Beam & Monetary Policy
Beam sees itself as a confidential store of value coin with a fixed issuance schedule similar to Bitcoin. Beam’s monetary policy uses a deflationary model that comes with periodic halving of the block reward and a maximum supply of around 262 million coins. The first year has a block reward of 100 Beam coins per block. The first halving occurs after one year, and then the block reward halves every four years until the 133rd year when the maximum supply is scheduled to be reached. Beam’s monetary policy explicitly emphasizes a private store of value use case rather than digital cash.
Moreover, Beam issues rewards on a per-block basis to the Beam Treasury that is paid out every month to the Beam Foundation that includes investors, developers, and advisors. This model is similar to ZCash’s Founder’s Reward and is used for funding the ongoing company-based approach to develop the network. During the first five years of operation, 20% of the block reward is issued to the Treasury. Thus, the Treasury receives20 coins per block during the first year and ten coins per block every year for the next four years. The Treasury allocation ends after the expiration of the fifth year.
Governance & Development
Beam’s governance and early VC funding resemble a startup approach where full-time developers and contributors are hired in a traditional company environment. The team plans to transition to foundation-based governance, which is set to be a non-profit in Singapore that will guide the development of the network.
Beam has several features — both under development and working now — that expand on the original Mimblewimble design, including the use of transaction signing via the Schnorr protocol, hardware wallet support, multi-signatures, and atomic swap support for Bitcoin. In the longer term Beam plans to deploy a lightning network and integrate with other payment tools like BTCPay Server.
Considering its method of funding development through the Beam Foundation, Beam will generally be able to implement new features much faster. BEAM can steer ahead of other platforms implementing similar technologies, like Confidential Assets transactions on Mimblewimble. However, the transition from a centralized entity to a decentralized organization can pose some risks and challenges.
Bulletin Board System
Normally, when setting up payments on the Mimblewimble blockchain, all participants collaborate and need to be online. Beam tries to make offline transaction creation and asynchronous communication more seamless and secure by using a Secure Bulletin Board System (SBBS).
In Beam, BBS wallets are comparable to home computers plus modems (they are the “client”), and Beam's full nodes are similar to BBS hosts (they serve the purpose of the server). BBS' full nodes create a store-and-forward network to relay messages to offline recipients. Messages are encrypted using public keys and are then relayed to receiving wallets via Beam's full nodes. In this case, public keys act as addresses in the P2P system. If the receiving wallet is offline, store-and-forward Beam nodes can store messages in a database that acts as a message board.
One of the differentiating features of Beam is the opt-in auditability feature. This feature helps businesses avoid any regulatory risks from using the cryptocurrency. This allows companies to create a wallet that has auditor keys attached to it so auditors can identify tagged transactions on the blockchain created by the business wallet. With the opt-in auditability feature, Beam enables transparent payments for businesses while keeping transaction details private from external observers.