Railgun is a privacy-preserving protocol that shields users’ private information and digital assets through zk-SNARK cryptography. Unlike other privacy protocols that obfuscate users’ information through intermediary wallet addresses, the Railgun Privacy System is non-custodial and users remain in full control of their digital assets.
Railgun is a relatively young project and only released its whitepaper in July 2021. Originally, the project was built on the Ethereum blockchain, adding privacy and anonymity to ERC-20 tokens. However, the Railgun community understood that other blockchains beyond Ethereum would be seeking to add similar privacy protocols.
Since Railgun is easily portable to other blockchains with smart contract capability, other deployments have already taken place, with more planned for the future. To date, Railgun has successfully launched on Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, and Polygon. The roadmap for the project has the additions of Solana and Polkadot scheduled for deployment later in 2022.
What is Railgun v1.0?
Since the release of the whitepaper, the Railgun smart contract has been operating in live beta with Railgun-to-Railgun transactions having complete privacy. Railgun v1.0 is the project reaching its maturity through its DAO sponsoring and adopting changes to the protocol that bring privacy to all transactions. The changes included but were not limited to:
– Supporting transaction circuits that have ~6x smaller artifacts and are ~6x faster when generating transactions.
– Batch transaction processing allowing a single Railgun transaction to transfer multiple tokens.
– Support for Relayers completing the Railgun privacy system by hiding the address of the gas payer (a.k.a. Sender).
– The ability to add NFT transactions as a future update without disrupting current wallet implementations.
– The ability to wrap Railgun transactions with external contract calls enabling things such as (1) wETH wrapping/unwrapping, and (2) DEX integrations and other smart contract interactions.
The most interesting proposal within Railgun v1.0 is the support for Relayers, completing the Railgun privacy system by removing information from the gas payer from all transactions. Before this proposal, personal information was hidden, but the payer of the gas fees was still visible. This made it possible to distinguish the sender’s wallet address, information that gives far more information about the user’s identity through the use of block explorers and crypto forensics. The addition of this proposal closes this loophole and perfects the privacy solution.
How was Railgun v1.0 released?
The Railgun project is governed by its community and places a heavy emphasis on the participation of its users. There is no centralized governance or ownership group that is directing the project. Instead, the entire decision-making process is done through the like-minded community DAO.
RAIL token holders who stake their RAIL earn the ability to vote on Railgun governance proposals with a 1 RAIL = 1 vote ratio. For any governance proposal to succeed it will need to pass through a seven-step process from proposal to execution.
Something that users need to keep in mind when voting on Railgun governance proposals is that each blockchain has its own DAO and they act as separate entities. This means that users must stake the governance token specific to the chain whose DAO they wish to join – Binance Smart Chain uses RAILBSC and Polygon uses RAILPOLY. Users will need to switch networks from Ethereum when accessing DAOs on other chains. Users can stake on multiple different chains, receiving voting power in proportion with their tokens staked.
Railgun v1.0 was approved and implemented on May 9th, 2022. All DAOs achieved a quorum and the front-end deployment was enacted a day later on May 10th. With Railgun v1.0, the advanced privacy solution made the leap from Railgun-to-Railgun transactions to any transactions possible with standard ERC-20 tokens on Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain and Polygon.