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Blockstream Releases Confidential Assets

The security of any blockchain ledger comes down to public verifiability of two properties of every transaction: that they are authorized by all required parties, and that they do not affect the total currency supply.

In Bitcoin, the latter property is so simple to check that it often goes unremarked: add up the total output amount and total input amount and compare them. However, with our prior invention of Confidential Transactions (CT)1, this security property is front and center, because all amounts must still balance, despite being cryptographically blinded.

A natural evolution for blockchain technologies is to support multiple asset types on the same chain. This allows a wider set of users to share the security properties of the same chain, and also enables new use cases, such as multi-asset transactions which effect atomic exchanges. Enabling support for multiple asset types could be as simple as labelling each transaction output with a publicly visible “asset tag”; however, this would expose information about users’ financial behavior. Confidential Assets (CA)2,3,4 is a technology to support multiple asset types with blinding of asset tags, which builds on the privacy benefits of CT and extends the power and expressibility of blockchain transactions.

As in CT, Confidential Assets allows anybody to cryptographically verify that a transaction is secure: the transaction is authorized by all required parties and no asset is unexpectedly created, destroyed, or transmuted. However, only the participants in the transaction are able to see the identity of asset types involved and in what amounts.

In a multi-asset chain, it may make sense in some contexts for assets of a specific type to be created or destroyed. With CA, this is accomplished by means of issuance transactions, which create new asset tags and a specified amount of this asset. Later reissuance may be done by proving authority over reissuance tokens, which are related (but distinct) assets. Issuance tokens may be created alongside a given asset type, or not, if the asset should not support reissuance.

Issuance transactions are unique in that they are not required to balance to zero. However, if they issue a public amount, it is still verifiable that exactly this amount, no more and no less, was actually issued.


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Mercredi 5 Avril 2017