From the beginning of the DeFi farming boom, many whales’ activities on the chain were constantly tracked by DeFi farmers. The privacy of activities on the DeFi chain became a rigid need, and the DeFi privacy protocol Railgun came into being.
On the evening of July 1, the founder and chief scientist of the Railgun team, a DeFi privacy protocol, did a informative sharing in the PANews Chinese Telegram community(or directly search for "PANewsLab" in the Telegram group to join) and shared how they helped DeFi adopters to be "hidden farmers".
The following is a record of the AMA, for Chinese version please check out here
Q1: Please tell us about yourself and your roles in Railgun？
I’m Kieran Mesquita, early adopter of Bitcoin and longtime cryptocurrency advocate. I’ve written code for things ranging from CPU and GPU miners to trustless crowdfunding and wallets for low cost phones. I’m currently most active in the Ethereum smart contract space.
I’m Chief Scientist at Railgun.
My name is Andrey Kravchenko. I’ve been a researcher in Deep Learning for quite a long time, but also worked as a CTO for 2 startups and now have my own mobile and web app development company Vitruvian. I’ve joined the Railgun team as a project manager, working closely together with the team of researchers and developers, who are also represented in this AMA by Emmanuel Goldstien .
Emmanuel Goldstien is an economist and software developer. He's worked with cybersecurity and firewall software in the past, but more recently with digital currencies and e-money. He's seen surveillance grow to creepy levels. We need tools against that to keep our individual freedom and ensure a fair system.
Q2: When and why did you decide to start Railgun?
Regarding the founding of Railgun, the idea of privacy on ETH had been shared by many of my friends for the last five years. It was recent developments in zk-snark and zk-stark ecosystem that made me actually start developing this full time in December last year.
Last year I was speaking with a hedge fund friend who told me over 45% of all wall street trades were done via dark pools. They hide who is making the trade.
That same week, I spoke to a friend who co-founded a major erc20 project, who was paranoid about moving coins because of hundreds of people watching his wallet, who might spread FUD online if he switches wallets, or divides them anywhere.
I moved away from centralized exchanges a long time ago, especially after cryptopia hack, the Binance KYC leak, Bitmex account email leak, and other leaks ….that made my friends and I targets of thieves and criminals.
While I love Defi, in many ways it’s less private: watchers can monitor your trading patterns. We needed a privacy solution for stablecoins and defi, and it needed to work without sacrificing Ethereum security or the liquidity of existing Dapps and DEXes.
… It is Railgun.
Q3：Could you give us a brief introduction of Railgun?
Railgun is a smart contract system that gives zk-snark privacy to any transaction or smart contract interaction on Ethereum. This means you can be untraceable when you trade, use leverage platforms, or add liquidity, with absolutely any dApp on ETH. The team will also deploy this technology on other blockchains shortly as it is novel, but easily portable. The code is already finished and being audited.Basically, after Railgun contract is deployed, you will be able to send and receive, and exchange, USDT, DAI, etc. privately.
Unlike some other systems, RAILGUN is permissionless, so not just the popular tokens such as USDC & Tethers are supported, but in fact even brand new ones (Any ERC-20 token) will be natively usable in Railgun and untraceable, without any additional developer input required to support them. The same applies to dApps: there will not be any need to approve dApps or defi systems, all will be immediately usable through Railgun. It is a layer 1 system, so it has the full security of the Ethereum mining hashpower. There is no side-chain or second-layer.
Some too early have proclaimed in the past: "Zk-Snark privacy is not possible on base layer ETH!" They were only wrong to think this because at the time, only very old systems were used that were not optimised for gas at all.
Naturally, because when we were inspired to begin work on the Railgun Project - with Ethereum as the platform - we begun with more snark-friendly hash functions from the start.
The contributors to the project have invented a number of Gas-saving innovations that not only make zk-snark privacy fast and effective on base-layer ETH, but even cheaper than moving assets through most other smart contract systems!
As this will continue to be an open source project, we anticipate for future privacy-minded developers to be inspired by these innovations and further develop upon them, both on Railgun and even other defi systems.
You might ask:"Can Railgun be integrated with other platforms/DEXes? Such as private txns on Uni, etc.?"
Yes! It will be very easy (plug and play) for "use via railgun" to be added as a feature.
We will release a developer toolkit next month.
Railgun is also a gas-cheaper way to send private sends, instead of Tornado or others
What's important is that any new erc-20 will be usable the day it comes out. They don't need to be "onboarded" this makes Railgun always as fresh as the network.
Sure, I guess there’s 2 parts to the question here.
(Did you manage to successfully set up this project?)
1.We definitely have. We have a working project and launch is soon. I’m excited to finally release this into the wild.
(Will you be focused on being a means of security for the ETHEREUM platform?)
2.Railgun works out of the box with most DeFi protocols on Ethereum, we plan to provide tools to allow DeFi developers to add faster/easier/cheaper integrations with Railgun too.
3.We’re not just looking at Ethereum, while it is the most used chain with the most economic activity we think that everyone should have access to privacy so we’re going to be deploying on other chains too. All of the lending systems, aave, curve, cream, fulcrum etc. all work well with Railgun. Railgun is built as a smart contract to run on Layer 1. Chains such as Ripple and Litecoin don’t have smart contract support and have no DeFi activity either.
Q5: Railgun intend to implement privacy feature that can hide farming strategies and pools information as you intend to take privacy beyond regular day to day transactions. You said users will be able to perform “darkpool style trading” and nobody will be able to copy a user farming strategies. How will users use darkpool style trading and what are the assets that can be deposited into these pools? How is the darkpool designed to operate transparently and securely since no one will be able to monitor asset flow in and out of this pool? Also, Will this farming darkpool be able to accurately identify each user’s contribution to the pool in order to determine farming yield reward as well as determine the pool APY when everyone is anonymous?
How will users use darkpool style trading and what are the assets that can be deposited into these pools?
Firstly, it’s not a traditional “darkpool” like wall street uses, because it’s totally decentralised and nobody operates it. It’s a new kind of system that has the same user-hiding effect. Railgun works on ERC20 tokens. The way that DeFi protocols track deposits is by issuing another ERC20 token that represents the deposit in the protocol. As deposits accrue yield the ERC20 is redeemable for more and more.
For example: Depositing ETH & DAI into a uniswap pool returns ETH/DAI Uni LP tokens, these tokens can be stored in Railgun in the same way any other token is, and then redeemed back for the ETH/DAI held in the pool at a later date.
Q6: How is the darkpool designed to operate transparently and securely since no one will be able to monitor asset flow in and out of this pool?
Basically, because only you can unlock your lp token or farm token(which you hid in Railgun), you are still the only one that can claim these farming rewards.
Q7: Will this farming darkpool be able to accurately identify each user’s contribution to the pool in order to determine farming yield reward as well as determine the pool APY when everyone is anonymous?
How it will work in reality? What user should do to use Railgun tools, for example, on Curve?
Firstly, the Curve site and Uniswap website SHOULD have a button for “SWAP via RAILGUN” which will make it a private trade.
However, before they put that up, there are several community members that will host front-ends for the railgun dapp.
So you can just go to one of the Railgun websites and click
“Trade privately through Uniswap”
and connect your wallet for unlimited private trading.
Also: mobile Android and iPhone app coming soon 😏
Q8: I read that the launch of your token will take place soon, and that it will work in the ethereum network. Currently the cryptocurrency market is experiencing a downtrend for almost all projects, this has made a large part of users be more careful or have more doubts when investing in a new project. Taking this into account I would like to know why you decided to launch the token using the ethereum network, which is currently known for high gas fees, you do not believe that this, together with the current market situation, could be counterproductive for the initial reception of the project? How do you plan to combat this?
Why have you decided to launch the token using the ethereum network, which is currently known for high gas fees, together with the current market situation, could be counterproductive for the initial reception of the project?
Currently gas prices are very low. Only 15 gwei. They will not be a problem.
The truth is most projects don’t have the amazing long term potential of Railgun.
It doesn’t really matter what market the RAIL token launches in. If a “quiet market” gives intelligent, privacy-aware people an easier chance to buy RAIL, then that’s great for them, they will benefit when it gets vastly more popular.
Also, if other projects have delayed their launch, then RAILGUN will be the only serious project launching next week, which is excellent for having people discover us after launch.
Railgun is not a meme coin or a farm fork. It’s a promise of freedom-enhancing technology.
Q9: It is stated that With recent advances in zkSTARKs the contributors to the Railgun Project are investigating and testing the use of SNARKs and STARKs and are developing both systems in parallel… With your proposed launch fast approaching what is the progress so far in the building and testing of your technology using both the SNARK’s and STARK’s what are the differences between both of them, and will you end up implementing both of them on your platform side by side.
What is the progress so far in the building and testing of your technology using both the SNARK’s and STARK’s what are the differences between both of them, and will you end up implementing both of them on your platform side by side?
We evaluated both and settled on groth16 snarks as they are the cheapest to verify on Ethereum currently. We have a breakdown of the tradeoffs between SNARK and STARKS on our twitter.
We have basically concluded that the STARKs eat up much too much gas to be practical for us. We left those behind, Snarks were chosen as the way forward.
The gas cost of STARKs would be higher. So we chose SNARKS. The privacy level is equal.
For more information, please vist our PANews channels: