Ripple says it is funding research on blockchain anonymity through its University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI). The program provides financial and technical resources to top universities worldwide to support research and development in crypto assets and digital payments.
The payments startup says blockchain technology faces a number of privacy and security threats despite its decentralized nature. The San Francisco-based firm notes that businesses settling invoices through the public blockchain may unintentionally reveal sensitive data about their products and services to competitors.
Delft University of Technology assistant professor for distributed systems Stefanie Roos says that while private blockchain appears to be the logical solution to maintain anonymity, there are benefits in using a public blockchain with the right privacy features.
“Think of systems where anonymity is temporal. You get privacy for the time that you need it. If you want to have transparency later on, you can reveal the relevant cryptographic keys to demonstrate that you complied with regulatory requirements, show off your high-quality suppliers or to prove a patent case.”
Delft University of Technology students are focusing their research on crypto anonymity on the XRP Ledger, the backbone of Ripple’s native token XRP. Ross says it’s not just businesses that need confidentiality features. She believes ordinary consumers using public blockchains will eventually demand privacy in their transactions.
“People won’t want others seeing what they buy or sell. That has huge potential for blockchain bullying. Imagine teenagers knowing each other’s transaction history, being able to see who has the most expensive clothes or shoes. Some people may not want others to know that they get government benefits. We have to make sure that these systems preserve our privacy.”
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