Railgun is a smart contract system ensuring the privacy of cryptocurrency and DeFi users via Zero-Knowledge Proof (ZK-SNARK) technology.
Billions of people share a major problem: accessing the financial system. Those in developed countries may take for granted their ease in being able to deposit funds in a bank and take advantage of traditional financial services. Many parts of the world are experiencing financial stratification, such as countries in Africa, Southeast Asia and South America where citizens do not have the same opportunities. Banks and government regimes can choose who they want to do business with and can even charge exorbitant fees that prevent billions of people from accessing the global financial sector.
History has seen this seemingly countless times – Argentina, for example, has seen events of hyperinflation, bank runs, capital controls and asset freezes. In 2001, Argentina experienced a massive economic crisis after its Argentine peso lost its artificial peg to the US dollar. Exports became uncompetitive, there was no independent economic policy, and Argentines withdrew their dollar savings and hid them abroad or under their mattresses. The Argentine government feared a total bank rush. In December 2001, therefore, he instituted a new economic policy unofficially dubbed “Corralito” which limited the ability of Argentines to use and withdraw their own money. The over-the-top government even “peso-trusted” bank deposits and devalued the peso, economically devastating their citizens.
Venezuela has for years tried to overcome the effects of hyperinflation caused by authoritarian monetary controls, massive money printing and aggressive deficit spending. Zimbabwe’s poor economic policies and corruption after independence led to the erosion of its local currency. Bolivia, Brazil, Nicaragua and Peru have all also experienced their own problems of hyperinflation due to government mismanagement and corruption.
In addition, more than 4 billion people live under authoritarian regimes that use money as a tool for state surveillance and control. The citizens of these countries see their currencies deteriorate and are cut off from the financial systems. For these people, carrying out transactions outside the influence of government is the only way to preserve their financial freedom.
Even human rights organizations in Hong Kong or Russia can see funds seized. Belarusian and Nigerian democracy activists have had their bank accounts frozen. Banking systems and ATMs were disabled during a coup in Burma. Time and time again, around the world, bold authoritarians have shattered their citizens’ confidence in the system.
It’s easy to see why the citizens and activists of these countries are looking for ways to bypass their nations’ flawed fiat systems by turning to cryptocurrencies out of necessity to control their own money. Not Your Keys, Not Your Coins is a mantra among many crypto natives, and this mantra is especially important for those living in oppressive regimes. Money in banks or in government jurisdiction is not your money.
However, a new vector of attack is forming against these citizens who have decided to recover their right to money: surveillance. Many crypto users mistakenly believe that cryptocurrency is safe from the prying eyes of others. Public blockchains are just – public. All of your on-chain activity is available to the whole world, even decades later. Chain analysis systems are improving to a point where crypto users are trivially traceable and governments know it.
They keep a keen eye on the crypto space and pay companies like Chainalysis to provide comprehensive on-chain data reports.
It doesn’t take much to realize what this blatant breach of privacy can do; especially to those who are in oppressive regimes. Ordinary citizens and humanitarians are at great risk and face financial controls, distorting or worse.
Railgun can be a tool to protect these people. Railgun is a smart contract system ensuring the privacy of cryptocurrency and DeFi users via Zero-Knowledge Proof (ZK-SNARK) technology. With the power of this zero-knowledge evidence, users will be able to transfer assets to each other without revealing amounts or identities.
This in turn provides access to financial security, offering protection to aid workers and citizens. People will no longer have to worry about their transaction being available to anyone looking. Citizens will no longer have to live in fear that their assets will be tracked down and frozen. Railgun users will be able to create a private balance of stablecoins and other tokens without worrying about outsiders gaining knowledge about their funds. Charities supporting humanitarians will not have to fear the repercussions of their selfless efforts, and ordinary citizens will be able to sleep at night knowing their funds are safe and secure from prying eyes. All this in a transparent, secure and easy to use interface.
Railgun – Privacy at rest.
Ranked among the Top 100 Global Blockchain Leaders in 2019, Phu Styles is the Founder of Women in Blockchain Foundation, CEO of Blockchain PR, Co-Founder of Startup Villas and Partner of Venture. She is also a consultant for several companies including Serve, Vezt, Snowball, HK EOS and Blockchain at the University of California at Irvine.