What is UTN and why does the world need it?
UTN stands for Universal TokeN, a universal mechanism to pay the value of any digital contract executed between any participants and recorded in the Universa MainNet network. From a freelancer signing a digital contract with a customer, who wants to make sure he will get paid for his work, to an international digital contract for delivery of ten thousand tons of coal — whatever system is used for creating the smart contracts registered in Universa MainNet (dApps interacting with MainNet), they are packaged in universal transactions that allow registering one’s contract on Universa MainNet from anywhere in the world. This removes the dependency on regional payment operators and payment systems in various countries or on currency exchange rates.
Low cost per transaction and high performance enable Universa MainNet public network to be used in high-load applications, such as (for example) automatic royalty distribution in real time while listening to music which was created by several persons, or automatically distributing road toll payments between several consortium members.
Protocols and interaction scenarios based on existing Universa mechanisms allow even the rarest use cases, such as neutrino payments, ultrafast micro transactions similar to Lightning Network for Bitcoin). They put the ‘micro’ back into micro transactions: payments for audio or video streaming can be charged not on a monthly basis but per second; in a casino, each new bet can be a fully-featured micro payment in Universa; you can even buy sunflower seeds by weight so that each new gram put on the scales is instantly recorded as a micro payment. Each micro payment in this case will be completely free from commissions; UTN will only be spent when the series of micro payments is created and closed.
Generally, wherever and however a transaction is carried out in the Universa MainNet, inside mobile applications, financial institutions or supranational unions, in any applications and in any countries — UTN is the only payment medium accepted for the transaction.
Who globally needs UTN transactions?
B2G — Blockchain-to-Government:
The primary solutions offered by Universa to states and regions, in addition to the national blockchain, as a basic digital infrastructure for digital national IDs, PKI, CBDC, etc.
CBDC — Central Bank Digital Currency by Universa
CBDCs, or national digital currencies, are digital assets issued and controlled by the government regulator, usually the Central Bank. They are exactly opposite to decentralized cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin in that they represent fiat money in digital form. Each CBDC digital note is a digital equivalent of an actual paper note with its face value and serial number, which exists in digital form and is protected from forgery by Universa Blockchain technologies.
CBDC take the best of both worlds, combining the convenience and security of digital money with the proven functionality of national currencies regulated and backed by the country’s reserves.
Today it is safe to say that Central Banks have passed the tipping point in their acceptance of the need to transfer cash into digital form, and digital national currencies are entering the mass implementation stage. According to Bank for International Settlements (BIS) report for 2019, as many as 70% of Central Banks worldwide started preparation to CBDC migration. This is chance for Universa to become one of the suppliers offering a solution for the global economy, especially since our platform is the only one supporting smart programmable money with added conditions and smart contracts recorded right on the note.
You may remember that our solution has been piloted by Alfa Bank in Russia; we also made a demonstration and are currently negotiating with the Central Bank of Bahrain, and had meetings and discussions with Central Banks in 10 more countries. My forecast has not changed since 2018: I always believed and still believe that in the next couple years at least one country will launch a digital currency based on our technology. Central Banks may be slow and conservative, but there aren’t too many suppliers of similar solutions in the world, so Universa CBDC is bound to find its customer :))
Digital Passport and Universal ID
Another global solution Universa offers to countries is digital passport and a citizen’s universal ID, tied to his/her all other IDs (driving license, medical history, insurance, utility payment IDs, taxpayer ID, diplomas, degrees, and anything else) via a smart contract. Using Universa Blockchain allows validating any document, diploma, license, the right to access a restricted area or toll road without having to consult a central server. This radically decreases the cost of municipal and federal infrastructure. A street camera reads license plates and checks if the driver passed regular MOT test. If not, it automatically charges a fine, which instantly appears in the car owner’s application. The same happens to electricity, natural gas and water bills — they are debited automatically, eliminating a bunch of payment receipts and payment system commissions. Every citizen has a digital history, which allows the government to monitor the situation in the country in real time and offer support measures — by helping talented students with targeted digital grants for tuition, allocating benefits for families with many children which cannot be spent on anything but children’s goods, and even by creating an operations management center that implements a convenient mechanism for receiving public feedback and comments, with subsequent control of their implementation and control of all costs via Universa MainNet.
The same product can be used for things like Fan IDs at World Cup games, e-citizen digital passports in special economic zones, or even a travel companion app for all tourists that enter a country without knowing its language. This application would store a digital entry visa and a set of services the Ministry of Tourism recommends for use — the best taxi services, transfers, hotels, restaurants, a universal museum ticket and a public transport map. With this application, a tourist can get help in a foreign country and pay for any goods and services with a linked credit card without excessive fees or exchange rate differences. The same digital passport can be used for fast VAT compensation if the tourist makes any expensive purchases during the visit.
Our implementation forecast is that the first country will implement a digital passport for tourists, e-citizen passports or a pilot project within a limited area by 2020.
City/Region Operations Management Center
As a sort of glue between information systems, Universa Blockchain infrastructure helps build a system for tracking digital history not just for individual citizens or products, but for entire cities, regions or even countries. By tracking digital history, a region gets a chance to establish an Operations Management Center, which will use Artificial Intelligence and Big Data technologies to build prognostic models for more efficient management. From traffic flows and capacity utilization and optimizing road usage, to managing street lights to follow a man walking at night in the city park, with the move to digital operations management and thousands of IOT devices, the need for such operations management centers will continue growing. We expect to pilot the first citywide system in 2019, making the move in 2020 to digitize two or three cities in the countries where Universa is currently working actively with the governments.
Universa MainNet Expansion
Universa geography and regions which we see as the most promising ones for expanding work and interaction with the public.
The logic of our promotion is directly related to future population growth figures. This is why Universa focuses so much on Africa and South East-Asia, as well as transportation and financial hubs connecting these meta regions.
UN estimates Africa’s population to double to 2.5 billion within the next 25 years. Meanwhile, more than 400 million locals are living in poverty now, and this number will continue growing. That’s why digital services intended to give people basic education and an opportunity to earn at least a dollar a day will be a game changer in the continent’s economy.
Roughly two thirds of the people worldwide will be living in the cities, the biggest ones reaching 100 million population. These megalopolises will need robust digital infrastructure to control and operate physical facilities. This is where our existing Smart City management products will come in handy. That’s why we are carefully monitoring the green dots on this map, to make sure we appear just in time as the provider of the new, highly demanded digital infrastructure for managing urban aglomerations
Universa. Blockchain. Development
Here are some technical achievements by Universa team in the last six months. To compare the progress and speed of our work, we also provide data for the last two months.
36 releases published in six months (from 3.9.6 to 3.12.6); 24 releases published in the last two months (from 3.9.18 to 3.12.6).
- To avoid problems related to using centralized Internet services (SSL/CA, DNS/ICANN), Universa network layer has been adapted and is no longer dependent on DNS and SSL.
- Only IP addresses cryptographically signed by Universa’s own methods are used;
- The network topology dynamically rebuilt and validated by network consensus is used to access the network nodes, instead of DNS names;
- Requests are sent securely via any available network node, avoiding MITM attacks and ensuring reliable access to nodes that are not available directly, for example due to access blocks;
- Network self-diagnostics and self-recovery mechanisms have been implemented.
- To give more flexibility in describing arithmetic expression in the fields referring to the linked contracts, the references syntax has been expanded with new rounding functions (floor, ceil, round).
- Helper interfaces have been added to the API to create type contracts: secured loan, escrow, etc.
- Created protocols for adding external smart contract and service providers, for integration in the new Web client GUI.
- New smart contract features:
- Tags for transaction contracts. Searching by tags for references. The tags speed up contract processing on the nodes and enable more complex links between contracts.
- Arbitrary named roles in the contracts.
- (Early access) A new role that allows gathering signatures by voting. The body of the contract remains unchanged, as the signatures are not added to the smart contract. This makes the voting more efficient for very large voting bases (such as referendums).
- New network service contracts:
- network/node configuration contract (prototype);
- UBot network registry contract (prototype).
- Integration with UBot network (early testing in progress).
- New UNS1 contract form (adapted for future use in Parsec).
- Added the opportunity to tie arbitrary data to a name.
- Optimized UNS1 registration/modification and usage processes.
- Parsec: early access: Architecture, protocols, basic services.
18 releases published in the current 3.x branch (from 3.7 to 3.11); 7 releases published in the last two months (from 3.9 to 3.11). We are effectively abandoning the old client version (access), moving all the services to the new client.
- Numerous interface improvements (including performance and reliability updates); the client no longer freezes during lengthy operations.
- Development of basic CTP (Contract Template Provider) architecture for software generation of contracts and interaction procedures (such as secured loan or escrow procedure). This technology allows external services to be accessed via smart contracts and web client GUI.
- Support for switching between MainNet/TestNet.
- Implemented support for new type contracts (creating and operating):
- Notary contract.
- Escrow contract (perfect for freelancers).
- Contract exchange procedure (currently in testing).
- The fastest JS (V8) virtual machine
- Secure and fast asynchronous HTTP and UDP sessions.
- Implementation of the basic Universa Node feature set (smart contract validation) using C++ and JS.
- Completely asynchronous operation using the latest facilities for fast access to JS asynchronous procedures without using event loop. Enables writing more efficient and at the same time simpler and more readable code.
- Implemented worker launch mechanism for U8 efficiency on multiple-core server architectures (for example, parallel execution of UBots, HTTP/parsec API requests handling, etc.).
- Developed basic UBotNet architecture, including participant pooling and chats. The participant pool helps select a guaranteed random subset of UBot nodes for distributed validated execution (decentralized trust). This prevents execution of UBots on preselected compromised nodes or nodes under attack.
- Added support for worker-bound and pool-bound storage that helps store synchronized UBot data, both common ones and those unique for each UBot worker.
- Implemented UBots integration with MainNet sessions.
- UBots can now register contracts.
- Implemented UBot clients in U8 and Java.
- Demo version of UBot-based secure decentralized random number generation. Each participating node contributes to the total entropy but cannot predict or affect the results.
- Basic Push notification architecture; domain administrators can add their own APN services for Push notifications.
- Expanded message attachment support:
- messages can have multiple attachments;
- file names can be provided for attachments;
- files can be loaded in chunks, with resumed downloads, synchronously one by one and asynchronously.
- voice messages with automatic speech recognition
- possibility to specify Content-Type for message attachments.
- User status support:
- typical status sets: away, busy, do not disturb, invisible;
- automatic identification of online/offline status and sending status change notifications to other users.
- Added “Organizations” feature.
- Added t“TODO” functionality.
- Added “Public feed” option for groups.
- Added message pinning.
- Added private chat hiding feature (similar to leaving the group, instead of leaving a p2p chat).
- Launched iOS and Android wallets/POS terminals with UTN, UTNP, ETH support.
- Launched Web version of Unipayments.
- Added support for SGT (SmartGold) token.
- Launched MyDocuments globally.
- Launched alpha version of MyDocuments in Tunisia.
- Universa Python module (to support Universa via UMI) has been substantially improved, with added support for various UMI launch parameters.
- Substantially improved Universa support in Ruby (universa gem).
Smart contract templates/workflows/study materials
- Glossary section added to KB, containing key Universa terms and concepts.
- Developed new smart contract templates and procedures for working with them:
- Implementing the role acceptable for “any user”, such as a contract “to the bearer”.
- Secured Loan smart contract for issuing loans secured by other tokens/smart contracts and secure guarantee transfer.
- New smart contract workflows:
- Cold wallet implementation on Universa, to sign smart contracts on an offline computer.
- “Neutrino payments” (or “ν-payments”) are an example of implementing a feature similar to Lightning Network using Universa facilities — off-chain mechanisms for free micro payments that do not use the network (preparing for publication).
E-dinar, Sugarcoin, stablecoin uGold/uOil
- Developed applications to implement transparent (de-anonymized) coin issuance system and moving the funds precisely between accounts, with guaranteed accrual of commissions tied to accounts. It is different from the ordinary Universa procedures due to the control and de-anonymization of transactions. Here are the key features that differ from the basic Universa facilities:
- Tokens are only issued by the system owners;
- Any number of currencies;
- Invoices are only issued by the system owners; this may involve checking the future account owner;
- Thus, the funds are only transferred using specially selected accounts;
- Commissions on fees depend on the payer’s account and are automatically credited to a special account;
- All transfers in the system are logged and all cash movements are tracked;
- System owners can temporarily block accounts and manage the funds in them. This is a configurable system feature;
- Works with MainNet and private networks.
Special high-security tokens issued using own 2.5FA UniID system, which implements plausible deniability mechanism (this offers some degree of protection even if the owner has been physically captured). Key features:
- The special-purpose Android application is used for identification, with extra security features; it cannot be distributed via Play Store as it does not meet the US export restrictions due to higher cryptographic strength);
- An extra password can be used for identification, which is entered via the application and is not stored anywhere;
- Stealing the device, accessing application files and decompiling the application are inefficient per static electricity (they do not open access and do not allow studying the meta information) — what sites it is used on, how many and what logins are available.
- Eavesdropping the password without stealing the device is not efficient — the password will not work on another device;
- Plausible deniability: the opportunity to create a password that inconspicuously locks away critical functions (that can lead to loss of funds) and can potentially be used for automatic resource lockout in case of forced entry.
Here is a list of actions planned for the next 2–3 iterations. So far the plans are somewhat bigger than what we can achieve, but we are working on all these directions at once.
- Releases signed by developers’ notary contracts
- Tools for automating developer signing
- Tools to validate signatures
- Simplified validation of signed materials in Web clients
- Signing procedure integrated into release procedures
- Launching Parsec — a new, secure network communication layer that simultaneously replaces the SSL authentication layer (numerous centralized CAs) and DNS (centralized infrastructure of DNS registrars operated by ICANN), and dealing with the centralization issues in a decentralized manner:
- Secure identification of service addresses and keys for traditional protocols;
- Support for parsec-h (over HTTP) connections in libraries;
- Mechanisms to create, pay, register and manage UNS contracts used for Parsec.
- Implementing the basic protocol for remote procedure execution and access to content:
- http/s proxy that can be used from browsers or behind a firewall. The proxy does not degrade security but helps access blocks via DNS interception. The interception is complicated by having the ability to promptly change DNS names via Universa MainNet.
- Implementation via direct TCP/IP connection.
- Implementation via UDP datagrams.
- Releasing alpha version of the application supporting minimum chat features;
- Using Parsec to secure the connection to Unichat backend;
- Developing e2e encryption for p2p and group chats, content protection (message texts, attachments), without complete meta information protection (type, entities participating; but nobody can do this in full, and this operation requires extremely high overheads, which will be dealt with by a separate service that will immediately be blocked everywhere and has to be done in TOR to keep it accessible). Published all of the above as a draft standard.
- New and improved full-featured contract editor.
- Releasing contract exchange.
- Optimizing local storage for performance.
- Reverse exchange uETH/uBTC.
- Numerous interface improvements as offered by the designer.
- Optimizations for use by UBot servers implemented as JS applications for U8.
- Completing development of basic architectural elements required for UBot launch:
- guaranteed uniform distribution of UBots in the network;
- time limitations on UBot sessions;
- voting and quorum procedure settings.
- Completed basic UBot functionality:
- Support for outgoing HTTP supports (putting “prophets” at rest);
- Support for limited launch rights;
- UBot execution charging;UBot-ов;
- Added features requested by the users.
- Demo bot: a lottery with secure decentralized random number generation.
- Launching the public beta test for this bot.
- Launching an Instagram training course (eng + rus), with “learning cards” featuring key concepts and features of Universa smart contracts.
- Complete integration with Parsec;
- Developing API for UniID usage by third-party services, publishing and documentation;
- Panic button feature — entering a special plausibly-deniable password blocks the resource pending operator intervention and launches an alarm procedure: configurable notification, location capture, audio stream capture. All data collected is signed by Universa.
- Call deposits in UTN via the new Contract Template Provider (CTP) interface for the new Web client (basis for escrow);
- Handling secured loan contracts between participants.
- Implementing key storage for containerized chat objects (group, organization, etc.).
- Publishing the standard for end-to-end (e2e) encrypted private and group chats solely by clients, without server support.
- Highly secure chat implementation at least on two platforms.
- Title and charging management system for organizations (e.g., speech recognition in voice messages).
- Parsec interface for chats.
Stay tuned for the next post about the new world based on Universa.
Sincerely, Paranoid CEO