“Privacy is too hard. Privacy isn’t sexy enough. Privacy is for criminals.”
These are some of the comments that I’ve heard about privacy in crypto.
Let’s get a few things straight: Privacy is hard. Privacy isn’t sexy. And unfortunately, privacy is sometimes used by criminals.
But let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater by canceling privacy before it becomes the current thing.
Privacy is a universal human right. Privacy protects individual people from fraud, theft, exploitation, kidnapping, and sometimes, much much worse.
A life without privacy, is a life on the brink of chaos.
“Privacy is not something that I’m merely entitled to, it’s an absolute prerequisite.” ― Marlon Brando
So how do we make privacy easy, sexy, and safe to use?
Bitcoin was created in 2008, back when the technology needed to make it private wasn’t ready yet. Instead, Satoshi suggested some (rather clunky) workarounds to make Bitcoin more private. But these workarounds aren’t exactly fool proof.
Some of you may be thinking, “wait, isn’t Bitcoin already private?”
The answer is, “yes, but no.”
Bitcoin is what people call pseudonymous, which basically means your transactions are, inevitably, identifiable, by anyone.
A simple example of the pseudonymous nature of bitcoin is: if I were to send you BTC, then you could immediately lookup the transaction on any publicly available block explorer, and see how much BTC I have left.
And if you got salty (or mean) because my stack is larger (or smaller) than yours and you wanted to dox me, then you could easily publish my bitcoin address publicly for the whole world to see. And I couldn’t stop you.
The same scenario can be replayed today across most public blockchains, including Ethereum, which also has the added complexity of making smart contracts private.
Now imagine if this example were the base case for everyday transactions in fiat currencies, such as USD. Society would be (a lot more) chaotic.
“Privacy is necessary for an open society in the electronic age. Privacy is not secrecy. A private matter is something one doesn’t want the whole world to know, but a secret matter is something one doesn’t want anybody to know. Privacy is the power to selectively reveal oneself to the world.” ― Eric Hughes
The good news is, the technology needed to make Bitcoin, Ethereum and crypto broadly, more private is now ready thanks to the efforts of a small handful of cryptographers that have been working on it the past several years.
That technology is a cryptographic method called zero-knowledge proofs (ZKP). Put simply, ZKP allows people to share information without showing it. In the context of a crypto transaction, using ZKP, someone can prove that they sent a transaction that was less-than or equal-to the total amount that they had in their wallet, without disclosing the amount of the transaction, or the amount left over in their wallet. If you think this sounds like magic, it kind of is.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” ― Arthur C. Clarke
But to date, ZKP has been largely reserved for the magicians ― those with the knowledge, resources, tools, and skills to perform magic ― which in the crypto space, consists of a group of highly technical people with the knowledge, resources, tools, and skills to write complex code.
Today, with the release of Yellow Submarine, the magic of ZKP privacy in crypto is now accessible to anyone that can click a button.
Yellow Submarine is a decentralized application (dapp), using a practical implementation of ZKP, which abstracts away a lot of the technical complexity, to allow private transactions across BNB Chain, Ethereum and other EVM compatible chains.
For the ELI5 crowd, this means that there’s an app that you can now use to send and receive any token on Ethereum or BNB Chain, privately (including but not limited to USDT, USDC, BUSD, ETH and BNB).
Under the surface, Yellow Submarine uses Findora’s multi-chain architecture, which parallelizes the best of ZKP for scalability and privacy with the finest of EVM for programmability, interoperability, and composability.
Believe it or not, the inspiration for Yellow Submarine came from Zoom. When a user clicks a link to join Zoom, they don’t have to know anything about packet switching, caching, or video streaming compression codecs. They just click, and join their meeting, while all the complexity in the background is abstracted away for the end user.
Yellow Submarine is:
- Easy ✅
- Sexy ✅ (in a 1960’s groovy Beatles kind of way)
- Safe ✅ (if you’re a baddie reading this thinking Yellow Submarine is a great tool to use, then think again)
Yellow Submarine marks the first release of Columbus DAO, a decentralized community project aiming to build a Universal Privacy Settlement (UPS) layer across all blockchains, using Findora.
A UPS layer for crypto could lead to a whole new category of projects, including decentralized private vaults, confidential money markets, private NFTs, private DAOs, private asset pooling and Dark Pool DEXs to prevent front running attacks.
A UPS layer is a key ingredient needed in order to bring more privacy to DeFi, a movement better known as “PriFi,” which could help unlock over a trillion dollars worth of capital currently sitting on the sidelines of the DeFI economy.
Without the ability to privately browse information on the internet, the web may have never reached mainstream adoption. Crypto needs privacy to go mainstream. Yellow Submarine is an important milestone in achieving that.