Introducing the Grid+ Lattice1 – Grid+
Introducing the Grid+ Lattice1
One of the important features that is introduced by the Grid+ Lattice1 is the use of smart cards, which we refer to as Safe Cards, as a mechanism for key management and account backups. Safe Cards are much more favorable in their ability to durably store a secret when compared to paper backup phrases . Furthermore, the introduction of the card slot on the Grid+ Lattice1 allows a user to not only create card-based accounts but also allows them to create accounts using a number of agents, cards, and devices. A simple example of creating a multi-keyed account was proposed in the whitepaper known as 2-of-3 multi-signature blind key wallets . This will allow users to benefit from 2-of-3 multisignature security by buying a Lattice1 and downloading an app. Simple, out-of-the-box multisig. More interestingly, the card slot will also enable users to create wallets with an arbitrary number of Safe Cards, as well as create hierarchical wallet systems. For example, a user could create an offline account by creating an account which has a single key on one Safe Card, but is backed up by a 2-of-3 keys stored on 3 additional Safe Cards. The user then could store the three backup cards in physically disparate locations, say a safety deposit box, a relatives’ house, or a hole in the ground. The user will have access to their funds, but will also be able to recover the account if something happens to their Lattice1 or primary Safe Card.
When comparing the current banking system to the state of the art cryptocurrency systems, the intrinsic characteristics of cryptocurrencies are quite favorable. Unfortunately, when comparing the extrinsic characteristics, cryptocurrencies lag far behind fiat systems. To gain mass adoption cryptocurrencies must duplicate the convenience and security that is presently available in the banking system. This means that crypto systems need to offer the full suite of comparable services that are presently fulfilled by banks including credit/debit cards, automatic recurring payments, digital payment apps, as well as offering many different account types. The Grid+ Lattice1 provides a customer the infrastructure to be the custodian of their funds while also duplicating all of the services typically provided by a bank. More importantly, the Grid+ Lattice1 does so by building upon well known concepts that everyone is familiar with in the banking system including the use of pins and card based accounts.
The effectiveness of cryptocurrencies as money is determined by both the intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics in comparison to alternative systems such as fiat money. Only when both intrinsic and extrinsic characteristics of the crypto ecosystems are judged is the true competitiveness of cryptocurrencies understood. The intrinsic character of a cryptocurrency can include monetary attributes like the inflation rate, the cost of a transaction, divisibility, fungibility, et cetera. The extrinsic character of a cryptocurrency includes attributes such as the size of the network, the number of willing counterparties, available services, and friction of use.
Although current blockchain systems have come a long way towards building an alternative to the present monetary system, there are two systemically important features missing that inhibit the mass adoption of cryptocurrencies, specifically, scalability and usability. The Lattice1 actually addresses both of these issues, however this blog will focus on usability.
Although the agent was extensively described in our whitepaper, I will provide a short recap on what is now the Lattice1, and why it is critical to the Grid+ mission. When the Grid+ team was originally exploring how the electricity markets could benefit from using cryptocurrencies, one of the guiding principles was that cryptocurrencies would allow disintermediation and enable users to interact with counterparties more directly. The disintermediation and the use of blockchain to achieve real-time settlement eliminates myriad capital and credit previously required in the electricity markets as well as removing fees extracted by intermediaries, who provide minimal value add services. Blockchains are an efficient method of price discovery for intermediaries. Unfortunately, the technology wasn’t available in the market that allowed the average individual to leverage cryptocurrencies for recurring automatic payments without using a custodian, reintroducing an intermediary, albeit a new one. Swapping one set of intermediaries, retail electricity providers and banks, for another, a Coinbase-like custodian and a bank, would not realize the potential efficiency gains offered by cryptocurrencies and is antithetical to the raison d`etre of cryptocurrencies. Additionally, in proposing solutions to the problem of how to actualize the use of cryptocurrencies as payments, the issues and shortcoming of secure private key storage also come to light. The Grid+ Lattice1 provides a technical solution to not only use cryptocurrencies with automated systems, but also creates a hardware/software system that enables a non-technical person, say my mother, to safely and easily participate in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.
The Grid+ hardware team has been working diligently for the last seven months turning what was our prototype agent into a production device now called the Lattice1. Many improvements and capabilities have been added to the device which we will be sharing with the community over a series of blog posts. This first post will focus on describing the high-level capabilities of the Lattice1 and future posts will then delve into the technical details that enable these features.
So which process or service do the Lattice1 and Safe Cards replicate that we expect from the banking system? They create a system of accounts which allow the user to make a trade-off between accessibility and security.
The current banking system allows for a continuum of accounts which are used for different purposes, but different account types provide varying accessibility which is inversely proportional with security. For example, the least secure accounts would be credit card accounts. These accounts are used the most, with the account number being exposed to the greatest number of people and merchants. Credit card accounts are also the accounts which suffer from the greatest amount of fraud and loss. The next most accessible account would be the checking account. A checking account number is provided to a far smaller number of companies to make larger periodic payments. People typically don’t keep their life savings here because checking accounts also suffer from fraud and loss, but at a much lower rate than credit card accounts. There are then savings accounts which are typically only shared with a few other accounts or financial institutions. The expectation of security in a savings account is particularly high, but the accessibility goes down as demonstrated by federally mandated limits on number of transactions. Finally, there are typically brokerage or retirement accounts. These accounts may receive frequent incoming deposits, but rarely see withdrawals (maybe once a year). Furthermore, the cost, time, and friction to making these withdrawals is significantly higher than any of the above accounts.
The analogous account types that are made possible with the Grid+ Lattice1 in ascending order of security would be roughly a single account, a 2-of-3 blind-key multisignature account, a 1 primary 2-of-3 key backup account, and a n-of-m physically distributed multisignature account. This is a paradigm shift with hardware based security devices. The Lattice1 provides essentially a limitless number of accounts and keys in a single device. Furthermore, it gives the user easily accessible tools by which to setup and manage multi-key accounts.
The Grid+ Lattice1 enables users and cryptocurrency applications to extend what types of cryptocurrency payments can be made and the methods by which they can be made. The Lattice1 contains a hardware segmented secure computing environment which allows the user to create pairings and permissions for other devices or counterparties. The pairings are a cryptographic process by which identity is verified, and the permissions set the type of transaction that can be made from a requesting party or device. For example, if I wanted to use my Lattice1 to pay my mortgage, I could setup a pairing with my mortgage company and give them permission to request payment for $1500 worth of Ether once per month to my mortgage payment address. If they make a request that is greater than the $1500 or is more frequent that once per month, or does not go to the appropriate address the Lattice1 will not sign the transaction request. This is an example of how the Lattice enables auto-payments. In the Grid+ electricity business this is a critical functionality because it allows customers to make payment for their electricity in near real-time.
Some people may look at the Lattice1 and exclaim, “It’s too big, I can’t carry it around!” to which I would respond, “When you are ready, you won’t have to”. In addition to setting up auto-payments, the permissions and pairings can be used to extend the ability to make payments with the Lattice1 to any paired device such as a laptop or smartphone.
The first app that will be available to be used with the Lattice1 is Grid+ MobilePay. This application was made to allow Grid+ electricity customers to easily add money to and manage the money on their Lattice1 device. A Lattice1 customer will be able to pair their smartphone via the MobilePay app when they first set up their Lattice1 device. They will also be able to make permissions restricting the types of request that the MobilePay app can make, similar to the permissions set up with the Mortgage bank above. However, the MobilePay app will generally be used for one time payments to a plethora of third parties. Therefore, the permission would be setup to provide the ability to make payments to any address while potentially adding daily and monthly transaction limits.
In addition to being able to access accounts from any paired device, the Lattice1 will also allow customers to add metadata to addresses. This could be thought of as a contact book for cryptocurrency payments. The first time a customer sends money to Grid+ they will have to check the long alphanumeric address string, but can subsequently use human readable references such as “Grid+” or a logo or image in the future. The reason that this can be done securely is that the contacts will be saved in the SCE (secure compute environment) and verified when permissions are checked. This will help customers more easily interact with blockchain by making the use of addresses easy and less prone to error.
Revolutionizing infrastructure for blockchain 2.0
Grid+ is planning on opening up the ability to leverage the capabilities of the Lattice1 to 3rd party applications by releasing an SDK. The SDK will not only allow applications to request one time payments but will also allow the third party apps to pair with the Lattice1. This will allow developers to create a whole new set of applications on cryptocurrencies that were previously not possible. The ability to create applications that use programmatically executed and checked automatic payments without the need for a custodian is the paradigm shift which was needed to realize Grid+’s business model. I am sure that many more business models can and will be built using similar ideas with this technology.
Shipping a Device
Over the coming months there will be more information on a release schedule for the device and for updates to it. Although there are several details yet to be determined, we anticipate pre-sales for devices to begin in Q4 and for the devices to ship Q1. We expect to accept BTC and ETH for payment and for there to be a significant discount through redemption of GRID tokens.
This post was meant to give a high level overview on the evolution of the agent into the Lattice1 and some of the interesting capabilities offered. There will be series of upcoming blogs that will go into greater technical detail on some of these features. Presently, these upcoming posts will likely include the following:
Pairings, Permissions, and Payments
Lattice1 Design Overview
Lattice1 Security Deep Dive
Trustless Verifiable Logic Enabling DCash
Demo Videos (September)
The forward-looking statements in this update are subject to numerous assumptions, risks and uncertainties which are subject to change over time. There are many risk factors, including those relating to blockchain and cryptographic technology generally, as well Grid+’s business, operations and results of operations, that could cause our actual results or developments anticipated by us not to be realized or, even if substantially realized, to fail to achieve any or all of the benefits that could be expected therefrom, We reserve the right to change the plans, expectations and intentions stated herein at any time and for any reason, in our sole and absolute discretion, and we undertake no obligation to update publicly or revise any forward-looking statement, whether as a result of new information, future developments or otherwise. ACCORDINGLY, WE RECOMMEND THAT YOU DO NOT RELY ON, AND DO NOT MAKE ANY FINANCIAL DECISION OR INVESTMENT BASED ON, THE STATEMENTS CONTAINED IN THIS UPDATE — INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO ANY SELLING OR TRADING OF GRID TOKENS, ETHER OR ANY OTHER CRYPTOGRAPHIC OR BLOCKCHAIN TOKEN, OR THE SECURITIES OF ANY COMPANY.