Cashless transactions are on the rise, with credit cards and debit cards already having overtaken the greenback as the payment method of choice back in 2018. Although these payment methods are convenient from a user perspective, the underlying infrastructure is sluggish, often taking days for a transaction settlement to happen.
Furthermore, with credit card theft and account hacking so commonplace, users are increasingly asked to compromise more of their privacy and personal data in an attempt to increase security. These days, it’s often the case that you’ll need to provide an additional layer of authentication for transactions, but this is usually sent via insecure channels such as email or SMS.
Blockchain offers a solution for many of these issues, including instant encrypted transactions secured by private keys. However, cryptocurrencies are still often shunned by traditional finance due to the fact that they don’t have any inbuilt compliance tools, meaning banks are naturally suspicious. As such, there is no easy way to push or pull funds between a blockchain and traditional finance using any of the existing payment rails.
Enter Proton Chain.
What is Proton Chain?
Proton Chain is a blockchain protocol that aims to overcome the challenges described above. The core feature is the concept of a verified account. Consider what happens if you search for “Vitalik” on Twitter – you get a list that looks like the one below.
However, we know the top one belongs to the real Vitalik Buterin, thanks to the blue checkmark. This tells us he’s gone through a process with Twitter that’s verified it’s really Vitalik Buterin sitting behind that account.
Proton takes this concept and applies it to payments. So Vitalik Buterin could claim his @VitalikButerin username on Proton, and a network of KYC checkers would verify that it’s actually him.
Once verified, users can then attach their fiat accounts to their Proton account, and push and pull funds between the two. Users can find one another via their verified accounts and exchange funds.
Perhaps most importantly, this can be done via any application using the Proton protocol.
Under the Hood – the XPR Token
XPR is the native token of the Proton blockchain, which runs on a delegated Proof of Stake consensus. This operates in a very similar way to dPoS on EOS, in which Proton has its roots. For that reason, Proton also uses terminology similar to EOS, such as RAM for data storage and CPU for network processing power.
XPR is used to reward block producers and can be staked by holders in block producer elections, on a one-token-one-vote basis. Stakers must agree to lock up their tokens for at least a month to become eligible for staking rewards.
There is an initial supply of 200 million XPR, with 5% newly created tokens released each year. Half of these will go to block producers as rewards, a further 30% to stakers, and 20% to the Proton Steering Committee. The Steering Committee is also organized under a dPoS governance model, and is responsible for making decisions such as whether to increase fees for network resources.
XPR tokens are available for trading via Metal X, HitBTC, Bithumb Global, and Bilaxy exchanges. They can be stored in the Lynx Wallet.
Metal Pay 3.0 – Bringing Proton Chain’s Capability To Reality
Proton supplies the rails, but Metal Pay is the first application that will make Proton’s capabilities available to users. Metal Pay is an established blockchain payment processing platform, developed by Metal, that will incorporate Proton as part of its 3.0 launch.
The Metal Pay 3.0 roadmap is split into three separate phases. The first phase will be to launch an open SDK for Proton. The second, dubbed “Red Falcon” will establish Metal Pay as the first wallet capable of interacting with the Proton blockchain. It will introduce the following features:
- The Proton username protocol so that every Metal Pay user will have their own unique @handle stored on the Proton blockchain
- Functionality for the new Metal Pay wallet to react to Proton Chain payment push payment requests
- A non-custodial “crypto tab” available to Metal Pay users globally enabling sending and receiving of XPR tokens
- The ability for Metal Pay to wrap tokens from the Metal X “exchange” tab within the app and move them to the non-custodial “crypto” tab, and vice-versa.
In general, the third phase (called Snow Owl) is lighter, bringing in support for additional currencies, and a Proton-based stablecoin, among other features.
History of Proton Chain, Metal Pay, and Lynx
The relationship between Metal Pay and Proton isn’t a coincidence. Metal came together with Lynx to develop the Proton blockchain. Metal had established its Metal Pay payments platform as a means of achieving the vision of onboarding more users to cryptocurrency by making it more accessible.
Meanwhile, Lynx had been working on its own project with similar goals in mind. It had developed the Lynx Wallet, the biggest EOS wallet in the US. It had also created its own blockchain as a fork of EOS, using the same dPoS model as its predecessor. Lynxchain offers much of the same functionality of EOS but with free account creation, making dApps more accessible to non-holders of EOS tokens.
The two companies came together and merged early in 2020, launching the Proton blockchain in April. Proton is actually variant of Lynxchain, but with the identity layer built-in.
Proton’s leadership team reflects the makeup of its predecessor companies.
Marshall Hayner and Glenn Marien co-founded Metal and now serve as CEO and CSO respectively of the newly merged project. Hayner previously worked on projects including Dogecoin, Stellar, and Block.io, where he worked on the acquisition of the Dogecoin.info wallet, developed by Marien.
Fred Krueger and Jacob Davis co-founded the Lynx Wallet and EOS Lynx. Krueger, who holds a P.h.D in Statistics from Stanford, is now President of Metal. Jacob Davis is CTO and has 19 years of experience in the IT sector, including SAS and Microsoft.
Many projects claim to want to make crypto more accessible to the masses. However, invariably, they end up producing a fiat on ramping service that isn’t necessarily discernible from what’s already on the market today. By creating a blockchain that can interact with existing fiat payment gateways, Proton has an opportunity to tap into an established user base that could number into billions, depending on which companies it can onboard.
Therefore, ensuring that Metal Pay is a success, and can be well-marketed as such, will be a core component of Proton gaining adoption. If the team can deliver on its roadmap and direct the right resources into getting the attention of payment industry players, it could be among the few projects to achieve the vision of mass adoption.