Monroe celebrates its 5th birthday, what has this popular privacy coin experienced?

Monero, one of the most popular privacy currencies, celebrated its fifth birthday this week.

Founded in April 2014, Monroe has the characteristics of decentralization and grassroots structure, almost exclusively developed by volunteers.


Monroe contributor Diego Salazar said:

Monroe attaches great importance to decentralization and grassroots structure, which means that we do not pre-dig, we do not receive block rewards, no ICO.

Salazar estimates that between 100 and 200 volunteers are involved in the development of the Monroe project.

In addition, according to Salazar, the project itself is not just about building blockchain agreements, but about redefining and supporting global campaigns centered on digital privacy.

We are not just trying to create a global internet currency. We are trying to tell people about the importance of things like privacy. This is a very powerful tool, and I think this is a very necessary tool in our time.

To this end, the Italian developer and Monroe contributor "SerHack" released a free PDF reading "Proficient in Monroe Coin" to commemorate its fifth anniversary. Originally published in late 2018, the book was fully funded by the Monroe community and conveyed the importance of “privacy and anti-examination transactions” to users of non-encrypted circles. In addition, the online community of the project further commemorated this important day through various activities.

Although Monroe is not the only blockchain dedicated to privacy transactions on the chain, it is the highest market value among similar currencies. According to QKL123, Monroe's market capitalization exceeds 8 billion yuan.

During the five-year period, the project underwent a series of major upgrades, including enhancements to the fungibility and transaction privacy upgrades.

From optional privacy to default privacy

Monroe contributor Justin Ehrenhofer said:

For Monroe's interchangeability, the source of confidential funding is critical. In this way, you don't know the purpose of the funds you received.

From the beginning, Monroe tried to confuse funding sources with "ring signatures." Through ring signatures, transactions are signed by one of a group of participants (each participant has a private key), but the purpose is to make it difficult to know who is providing a specific number of participants in the group. signature.

Ehrenhofer explained:

In the Monroe network, every input you spend extracts other inputs from the blockchain, that is, random inputs from others… This makes all of these inputs seem to be spent. Mathematically, any of these (inputs) may be (transaction) signers.

However, at startup, it is not mandatory to extract the transaction input (ie, ring signature) of a random user. Cryptographic exchanges, open mines, and other users who don't care about transaction privacy can choose to set "ringsize" (the size of the ring) to zero.

Monroe researchers realized that if too many users choose not to confuse their transaction sources, the privacy of other users may suffer.

Ehrenhofer said:

If I send a transaction that shows my actual expenses, then this means that if someone else uses my expenses to disguise, everyone will know that this is a fake expense, because in my transaction, I obviously have already spent it. .

Therefore, on March 22, 2016, Monroe performed a hard fork to force all users to at least set ringsize to 3 to confuse their trading sources. This means that when users make their own transactions, they need to extract data from at least three other random transaction inputs in the network, thereby participating together to enhance the privacy of the entire blockchain.

One of the major challenges that Monroe needed to overcome at the outset was to improve existing infrastructure. This basically means forcing people to use best practices and forcing ring signatures.

Strong signature protection network formed by ring signature + confidential transaction

The second most important improvement in Monroe's history is also related to the ring signature.

That is, the "secret transaction" (CT). This upgrade was performed on January 5, 2017 through hard forks. It effectively adds an extra layer of privacy to the ring signature by confusing Monroe's transaction amount.

The activation of RingCT means that in addition to not identifying the source or address of the transaction, Monero has now completely hidden the transaction amount.

Ehrenhofer said:

These outputs have been disconnected from the address. RingCT goes a step further and shows that when these outputs are processed, we don't know the exact amount.

In fact, when a user looks up the Monroe address on the blockchain browser, it will receive a "warning":

Ah, it seems like you want to peek at the address of this Monroe deal… It looks like you really want to see the balance of this guy. But Monroe said no!

RingCT comes from a bitcoin proposal called "Confidential Transactions" by Blockstream Chief Technology Officer Gregory Maxwell. It was then redesigned by Monroe developers and used for ring signatures.

However, while improving the privacy of the Monroe blockchain, RingCT actually made significant sacrifices in terms of scalability.

Ehrenhofer revealed:

Prior to the addition of RingCT, the transaction size was approximately 3 kb, approximately 10 times the Bitcoin transaction. RingCT increased these numbers to 13kb, which is an increase of 4 to 5 times.

Monroe's "bulletproof" protection

At this point, "Bulletproofs" – although not directly improving privacy – are still considered to be major improvements to the network.

According to Ehrenhofer, Bulletproofs technology has reduced Monroe's trading size and verification time by about 80%, achieving a dramatic change from 13kb to 1.5kb, and Monroe's trading size has fallen dramatically – even though it is still trading more than Bitcoin. It is also more difficult to verify.

The technology, released at the end of 2017, is hailed as a major breakthrough in privacy, originally designed by Jonathan Bootle of University College London and Benedikt Bunz of Stanford University for Bitcoin. Eventually, on October 18, 2018, Monroe became the first mainstream cryptocurrency to use the technology through hard forks.

Despite this, Ehrenhofer pointed out that the verification time on the network is still "the biggest obstacle to Monroe at present."

The most difficult thing to achieve in the Monroe network is not the transaction size, but the verification time. We can make Monroe's ring signature very powerful today… but the transaction verification time is still difficult to break through. Even if it doesn't take up as much space on your computer, it takes a long time to figure it out.

So looking ahead, Ehrenhofer hopes that the upcoming protocol improvements will find a way to increase the size of the ring signature so that it can carry more than 1000 anonymous sets on a given day.

In Salazar's view, another upcoming improvement in Monroe is an upgrade to the web user interface and experience.

Many things are redesigned from scratch, such as personal pages, transaction history pages, send and receive pages.