Whitepaper: Transparent Currency
Disclaimer: This whitepaper was originally published in 2017 on nocodeneeded.com. It is outdated and impractical, and was written long before the crypto-craze. I don’t endorse cryptocurrencies or web3.0 in any way.
I propose a new cryptocurrency fundamentally different from every other cryptocurrency. We will discuss the advantages, and the purpose behind my proposal later on, but for now I simply want to discuss its practical differences. It is different due to a single reason:
- This new currency is not based on a public ledger for transactions between users, but a public record of every coin’s location and history.
To clarify what this means, I want to propose a new structure for the actual currency. To define this structure I will propose two properties that every coin has, that traditional cryptocurrencies lack:
- In this cryptocurrency, there is a smallest denomination. The penny is the smallest amount of American currency you can exchange. This smallest denomination exists in many physical currencies, but not in cryptocurrencies. I can split a Bitcoin in however many parts I wish. The term “one bitcoin” is therefore pretty arbitrary, but in this system, you cannot split an amount indefinitely.
- Each coin, which is the smallest denomination of the cryptocurrency available, has a history. Meaning, that the coin records every single user that has ever owned it. This creates a path from where the coin came from, to where it went, and where it is now. Whenever a coin is transacted, the new user’s ID is attached onto the history of the coin, increasing its history.
From this property, we can continue to use a Blockchain, which will allow us to preserve the network effect and security intrinsic to Blockchain. We do have to make a couple modifications:
- Each block no longer records transactions, rather it records coin histories. Whenever a transaction is made, a coin’s history is updated to include the latest owner. Since it also recorded the previous owner, you can see the transaction within any coin’s history.
- Digital Signatures are no longer attached to transactions, but to updated coin histories. In order for someone to steal a coin, they would have to add their identification to the end of a given coin’s history, but a coin’s history cannot be updated, unless the current owner (whose ID is at the end of the coin) signs off on this update.
Seemingly, we have changed the current system very little, but the introduction of a minimum denomination and coin history adds a lot of potentially valuable information to the system.
Previously, your knowledge of where money was coming from was limited to a few factors:
- Since there is currently no smallest denomination, the separation between transactions is arbitrary. As soon as money is transferred from one wallet to the other, it loses any unique attachment to the previous owner, it is simply a number added to your wallet. You would not be able to see which of your coins came from the previous owner, because a coin is an arbitrary term.
- Due to the arbitrary properties of coins in conventional cryptocurrencies, you were limited to one degree of separation. Any given user who was receiving money could only see who they were receiving it from. If you were to attempt to look any further, you would see every transaction the previous owner was involved with, but you would not be able to identify who the money you now own came from originally.
- Due to this limit on degrees of separation, money is completely global in conventional cryptocurrencies. To clarify I want to introduce a case: Let us say that two participants in a network usually only exchange with each other. They keep the public ledger in case they want to trade with other people, but that is rare. Even though these two only trade with each other, their coin is no different that the coin from any other group in the network. This means that groups are hard to define in a network. You can see user’s transactional histories, the frequencies at which any user trades with another, but you cannot define a group as their interaction with the public network erases the group’s unique relationship.
- Local ecosystem are completely shut out from the public network. Let us say that one corporation owns a lot of bitcoin, and they do not want to make separate wallets for each department in the corporation, so they make a private network that is based on the current balance of the overall wallet. This allows people to trade money with each other outside of the public network. As soon as one department wants to use some of their designated balance, they have to go through the public wallet. From the perspective of the public network, the local departments do not exist.
Everyone of these points is drastically different in the new system:
- Since there is a smallest denomination, the separation between transactions is intrinsic to the identity of the coin. If you look at your wallet, you can differentiate between every single coin that is there. Each coin carries an attachment to every owner it has ever had.
- Due to this carried attachment, there is no limit to the degrees of separation. Meaning, that you do not have to look at another user’s transactional histories to see where your money may have come from. You can look at any coin in your wallet and see exactly how it got to your wallet. You can see how the user who paid you got the money and where that user got the money. You can see a coin’s history back to its first owner. This makes coins their own entities separate from any user and decreases the the currency’s reliance on any given user in the network. Money is not tied to one user, it refers to every user.
- This also means that various exploits that are used in today’s system such as tumblers would not work in this system as money retains its identity no matter where it is and who has traded it.
- Since money is no longer tied to users, smaller ecosystems within the public network can arise. Looking at a coin’s history you can see if it exists primarily between two users or whether it flows throughout the network. Communities can arise within the network that are defined by the frequency of their identity attached to the coins they use. A coin that has only two identities in its history is obviously only important to two users. A coin that has a diverse history is used by a lot of people. Communities are defined by the coins that they use.
- Since communities can now exist as defined entities, local ecosystems can exists outside of the public network, while still contributing to the history of the coins they use. In order for this to be true, one modification must be made:
- Not only does a coin record every wallet it has been in, you can also include temporary or permanent tags onto a wallet’s identification. This can allow for a temporary display of information for any user that looks at it, or it can be a permanent record for the entire public network to see. This enables amorphous sub-wallets to be made within a larger wallet. Every department within a corporation that has a wallet can have their own tag attached onto the corporation’s ID. If a department gets disbanded, the tag can disappear without any loss of integrity within the public network. If a new department is formed, a tag can be created without having to hassle with creating its own additional proof of work adjunct to the corporation’s. This allows sub wallets to trade with the public network while also remaining inherently separate from it.
We have discussed the structure of this new cryptocurrency as well as a few of the unique traits that arise from its fundamentally different composition, yet I have failed to tell you the purpose of this cryptocurrency and what it can achieve. This system can be implemented in the real world to solve one of the largest problems plaguing business today, and bring cryptocurrency to the masses. One more addition must be defined before we go on though:
- In order to derive this new benefit that I will define later, anonymity must be removed from the entire network. This is drastically different to every single cryptocurrency that exists today. Wallets within the network will need to be tied to a real identity such as a person, company, or other legal entities. Anonymity is where other cryptocurrencies have thrived and this is not an attempt to dethrone them, rather, it is a proposition to allow the public to utilize cryptocurrency without sacrificing their identities, and creating a system that will increase the safety of using money for both the average consumer and producer in the market.
This system will also help get rid of fraudulent transactions of every kind. Current cryptocurrencies stop certain forms of fraud such as ‘double-dipping’ (spending the same money twice) or spending money that is not there, yet it does not stop the stealing of money and spending of money by those who it does not belong. If you have the private key of a wallet, you can spend the money of the wallet. The new system will be much more comprehensive because of one assumption:
- Knowing where someone’s money comes from, how it has flowed through the market, and who has used it in that past, is an extremely strong indicator of the trustworthiness of that person. It can also forewarn us of irregular activities of a given wallet, leading to early knowledge of fraudulent activity. In the same way that credit scores predict the creditworthiness of someone based on how they pay their bills, what loans they have, etc… knowing the movement of someone’s money gives off information about the situation of a certain user.
This assumption along with the new system, and the complete transparency is bound to create a fraud-free environment that ensures both consumer and producers that they are doing business securely without fear of scams, fraud, etc…
There are three ways to implement this system, each has it’s own pros and cons:
- You could do it the way cryptocurrencies do it today where the value is determined by the market and it therefore would fluctuate and operate as its own currency.
- You could tie the coin’s value to a given physical currency (i.e. American Dollar) and thus it would be more resilient to fluctuations and would be another method to use the real physical currency. This would also provide the cryptocurrency with backed value. In this case another interesting property arises. You would have the ability (if decided in the beginning stages of setting up the network) to destroy currency. Since it would be reliant on a real currency, you would have no obligation to preserve the balance of the economy.
- Finally you could provide an entirely different value on the coin based on its history. This would also be determined according to market demand, but it’s basis would be that certain coins have more ‘reliable’ histories. Reliable coins, that have little risk associated with them, would have a higher market value. This would mean that each coin carries a value unique to it’s history. This could be implemented in a number of other ways: base value plus added value, discounts for credible coin, etc…
The big question that remains before we go into the technical details is whether the benefits of this cryptocurrency are great enough for it to be worth it for people (and companies) to transition. We have looked at a couple of the obvious technical benefits, but we need to simplify them into tangible and understandable ‘pros’ of the system. There are two groups of users that could benefit from the system, the consumer and the producers, and each group has their own set of selling points. For the consumer:
- This system will allow an easy and smarter way to transfer money.
- Any two users can transfer money without paying large transfer fees, dealing with laws and regulations limiting transfers, and being forced to succumb to inflated exchange rates for different currencies.
- The record of transfer will be clear and provable without doubt, no matter where the money ends up. Transfers are secure, immutable, and never lost.
- Conditions can be set up on the transfer such as limiting when the receiving user can withdraw the money, where that user can spend it, and even greater conditions such as limiting the coin’s use until the previous owner approves. This can be extremely valuable to a variety of users, without interfering with the larger network. (This is a point partially separate from the properties described above. Each coin having its own identity means you can place restrictions on only the money a given user is transferring, but additional framework will be needed to allow (temporary) restrictions to be applied to a coin.)
- Users can be confident while spending, donating, investing, or generally using money.
- The system will allow users to be confident that they are doing business transactions with reputable and reliable second parties. Knowing how money flows through the second-party will help users determine (through created algorithms to simplify the analyzing of coin histories) whether it is a safe or risky transaction.
- Not only will users be confident in who you are doing business with, but also who they are donating or investing with. Users can have full trust in those they are trusting with their money. This is because you can track how the non-profit organizations and investment firms are spending your money and where. Using this system creates a transparent environment that can allow users to trust again in a world full of fraud.
- The longer users stay within the network the higher confidence third-parties have in them.
- This at first does not seem like a consumer benefit, but producers will most likely be more than happy to create incentives for trustworthy consumers to shop with them by providing better deals or sales to highly credible users. If a given user gets their money from reliable sources, has a consistent source of money, allows their money to flow throughout the market, and avoids any form of sketchy, shady, or fraudulent, behaviour, then producers can be sure that they are dealing with authentic customers with no risk of future loss. Confident producers leads to an improved, easier, and perhaps cheaper experience for consumers.
- Users have the ability to create sub wallets.
- This applies for both large corporations and individuals. They can create sub wallets that they have authoritative supervision and control over, while also enabling full or limited interaction with the larger network. They can choose to make the sub-wallets private or they can make them public sub-nodes in the network. Either way this allows money to move around locally without physically moving around money in the larger network.
For the producers:
- Producers can have higher confidence in potential customers.
- Since businesses can see the coin record of a given user’s wallet, it allows them to predict (with provided or built algorithms) whether or not to trust a given user. If their record looks reliable, producers have a low risk of dealing with fraud. Reducing this risk can save companies billions of dollars every year.
- Since the network is open, producers can easily tell whether a certain customer has shopped there before. Even though companies already know this by looking at their own records, it is now built into the system which means that no errors can be made in a customer’s history. Knowing whether someone has shopped at you before can give you assurance that the customer is most likely reliable.
- The system also allows companies to spot fraud extremely early. If they see that a returned customer (or any customer) recently has had a lot of suspicious activity or abnormal transactions surrounding their wallets, producers can determine that although the user may be trustworthy, someone has hacked their wallet deeming them now unreliable. They can retain a cautious stance until normal activity resumes in the customer’s wallet.
- From a marketing and data point of view, this system can help producers identify who their market base is and where they are.
- Since coin records are open, producers can tell where existing customers are spending money elsewhere giving them information as to where expansion is viable.
- Producers can also see if potential customers are spending money at a competitor and market directly towards the ideal future customer.
- Building brand loyalty is much easier as you can create personalized campaigns for customers based on their activity in the network, this gives them the means to fight off competitors attempting to poach customers.
- Transactions on the network may be able to avoid many burdensome and tiresome legalities. Since it is a cryptocurrency, there is a clean slate for companies to build on with fair, open, and mutually beneficial practices between producers and consumers.
We have only begun to discuss the advantages for participants in the network, but there are also clear disadvantages:
- Everyone in the network is giving up a certain level of privacy.
- Where you shop, spend money, and interact with in an economic sense is open knowledge. This can be a big sacrifice to make for any users, whether they are a corporation or an individual. In the long run it may be beneficial for everyone, but it is hard to accept this level of openness, even if a user has nothing to hide.
- Not all privacy is given up, people can only see parent level details, i.e. where you shop, but not exactly what you are buying.
- There are no clear returns on investment
- The only clear benefit is a more open and confident community, but keeping money in this system would not clearly give you interest over time. This would mainly be an account for actively spent amounts of money, but not investments.
I have proposed the system and some of its benefits, although there are many undiscussed aspects that I have yet to think of or explore, but it is time to get into some of the more technical aspects.
I would imagine, as I have hinted above, that this system exist on a blockchain. I will not explain in detail how a blockchain works as there are hundreds of great and detailed explanations on the web, but I will explain some basic points. A blockchain is, at its most basic level, a public document that records events. For Bitcoin, it is a public ledger that records all transactions. Our system would populate its ledger with all the coin histories that exist in the system. Other than this, it would be exactly the same as a normal blockchain. It would use SHA-256 or SHA-512 to create a chain of blocks connected to each other (and allow for proof-of-work), and would use some sort of decentralized network to take advantage of the network effect, immutability of incoming blocks, among other noted advantages over a fully private network. Despite this, I see immense value in created something I wish to call a ‘weighted blockchain’.
This is mostly irrelevant to the main concept, but a weighted blockchain would allow a central power to exist in conjunction with a decentralized network in the following manner: each node in the network would have equal say in what block to accept into the chain , except for one central node. For arguments sake, let us say that the central node controls 30% of the vote for whether or not to accept a new block into the chain. The rest of the network controls 70% of the vote. In order for a new block to be attached onto the official chain, 51% of the vote is required to anonymously choose one block (if there are two options). This means that there are two ways in which a block can be accepted as the official block:
- The centralized node can vote yes which automatically provides 30% of the vote. This would require at least 30% of the community to also vote yes (.3 x 70% = 21% + 30% = 51%).
- The centralized node votes no which means we still need 51% more for the block to pass. This can still be achieved if approximately 72.8% of the community votes yes (.728 x 70% = 51%).
This would mean that if someone were to attempt to force a block through it would still require an immense out of work to fool the blockchain. If they fool the centralized node, then they still have to fool 30% of the rest of the network. If they do not fool the centralized node, then they have to convince over 70% of the network, a number pretty infeasible (they might as well control the network at that point). This shows that a weighted block chain can still take advantage of the security of the blockchain while allowing a central authority to monitor the network. There are many reasons as to why you would want a central authority, that I will not discuss not for time’s sake. Personally, it would enable me (the central authority) to influence the direction that the network grows in keeping it fair, transparent, and providing it the proper framework to become something that helps further the world.
The obvious question is how to create a centralized node within a blockchain. A blockchain’s security comes from the agreement of the majority in the network, so to enable a weighted blockchain we would have to change the structure of the blockchain. There are a number of ways to achieve this:
- We could rely on the fact that the centralized node would be the most influential in the network by having the most involvement in creating blocks. If a single party owned thirty percent of the network, they can be considered a centralized node, but that is a very fragile state to be in as the network grows, the centralized node would need to continuously increase its computing power and presence.
- Today, people are incentivized to invest computing power into the network by being rewarded with transaction fees and the introduction of new coins in the network. To keep a centralized node, you could reduce these incentives to make sure that people would have no desire to overtake a centralized node in terms of influence. This also reduces the potential and security of the network, so it is not the perfect solution.
- This involves eliminating free access to the blockchain. Not anyone can enter the blockchain, you must be verified to be ‘real’ and transparent. If the central power (node) controlled whether a given node was accepted into the network, then it could retain its 30% influence by creating arbitrary sub-nodes that copy the behavior of the central node. As the network grows larger the central node does too by introducing nodes that are exact copies of it. So to get all the sub-nodes to accept a block you need to get the central block to accept the block. This also fits within our transparent theme as we do not want anybody being allowed into the network, only nodes that have given up their anonymity and have attached themselves to a real identity.
This system has the potential to be the cryptocurrency that truly is the ‘future of money’.
- It allows you to add larger amounts of data to more defined sets of money that can find uses in contracts, payments, information storage, and much more.
- The system becomes more trustworthy and valuable as the network scales and money is traded. Conventional cryptocurrencies only becomes slightly more reliable with the introduction of more nodes.
- It is harder to fake a block and let it be accepted into the network because:
- For a given amount of money that you want to claim you have, you have to fake the signature of every coin in that amount, which gets harder and harder for larger amounts.
- This system makes it faster to spot fake blocks (or forks) as you can determine if individuals coins are going against normal behavior and if they are remaining stagnant in the network for more than a couple blocks.
- It is impossible to use various exploits present in current cryptocurrencies such as tumblers. Since money is traceable, its identity will remain no matter where you send it.
- The masses have tangible benefit from a transparent economy as they can have more trust in using their money.
- Producers can also have higher levels of trust in a transparent economy, and will have massive amounts of data to work with that will enable them to connect to their customers on a level never before seen.
- Governments will see reduced levels of fraud in a transparent economy allowing them to receive appropriate amounts of taxes (etc…) and enabling them to understand how the economy works to a greater extent.
- It has the capability of being the perfect economy long term.
- Among other potential advantages and features.
I have just read an article about how blockchain is not scalable. This system also allows a greater degree of scalability, because you can create an indefinite amount of sub wallets within a larger node, meaning you can have tons of users even though not everyone records every updated coin history. This may be an extremely critical feature as it can allow for the system to encompass an extremely large amount of people without needing an equivalent amount of computing power.
- You can have a system that is both secure with a decent amount of nodes, but also flexible in allowing more users without increasing computing power.
This is my paper on a transparent and traceable cryptocurrency. I am sure that I am missing out on a few big points and have not explored a lot of aspects of the system, but I believe that it will give the reader an idea of what the system is and how it works. I hope that my explanations and thoughts were clear. This is the cryptocurrency of the people, a cryptocurrency that has the capability of being the way people spend money in the future. The technical details are in another paper that is being written up at the moment. If you have any questions please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 058–478–0244.