Secret Network vs. Sapling vs. MimbleWimble

Posted this on the Reddit page but thought I might get a better answer here:

Very interested in this project as I think the balance of privacy and compliance are the next big needed advance in crypto. Right now your choices are either Swiss Bank account or having your checkbook posted on the internet for all to see; there has to be a viable middle ground that matches how the real world generally works.

That said, I’m trying to understand who Secret’s competitors are and how they are different. Litecoin, Tezos, and many others are implementing either Sapling or MimbleWimble, how will Secret still be different when they do?

Welcome to Secret. :sparkles:

Secret has no real competitors right now. There are some pre-launch coins trying to play catch up, but getting here has been a several year ordeal. The real competitors currently are probably SGX enabled cloud providers.

Secret, at the core, is not competing for private transactions, in the financial sense. Monero and ZCash already do a really good job at that, and are willing to sacrifice all sorts of other aspects to maximize transactional privacy.

What Secret brings are secret contracts. One can’t examine the state of a contract, it’s inputs, or it’s outputs. Secret is functionally most similar to Ethereum; We can support any kind of dapp you’d find there, from cryptokitties to ICOs to uniswap, but also do it privately.

The implication is that smart contracts on Secret could process a blood sample, run your taxes, or search your text messages, and you wouldn’t have to worry about the fact that the chain was transparent and permanent. It’s secret.

To address your question, It’s true - Tezos and many others are implementing Sapling or MimbleWImble. And Tezos in particular has applied Sapling to some aspects of its smart contracts. However it is an optional add-on feature that takes a backseat to the rest of the network. I look forward to exploring Edo more when it’s released, but as far as I know it’s strongly focused on zk-proof fund pools for doing private token interactions.

Token interactions are only a tiny facet of what’s possible on Secret, which supports fully private computation on any type of contract. Additionally, Tezo’s approach with Sapling privacy pools is more computationally complex and therefore difficult to integrate into a lightweight browser hotwallet like we have with Keplr. We want a vibrant ecosystem, filled with interactive web applications. And we want Secrecy to be a core design decision.

As for MimbleWimble - it’s a creative efficiency innovation with nice privacy implications. It’s great, but only moderately so for secrecy, without Dandelion, Tor, and other numerous privacy focused technologies layered in. It’s in an entirely different class of privacy tools compared to sMPC, SGX, or Sapling. I don’t consider it a competitor as far as the goals of Secret are concerned.

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Thanks, that’s a fantastic answer. Do you mind if I copy this over to the reddit page as well?

Sure, use it however you wish. My MW comments may trigger some proponents but they are true.

is nucypher somewhat comparable, or what are the main differences? i just found them recently and thought its somewhat similar

I would consider Nucypher the best competitor to Secret, if I had to choose one. Particularly their work with fully homomorphic encryption (FHE).

However, usable FHE is one of the holy grails of cryptography (and computing in general) and there’s a huge difference between a proof of concept and something usable. They have a very long path ahead of them if they want to make a production FHE system that’s not laden with restrictions and resource consumption to the point of being only worthy for a research paper. Not just engineering challenges, but novel research, optimizations, and security considerations will be required.

In comparison, not only is Secret available now for private contracts, but it’s also more capable by default than any FHE system imagined yet and orders of magnitude more efficient/scalable than even optimistic estimates.

That said, SGX (Secret) does have it’s flaws. I hope to see advances on sMPC and FHE in general as the network matures.

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uh, not to detract from the overall point, but oasis has a mainnet SGX-based private computing protocol that’s v similar to secret and is definitely the main competitor

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If/when we deem FHE feasible/needed, or some other cryptographic technique (fan-favorite MPC), we’ll work on it.

I don’t think it’s at that stage yet, or soon. Moving to TEEs was controversial at the time, and yet now every project who takes a stab at what we’re doing is either pivoting (not going general-purpose) or shifting to TEEs.

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Just took a look at Oasis and yes, seems very similar. What are the main differentiators and what makes Secret the more promising of the two? Looks like both run on cosmos and have similar goals.