Paul Snow of Factom fame needs no new introduction to the cryptocurrency space.
So when word reached us about his contributions to the new Accumulate Protocol, we were interested in finding out more about Accumulate Protocol and why digital identity might just be the next level of evolution within and around the web3 space.
For those who are asking: “How does the Bitcoin blockchain work?” Well, the Accumulate Protocol offer much more functionalities than the Bitcoin blockchain.
It has also created a new paradigm where identity comes into play and also shows us why Bitcoin is not the future.
We spoke with him about his new project Accumulate Protocol and the many possibilities that it brings to the table.
Here is what he had to say.
About Paul Snow
Paul Snow is currently the CTO of DeFi Devs, a community developer of Accumulate. In this role, Mr. Snow contributes his broad experience in building novel and powerful blockchain products.
Previously, Mr. Snow founded Factom, a blockchain designed to handle data-centric use cases such as digital identity, supply chains, loan origination, etc. Factom’s design allowed millions of documents to be secured by the Bitcoin Blockchain, allowing a landmark ruling by China’s supreme court that blockchain can be used as evidence in Chinese courts.
A true open-source evangelist, Mr. Snow founded a meetup group for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency in 2013 (which he continues to host), chaired the Texas Bitcoin Conference in Austin Texas from 2014 to 2018, contributed designs for the Colored Coins projects, as well as to the design of the Ethereum virtual machine, and has advised many crypto projects and companies.
As an engineer, Mr. Snow has three patents for graphics hardware and system configuration technologies.
Please, can you explain Accumulate Protocol’s Modus Operandi?
Accumulate is a blockchain designed to coordinate decision making and business processes
using blockchain technology.
The core feature is an approach that delivers durable digital
identities that are easy to set up, and maintainable over time.
Using digital identity and a distributed organization for the blockchain, Accumulate delivers a
scalable solution for tokenization, data organization, and the coordination of business
What is unique about Accumulate Protocol?
Accumulate is the first blockchain protocol to consider what is required for enterprise level
security to be maintained over decades.
Accumulate focuses data organization, validation,
management, and curation over multiple parties using durable digital identities.
How does the concept of digital identity change the current operational paradigms
on blockchains and distributed ledgers?
For blockchains to interact with off blockchain processes, real world entities must be able to
contribute data and attest to the validity of that data on the blockchain.
Accumulate Digital Identities/Identifiers/Domains (ADIs) provide the mechanism to easily
organize identities and how to manage identities over time without disrupting the processes
around business processes.
This means adding oversight to processes, support for validation
processes on data and transactions, auditing data flows, and even what other parties are
participating in processes.
Smart contracting is in the real world is about automation and trust of business processes. We
can do this on a blockchain, in as far as trusted data and trusted smart contracts coexist on a
Accumulate focuses on a bigger domain that includes data sources in the real
world, and tracking both what data processes use, as well as how processes are implemented.
ADIs make this possible on the blockchain.
Please, can you tell us how each identity on the Accumulate Protocol is its own
Accumulate organizes the blockchain much like domains on the Internet.
By organizing the
blockchain into multiple chains, data on the blockchains can be organized and secured under
Transactions can be processed under different ADIs in parallel.
ADIs can be distributed
over an unbounded number of servers.
Providing the ability to verify and validate the state of the blockchain using an unlimited number
of validators on a distributed, permissionless platform requires ADIs to both be their own chain,
and to manage their own network of chains to be used for their own purposes.
How does Authorship validation occur on the Accumulate Protocol?
ADIs have their own URLs so they are both approachable to users, like link addresses on the
They are also easy to integrate into IoT devices, servers, applications, and processes.
ADI’s can represent authorship through the signing of transactions and data. Multiple ADIs can
participate in an ADI to provide multiple layers of validation.
Authorship and authority can be assured through automated processes on any blockchain. What
ADIs add is the ability to understand and track processes, even as the participants change, and
the security of processes is maintained.
This is possible because the security of an ADI is independent of the URLs that identify the ADI.
Please, can you tell us more about the “Accumulate Digital Identifier” (ADI)?
ADIs are useful for identifying devices in IoT, companies, people, products, processes,
applications, and more.
They are flexible enough to simply use to process tokens, to being able to deploy complex DeFi
ADIs can be used to organize all sorts of digital assets on the blockchain.
• Example ADI: acc://RedWagon
• Example ADI Token Chain: acc//RedWagon/ACME_tokens
• Example ADI Data Chain: acc//RedWagon/Contract_Hashes
• Example ADI NFT Chain: acc//RedWagon/NFT_Collection
• Example ADI Token Issuance: acc/RedWagon/WagonWheel_tk
An ADI can painlessly issue tokens through a Token Issuance chain, and users can painlessly
identify tokens by their URL, i.e. RedWagon/WagonWheel_tk
What is your network capacity on the Accumulate Protocol in terms of transactions per second (TPS)?
We plan to demonstrate 70k tps on our TestNet prior to launch.
The protocol does not have a bound on how many networks it can run, and thus how many transactions can be processed.
What are your plans for the scalability of the Accumulate Protocol?
Accumulate refers to the Validation / Accumulation architecture used to scale Accumulate.
The general idea is that the information can be distributed over many independent systems for the validation of transactions and data.
So data validation can be done in a completely distributed fashion.
The hash summaries of transaction data can be accumulated over a network of nodes to create a summary of the state of the network as an independent process.
Using this architecture, Accumulate is really a network of independent blockchains.
The state of this network is coordinated by an independent Directory Chain network. ADIs become the basis for distributing transactions over the network just like domains are used to distribute communication over the Internet.
What steps have been taken to ensure the security of the Accumulate Protocol? Just how secure is the Accumulate Protocol?
Accumulate uses large sets of validators distributed over the network to assure the network
processes transactions correctly.
In addition, the state changes by particular validator sets are reviewed by many other validators before they are accepted as final.
By limiting security to tried and true digital signatures and Merkle tree structures and avoiding scripting in the security model, the number of possible exploits are greatly reduced.
As more complicated processes are deployed onto Accumulate, they bring their own validators and
This enables Accumulates resources to grow with additional protocols and applications running on the protocol rather than adding stress to limited resources that would bottleneck security.
Just how flexible is the Accumulate Protocol?
Accumulate is massively flexible by providing developers an easy way to intergate Accumulate to existing infrastructure, and to provide validated data streams to the protocol.
The unique architecture of the blockchain itself allows very small footprints of critical data to be validated locally as it is used, without having to download terabytes of data than applications and users do not need.
Please, can you give us practical scenarios on the various applications of the Accumulate Protocol in real life?
Making multisig usable. If 5 friends decide a transaction against their token chain should be
valid if 3 of the 5 agree, that’s great.
But how do real world people do that? In accumulate where all five have their ADIs, they can easily set this rule up. Create a token chain (OurFriends/Tokens) with a “Friends” Key Book.
The highest priority Key Page in the Key book can list the ADIs of the five friends. Set the Key Page to require 3 signatures.
Now one of the friends can sign and send a transactions on OurFriends/Tokens to spend 3 ACME.
The other four will see a pending transaction in their wallets. If two more of the friends sign, then the transaction is submitted.
The electric grid lacks digital security on messages that communicate load information to power
If such messages are spoofed, power plants might be fooled into over production of power that would blow out transformers and bring down the entire grid.
Digital signatures can be added, but the electric grid is a highly maintained network, which would require communication of the expected public keys on sensors to be readliy available over the network.
Accumulate can model the distributed set of parties updating the electric grid. Nodes on the electric grid would then be able to validate who can publish updates and what keys to use to validate messages.
And changes can be simulated with the Accumulate network prior to making changes live.
Weather data is collected worldwide.
Such data is also often insecure, and the publishing of data is often permissionless.
The data is published by many different organizations. Accumulate provides the mechanisms to track the reputation of data sources, and validate data was published by those sources.
Real world data is increasingly being published to blockchains to drive DeFi platforms, particularly pricing data. Again, data can be published by many organizations.
Again, Accumulate provides the mechanisms to track bonds held by parties participating in publishing
data, and provides for additional validators to slash parties that publish erroneous data.
How does transaction confirmation occur on the Accumulate Protocol?
Every token account is its own chain, so transactions against a token can be routed to the
appropriate validators and token chain.
If a token is valid, it is recorded into the token chain.
The protocol generates a deposit transaction or transactions to add tokens as appropriate to other
chains in the network.
This verification/validation process separate from settlement is how non-blockchain transactions
are processed, and how non-blockchain transactions can scale.
Validation of transactions occurs in 2 to 10 seconds and are final.
The received and spendable in 3 to 20 seconds.
How do transaction fees remain as low as $0.25 on the Accumulate Protocol? Please, can you tell us about this?
The overhead of validation and tracking transactions on an account are localized to a single Block Validator blockchain.
And acquiring the history of transactions against an account are limited to a chain identified by ADI token account.
This efficiency means transactions are scalable, and have a low fixed cost.
What are the applications of the Accumulate Protocol for the decentralized finance (DeFi) space?
Accumulate provides a powerful platform for integrating with other blockchains, collecting data,
implementing token gateways, and providing token transactions on user friendly wallets.
Using managed chains, an ADI can set up rules around tokens that do not allow transactions on
managed chains that don’t follow additional rules.
For example, a user can have their wallet tokens logged with a token security company.
If token amounts over a certain value are submitted to the blockchain, the user has to respond to an SMS message or supply a pin.
How can the popular blockchains, protocols, and ledgers be compromised? What makes the Accumulate Protocol different?
The number 1 way popular blockchains are compromised is by user error.
Security on a blockchain can be great, but if users cannot understand the addresses easily, cannot easily access basic security like multisig, and cannot use features like backup keys for accounts, security managed accounts, etc. then they are vulnerable to their own mistakes.
Please, can you tell us more about key storage within the Accumulate Protocol
ecosystem and the benefits?
Accumulate provides the ability for users and companies to build their own security models.
In the end, this is all about public / private key security.
However, by providing for multi sig (defined by Key Pages) and different priorities between signatures (defined by Key Books), and allowing the management of Key Books to account for lost keys, new employees, added security
Accumulate anticipates a world where blockchains will have to be managed over
How are keys replaced and provided to Authors within the Accumulate Protocol
The accumulate wallets will allow for security transactions that allow the editing of Key Pages,
and the organization of Key Pages in Key Books.
These Key Books can be assigned to particular chains for the validation of transactions on those chains. Furthermore, users can attack Key Books to manage key chains.
Managers cannot initiate transactions, but they can serve as a party that double chains transactions, and/or performs additional operations in response to transactions.
How can developers migrate to the Accumulate Protocol? What are the benefits for developers who want to migrate?
Migration to accumulate will be very simple.
Integration of virtual machines through validator sets and managed chains allows users to leverage existing smart contracts.
Setting up validators also allows for powerful protocols to be deployed without having to implement the blockchain infrastructure, but also by providing more computational power than the blockchain
infrastructure could possibly supply.
Over the years Factom has demonstrated that organized data is very easy to use to implement protocols and applications.
Accumulate adds digital identity and powerful security be modeling to make such applications even easier to develop and deploy.
How is Accumulate Protocol the bridge between legacy systems and the cryptocurrency space? Please, can you tell us more about this?
Accumulate make bridges from external systems to the blockchain easy by providing simple mechanisms to deploy validators, staking, and mining, and more.
These systems can also record logging information on accumulate to validate their processes. But a set of validators is not a “forever” status, and Accumulate allows for the Maintenace of the validator set through ADIs.
How is governance handled within the Accumulate Protocol ecosystem? Please, can you tell us more about this?
Some of governance is TBD.
The goal is to publish a general set of guidelines, and to manage all decision making through Accumulate’s powerful ability to track ADIs and collect information from ADIs via staking, mining, and authority to arrive at consensus on issues.
Please, can you tell us more about key prioritization within the Accumulate Protocol ecosystem? How does this improve security?
Take an ADI with a single Key Book and a single token chain.
The Key Book would govern the ADI and the Token Chain.
The first Key Page in the Key Book would define the highest priority signer to the ADI and tokens.
So a user might put the private key(s) for that Key Page in cold storage.
The user may use that Key Page to sign a transaction against the Key Book to add a lower priority Key Page. The private key(s) for that Key Page the user might put on his hardware wallet.
Then the user might create yet a lower priority Key Page with one key. That private key might go
on his phone.
Now if the user loses his phone, the user can reset the key using the computer.
If the user suffers some catastrophic loss (like a house fire) destroying the computer and phone, the user can recover his tokens from cold storage.
How is security automated within the Accumulate Protocol ecosystem?
The management of Key Books can be highly automated.
The ease of using multi-sig in Accumulate makes spreading authority over multiple parties as easy as DocuSign.
The same mechanisms for signing transactions can be used for authorizing data, which might include
contracts, oracle data, validation of a slash against a staked validator, and more.