Beam was the first Mimblewimble-based cryptocurrency to be publicly released.
Beam is an anonymous privacy-oriented cryptocurrency based on the Mimblewimble protocol. Its transactions are private and anonymous by default.
In this guide, we’ll explain what sets Beam apart in the world of cryptocurrency as well as where you can currently buy, sell and trade it.
Where to buy Beam
Learn more about Beam
Step-by-step guide to buying Beam
At the time of writing (February 2019), you can only buy BEAM with Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) or Tether (USDT). You cannot yet buy it directly with fiat currency, such as USD.
How to sell BEAM
If you want to sell BEAM, the process for doing so is the same as buying, except you reverse the coins you’re buying and selling.
To sell BEAM, you can either buy BTC, ETH or USDT with BEAM, or sell your BEAM in exchange for BTC, ETH or USDT.
Wallets for Beam
At the time of writing (February 2019), the only wallet that supports BEAM is the official one created by Beam.
You can download it from Beam’s website.
What is Beam?
Beam was the first cryptocurrency to go live with the Mimblewimble protocol. It combines the ideals offered by the privacy protocol with the regulatory friendliness of opt-in auditability.
At a glance
|Use||Private and anonymous cryptocurrency transactions|
|Maximum supply||262.8 million BEAM|
|Notable team members||Alexander Zaidelson|
Anonymous cryptocurrencies facilitate private transactions by allowing you to move money without revealing who’s sending or receiving it.
There are several privacy cryptocurrencies that use different systems to achieve this.
In Beam’s case, it doesn’t even show the transaction amounts or the addresses of the sender or receiver. But where needed, it allows users to attach data to a transaction in order to create an audit trail for regulatory and compliance purposes.
Beam achieves anonymity with something called the Mimblewimble protocol. It’s one of the only cryptocurrencies in existence to use this protocol.
Mimblewimble is a framework people can use to build privacy cryptocurrencies. It consists of several key elements, each of which grants a certain type of privacy. For example, one element hides transaction amounts and coin histories while another conceals wallet addresses.
These individual elements were separately designed for Bitcoin originally, but Mimblewimble was the first to put them all together in a way that they could work together.
The result wasn’t compatible with Bitcoin though, which is why Beam was created from scratch.
What makes Beam different?
Two cryptocurrencies quickly emerged and started building on top of Mimblewimble. One of them is Beam, and the other is Grin.
One of the main differences between them is that Beam is a corporate venture with organized development, venture capital backers and commercial branding. By contrast, Grin is the work of mostly anonymous volunteer developers.
The technical foundations of Beam have many people regarding it as a promising competitor in the privacy coin space.
As the thinking goes, privacy is a highly desirable feature for digital currency in a quickly changing world. But at the same time, a completely anonymous digital currency is unlikely to receive a warm welcome from regulators. Beam, with its opt-in disclosure modes, is an effort to solve this.
What to watch out for
- High volatility. Cryptocurrencies are volatile by nature, but Beam might be especially volatile due to its newness and low circulation to date.
- Questionable demand. Real-world demand for cryptocurrency is still limited, and when given the choice of optional privacy modes, the majority of people prefer not to use them. This suggests that Beam may struggle to gain traction.
- ASIC centralization. Beam cannot be realistically mined with GPUs, so ASIC miners dominate its Equihash algorithm. The economics of Beam mining trend towards centralization.
- Equihash vulnerabilities. Beam currently has a hashrate of about 5.1MH/s. It is currently highly vulnerable to a 51% attack. If it ever achieves sufficient liquidity without a commensurate increase in hashrate, it may become profitable enough for someone to attack it.
- Centralization hazards. There is a single, identifiable company behind Beam development. This presents a potential vulnerability if anyone wants to shut it down.
Frequently asked questions
Disclosure: At the time of writing the author holds ETH.