In a battle of animal-themed cryptocurrencies, a bullock-branded, anonymity-focused protocol is making the case that it is faster, safer and cleaner than the shiba inu-faced joke coin that became a top 10 cryptocurrency this year, largely on the strength of Elon Musk’s memes.
Animals aside, the Oxen privacy coin does have some reason to compare itself with market darling Dogecoin. Speed, for one. While DOGE’s block time is one minute compared to OXEN’s two, Oxen can use what it calls Blink technology, which is the default setting for OXEN to make the transactions nearly instant.
On top of that, Oxen has moved to a far more environmentally friendly proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus mechanism, rather than the power-hungry proof-of-work (PoW) technology that DOGE shares with Bitcoin. Additionally, Oxen uses staked service nodes, which can be used to power blockchain-based, mass market-focused DApps — like the anonymous messaging DApp Session and Tor-challenging router Lokinet that Oxen has launched.
While Oxen was designed specifically with anonymity in mind — something that the Colonial Pipeline ransomware hackers discovered is not inherent in pseudonymous-but-transparent Bitcoin after the FBI recovered $2.3 million in ransomed Bitcoin — DOGE was literally designed as a joke.
“Although DOGE might be a meme — that doesn’t mean it’s useless,” Oxen Privacy Tech Foundation head of communications Alex Linton blogged on June 2, in a stirring example of damning by faint praise. “DOGE has gotten a whole new wave of people interested in cryptocurrency, and it’s one of the most accessible entry points into the space. With that being said, people who are serious about blockchain will look to projects with an underlying purpose. That’s where projects like Oxen are important.”
Privacy first, privacy last, privacy always
Privacy is at the heart of Oxen, which uses three core techniques to maintain anonymity. First it uses ring signatures instead of the private keys Bitcoin and its ilk use to enable transactions. But, those private keys can be verified by public keys, making it possible to track Bitcoin addresses. And while those do not identify the owner, they can be linked to exchange wallets, which often can be traced. Ring signatures create 10 signers — nine of them decoys.
Oxen also uses stealth addresses — creating a one-time address with each transaction that can be used to accept a transfer without revealing a public address. Third, it uses RingCT protocol to hide the transaction size, simply ensuring that it is more than zero.
Private chatting, private browsing
OXEN coin aside, the blockchain is designed to host privacy-preserving DApps, including two created by Oxen. They aren’t an afterthought — Oxen was created during a bear market and has focused on creating quality products beyond its core blockchain.
The first is messaging service Session — available on iOS, Android and desktop — which supports anonymous messaging without requiring a phone number, email account, or any other identifying information to sign up. The open-source DApp minimizes often-identifying metadata — which can frequently be seen even in end-to-end encrypted messages — as well as secure encryption and Tor-style onion routing protocols. It has grown to 100,000 monthly active users over the past year.
Lokinet takes your internet traffic and encrypts it multiple times, then securely and privately routes it through a “path” of service nodes — all of which are part of Oxen and incentivized to provide good service. Lokinet also operates using the fundamental fabric of the internet — IP packets. This means it can use any IP-based protocol and be used seamlessly with any application including web browsers, email clients, IoT devices, and more.