1. What is Beam?
Beam is an anonymous cryptocurrency based on the MimbleWimble protocol.
2. How and when did Beam cryptocurrency originate?
In March 2018, a team assembled by Israeli programmer and entrepreneur Alexander Zaidelson under the auspices of Beam Development Limited began working on the Beam project. Most of the company’s employees are from post-Soviet countries.
Ten months after the launch – on January 3, 2019, the 10th anniversary of the genesis block of bitcoin – the main Beam network was launched.
Beam was the first implementation of the MimbleWimble protocol, 12 days later there was the launch of the second working implementation of the protocol – the cryptocurrency Grin – although its development started a year earlier.
3. How is the Beam project funded?
The project is funded by Treasury savings, which will receive 20% of all mined coins during the first five years. These funds are used to pay salaries to the team, as well as remuneration to investors, consultants and the non-profit Beam Foundation, which is planned to manage the project in the future.
4. What are the key technological features of Beam?
- The software implementation of the project uses the C++ language.
- The encryption algorithm is Equihash.
- There are no addresses in Beam: through private keys users control their coins, represented in the form of UTXO (unspent transaction outputs).
- Transactions in Beam are confidential by default: no sender or recipient data is stored. Confidentiality is ensured by the Dandelion (“Dandelion”) network mechanism.
5. How does the Beam blockchain work?
The MimbleWimble protocol increases the scalability of the Beam blockchain by significantly reducing its size: all intermediate UTXO states are removed, leaving only unspent output data.
By minimizing block size, by the time the Beam network reaches the scale of the bitcoin network, it will be approximately 70 GB in size – 30% of the current bitcoin blockchain volume (260 GB). Beam’s developers intend to implement additional scaling solutions in the future that will reduce the size of the network by at least a factor of three.
Using a secure channel (offline or online), participants create a new transaction, which both wallets sign using the Schnorr protocol.
The wallet sends the transaction to the node with a list of inputs and outputs represented by Pedersen commitments, as well as data on fees and funds transferred. Each transaction also contains a zero-disclosure non-interactive proof, which certifies that the sum of its outputs is positive.
The node checks the transaction against the recent state of the blockchain, which is stored as a Merkle tree. The root hash of the tree is written in the block header during the Proof-of-Work (PoW, Proof-of-Work) process. Each node regularly creates a compressed history, keeping new and existing nodes in sync.
The mining pool adds a transaction to one of the mined blocks every minute and sends it back to the node for distribution and verification.
The mined blocks with new transactions are sent to the peers. The valid block that extends the longest chain is accepted as the main block and distributed further until full consensus is reached.
When connecting to the network for the first time, a new node may request a compressed history containing only system state and blockchain headers, so there is no need to retrieve the full transaction history every time.
6. What types of transactions does Beam support?
- Escrow transactions.
- Timelock transactions.
- Atomic swaps between Bitcoin, Litecoin and Qtum.
- Auditable transactions (this option allows you to create auditor keys that tax officials, accountants and others can use to view transactions in the blockchain).
- Offline transactions.
Thanks to the MimbleWimble protocol extension, additional tokens – confidential assets – can be added to the Beam blockchain. They give transaction participants the ability to cryptographically verify their security.
7. How does BEAM mining work?
- BEAM mining is now based on a modified version of the Equihash PoW algorithm.
- Beam mining is available for Windows, Linux or Mac computers with video adapters with at least 4GB of memory (AMD RX560+/Nvidia GTX 1050+).
- Mining software can be downloaded from the project’s official website. GMiner and Bminer applications with Equihash support are also available.
- BEAM tokens can be mined using the OpenCL/Cuda miner (GPU) and via the built-in desktop wallet toolkit (GPU/CPU).
- New blocks in the Beam network are created every 60 seconds. During this time 100 coins are generated, 80 of them go to the miners, 20 remain in the project’s Treasury.
- 144,000 tokens are put into circulation each day.
- A total of 262,800,000 BEAM tokens will be issued; the approximate number of tokens in circulation is 48,195,200 (data as of December 2019).
- In 2019, the reward per block is 80 coins. In 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 it will be 40 coins. From 2024 to 2027. – 25 coins. After that, there will be a halving every four years, with the 133rd year the coin will cease to be issued.
- Contributions to the fund and development team: in 2019, 20 coins from the block award, from 2020 to 2024. – 10 coins.
8. What are the downsides and failures of Beam?
On January 9, 2019, a critical vulnerability in Beam’s wallet software was identified and patched the same day.
On January 21, 2019, the Beam blockchain was suspended for two hours due to a problem on block #25709.
Beam’s blockchain currently processes 17 transactions per second, surpassing that of bitcoin and many confidential cryptocurrencies. The Beam team admits that the current speed does not allow the cryptocurrency to be a full-fledged means of payment and promises to increase the speed thanks to Layer 2 scaling solutions – Lightning, Thunderella and others. For now, however, Beam’s usage scenario is limited to the function of a store-of-value medium.
9. How is the Beam project evolving?
In August 2019, the developers of Beam held a Clear Cathode hardfork: changes were made to the PoW mining algorithm, and support for one-way payments and multi-signatures was added.
On December 3, 2019, Beam wallet Double Doppler 4.0 was released, available for Windows, macOS and Linux. The wallet, which is still in beta testing, allows atomic transactions with minimal fees.
The first quarter of 2020 is scheduled for the hardfork of Eager Electron, which will change the mining algorithm, implement support for I2P-networks and Tor, and integrate the protocol for private financial transactions Lelantus.