BitWell AMA | Introducing Firo: FIRO, A leader in protecting your financial freedom
On Aug 15th, Reuben Yap, Project Steward of the Firo team visited the BitWell community and brought a wonderful sharing with the theme “FIRO, A leader in protecting your financial freedom”.
The following is a review of the full content of this community sharing!
1.Firstly, could you please give us a brief introduction of Firo and what problems it intends to solve?
Sure :) First of all let me quickly introduce myself :)
My name is Reuben! I’m the Project Steward and Co-Founder of Firo. As the Project Steward, I help steward the coin’s direction and development for the benefit of Firo’s community. I also do a lot of the operational stuff from coordinating our developers and researchers, to liaising with exchanges and ecosystem partners (such as Bitwell ;))
Firo started in 2016 under the name Zcoin, and we’re actually one of the pioneers of ZKP privacy technology (we went to mainnet even before Zcash).
We have our own privacy technology that allows people to destroy their coins and then redeem them for brand new ones using zero knowledge proofs and unlike zkSNARKs, we don’t need trusted setup or any exotic math while achieving pretty high anonymity sets.
Our work in Lelantus and Lelantus Spark has inspired other privacy projects like Monero and Beam to use parts of work such as Triptych, Seraphis and Lelantus-MW.
In 2018 our blockchain was also used to host the world’s first large scale political election in Thailand with over 127,000 votes cast on our blockchain and I don’t think we’ve seen an election of this scale on the blockchain since. You can read more here: https://www.nationthailand.com/in-focus/30359633
Besides Bitwell, we’re listed on major exchanges like Binance, Huobi, Gate, MXC and Bittrex just to name a few and also launched FiroDEX which is an atomic swap based decentralized exchange.
So really glad to be added to Bitwell !
Beyond just being a privacy coin, we have started moving into becoming a privacy infrastructure such as Elysium which allows others to create their own tokens on our blockchain and enjoy all the privacy technology that we have on Firo natively and cheaply.
Other blockchains without native support of privacy either suffer from very high fees or limited anonymity sets with lots of opportunities of information leakage so we believe there’s a need for privacy first blockchains like ours.
Note that Bitwell is listing the BEP20 version of Firo not the native Firo yet :) BEP20 Firo is wrapped FIRO that issued and backed by Binance’s native FIRO.
We hope to see the listing of native Firo on Bitwell soon too! ;)
2.”Privacy is consent”, we wonder what inspired you to create Firo and to make it “a privacy preserving cryptocurrency and ecosystem”?
Privacy is a very controversial topic lately especially with what happened with Tornado Cash. It’s often seen as a bad thing.
But privacy is one of those things that we have taken for granted. We must remember that privacy is something that we enjoyed without knowing it prior to the digital age.
The meat space provided a lot of privacy. For instance, cash is private and unless you have someone tailing you, your movements and whereabouts were private.
The rapid transition to where everything is connected on the internet meant that society had yet to catch up to the implications of these changes.
Before we knew it, the likes of Google and Facebook sucked up all this data we gave away for free and governments started performing mass surveillance.
Whatever your views are on Snowden, his leaks were a catalyst that made many people wake up as to how much of our data was being recorded and stored and, in some cases, abused.
This led to many improvements such as the normalization of privacy (I ran a VPN service back in 2007 and was labeled as a high-risk business that enabled illicit activity) and an increased demand for end-to-end encryption from messengers to websites. But it isn’t enough!
Now we’re fighting the same battle with cryptocurrency privacy.
I think it’s simply unacceptable for mainstream adoption if anyone can look up someone’s address as if viewing a bank account statement.
And we’re also seeing the rise of CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) many that do not have privacy features in mind meaning the State now has full insight into how money is used and spent and can also cut people off from the system if it deems fit.
This is dangerous as it upsets the balance and role of the state vs the citizens and moves more into totalitarian rule.
I don’t see myself as an anarchist or even someone who is anti-government.
But I think there needs to be a balance of power between the individual citizens and the state lest we be oppressed and to me cryptocurrency especially those that preserve privacy are critical in providing this alternate financial infrastructure.
I hope people realize this rather than brushing privacy as being a bad thing! :)
3.Could you now give us an insight into the tokenomics of FIRO?
Sure, first of all we follow a similar emission schedule as Bitcoin except that our block times are 2.5 minutes!
We are already past our first halving!
The current block rewards division is 50% masternodes, 25% Miners, 15% Development Fund and 10% Community Fund.
Miners, especially when mining with commodity hardware, have been one of Firo’s key pillars.
It allows an easy permission-less way to acquire Firo to build Firo’s community and allows fair and anonymous distribution of Firo’s supply that bypasses any need for intermediaries or exchanges.
They also provide a decentralized consensus mechanism that is not heavily reliant on datacenter infrastructure, resistant to outages, and requires continuous ongoing effort to control. However pure proof of work chains especially for those mined by GPUs face challenges such as the threat of 51% attacks and uncertain finality. In fact Firo before we implemented this hybrid system suffered a 51% attack along with many other GPU mined chains.
Firo today employs a hybrid mechanism that leverages both miners and masternodes to secure the chain.
Masternodes provide the primary consensus, immediate block finality (meaning 1 block confirmations are secure), and transaction security while miners continue to propose transactions, provide coin distribution and a fallback security mechanism in the event huge parts of the masternode network go down.
This hybrid dual-layer of security combines the best of both worlds and requires an attacker to bring down both the masternode network and also mount sufficient hashrate to do a 51% attack, greatly increasing the costs to do so.
Unlike other systems which has fixed number of validators, there is no hard limit on the number of masternodes ensuring good decentralization.
All you need is 1000 FIRO and a machine with a dedicated IP address to run it. Currently you get about 18%p.a. directly from the block reward.
Similarly, FIRO did not have any ICO nor presale nor VCs.
And yet we put out a lot of important work and research and develop our own tech rather than just copying from others.
To fund this, we take 15% of the block reward meaning we receive the reward over time rather than upfront so that the developers are aligned with the long term success of the project.
Eventually we hope to remove this completely once FIRO grows big enough and can sustain enough interest from the FOSS and privacy community but while we are still growing this is required and keeps us ahead of the game.
In view of this there’s now a community fund that’s intended to slowly reduce reliance on the core team.
Firo has a large and vibrant community that is simply not being rewarded and hence, not being leveraged, and yet it is our biggest strength by far. Leveraging and empowering our community lies at the heart of this solution hence the creation of the Community Fund that allows any community member to apply for funding to improve Firo and is overseen by the community elected Community Fund Committee.
You can check on how it works here too https://funding.firo.org where some funding proposals have been completed or are in progress.
The core team has very little say in how these funds are used but instead rely on the community elected committee to make decisions on this which we see this as a way to get the community used to making important decisions in a safe manner.
We feel this combination of PoW, masternodes, Core team and community make our tokenomics both fair and sustainable.
4.Could you elaborate on the utilities of Firo Token and how it can benefit Firo users?
First of all remember that the token that Bitwell has listed is the BEP20 token which does not have FIRO’s privacy features. However having this is really useful as it allows FIRO to participate in Defi, be on Pancakeswap and we even have some community made NFTs on the BNB Chain that have done quite well!
We are also in the midst of incorporating BEP20 FIRO into our Firo Foxes NFT project which is a way to show appreciation to our Firo community members who contribute to our project.
However our main focus is the native Firo coin.
One of the most important things cryptocurrency does is being money. I would argue that an essential element of money is to maintain privacy otherwise it would remain to be just a speculative tool.
For e.g. you would not want your competitors how much you pay your employers or suppliers or how much you receive from a contract. Similarly you don’t want the person who you pay to know how much you have or what you’ve spent on in the past.
Firo retains everything that made the original idea of cryptocurrency great while adding the essential privacy element.
Currently you can spend Firo in lots of cool places as it is!
We have a partnership with Travala and Locktrip that allows you to book hotels and flights all over the world and pay directly in Firo!
Firo (both BEP20 and native) is also integrated with Binance Pay allowing you to pay at many different websites and soon also to be in several large mall chains in Dubai!
You can also use Firo to get stablecoin or fiat loans via MyConstant or Coinrabbit !
Or even gamble with it at TimCasino.com
There’s tons of uses for this and we are integrated with major cryptocurrency payment gateways like coinpayments and nowpayments :)
You can even use it on Particl’s decentralized marketplace as well :)
Note that we have an atomic swap dex that allows you to swap FIRO with other chains in a decentralized way! This is called FiroDEX
So if you want to swap BEP20 FIRO to native FIRO this is also possible on FiroDEX
Especially with the increasing controversy surrounding privacy coins. Having good cross chain DEX options that don’t rely on smart contracts is really important. We’ve seen how smart contracts can be censored or hacked despite audits etc.
Atomic swap order book based DEXes are much more censorship resistant as its directly p2p and because it’s using atomic swaps, there’s much less risk since your funds are only locked in some smart contract.
Soon also with the launch of our Elysium tokenization layer, Firo would also serve as gas for launching and sending your own tokens anonymously through Elysium :)
5.Does the Firo team have any exciting initiatives that are planned for $FIRO in the pipeline?
We have tons of projects in the pipeline!
Lelantus Spark which is a privacy protocol that our researchers have created is nearly done. We are very proud of this development which is a new approach to onchain privacy that is different from the existing popular methods of RingCT, zkSNARKs and Mimblewimble and we can not wait to see it live.
Can read more about it here:
Elysium is also coming really soon. Our partnership with DotOracle would allow bridging of stablecoins from other major chains and enjoy the Firo privacy.
You can find out more about Elysium here:
I would like to see Firo move into becoming privacy infrastructure for other chains where instead of relying on fiddly mixers or expensive smart contracts, you can just bridge into our chain and enjoy privacy cheaply and easily. Obviously with what happened with Tornado Cash this is something that we need to tread carefully but at the same time we shouldn’t back down from protecting privacy.
There’s also our recently released paper called Aura https://eprint.iacr.org/2022/543 that enables private voting that also protects ballot progress and has lots of other cool features such as support for quadratic voting or preference voting etc. This builds off our lessons from Lelantus and can be used in DAOs and perhaps a future DAO for Firo.
While this isn’t research, we are also in early stages of seeing whether an Avalanche style consensus model can replace our masternode consensus. We haven’t reached a decision on this yet as we are still evaluating the fine details of this.
Our team really has a word class research team in the area of privacy and we hope to continuously innovate and push the frontiers of this!
Community Live Q&A
1.We have recently seen governments cracking down on privacy centered projects, how do you think this is going to affect the growth of the $FIRO?
This is obviously a huge concern of ours especially in light of the Tornado Cash saga but at the same time it forms the cornerstone of what cryptocurrencies are supposed to be. Even Satoshi wanted privacy for Bitcoin but the technologies then were not available.
This requires approaches from different directions.
First of all, we need to gain more users and usage for legitimate things such as just paying for things. We want to show the world that Firo is not for criminals to hide but to protect regular people from surveillance or even from other people.
Secondly, we need to design our project as such that it is hard to censor be it availability on DEXes and having multiple points of fallback. We have many elements of this in our design but obviously could be better :)
Thirdly, we need to educate both the public and regulators on understanding the tech and what it’s use for. Actually privacy preserving cryptocurrencies can exist in existing laws even with Travel Rule.
We also have tools that allow users/exchanges to opt-in to comply such as view keys.
I do think that Firo’s fundamentals are very strong but of course more can be done :)
2.How does Dandelion++ technology also provide network layer privacy, can you talk about this technology? Also, what layer of protection does a hybrid PoW and LLMQ Chainlocks system provide?
Dandelion++ provides network layer privacy which is often overlooked.
Besides on-chain privacy, which is hiding what’s on the blockchain, you need to hide your IP from being associated with your transaction
It’s pointless to hide the sender of the transaction if the transaction can be tied to your IP address.
Dandelion does this by bouncing your transaction randomly across several nodes before it is broadcasted widely on the network which hides the origin of the transaction.
As elaborated earlier the hybrid LLMQ chainlocks and POW system means that masternodes provide the main consensus by locking the blocks that miners propose.
Meaning once it is locked, no other block can override it.
That means single confirmations are secure on Firo unlike other chains where you need to wait for several confirmations
It also means that you cannot take over the chain just with miners but also need to break the masternodes as well.
The great thing aobut maintaining the PoW component too is that even if masternodes were shut down by datacenters.
The chain will continue running! and any reoorg can only be up to the last chainlocked block.
Once the masternodes come back online and chainlock, the chain is again double protected.
We feel this combination is really nice that also combines the both of PoW and ‘staking’ like type of function.s
3.How does Firo compare to other privacy-preserving cryptocurrencies? Why are Firo’s transactions not private by default?
Haha nice try but good question. Taken directly from our FAQ. https://firo.org/about/faq/
4.As a completely private cryptocurrency, can’t Firo be used for terrible things? Like any other technology, Firo can be used for both good and evil. How does Firo’s privacy mechanism work? How does Firo compare to other privacy-preserving cryptocurrencies?
This was also taken from our FAQ:) https://firo.org/about/faq/
5.How Firo be more decentralized? Less dependent on mining pools and VPS providers?
The mining pool question is a hard one. We do have lots of good pools but for some reason miners keep focusing on 2miners (more than 80% of them) even when other pools have dropped their fees to 0% even!
So i’m not sure if it’s totally about profitability. We’ve been trying to highlight other great mining pools in our communications and working with them to promote themselves.
Ideally we will see a P2Pool implementation or stratum v2 implemented at some point but this is probably some time away. I would be interested to see how things goes post Eth merge.
With masternodes, we are exploring ways to make it easier to host without requirement of a VPS or a fixed IP while still retaining reliability. Self hosting now is not out of the question but because the fixed IP requirement it makes it tough to host several on home infrastructure and we also think it’s a privacy risk to be revealing your IP address on the masternodes. This is one of our goals and this is also why we’re looking at Avalanche consensus.
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