Is Grin the Next Bitcoin? A Recap of the 1st GrinCon US

Is Grin the next Bitcoin?

The short answer is no.

The long answer is that it is more accurate to compare Grin to other privacy tokens such as Zcash or Monero instead of Bitcoin. Bitcoin has established its status of digital goal because of its scarcity and hence the ability to hold value. Grin faces regulatory risks as a privacy token. Its linear token model is obviously different than that of Bitcoin.

That said, Grin ecosystem and governance is very similar to the Ethos of Bitcoin, both having an anonymous founder, no official foundation, a decentralized developer team and an open community.

On Jan 28th, the first GrinCon US, organized by BlockCypher, a veteran team in blockchain which has recently launched its Grin mining pool ‘CoinMint’, started with a speech given by its anonymous founder Ignotus Peverell. The speech was one of its kind because it was pure audio with a disguised robotic voice alternating in both female and male tones.

The guest speakers of the conference included core Grin developers like Yeastplume(Michael Cordner), Daniel Lehnberg, Jasper van der Maarel, Stanford Cryptography professor Dan Boneh, John Tromp creator of Cuckoo Cycle, among others. There were about 100 attendees, half developers, 1/3 miners, and a few investors.

Here are a few highlights of the event:

For a successful event, an energetic and knowledgable moderator is crucial. Taariq Lewis, the moderator for GrinCon US is a great fit. He is fun, well connected and has a solid understanding of blockchain technology. I found his fireside chat with Professor Dan Boneh on Mimblewimble & PostQuantum Cryptography for Privacy Coins very informative. There are questions asked like when would the quantum computer be used? Professor Dan Boneh shared with us his prediction that Quantum computing might be achieved in 30 years if Moore’s law applies. Then Taariq asked if Professor Dan Boneh would design a blockchain platform what would be the three must-have features.

The first was a series of interviews done by the moderate Tariq because of a tech glitch of the first speaker’s slides. With the fire of quick introductions, I was able to connect names with faces of Grin developers, Cuckoo Cycle designer, Grin explorer developer, Grin C++ developer, and other people with an interesting story connected to Grin. My feeling is, Grin community is open and welcoming. They announced to kick off a bi-weekly community governance call in about two weeks. I think people who are interested should stay tuned to their GitHub.

The third highlight was John Tromp’s detailed explanation of Cuckoo Cycle. A genius design of consensus which would prevent the blockchain to overweight and kill by its own weight. It’s a very genius design. John himself is also humble and quick to respond to whoever asks questions related to Cuckoo Cycle. Here is a link to his presentation deck.

Another highlight was the investor panel. As a regular conference goer, I find most panels a waste of time, some even excruciating. The most recent example was a panel with one extremely talkative moderator with seven other panelists who were obviously not prepared for it. But the panel moderated by Lily Lu was a pleasure to listen to. They touched on questions about the market size of privacy token, which Arianna Simpson gave a good answer that if you compare it with the size of the foreign currency market you might have an idea. Another good question was would there be a limited amount of cryptocurrencies left. For which, I agree with the answer given by Rodolfo Gonzalez, that the cryptocurrencies will be regional. There will be no coins that rule it all. I believe there are and will be a competition of different currencies that is featured by geographical attributes. For example, in countries where electricity is cheap, POW based coins are more welcomed.

The last highlight was the Future of Grin shared by Yeastplume. Again here is the link to his slides. He was very candid at saying that there was no specific roadmap for Grin. But he did share the overall goals is to provide open, scalable privacy or all; future MW research, development, and testing; and ensure that Grin/MW is accessible and usable for all needs. And he went on saying that the more immediate goals of the project is not going to compete with Visa at present, and to make Grin a compelling option in settings where cryptocurrencies are already accepted. *(Slide 6/28 Grincon U.S. 2019 The Future of Grin by Yeastplume) He specifically said that it will be alongside Bitcoin and Monero, indicating no intention to replace, which reaffirms my understanding of how Grin is not going to be the next Bitcoin. He went on sharing that the nearish tech focus is on Atomic Swaps, Relative Locks, FlyClient, and Dandelion++. *(Slide 17/28 Grincon U.S. 2019 The Future of Grin by Yeastplume) For a longer-term tech focus, Yeastplume listed as follows: Vaults/Covenants, Relative Locks, RSA Accumulators, Scripless Script and 2nd Tier Enablement. *(Slide 18/28 Grincon U.S. 2019 The Future of Grin by Yeastplume)

There were a few times during the conference when the speakers gave a shoutout for Yeastplume’s funding campaign. It is because Grin has no ICO, no airdrop, no pre-mining, no founder’s reward, and all development is donation based. This is truly admirable. For those who are interested to support, here is the link to Yeatplume’s funding campaign.

With deep respect to the technology and its community, I do have two doubts about it, first being the regulatory risk for privacy tokens in general, and second the efficiency exactly due to the level of decentralization.

For any cryptocurrencies, the secondary market is important. Although lots of third tire exchanges have listed or planned to list Grin, first tier exchanges are still waiting, because of the regulatory risk. There might be specific regulations launched targeting privacy tokens.

To sum up, I am confident in Grin as an emerging privacy token. I also see the trend of more cryptocurrencies borrowing its technology.