Inspired by some of the early ideas behind Particl's upcoming Monerotopia speech, and expanding on some of the topics raised in this previous article, this article goes over our thoughts on privacy and interoperability in privacy-centric projects.

The current state of the world is a cause for great concern, particularly for those who support freedom and oppose censorship, value independent thought, and prioritize personal privacy. Global economies are facing an unprecedented crisis, and governments are enacting increasingly oppressive measures that threaten individual autonomy, even discussing outright bans on encryption. It is becoming increasingly difficult to protect one's freedom on a daily basis.

Fortunately, the advent of Bitcoin provided a glimmer of hope. In the years to come, the release of Bitcoin may likely be viewed as one of the most influential events in modern history, given that blockchain and decentralized networks provide us with concrete tools to resist those who seek to restrict our rights and freedoms.

When Satoshi Nakamoto brought this incredible gift to the world, humanity stood on the precipice. However, Satoshi's legacy now rests with us, as we continue to push the boundaries of privacy coins by adding more robust obfuscation layers and anonymizing transactions, thereby preventing cryptocurrencies from becoming a financial surveillance tool.

Ultimately, the cypherpunk mission, as bold as it is, is to build a parallel economy, completely independent and separate from the global fiat system, in which its users can accomplish their everyday needs without having to depend on legacy financial systems anymore.

This article is about the survival of our privacy and liberties within a world that is actively seeking to destroy them and what we believe the path forward is.

Privacy, Intercompatibility, and Resilience

Competition can be a driving force for progress, motivating individuals to perform better, increase productivity, and push the boundaries of innovation, ultimately resulting in enhanced benefits for end-users.

However, while this holds true in crypto, it also creates avoidable tensions between projects and often leads to a situation where the innovations of one project are overlooked by those who do not possess a financial stake in that particular project. This division in the community limits our collective capacity to address the imminent challenges to privacy that we previously outlined, a suboptimal outcome given the substantial force wielded by those who seek to undermine our freedoms.

Ultimately, to stand a chance against this opposition, we should strive to embrace our uniqueness and foster creativity; different projects working on different ideas and solutions, but we must unite together in a decentralized, private, and free economy in which all of our projects thrive and can be integrated.

To do just that, we are presently focused on a comprehensive improvement of our ecosystem codebase, which is designed to reflect our core values. Among them:

  • Privacy, obviously.
  • Uncompromising decentralization.
  • And an agnostic approach to the protocols used and the compatible currencies with which our dApps function.

With an agnostic approach, we can both encourage current and new privacy projects to thrive and build new ideas, and unite them at the same time. This allows different projects to work independently, while at the same time existing within an ecosystem of decentralized protocols and applications that enjoys extremely high levels of interoperability and intercompatibility.

Embodying Agnosticism

The Particl project embodies agnosticism in two main aspects. For one, we are currently rebasing our entire codebase to make it completely modular, allowing for various protocols, both native to Particl and external, to be used in order to power its dApps. We refer to this as “protocol agnosticism”.

For instance, consider how Particl dApps employ data layers: we have our own native SMSG, with an advanced SMSG 2.0 version currently in development. Our modular approach ensures that our dApps are designed in a neutral manner, and only request data from 'a data layer module,' which is currently provided by an SMSG module by default. However, this can be easily changed.

Adopting this philosophy allows developers to choose between SMSG or any other compatible data layer module when selecting a data layer module for their dApps. The final decision depends on the developer's preferences and the requirements of their dApp, as each solution provides a unique set of pros and cons.

This not only makes dApps more flexible and better adapted to their specific use cases, it also introduces an array of features, functionalities, and benefits to Particl dApps and their users that other projects other than Particl itself have worked on.

It also makes them more resilient.

Consider the current iteration of BasicSwap DEX, which utilizes SMSG to enable its distributed order book and match orders between swap peers. Now, assume that SMSG gets hacked, spammed, or decrypted due to some unforeseen black swan event. Although such a circumstance could be a fatal blow to any dApp, it would be a minor setback for BasicSwap developers who could simply switch to an alternative, unaffected data layer. Moreover, in the case of BasicSwap, no user would lose funds, since atomic swaps are refunded when either of the two peers fails to act in a timely manner.

This is just one example of how other ideas, protocols, services, and ideas other projects are working on can unite under a commonly shared goal without competing with each other but without having to start developing together. We could sit here all night and just give an almost infinite number of examples, but I think you get the gist.

Because technology advances so fast, we must build solutions that will endure the test of time. By building agnostic solutions, we ALL become stronger, together, and we can promise lasting and resilient solutions to our users; the perfect embodiment of the open-source and cypherpunk ethos.

However, our agnostic approach is not solely confined to developer modules. After all, we all operate in the realm of cryptocurrencies, and many of us have unique communities that hold our coins and prefer to use them whenever possible.

In our previous example, we highlighted what would be a data layer module in which SMSG, Nym, XX Network, and other mixnets could theoretically power Particl dApps. But to be truly “open to all”, and to accomplish our mission of unifying the different blockchain projects working towards our shared goals of privacy and freedom, we have to go one step beyond that.

Currency Agnosticism

Currency agnosticism also offers us important bridging opportunities in privacy-first environments. Let us take the Particl Marketplace as an example: you can buy and sell anything online, privately and free of charge, and without third-parties. But there is, for people holding their liquidity in completely different coins, a caveat: you can currently only use the PART coin to do so. This introduces friction, and forces users to reach out to outside platforms in order to acquire this specific coin.

That is an important limiting factor to our overall vision, which is why we’re currently focused on building integration frameworks and payment modules for other coins to be accepted as payments, using an integrated, modular, back-end swap protocol, but still using PART as the final settlement layer.

While several quick fixes, such as centralized payment processors and exchanges, can be adopted, reverting to centralized parties inevitably leads to sub-optimal outcomes and jeopardizes the entire ecosystem, as evidenced by the Changelly debacle within the Monero community. To really fulfill our vision of a free, independent, fully resilient and privacy-first economy without central points of failure, every step has to be done in a decentralized and streamlined way.

What Privacy Ramifications?

While designing dApps to be currency-agnostic can provide new and thrilling possibilities for users from almost an infinite number of cryptocurrency projects, it also offers much more than just convenience or a 'preferred currency for payments.'

Let’s take Firo as an example. Firo (formerly known as Zcoin) is a cryptocurrency that stands out from the rest with its innovative privacy technology, Lelantus. This innovative feature allows users to make anonymous transactions differently: whereas $PART uses RingCT that obfuscates transactions using decoys, Firo’s Lelantus privacy technology allows users to burn their coins, and the user can redeem then at any time for brand new ones using zero-knowledge proofs to prove that he has the right to redeem them.

This is a creative and novel way to enhance privacy, and it has its pros and cons, depending on the purpose of a private transaction, risk tolerance, and costs. But one thing is sure, it becomes incredibly powerful when combined with other privacy setups.

Let us, for example's sake, assume that there is an item on the Particl Marketplace that you want to purchase. Settlement must be done in PART, which uses RingCT as its privacy layer. However, ideally, you may initiate the transaction using any currency.

Now, imagine that you initiate the transaction using a Firo Lelantus transaction. You specify this preference, and the Particl Marketplace provides you with a Firo address, provided by the BasicSwap DEX, to which you can send the coins to using Lelantus. The coins are then burned, and the FIRO redeem token is exchanged for anon PART using the BasicSwap DEX before being used to buy the item on the marketplace.

By this simple act, you’ve essentially used atomic swap technology to combine both Lelantus and RingCT in a single marketplace transaction, compounding both of their different and unique benefits with each other. This is only an example of what is possible by enabling and amplifying inter-compatibility in privacy tech.

Agnosticism, PART, and the Particl Marketplace

Although the focus is on bridging privacy projects and privacy coins together in a truly open, highly accessible decentralized economic environment, the unique properties of the PART token means it will always remain the settlement layer for all Particl Marketplace transactions.  

There are also, of course, benefits associated with this form of agnosticism via the use of stablecoins, especially in the context of the Particl Marketplace, and perhaps even theoretical anonymous stablecoins in the future. It is clear that the possibilities introduced by truly decentralized agnostic payment systems are limitless.

The Open-Source Revolution

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