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Beam Guide 2021 | Hidden blockchain transactions for privacy

BEAM is a scalable confidential cryptocurrency based on an innovative Mimblewimble protocol. This means that the values and metadata associated with transactions are completely hidden. No trusted set-up is required and congestion on the blockchain is avoided as confidential transactions are carried out in a prunable way, thereby improving scalability as well as privacy.

Beam aims to allow its users to create and trade any digital asset and build financial services within an ecosystem which is totally confidential. No addresses or personal information about users is stored on the blockchain, and although the team don’t yet know how many transactions per second Beam will be able to handle, they believe it will be slightly higher than Bitcoin and existing privacy coins. The development team is currently performing a testnet of ghostDAG to bring Beam to the next level. The performance will not be high enough for BEAM to be used as a means of exchange, and so the developers believe that primarily BEAM will be used as a store of value.

The versatile Beam technology allows for a variety of transaction types including time-locked transactions — which can be user specified with wallet settings to allow shielded coins to be unlinked from their historical path — escrow and atomic swaps. Multiple asset types can be created and exchanged via Beam, such as new currencies, real estate tokens and corporate debts. The Beam wallet can be downloaded for desktop or mobile and it has a built-in dashboard featuring actionable spend and earning insights to make budget management easier for individuals and small businesses.

Beam’s performance and absence of a trusted set-up present improvements upon the existing privacy coins. Monero, the most popular privacy coin, has a market cap of almost $2.5 billion and if Beam is to one day compete with it, that suggests it has the potential for growth to more than 90 times its current size.

The technology behind Beam

Beam was launched in 2018 with Alexander Zaidelson as CEO — an entrepreneur, executive and VC investor with much experience of developing startups having founded Wikitup and Nareos. Beam’s aim is to promote financial and general privacy. Transactions on Bitcoin and many other cryptocurrencies are stored in a public ledger accessible to anyone, which is a problem for businesses that don’t want their competitors to be able to see all their income and expenses. Beam provides confidentiality, but unlike Monero and Zcash, it also offers opt-in auditability, as digitally signed documents can be attached to transactions and specific auditors can be granted permission to inspect them.

The BEAM Position Paper gives a detailed overview of the cryptocurrency, including what makes it special, such as superior scalability and complete control for users over their personal data. It also provides a detailed explanation of the key principles of Mimblewimble and describes the mining rewards and distribution of the coin. BEAM was implemented from scratch in C++ by a team of developers.

Although Beam began as a for-profit venture, handing over control was always the project’s long-term goal. In November 2019, the non-profit Beam Foundation was set up to continue the development of the protocol, governed by a board of directors composed of reputable industry figures. The Foundation aims to eventually give the community full control over protocol governance which will further the decentralisation of Beam.

Funding

There was no ICO or premine for Beam. More than a dozen companies invested in the protocol such as Lemniscap, Node Capital and Protos Asset Management. Beam is funded by a treasury of extra coins emitted from every block mined during the first five years. In the first year, 80 coins per block are rewarded to the miner while 20 go to the treasury. These figures reduce to 40 and 10 respectively for the next four years.

As well as supporting the Beam Foundation, treasury coins will be used to repay investors and incentivise the core team. The distribution of the treasury coins will be about 35% for investors, about 45% for the Beam Core Team and Advisors, and 20% for the Beam Foundation, which represents 7%, 9% and 4% respectively of all the coins over the first five years.

Beam tokenomics

  • Ticker: BEAM
  • Market cap: $27,577,975
  • Circulating supply: 80,065,040
  • Maximum supply: 262,800,000
  • Limited emission using periodic halving
  • Privacy coin
  • 50 Exchange listings including: Binance, HBTC, Hydrax Exchange, BitZ, Xtheta Global, Hotbit

Community Engagement

Beam has an active Twitter account where they share news and events on a daily basis with their more than 16,000 followers. It also has a Youtube channel which posts weekly with talks, development updates and tutorials. The Telegram and Discord channels are likewise active almost daily with nearly 10,000 and over 1,600 members respectively.

Beam also has accounts on Reddit, Gitter and Uptrennd, and regularly share roadmap updates via Medium and community calls. In addition to this, there is a weekly Beam newsletter with 4,000 sign-ups so far.

Roadmap evaluation

Since its launch at the start of 2019, Beam has released five major versions, each bringing new features and improvements. The latest version is the Eager Electron 5.2, the testnet of which was released in November, only slightly behind the October release suggested by the roadmap update given last September. The latest update included the addition of DOGE and DASH for atomic swaps, public offline addresses for collecting donations while your wallet is completely offline and 18 new languages. More improvements coming soon include atomic swaps for ETH and DAI and bridges to Ethereum, which will allow the creation of Beam representations of certain ERC-20 tokens.

Beam employs eight full-time developers and the engineering team is headed by CTO Alex Romanov, who has 15 years’ experience running complex R&D projects across many industries. The Beam release cycles have become shorter, the team posts regular updates and there is a lot of activity on their GitHub page, all of which are good signs for its development.

In summary

To conclude, as one of the first Mimblewimble cryptocurrencies, Beam has a lot of people pretty excited, and the strong team behind it has been constantly pushing updates to the protocol. Although Beam is fighting an uphill battle against more popular privacy coins like Monero and Zcash, its scalability and absence of a trusted set-up set it apart from the competition.

Beam is suitable for anyone who wants complete control over their personal data. The spend and earning insights provided in the Beam wallet combined with opt-in auditability also make the protocol ideal for small businesses concerned about privacy.

Development focus is now on the new BeamX platform, which will give developers the ability to implement DeFi products and services on Beam Blockchain. These could include DEXes, farming and staking, algorithmic stablecoins, wrapped assets, lending and NFTs. The BeamX testnet was launched in November 2020 and the mainnet activation is expected in Q1 2021.

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