencies.
They Have Different Economic Models
Beam and Grin have two different economic models, with Beam seeing itself as a “store of value” with a fixed issuance – similar to bitcoin. Only a certain number of Beam will be released each block, and that rule is coded into Beam.
Grin, interestingly, takes a different approach, and the monetary policy isn’t set in stone. A new token is issued every second, with this emission scheduled to decrease periodically every ten years. This system was built on the idea that sustained issuance stabilizes the value of the currency. While bitcoin and, possibly, Beam, rise in price due to increased demand and fixed supply, Grin might have a more stable value over time even as demand rises – or at least, that’s the idea.
They Have Different Mining Systems
Meanwhile, in terms of mining, Grin and Beam have slightly different mining systems. Each project uses Equihash, and both use ASIC-resistant technology to reduce the threat of mining centralization on the network.
Over the next two years, Grin aims to add regular software changes to continue blocking the use of ASICs. Once that two year period is over, however, Grin will change to a more ASIC-friendly proof of work algorithm. The reason? The team believes ASIC technology will be more affordable in two years, allowing hobby miners to enjoy the same benefits of large-scale mining corporations.
Beam also has ASIC-resistant technology built -in, although they’ve only scheduled this ASIC-resistance for the next 12 months to give GPU miners a head start. After that 12 month period is over, Beam will allow ASICs to mine Beam.
What’s The Next Step For Grin And Beam?
Despite the differences, both Grin and Beam see a bright future ahead for Mimblewimble. The contributions of the two projects will push the privacy-focused protocol forward, paving the way forward for secure, anonymous blockchain transactions at scale.
Beam is scheduled to launch on January 3rd, with Grin launching on January 15th. Stay tuned for more updates as these two exciting Mimblewimble projects continue to push forward.