Chain Previews New Blockchain Privacy Tech 'Confidential Assets'

Chain previewed forthcoming privacy features for its enterprise blockchain protocol at CoinDesk's developer event yesterday.

AccessTimeIconJan 31, 2017 at 12:00 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 11, 2021 at 1:03 p.m. UTC

Blockchain startup Chain previewed forthcoming privacy tech for its Chain Protocol platform yesterday at CoinDesk's developer conference, Construct 2017.

Held at the Innovation Hangar in San Francisco, the event saw Chain chief product officer Devon Gundry and product architect Oleg Andreev showcase how the startup, backed by the venture arms of Capital One and Nasdaq, is navigating one of the biggest industry obstacles – building a distributed ledger that ensures data is revealed only to desired parties.

On stage, Andreev walked through a technology the startup terms 'Confidential Assets', which would effectively add additional data to transactions involving blockchain assets as a way to both mask information being sent to and from users and prove interactions between intended parties.

Andreev indicated that Chain is seeking to provide a solution for blockchain privacy that would protect information about accounts, account history and asset privacy.

Gundry told the audience:

"The magic of the blockchain becomes possible if you publish transactions. So, how do you take privacy back? We needed to figure out a way to enforce the blockchain integrity by all the participants without compromising privacy."

Andreev proceeded to walk attendees through an Alice and Bob-style transaction, in which $5 would go to Bob, and $5 would be returned to Alice.

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With Confidential Assets, additional 'noise', or extraneous data, would be added to the transactions to hide information in blockchain implementations based on its technology.

Andreev posited that this data could then be parsed in traditional ways.

"Using a key to derive the noise values, you can subtract it from the original commitment and find the value. Similarly, you can show this noise value with an auditor to show the proof of payment," he said.

In an example of how blockchain innovators are increasingly looking to other participants in an effort to further their technology, Andreev also detailed how Chain's technology differs from what is being implemented by blockchain networks like zcash and monero.

Andreev contends that, ultimately, Confidential Assets provides an approach that is more similar to monero, in that it obfuscates the issued and transferred amounts. Conversely, he framed zcash's technology as interesting, but unlikely to scale for enterprise needs.

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Gundry indicated that Chain is working to develop this feature of its Chain Protocol with enterprise partners, though he declined to provide details.

"We're working right now to bring this to production," he said.

Disclaimer: CoinDesk is a subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which has an ownership stake in Chain.

Images via Pete Rizzo for CoinDesk

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The leader in news and information on cryptocurrency, digital assets and the future of money, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups. As part of their compensation, certain CoinDesk employees, including editorial employees, may receive exposure to DCG equity in the form of stock appreciation rights, which vest over a multi-year period. CoinDesk journalists are not allowed to purchase stock outright in DCG.

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