Mina aims to become the smallest blockchain in the world, and claims that the protocol has a constant size of around 22 KB. This is likely to be achieved through the use of recursive zk-SNARKs, the same technology used in the privacy-focused Zcash (ZEC) cryptocurrency. However, while the latter uses this technology to give users more privacy, the former uses it for scalability.
Zk-SNARK, which stands for the short, non-interactive argument about zero sum, gives a party the opportunity to demonstrate that it has certain information without revealing what that information was. This is similar to how a smartphone can identify the owner without storing the actual identity data.
There has been much discussion about the use of zk-SNARK to expand the scope of various protocols, including Bitcoin, although there are currently many practical applications for this technology. Evan Shapiro, CEO of O (1) Labs, the company behind Mina blockchain technology, said that while it was a good idea, his team had to solve several technological challenges to revive the concept:
“This is a very clean and beautiful idea at a high level. But once you start implementing it, you have to be aware of the many complexities and really be able to achieve it.”
When it comes to the project contract, the size will depend on the needs of the network. A “normal” node needs only a few kilobytes, while a node participating in consensus may need a gigabyte:
“If you’re a regular site that only needs unreliable access and there are no access rights to multiple accounts, this is within a kilobyte because you only need proof and actual accounts. To reach agreement, you need all the accounts. Let’s say there are 1 million accounts, each one hundred bytes in size, and maybe a bit like a kilobyte, so you need a gigabyte to store it.
The project was originally intended to be a proof of working consensus, but earlier this year the team decided to accept Cardano’s Ouroboros consensus. Despite this, a great deal of work has been done to adapt this system to the zero-knowledge coding used by MENA. Unlike Zcash, which is just a cryptocurrency, Mina has a smart contract team and its own version of decentralized apps or DApps called Snapps.
Another difference for Mina, Shapiro said, is that it can safely consume external data without the need for an Oracle. This combination of external data and zero-knowledge coding can open up a number of uses. MENA can, for example, allow users to offer decentralized financial applications with their own credit registration parameters without having to publish what information is. This in turn can reduce the inherent risk and lower interest rates for borrowers. Users can use KYC information verified by a switchboard to circumvent the verification requirements of another crypto service provider.
Mina recently changed her name from Coda due to a lawsuit from the R3 consortium, which felt that the name was too close to Corda. The Mina network is expected to be launched in the coming months.