In anticipation of the launch this week of the BasicSwap DEX built on the Particl Protocol, we feature one of the most exciting development projects within their expanding ecosystem.
Learn more about what makes Particl decentralized applications truly special and private!
Particl is a decentralized ecosystem of privacy and liberty focused applications. Its network enables decentralized applications (dapps) and smart contracts in a manner similar to Ethereum, Avalanche, and Solana. Particl, however, presents major differences from those other protocols.
Most “dapp networks” make exclusive use of ‘smart contracts’ — automated programs that run on blockchains and execute actions based on certain conditions. And while smart contracts deployed on blockchains are certainly revolutionary, they can carry certain security risks and technical limitations — notably in terms of scaling and data storage.
Typically, in order to support smart contracts, a blockchain has to be built (or forked) from the ground up, with smart contract functionalities already in mind from the beginning. That’s because smart contract compatible blockchains usually require a VM integration for the smart contract code to execute.
While smart contracts are often touted as the end-all-be-all of what makes dapps possible, there are a few other ways to build and deploy decentralized applications. Such is the case with Particl and its use of the SecureMessaging (SMSG) protocol.
The Issue with “Privacy-Focused dapps” Within the Web3 Community
While a number of other dapp networks claim to offer “smart contracts with privacy”, they usually focus on one or another aspect of what makes a dapp private. Unfortunately, they fail to check all the boxes that would truly set them aside traditional web applications. They either:
- Use traceable payments or traceable forms of currency;
- Leak contract contents publicly to anybody, at any time;
- Leak the IP addresses of their users, compromising the identity and privacy of users;
- Rely on third-party servers/nodes/hosts controlled by large corporations with questionable ethics or intentions;
- Are not entirely non-custodial, making it possible for coins to be lost, stolen, or even seized by central authorities
For a dapp to be considered truly private, or truly decentralized, it should ideally check all of these boxes. Else, they are just glorified “web2” applications trying to exploit users by capitalizing on the web3 hype, but without providing its promised benefits. And we know that is often the case, as we’ve explored before, making it potentially very damaging to a user that expects to be acting in total privacy or in full control of their assets when they are, in fact, not.
Truly Decentralized Apps Done Different
Particl does dapps too, as is quite obvious with the one-of-a-kind Particl Marketplace, but it does so in a way that's completely different than the rest of the dapp networks.
Its blockchain is built using the latest Bitcoin code, which, unlike its Ethereum counterpart, does not support “turing-complete smart contracts”. It does, however, absolutely support smart contracts — just a more rigid and tight version of them. Although already powerful enough to create wonderful applications without intermediary, Bitcoin smart contracts are also expected to expand in utility with the integration of Taproot and the upcoming Taproot-based TARO protocol. Subsequently, PART will adopt these features.
The purpose of Particl’s blockchain within its ecosystem is many:
- Allow users to send, receive, and hold an untraceable currency in a wallet or through its dApps (i.e., Particl Marketplace or the BasicSwap DEX);
- Create and interact with smart contracts;
- Allow for a community governance of its dapps and of the network as a whole
Notably, the privacy-focused Particl blockchain does not take the role of hosting and running the ecosystem’s dapps, and does not manage any data on-chain. That’s because that role is, most often than not, not managed by smart contracts, but instead by a completely separate layer: the SecureMessaging (SMSG) P2P network.
SecureMessaging (SMSG) — A Game Changer for Dapps
The SecureMessaging (SMSG) network is Particl’s secret sauce and what sets it aside from any other “dapp networks”. It is its own custom-built and unique P2P messaging network that stands at the very core of its ecosystem. Inspired by the BitMessage protocol, the SMSG network is a decentralized storage network (DSN) that stores and transfers data across nodes in a privacy-preserving manner, encrypted from end to end (E2EE).
What SMSG does is enable a private and secure data transfer layer for dApps to leverage. Contrary to smart-contracts, which often run through centralized third-party nodes, every user of Particl dapp is a SMSG node, ensuring an optimal level of decentralization but also making active and passive network analysis much more complicated.
As a result, you create complex applications without middlemen and data mining without relying on over-complicated smart-contracts that may leave glaring holes open for attackers to exploit.
SMSG powers Particl dapps, like the Particl Marketplace and the upcoming BasicSwap DEX, but without bloating the blockchain with excessive data and without leaving any permanent record.
SMSG occupies several important functions within the current Particl ecosystem:
Data storage and transfer: The network can store almost any type of data and transfer it from one user to another, or to the entirety of the network, in a completely end-to-end encrypted and decentralized manner. The identities of the sender and receiver(s) of that data remain anonymous at any point in time to unauthorized parties and there’s no server involved at any point of the process.
Secure communications: Text, too, is data. The SMSG network allows for two or more parties to communicate with one another through an instant messaging protocol, without relying on any centralized servers. All messages are end-to-end encrypted and can never be decrypted by an unauthorized party.
Execute smart escrow instructions: A critical part of the Particl Marketplace dapp is its unique two-party escrow system which relies on a simplified Bitcoin-style smart contract. Instead of coding several functions and conditions into the smart contract itself, which carries its load of risks and potential vulnerabilities, the Particl smart contract instead listens to instructions received from the SMSG network based on the action of participating users. This simplifies the smart-contract process, which in turn limits vulnerabilities, and offsets the complex interaction with the escrow to the SMSG network. When it comes to smart contracts, simplicity is security.
Host marketplace listing content: Because hosting listing data (i.e., product descriptions and images) directly on-chain can quickly bloat a blockchain and make it incredibly large, the Particl Marketplace dapp relies on SMSG’s private data storage functionality to store and provide that information.
Enable complex DEX with orderbooks: With the help of SMSG and ‘scriptless scripts’, a type of off-chain smart contract, cross-chain DEXs can now exist with complete order book functionalities that don't require central parties to store and process its data. While the atomic swap technology lets two users swap cryptocurrencies with no intermediary, a secondary messaging layer is necessary to carry data between the two chains without the use of wrapped assets or third parties — which is precisely where most of the challenges related to cross-chain DEXs lie. SMSG takes the role of safely and privately aggregating the information (order details, order prices, user actions, etc.) and communicating between users of two different blockchains, like Particl, Bitcoin, and even Monero.
As we can see, a lot can be accomplished with Particl’s basic smart contracts using the SMSG network. It is what puts the Particl ecosystem in a league of its own and the reason why Particl’s dapps possess a level of privacy and decentralization that is unmatched — there isn't any compromise and they truly check all the boxes mentioned in the section above!
Improving SMSG Beyond its Current Capabilities
As we’ve seen, SMSG is a great P2P network that enables private data storage and processing, secure and encrypted communications, and even anonymous dapps. But it’s also faced with a significant challenge — that of scalability.
Indeed, for all its glory, the SMSG network is limited in terms of scalability and could bottleneck when Particl reaches a large enough level of adoption. While it can support a lot of data and many thousand of messages per day, it could hit its throughput limit should too many people use it at the same time, or if it’s made to support a particularly heavy data load.
SMSG 2.0 — More Scalability and More Functionality
This is the reason why the Particl team plans, as part of its roadmap, a major overhaul of its code, which includes the exciting release of SMSG 2.0. This SMSG update will make Particl’s unique open source P2P network scalable enough to support any level of adoption — a must when building dApps that seek to challenge the status quo!
Additionally, it will not only support data storage and transfer anymore, but also support the hosting and browsing of content on it, similarly to how the Tor network functions. Imagine browsing web pages and using dapps straight from the SMSG network and without connecting to the "clearnet". That's where we're headed at!
We’ll be covering all the juicy details about SMSG 2.0 and much more information about how it will power the Particl ecosystem moving forward in an upcoming Particl News blog post shortly, so, as always, keep your eyes peeled for future updates coming to Particl News!
Particl is a decentralized ecosystem of privacy-focused applications. Its mission is to build applications that respect your privacy and freedom.
Because, we believe people shall not be the product and that corporate monopolies don’t help create a better world.
If you want to learn more about Particl and contribute to its growth, come join our awesome global community of cypherpunks and come have a chat about the future of the web with us on Discord, Telegram, or Element, or just give one of our decentralized apps a try here.