The following is a transcript of the Enya x OMG Network Q&A and is divided into three parts: Direction, Use-Case, and the Hashcast Demo.
Part 1 — Direction: What Is Enya’s End-Goal with OMG Network?
When, how, and with whom did you guys first meet to discuss a possible partnership?
We’ve had a long-standing relationship with the GBV team for several years given the value that Enya brings to privacy-sensitive decentralized use cases, and we often have conversations around working together. As the OMG team began exploring the next phase of growth for their platform, GBV brought us together to brainstorm, leading to the partnership we announced last week.
What kind of end goal is Enya envisioning with the OMG partnership?
The crypto/blockchain world is still in its infancy. Almost 5 billion people use their phones (and the internet) every day, but only 66 million of those have a cryptocurrency wallet, and most of those wallets are rarely used. So right there, there is room for 100x growth. The internet still needs its own native currency and associated financial technology stack. Parts of that are being built — DeFi and NFTs being early ones that people are starting to use. In terms of basic, composable, Lego blocks for this world, an entire set of co-processors are needed to augment the “Ethereum CPU”. These are things like storage, privacy/security, and sensors that observe the physical world (for oracle inputs). For all those things, you need to be able to move information around quickly and cost-effectively but still coordinate closely with the Ethereum CPU — so that’s why partnering with a leading L2 solution is a dream for us. We see the combination of Enya and OMG being that platform of choice for developers.
You claim to be the world’s largest provider of secure multiparty computation in the world. What does that mean?
Secure multiparty computation (SMC) has been used by academics and some enterprises, typically for research or small-scale pilots, with tens to hundreds of users at most. To the best of our understanding, our SMC-based symptom tracker is by far the largest deployment of SMC. With SMC, people can enter their COVID symptoms and we can compute on those data, without the unprotected data ever leaving people’s phones. Traditionally, SMC has been hard to actually use, but we’ve spent a lot of time and effort to get to a platform that has now been able to accommodate more than 8 million data submissions from users in 91 countries. No one else has ever deployed SMC at this scale before.
How will data privacy and security benefit from the blockchain? And why is it important?
Privacy and security are always important for sensitive data in any context. In the traditional software world, you can often hold some sort of centralized entity accountable to keep your data private and secure, and if they don’t do a good job you can sue them, governments can fine them — but of course, your data are still lost. In the decentralized world, you generally don’t know who you are dealing with, and therefore, the only thing you can really trust is math. That’s fundamentally why Bitcoin works — the system is cryptographically secured. Beyond securing currencies, there is an ever-broader need to secure data. That’s why privacy-preserving capabilities need to be built into the infrastructure and super easy for developers to adopt so that they are native to the applications they build. That’s the value Enya brings to the OMG platform.
Could you talk about current applications made/owned by your company?
Our core product is the Enya API that makes it easy for developers to adopt advanced cryptographic techniques such as secure multiparty computation and fully homomorphic encryption to perform computations on sensitive data without compromising privacy. The platform is designed to operate in a distributed environment where data elements reside on billions of devices running at the edge of the network, making it a natural fit for decentralized applications.
Enya is healthcare-focused, while OMG Network is value transfer and finance-focused. Is Enya pivoting towards the OMG vision or are you true to your own field?
Enya is data privacy-focused. Over the last three years, we have been building general-purpose, scalable tools for secure computation at the edge; specifically, we are building for use-cases in which large numbers (millions) of people or devices generate small, well-structured, and highly sensitive data payloads. Such payloads are created in many contexts, spanning healthcare, logistics, and financial services, for example. Given a global pandemic, which has changed all of our lives, we built a COVID app on our platform, but we are not a healthcare company.
Part 2 — Use-Case: Featuring the Hashcast Demo!
In an ideal world what would you like to see Layer-2 transform into and how can Enya’s privacy-focus fit in with this new use-case for Layer-2’s?
Layer-2 solutions today are primarily focused on throughput and transaction costs, and rightfully so, as a result of the limitations of Ethereum. Projecting forward, however, we anticipate the emergence of a variety of Layer-2’s that address the many other needs of useful computing, such as storage, privacy, security, sensor i/o — just as the microprocessor world evolved from one dominated by a general-purpose CPU to one where a constellation of special-purpose processors coordinate with each other to enable the rich user experiences we enjoy today. Enya is leading the way by adding privacy-focused capabilities to OMG and will continue to broaden the appeal of OMG as the market evolves.
What kind of use-cases are you thinking of, where OMG Network is needed in the near future (1–3 months)?
You already know that DeFi is rapidly growing, yet issues such as front-running remain. Enya’s privacy-preserving technology, combined with OMG’s atomic swaps, can help solve some of these problems. We are also adding features to OMG that will be useful to other dApps, such as a broadcast/subscribe protocol for exchanging messages, cryptographic payloads, and other data to facilitate communications and transactions. For example, OMG already has support for atomic swaps, but without a good system for all parties to cryptographically sign the swaps, they can’t be used in practice.
What are your thoughts on the OMG Network being used to store private account info like addresses and credits for platforms like Shopify to prevent ID leaks?
In general, the notion of a privacy layer is excellent, but the reality is that most internet companies are dramatically over collecting private information. If your private data never left your phone in the first place, for example, a data breach at one of these companies would not concern you all that much, because none of your private data would be found in their databases. So on a strategic level, the technologies we are developing focus on things like privacy-preserving computation at the edge (generally meaning, your computer or phone), rather than putting bandaids on centralized data repositories. From a technical perspective, blockchains are fundamentally public systems, invented to reduce the need for centralized coordination and trust solutions. A better and safer design pattern is for youto keep your data and private keys and interact with the broader world through privacy-preserving cryptographic techniques.
Is the singular block producer an issue for this new application layer?
Plasma as implemented by OMG has a fundamentally solid, and quite conservative, security design. A singular block producer has inherent efficiency and speed advantages, but of course, is easier to censor or DDoS than a distributed system. Within this specific context, we see an opportunity for broadening the scope of responsibilities of the watchers, to potentially provide some degree of hot spare/failover in denial-of-L2 attacks. This is an active area of longer-term investigation for OMG and its partners.
Can you give us examples of what dApps you have built for a launch on the OMG Network and also what you would like to see built in the near future?
Rather than giving you hypothetical examples or talk about what we might build, why don’t we just show you what we have built and what is already in private user testing? Check this out.
OMG Network’s Plasma offers many useful functions like atomic swaps, allowing two wallets to swap differing ERC-20 tokens. The problem is it requires all parties to sign the typed data payloads necessary to trigger the swap. For example, the sender, receiver, and fee payer have to “sign off” on the payload to complete the transaction. That’s why we’ve built a communications layer on plasma called Haschast.
Hashcast allows wallets, people, and computers to broadcast encrypted and clear text payloads, helping buyers and sellers to coordinate signatures of atomic swap transactions. You can also publicly broadcast arbitrary payloads up to a size of 1MB; these can be things like images, audio, cryptographic payloads, etc.
We’ve also set up a function where you can subscribe to other people’s channels, so you get notifications when they Hashcast information. In doing so, Hashcast allows for general communication like Twitter, acts as a messaging app, and allows you to store info if needed (for every Hashcast you fire, we’ll store a 1MB payload for 0.07 OMG).
But the major use-case is synchronization and communication that allows parties to efficiently coordinate things like transfers and atomic swaps!