Grin is the community-led implementation of the MimbleWimble blockchain with a hint of the Harry Potter. The man (or woman) behind it recently conducted a Q&A covering topics from founding principles to choosing anonymity.
Grin was launched earlier this year on the 15th January and a few days ago received a boost with the launch of a new GUI mining platform from Cudo Miner.
It has gained some high-profile backers in recent weeks. The administrator of BitcoinTalk, Theymos, said he’s “super excited about grin” describing it as “clearly built in the same cypherpunk spirit that Bitcoin was.” Grin is now only the second cryptocurrency after Bitcoin to be accepted as payment for services on BitcoinTalk.
Unusually, Grin came free of ICO, pre-mine or founder’s reward – in fact its developers are volunteers and it has a 100% community-driven funding model. Following in the footsteps of Bitcoin’s Satoshi Nakamoto, Grin’s founder is known only by the pseudonym Ignotus Peverell – a name taken from the Harry Potter books (and not the only Harry Potter reference in Grin..).
He was recently interviewed via email Q&A by Breaker mag, which gives us some new insights on the ethos behind the cryptocurrency and where it’s going.
On Grin being entirely community-driven and non-profit
It has become clear over the past two years that raising funds through an ICO isn’t quite the blessing it once seemed. For starters, if projects didn’t cash out soon after raising their funds, they are sitting on some substantial losses – and those projects that have lost most of their money certainly aren’t telling their supporters (so much for transparency). In addition, the SEC regards most ICOs as securities sales, and one by one, ICOs are returning money to backers. Against this background, it’s not surprising that Grin has avoided the ICO route.
In his interview, Peverell said: “Accepting extremely large amounts in ICOs results in extremely large headaches. I prefer to focus on creating something I believe in, and keep building it over time. The approach currently adopted in Grin seemed the best I could think of to achieve that and keep both headaches and noise as far away as possible.”
On why we need another privacy currency
Bitcoin lacks anonymity – it’s best described as pseudonymous, so a number of cryptocurrencies have adopted privacy features – ZCash being the most notable. Grin is also described as a privacy cryptocurrency.
However, being a privacy currency wasn’t Peverell’s goal when he set about creating Grin: “I was generally dissatisfied with the direction of most cryptocurrencies at the time, privacy-oriented or not. And in some ways still am. By now, it seems we have a clear achievable goal for cryptocurrencies: Make better money. And there is a compelling and fairly obvious set of characteristics that would require: digital, private, trustworthy (by which I mean secure, and censorship resistant), and a few other more minor ones. But instead, most of our field is chasing feature check boxes to capture more froth. When the MimbleWimble white paper was published, it seemed like a good base to attack the goal head on.”
On Grin’s tail emissions (constant inflation)
The most interesting economic decision in Grin’s design was to make the supply curve inflationary. It has a constant emission rate (one Grin per second) which will never change. In short, this means that supply is always growing and inflation is constant.
Peverell isn’t convinced by the various theories in the field of economics. Explaining, he said: “the best line to walk on seems to be only trusting strategies that have reasonably been proven to be true, either empirically or with solid research, and in the absence of such positions, pick the simplest rational solution. Too much early supply is scammy and quickly indistinguishable from a pre-mine. Tail emissions are more secure.”
He concludes: “With all that taken into account, constant emission can be shown to not be wrong, be simpler, create far less market uncertainty (aka ‘halvening’ events), fair, etc. What’s not to like?”
He might have a point, Ethereum’s tinkering with the recent thirdening does cause market uncertainty, and levels of instability.
On the relationship between Grin and Beam (the commercial implementation of MimbleWimble)
Grin isn’t the only implementation of MimbleWimble – there is also Beam, which is a for-profit company. However, the two projects don’t show rivalry, and there has been some cooperation already.
Peverell explained: “A common misconception is that MimbleWimble describes a full cryptocurrency solution and therefore tend to lump Beam and us in the same basket. But the white paper is actually really short and only specifies a small part of the blockchain format. So even if a lot of our design decisions build on MimbleWimble, practically I see Grin as much closer to Monero or Bitcoin. We’re thankful for Beam’s support to Grin’s development, as well as all the friendly projects and companies that continue supporting us.”
On why he (or she) remains anonymous, at a time when that’s much rarer than it used to be
Ignotus Peverell is not his (or her) real name – the founder of Grin has chosen anonymity – just like Satoshi Nakamoto of Bitcoin. However, this isn’t common any more, as founders seek the limelight. Bitcoin Cash has Roger Ver, Ethereum has Vitalik Buterin, Litecoin has Charlie Lee, Tron has Justin Sun .. so why has he (or she..) chosen to be anonymous?
Peverell said: “There seemed to be no downside. I didn’t want the stress of being a public figure in this space, for myself and those close to me. By being anonymous, I’m also much less of a victim for people who’d want to influence me or profit indirectly from my position. I can be a good layer of insulation for contributors and developers directly involved in Grin: People can blame me instead of them. My anonymity avoids too much polarisation, keeping the project more decentralised. I can’t appear in public, do conferences and podcasts or tweet and that’s a good thing. It means Grin has many public figures instead of just one. It helps keep egos in check, as well.”
Some industry advice
Finally, Peverell gave some advice for the industry in the wake of the crypto-bubble: “State your goal clearly and keep pushing toward it. Be patient. Be very wary of too much affluence, it’s a distraction. We’re developing open source projects that happen to deal with money. Adopt the open source ethos first, it’s a proven model. Be humble and exceedingly nice.”
He concludes: “I’m convinced we really have a chance at making a broad positive impact on many people’s lives. Let’s not get lost in the weeds.”
Read the full transcript at Breaker Mag.