Namada First Look: Redefining Privacy Standards

July 8, 2024

What is Namada?

Namada is a Proof-of-Stake layer 1 blockchain that enables the private transfer of any fungible or non-fungible asset issued on Ethereum or IBC-compatible chains. In addition to private transfers, which are supported natively by the protocol, Namada will leverage connections to other ecosystems to extend its privacy properties to generalized, multichain application interactions. Namada is the first fractal instance of Anoma and uses a validity-predicate-based execution model

What Problem Does Namada Solve?

In a digital age where confidentiality is increasingly scarce, Namada addresses the critical issue of transactional privacy on blockchain networks. Traditional blockchain transactions are pseudonymous at best, offering little to no privacy and exposing users to potential data exploitation. Namada’s shielded transfer mechanism ensures that users can conduct transactions across multiple chains without compromising their privacy, safeguarding sensitive financial data from prying eyes.

By focusing on enhancing privacy and security, Namada tackles several key issues inherent to traditional and emerging digital finance ecosystems:

  • Lack of Privacy in Transactions: Traditional blockchain platforms, by design, offer transparency that can inadvertently compromise user privacy. Public ledgers allow anyone to view transaction details, including the involved parties and amounts transferred. Namada addresses this by enabling shielded transactions, where the specifics of asset transfers remain confidential, thus preserving the privacy of user activities.
  • Cross-Chain Interoperability Concerns: As the blockchain space grows, the need for seamless interoperability between different networks becomes increasingly crucial. Namada offers a solution by facilitating private and secure transactions across multiple chains. This not only enhances privacy but also promotes a more interconnected and efficient ecosystem where assets can move freely and privately between different blockchains.
  • Data Exploitation Risks: In a digital age where data is often considered the new oil, the risk of personal and transactional data being exploited is significant. Namada mitigates this by ensuring that transaction data is shielded, reducing the risk of financial surveillance and data mining activities that could compromise user security and privacy.
  • Scalability and Efficiency Issues: Privacy mechanisms often come at the cost of scalability and transaction efficiency. Namada’s innovative Proof-of-Stake mechanism and architectural design ensure that privacy does not compromise the network’s scalability or the efficiency of transactions. This makes Namada an attractive platform for a wide range of applications that require both privacy and high-performance capabilities.

In addressing these issues, Namada not only enhances user privacy but also strengthens the broader blockchain ecosystem’s resilience against threats and vulnerabilities. By solving these fundamental problems, Namada paves the way for a more secure, private, and interconnected digital financial world.

Use Cases for Namada

Namada offers a wide array of applications across various sectors, emphasizing privacy and security in digital transactions. Here are some detailed use cases:

  • Private Financial Transactions: Namada enables individuals and businesses to conduct financial transactions in a completely private manner. Whether it’s sending cryptocurrencies, trading tokens, or settling invoices, users can do so without revealing sensitive transaction details to the public blockchain.
    • Personal Transfers – Individuals can send and receive digital assets with full privacy, ensuring that the amounts and asset types are shielded from public view.
    • Business Payments – Companies can execute transactions with partners and suppliers without disclosing their financial activities to competitors or the public.
  • Decentralized Finance (DeFi) Applications: Namada’s privacy features can be integrated into DeFi applications, allowing users to engage in lending, borrowing, and trading without exposing their positions or strategies.
    • Private Lending and Borrowing – Users can lend or borrow assets through DeFi platforms without revealing their identities or the terms of their transactions.
    • Confidential Trading – Traders can execute trades on decentralized exchanges built on Namada without exposing their strategies or market positions.
  • Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs): NFT creators and collectors can benefit from Namada’s privacy features, enabling the private transfer and ownership of NFTs.
    • Anonymous Art Ownership – Collectors can acquire and hold NFTs without revealing their identity or the details of their collection.
    • Confidential Licensing – Intellectual property rights encapsulated in NFTs can be licensed or transferred privately, safeguarding the terms and parties involved.
  • Voting and Governance: In platforms that require voting, Namada can ensure that votes are cast privately, maintaining the integrity of the voting process while protecting voter anonymity.
    • Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) – Members can vote on proposals without revealing their individual choices, ensuring a fair and confidential governance process.
    • Private Polling – Organizations can conduct internal or public polls where the participants’ choices and identities remain anonymous.
  • Philanthropy and Donations: Donors can contribute to causes and organizations without publicizing their identity or the amount donated, promoting privacy in charitable giving.
    • Anonymous Donations – Individuals and entities can support charitable causes without the need for public acknowledgment, ensuring the focus remains on the cause.
    • Fundraising Campaigns – Non-profits can raise funds in a manner where the privacy of their donors is maintained, encouraging more contributions.

These use cases highlight Namada’s versatility and its potential to revolutionize sectors that value privacy and security in their digital transactions. By leveraging Namada’s innovative features, users and organizations across these domains can conduct their activities with confidence, knowing that their privacy is safeguarded.

The MASP – Namada’s Shielded Set 

Namada’s key technical innovation is its Multi-Asset Shielded Pool (MASP), which uses a modified version of Zcash’s Sapling circuit to allow many fungible and non-fungible assets from supported networks to share the same shielded set. Users who wish to shield their assets on Namada can deposit their assets to the MASP. While the asset balances held by the MASP account itself will be publicly visible, any transfers that take place between users within the MASP will be indistinguishable from each other, regardless of the assets, amounts, or parties involved. 

The MASP’s ability to support many different assets significantly enhances Namada’s data protection capabilities. As Awa Sun Yin (co-founder of Anoma and former Chainalysis employee) discusses here, the size of the shielded set is the primary factor that determines the effectiveness of multichain privacy protocols.

Many privacy protocols today are designed in such a way that their shielded set size is fundamentally limited. For example, Zcash’s anonymity set can never be larger than the ZEC in circulation. While Namada will only support assets from Ethereum and IBC-compatible chains at launch, once appropriate bridging infrastructure is built to other chains, the theoretical upper bound on the size of Namada’s shielded set extends to the set of all on-chain assets. This means that Namada will be able to provide incredibly strong privacy protection that only increases in strength as more users deposit their assets into the MASP. Namada will be incentivizing user deposits with shielded set rewards to accelerate the growth of the protocol’s shielded set.

Shielded Actions 

In addition to simple shielded transfers, Namada’s connections to other ecosystems will enable generalized shielded actions, allowing users with assets in the MASP to interact with applications in transparent ecosystems while retaining the privacy benefits provided by Namada’s shielded set. 

The most notable planned implementation of shielded actions is Osmosis’ upcoming shielded swaps feature, which leverages IBC to allow users with shielded assets on Namada to trade on Osmosis while inheriting Namada’s privacy protection. This is only one application of shielded actions, and we expect the level of functionality supported by shielded actions to eventually extend to approach the full scope of common on-chain interactions. 

Cubic Proof-of-Stake

Namada’s Cubic Proof-of-Stake mechanism makes a few important modifications to Cosmos bonded proof-of-stake. Most notably, Namada’s slashing is more aggressive – the stake is slashed proportional to the cube of the voting power that commits infractions over a specific interval. You can read more about cubic slashing here. Namada also uses the auto-compounding variant of F1 fee distribution, so stakers who wish to compound their rewards will not need to manually claim and restake.

Namada’s Cubic Proof-of-Stake Mechanism 

Namada will introduce an innovative Cubic Proof-of-Stake (CPoS) mechanism, enhancing network security and diversity among validators. This novel approach discourages uniformity in validator setups, promoting a robust network resistant to common vulnerabilities. The CPoS mechanism not only ensures network integrity but also incentivizes participation, balancing the scales between security and user engagement in the staking process. Learn more about this mechanism here.

Governance on Namada

Namada’s governance model is a blend of on-chain and off-chain mechanisms, ensuring a democratic and flexible approach to decision-making. This hybrid model allows for efficient management of the network, accommodating rapid responses to immediate needs while also supporting more substantial changes that require community consensus. The governance structure ensures that Namada remains adaptable and responsive to the evolving needs of its users.

Figment Involvement on Namada

Figment is live on Namada’s testnet and will be live on Namada mainnet on day one. If you’re interested in staking your NAM, connect with us here for a demo. Figment offers a host of services aimed at delivering safe and reliable staking rewards for your assets.  

Namada: Outlook

Namada is well positioned to play a role as a multichain privacy hub that mirrors Osmosis’s role as a liquidity hub. The protocol also stands to benefit from the proliferation of IBC outside of the Cosmos ecosystem, driven forward by projects like Polymer and Picasso. We see privacy-preserving protocols like Namada as crucial to the long-term success of the industry, and Namada is uniquely positioned to offer extremely robust privacy protection to its users without requiring them to compromise on the apps they can use or the assets they can hold. 

The information herein is being provided to you for general informational purposes only. It is not intended to be, nor should it be relied upon as, legal, business, tax or investment advice. Figment undertakes no obligation to update the information herein. 

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