Writer/producer-gaming, tech, web culture, fintech, crypto, & nerd lore #benzinga #hackernoon #thegrowthmanifestopodcast
It’s 2021 and the great mainstreaming is here, bringing with it an end to ICOs/ITOs and making way for a new generation of blockchain projects that are working leaner, with small private fundraising and agile teams, to pave the way for the future of blockchain technology.
But at last count, there were nearly 9,000 altcoins -- and hundreds of first layer blockchain network solutions, each vying for its own unique identity and reason to carry on into the future.
Of course, the price of entry in this field seems to be the same mantra -- decentralized, secure, immutable, three of the core benefits of any blockchain project and certainly sentiments likely to appear in nearly any project white paper.
But is blockchain really private?
We interviewed Oliver Gale, CEO of Panther Protocol, which bills itself as a “privacy blockchain network” to talk about what constitutes privacy for a user on blockchain, where the ideals go wrong, and how Panther is trying to address the need.
As an end-to-end privacy protocol -- what is Panther doing to ensure privacy beyond the standard privacy we have come to expect from blockchain?
Actually, there’s no privacy in most major blockchains. At best you have pseudo privacy -- no one knows that address belongs to you, until you share it with someone else so they can pay you.
It becomes trivial to use statistics and machine learning to de-anonymize everything you do with your money. Panther solves this by making assets private, called zAssets, and is built to do this seamlessly for the user. In some cases, users won’t even know they used Panther.
Often more control means less decentralization -- is maintaining decentralization a key to greater privacy?
Absolutely, no control of your data equals no privacy. At best, you may have confidentiality in that another party chooses not to disclose your information, but that’s not privacy.
To be clear, privacy is the way civilization for all time has operated. Only in the last 25 years with retail internet adoption has our right to privacy been systematically exploited and attacked by large corporations and malicious actors. We have to reverse that.
How does greater privacy benefit the average retail consumer? How does it benefit businesses?
For users, it’s proven that you lose competitive advantage in negotiations without privacy. Simplest example -- expect the online retailer to price gouge you forever because they know your financial buying power. Alice paid $500 USD for that new phone, but for Bob it’s $550 USD -- this already happens. Blockchain will make it worse if we don’t take privacy seriously.
For business owners, it’s about data compliance and competitors. Your bestsellers? Your most faithful buyers? Expect them to be targeted and taken with better offers as an example. Data compliance is another important one. Without data privacy for users, your service is uncompetitive as no one will choose two identical services except that one puts your data onto a blockchain for all time. It’s simply inferior. Privacy wins, ask Signal and Telegram as they snatch market share from Whatsapp.
What do people fail to understand about privacy on blockchain -- isn't the baseline assumption that it is already private?
I can’t say whether or not it’s assumed. Generally, people have grown so accustomed to giving their data away they don’t think about it. However, as awareness builds over the exploitation of our personal data consumer trends are shifting and as they do, people are realizing more and more that blockchains -- as they are defined and built today -- are not private at all.
Is interoperability key to the future of blockchain? Do you expect greater diversification or consolidation in the available chains over the next 5 years?
Interoperability is definitely key. There will be both, the leaders of the pack, in their respective niches will take greater market share and overall market caps will grow. At the same time, there are many untapped niches so we will see new use cases emerge.
What does Panther bring to the table that no other project is doing?
Aside from interoperable, seamless privacy for everyone? Panther brings the key ability to work with existing regulations. Privacy is about the protection of users and businesses but also from bad actors. The protocol enables zero knowledge disclosures of statements of fact, like whether your ID is valid or your transaction was over a certain limit, and these are key to safeguarding the financial system. Panther enables institutions to say “we want you to have privacy to the rest of the world, but if you want to use our services we need to know”. That’s reasonable, balanced and appropriate, so Panther users can choose to share this data automatically.
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Panther has a public sale coming up in August and is launching its first product in September 2021. To this point, Panther Protocol has raised over $8 million in VC and private funding.
Panther Protocol is not the first blockchain to lead with privacy, but its focus on privacy for the user may indicate good things to come for users of blockchain technology. A greater focus on protecting user information will be an important safeguard for people who may be placing blind faith in blockchain solutions assuming that they are inherently more secure and private then non-blockchain counterparts.
As more blockchain networks and layer 1 solutions enter the arena, it will ultimately benefit both developers and users. Not all of these projects will survive long-term of course -- but ultimately the best ideas and qualities from all chains will prevail creating stronger interoperable ecosystems.
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