AMA with Blockchain Infinity on All Things OrchidDec 3, 2020
Orchid recently joined the Blockchain Infinity group for an Ask-Me-Anything session to satisfy the curiosity from its more than 10,000 member community for information about the first incentivized, peer-to-peer privacy network.
Host @Zanity asked our Global Community Manager Derek Silva about Orchid's crypto-powered VPN solution, fielded questions via Twitter and took queries from the Blockchain Infinity community Telegram chat group.
Here are the highlights of Derek's answers in what turned out to a lively session that covered everything from Orchid's digital asset OXT to nanopayments to anonymous transactions.
Q: What is Orchid?
DS: "At its core, Orchid is a layer 2 scaling solution that makes nanopayments (very, very tiny payments) affordable and achievable on the blockchain. It makes a marketplace of services, and customers using those services, possible thanks to an anonymous account infrastructure, secure connectivity, and nanopayments.
To help showcase that technology, the first service built on top of nanopayments is a decentralized VPN marketplace. When you connect to Orchid, you're connected to a random node in the default Curator (list of partners) who are running Orchid's VPN node software.
All the code is open source and is constantly being improved.
In the future, anyone will be able to create a Curator, and we hope that bandwidth providers will compete on different fronts like high performance servers, low cost servers, country-specific servers, etc.
That will give anyone with a computer and excess bandwidth the chance to earn some money selling it, and provides Orchid users more privacy and security by utilizing non-traditional VPN nodes."
Orchid and Blockchain
Q: How does Orchid use blockchain?
- Orchid Curators (curated lists of nodes) are registered to the blockchain. For example, the default Curator has its own .eth domain and you can see it when you check your Orchid hop settings.
- Creating an Orchid account and funding it both happen on-chain. You "lift" your OXT from the Orchid nanopayment smart contract during the process, and everything is secured and validated via Ethereum.
- And of course Orchid's account management dApp requires a Web3 enabled browser, or an extension, to work. MetaMask works nicely.
OXT, Orchid's Digital Asset
Q: What's the OXT use case?
DS: OXT is the token that anyone who wants to provide services on the platform must stake. So to advertise your VPN node on the blockchain, you must stake OXT. In order to remain competitive with other servers in the same Curator, you want to stake as many or more OXT than they are to make sure you're first in line to serve new customers (as long as you have capacity).
OXT is also staked by clients to show they have enough OXT to pay for the service, and issue on-chain lottery tickets that help secure the network on Ethereum itself.
And it's the payment token of choice. If you create an Orchid account and fund it, the OXT is then streamed on a byte-by-byte basis to the provider you're connected to if the service is on. 🙂
Q: Are there any regional restrictions for using VPN Orchid?
DS: No restrictions whatsoever. We have even had people use it in China. 🙂
Privacy and Personal Data Protection
Q: How does VPN Orchid protect the privacy and personal data of its users?
Orchid does not collect any personal data whatsoever. No name, email, address, credit card, etc. The client app shows you a traffic monitor of what's happening on your phone, but that data is not sent to Orchid or anyone else. And the servers don't collect logs. Orchid does not want your data!
Q: How secure is Orchid Protocol?
DS: Nothing is perfect, but we feel Orchid is incredibly secure. Two of the founders are two of the most respected technologists in the industry --- Jay Freeman, also known as Saurik, the original iPhone jailbreaker and founder of Cydia; and Brian Fox, an open source advocate and the creator of the Bash shell. Them, along with other developers on the team, focus on security throughout the software development lifecycle.
The code is all open source, the smart contract was audited by ConsenSys Diligence, and so far no one has brought any serious app vulnerabilities to our attention.
Q: Can anonymous transactions be performed on the Orchid Protocol network?
DS: The simple answer is yes, that's why Orchid exists --- so that people can access services in a secure, anonymous manner from (in the future) hundreds of providers.
If you re-use the same Ethereum wallet for everything, the fact that you have created an Orchid account won't be anonymous. However, no one will see OXT leaving your wallet everyday because of the nanopayments solution. Payments mostly come from the nanopayments contract, and every once in a while a larger, random payment would come from your account. It's doubtful anyone will know exactly how much bandwidth you're using.
If you want a truly private account, then you could create a brand new wallet, send it OXT by routing it through various channels (or something like Tornado.cash), and then make your Orchid account with that brand new wallet. That's a set of processes most people don't need to worry about, but it's available.
Q: What are Orchid nanopayments?
DS: Orchid's nanopayments solution is essentially our own layer 2 chain, but a little bit different. When you're connected to the service, your payments are streamed to the providers on a byte-by-byte basis. So you could be sending as little as 0.000000000000000001 OXT each second based on the traffic you're sending across the service.
Every once in a while, to catch up with with nanopayments, an on-chain lottery ticket is issued. You need enough OXT in your account to generate this ticket, and a provider must claim it. This helps secure the network on Ethereum's layer 1 blockchain.
You can read more about it on our blog.
Q: Why did you build Orchid on Ethereum?
DS: We chose Ethereum for a few reasons:
- It has the most mature dApp development ecosystem. Keep in mind Orchid has been under development for several years!
- There is a large, passionate community of developers already building on Ethereum, making attracting talent much easier.
- Ethereum helped achieve Orchid's privacy goals very quickly. It's not perfect, and we must do more for truly anonymous payments at all times, but using Ethereum got us a good portion of the way there immediately.
You can read more about the factors considered when selecting Ethereum here.
Q: How much progress has Orchid made?
DS: We released the Android app in December 2019, the iOS app came a few months later, and the macOS app just a month after that. The Windows client is in development, and since all the code is on GitHub and fully open source at all times, you can always see what we're doing. Some of our community members even know what's going to be released on the blog before others because they check the GitHub! 😆
What I can say is that Orchid's team has a proven track record, and we continue to release and improve the product all the time. I think the past performance on that speaks for itself.
Download the Orchid app to start exploring the Internet.