If you consider technical innovations to be magical, then there is plenty of magic happening around Ethereum right now.
One of the newest of those innovations? Ethereum 9¾, a proof of concept system that uses powerful privacy techniques to conceal Ethereum token transactions.
Named after the magical train platform from the Harry Potter series, Ethereum 9¾ specifically relies on Mimblewimble, zk-SNARKs tech, and more to build out its privacy protections.
It is also titled from the Harry Potter canon, wherein a spell bearing the same name is used to block the speech of those who are affected by it.
Introduced by software engineer Wanseob Lim over the weekend in the Ethereum Research forum, Ethereum 9¾ aims to make it so that ERC20 tokens don’t have to “speak” either and can thus be used anonymously. The system appears to be the first time or among the very first times the technology of Mimblewimble has been used in direct tandem with Ethereum.
“Using both concepts of ZCash’s commitment-nullifier scheme and Mimblewimble protocol together on Ethereum, it hides the transaction details and the token flow while guaranteeing no money is printed out of thin air,” Lim said.
Takeaways? More DAOs and More Affordability Coming
Privacy developments around the Ethereum ecosystem have been picking up steam in 2019, and Ethereum 9¾ is among the latest threads to watch in that arena. So what might we expect from the system or other systems inspired by it going forward?
In his announcement of the new construction, Lim concluded the tech could lead to new types of DAOs (decentralized autonomous organizations) and DeFi projects, as it allows token transactions to be aggregated and for the associated relayers to collect fees. Lim explained:
“As a result, because the relayers can aggregate transactions and gather some fee, it is expected to see appearance of new DAO systems. For example, we can build a system where everyone can participate as relayers and decide their transaction fee or delegate stakes for the optimistic roll-up to receive a share of the fee revenue. De-Fi products can also use this model for their investment sources.”
Moreover, Lim added that even though an Ethereum 9¾ transaction costs more in gas than a transaction that does not require Mimblewimble, these costs should soon be cheaper. And the engineer pointed to more work being done in the future to bring these costs lower yet:
“Accordingly, the next step should be finding a way of reducing call data size and constraints as possible as we can. However, Ethereum 9¾ is still promising, and the upcoming Istanbul [upgrade to Ethereum] is going to make it more affordable than a bare ERC20 transaction, even it is a private transaction. Therefore, the hope is to see a new daily-use ERC20 wallet that supports private transactions using Ethereum 9¾.”
The Privacy Possibilities Are Widening
Lots of new privacy solutions for Ethereum have materialized this year. One of the firsts back in February was Zether. Months later the banking powerhouse J. P. Morgan and “Big Four” accounting firm EY launched their own Ethereum privacy tools, Anonymous Zether and Nightfall respectively.
Somewhat relatedly, some of the decentralized oracle specialists with the Chainlink project as well as other experts published a paper on Mixicles, a tool that uses oracles and smart contracts to make financial instrument transactions private but auditable.
So Ethereum 9¾ is just the latest oncomer to arrive, but it likely won’t be the latest for long as more similarly-inspired solutions hit the scene.