The release of a mainnet is an important milestone in the life of a blockchain project. Determining the right approach to building a chain that meets Hcash’s project goals meant looking at two options:
1) Build a completely new chain
2) Fork from an existing open source codebase
The primary considerations that went into this decision were the time required for each undertaking and whether the approach would enable the delivery of the key features that are to be the cornerstones of Hcash. After researching both approaches, it was determined that forking from an open source database would be the best way to confidently achieve the Hcash vision in the timeliest manner possible.
Hcash found that the Decred team shares its core values. It is a well-functioning open source chain aligned with the principles of Hcash, which can be contributed to by adding new core components such as post quantum signatures.
Hcash wants to be a constructive and connective example for blockchain by leading open source development. Hcash determined that Decred has solid fundamental resolutions to many problems found in blockchain today. As an alternative to building the Hcash blockchain from the ground-up, Hcash proposes to continue exploring what can be added to an extant community while maintaining its own direction by forking from Decred’s open source code properly.
To better understand this starting point, it helps to know a little bit about the preceding system. Decred itself is a fork of Bitcoin. A Bitcoin developer group named Company 0 recognized hurdles that Bitcoin needed to overcome before widespread adoption would be possible, notably, better blockchain governance, development funding, and a fairer consensus model. In the wake of Bitcoin Core and Blockstream’s formation came ongoing disputes about scaling Bitcoin, as well as concerns about the effect of external financing on development interests. In December 2015, Company 0 proposed Decred. Forked from Bitcoin, Decred’s mainnet went live February 2016.
The Decred project started as a fork so its developers could introduce or create new processes in the blockchain structure that Bitcoin and other projects can benefit from. To accomplish this, there was no need to reinvent the wheel by designing a new foundational blockchain layer. In fact, having more similarities with Bitcoin would make backwards-compatibility simpler. Out of this, came the following features Hcash wants to emphasize:
- Hybrid PoW/ PoS: A built-in system of decentralized governance. This makes it much more difficult for groups to gain a dominant interest in the protocol. PoW/ PoS achieves this by leaving decision making to voting and by increasing the cost to attack the network. You would need the majority of the hash rate and the vote to attempt 51%.
- Decentralized Pooling: Staking is possible without remaining online with an active wallet running allowing more participation in the network.
- Blake256: An alternative hashing algorithm without the vulnerabilities of SHA2. This is comparable to SHA3 in terms technical depth.
Hcash intends to continue the progression and usage of open source development by leaving a footprint for other ventures in distributed ledger technology to follow. Naturally, this begs the question, “In what direction will Hcash be advancing DLT?”. Post quantum capability is one of the key features that the Hcash project is prioritizing. At this point, it is clear that the proliferation of quantum computing is only a matter of time and only a select few blockchain projects have paid any attention to this inevitability.
Out of the research completed by Shanghai Jiao Tong University LoCCS, the Hcash mainnet is expected to be the first to incorporate a post quantum signature scheme in a blockchain. Hcash recognizes the threat of quantum computing and is making post quantum security a priority; the work being done by Hcash and its research partners guiding the way for other projects to adopt post quantum protections.
Along with better security, Hcash also believes privacy is a vital element of decentralized systems. To implement privacy protection into the Hcash project, it has entered into a partnership with Monash University to fund research on new ring signature technology that will open new possibilities in on-chain privacy. Dr. Joseph Liu of Monash University wrote his PhD thesis about linkable ring signatures. Many people familiar with the crypto space would recognize ring signatures as the basis of Monero’s privacy scheme. As a privacy layer, ring signatures can allow for additional protection by means of transactional anonymity by grouping transactions, but only having one person at random within that group sign and verify with their key. Research on this new method is underway, and when the research study has been completed, information will be made public and available through GitHub as Hcash has done with its post quantum work.
Hcash wants to help realize a more secure and distributed infrastructure. While Decred is primarily a system for transactions with fair governance built in, Hcash envisions global DLT ecosystem building. Throughput and interoperability with other projects is vital to achieving this. After mainnet launch, Hcash hopes to contribute to Lightning Network research and continue giving back to the larger community of open source developers working on DLT. This will make off chain transactions possible through Lightning Network channels, not just for Hcash, but for other Lightning-compatible projects as well.
The DLT space is very young and there is a long way to go to mature it to the point that decentralized systems become ubiquitous. Hcash plans to play a major role in maturing and facilitating the adoption of this revolutionary technology by partnering with the thinkers ready to dream up the next big ideas and applying our skills and resources to make those ideas a reality.