An Upcoming Cryptocurrency Is Trialling a Trio of Bitcoin Tech Advances

“[I’m] very much waiting for you guys to finish in a sea of shitcoins.”

With that, pseudonymous forum user ‘Monkeyyy’ just might have summed up the sentiment surrounding a forthcoming cryptocurrency called “grin.” Rising to renown last year as the first software implementation for a code proposal known as MimbleWimble, the idea is to start a new blockchain that has better scale and privacy than bitcoin.

That concept has won praise from developers who are normally wary of new ideas, namely because many of them don’t turn out as great as promised (or otherwise devolve into get-rich-quick-schemes). But rather than coding their own solutions, grin’s contributors are all about adopting technology that’s been reviewed and approved by a circle of experts.

As the team wades into their second test stage, preparing to launch a working payment system, they’ve been among the first to implement SchnorrBulletproofs and Dandelion, all promising technologies originally intended to improve bitcoin’s scale and privacy, but that just haven’t made it into the hard-to-change cryptocurrency just yet.

Lead grin developer Igno Peverell, named after an obscure Harry Potter character, told CoinDesk:

“Testnet 2 was and is likely to stay our largest release in terms of new technology.”

It’s also ambitious. In turning MimbleWimble into a real, working software for payments, the developer team behind grin has added features that have been years in the making.

“Signature aggregation,” for instance, has been in the works for bitcoin since 2014 and is one of its most highly anticipated code changes. Pioneered by Bitcoin Core contributor Pieter Wuille, the project “MuSig” has the potential to lump signature data together and free up space in the blockchain.

A working prototype has already been implemented, though it’s unclear when it will be added to bitcoin and if the community will ultimately embrace the change.

Scalability boost

Therein lies one advantage of grin, which is more quickly putting such ideas to the test with real value.

Bitcoin is a living payment system, so developers and the community are particularly cautious when making changes that could be dangerous to its users.

“Bitcoin developers have working implementations of MuSig, but deploying it on the mainnet will take time. Actually, it must absolutely not be rushed,” said cryptography expert Yannick Seurin, who’s been helping with the cryptography behind MuSig at cybersecurity agency ANSSI.

But grin is launching a blockchain from scratch, so it’s easier for the developer team to adopt sweeping changes – at least while the blockchain is still small.

“Since Grin is more experimental, they can afford testing newer primitives such as MuSig,” Seurin continued.

It’s worth noting though that in grin, signature aggregation plays a much more fundamental role. Unlike bitcoin, grin uses signature aggregation by default in transactions to remove data bitcoin normally has to keep to preserve the security of transactions.

Privacy boost

Then there’s bulletproofs, a breakthrough privacy technology unveiled by bitcoin developers late last year…

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