ING releases new blockchain breakthrough: Bulletproofs

ING’s blockchain team has announced its newest cryptographic blockchain development: Bulletproofs. The code is an extension to previous releases that aimed to improve data privacy within distributed ledgers: zero-knowledge range proof (ZKRP) and zero-knowledge set membership (ZKSM).

Launched in 2017, ZKRP enabled numerical data to be validated within a number range. For example, a mortgage applicant could prove that their salary sits within a certain range without revealing the exact figure. A year later, ING took the solution a step further and introduced ZKSM, which goes beyond numerical data to include other types of information, like locations and names. This made the new code, ZKSM, more powerful. For instance, banks could validate that a new client lives in a country that belongs to the European Union, without revealing the country. Simply put, this allows for information to be shared without revealing contextual details.

ING’s newest release, Bulletproofs, is an implementation of research carried out by Bünz et al at Stanford, UCL and Blockstream. The solution is faster than previous zero-knowledge proofs, designed to keep information on a ledger private. Another improvement is that it no longer requires a trusted setup.

“Usually, zero-knowledge solutions require a trusted setup. This means that the secret value is known by the creator of the setup parameters and can be used to the creator’s advantage. It’s one of the reasons why currently there are limited cases of zero-knowledge proofs in production,” explained Mariana Gomez de la Villa, global head of ING’s blockchain programme. “Because Bulletproofs don’t rely on a trusted setup, parameters can be generated without a secret value, providing a higher degree of trust for all the users on the blockchain.”

Bulletproofs code is open-source, which means that other interested parties in the development community are able to use, access and even contribute to the solution. Go to GitHub for more information.

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