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What Is Mina Protocol and MINA Token?

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by Oluwapelumi Adejumo · 6 min read
What Is Mina Protocol and MINA Token?
Photo: Mina Protocol

Let us introduce you to Mina – the protocol that has proved to be the world’s lightest blockchain powered by participants. Its mission is optimizing decentralization and scalability for the blockchain.

Since the introduction of Bitcoin (BTC), one issue that has bothered all blockchain networks is scalability. This has affected the energy use of blockchain networks, cost, and the time needed to process transactions. While several blockchain networks have all proffered solutions to the problem, they all have faced challenges because of their flaws. However, Mina (MINA) protocol is changing that with its idea of succinct blockchain.

History and Founders of Mina Protocol

Mina Protocol appeared back in 2017 by O(1) Labs. It had the simple goal of optimizing decentralization and scalability for the blockchain. It was initially known as Coda Protocol but had to change its name to Mina due to a trademark dispute with R3 for the similarity of the name to its Corda blockchain. The CEO of the company is Evans Shapiro, and other founding team members include Izaak Meckler, Brad Cohen, Emre Tekişalp, and Vanishree Rao of O(1) Labs and Joseph Bonneau of New York University.

Mina Protocol’s Functioning

Mina Protocol’s claim to fame is the lightness of its blockchain. It even calls itself a compressed blockchain, the first of its kind. Unlike other blockchains that require a high level of computing power to process transactions, the bar for nodes entry into this platform is quite low. As a result, it possible for anyone to connect, sync, and verify the chain almost instantly.

Mina’s Underlying Tech

On traditional blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, when a node joins, it is required to verify all the transactions that have happened on the network (the entire blockchain history). With over 500 million transactions on Bitcoin already amounting to more than 250 GB, it will take a lot of days for a regular computer to download and verify the history. This is why it requires special devices with much higher computing power to run a full node that stores and verifies the blockchain.

Unfortunately, only a few people have the resources to acquire this kind of device. Therefore, most users on Bitcoin run a light node or ultralight node. It verifies only block headers or even nothing at all and instead relies on a trusted server. The result is that the number of nodes on Bitcoin is not increasing, and decentralization, one of the major purposes of blockchain, is not truly achieved while performance is also affected.

Mina seeks to change this by introducing a succinct blockchain. The latter is a decentralized payment system that provides a constant verification time. This is possible because succinct proofs of state validity are added to every block. The entire blockchain is based on SNARKS – micro-crypto certificates in the nodes that verify the transactions. The whole blockchain network is just 22KB, which is the size of few tweets. All it takes for users on Mina Protocol to verify the entire transaction history is a zk-SNARK zero knowledge of proof. It uses a Proof-of-Stake algorithm called Ouroboros Praos.

Main Participants on Mina Network

There are three roles within the Mina Network for participants to support the seamless operation of the network. Each of these roles is properly incentivized. They are as follows:

  • Verifiers. Many users on the network will be able to verify since all it takes to be a verifier and achieve full node security is to download a zs-SNARK. It is only hundreds of bytes in size and requires a millisecond of computational processes to verify.
  • Block Producers. In other blockchain protocols, this group represents the stakers or miners. On Mina Network, they get incentives in the form of network fees that the user pays and other protocol distributions such as block rewards and coinbase transactions. Individuals can also choose to delegate their stake to a block producer instead of staking directly. The role of block producers is to choose the transactions to include in a block. In other words, they will most definitely go for the transactions with the highest fees. But block producers have another role on Mina to maintain the succinctness of the blockchain. For every transaction added to a block, they have to SNARK an equal number of previous transactions for their block to comply with the consensus rules and be acceptable for other nodes.
  • Snarkers. These are the network participants responsible for producing the zk-SNARKs needed to verify SNARK transactions. They post fees and call bids for their SNARKS, and if a block producer uses those SNARKs in a block, the block producer pays for them from the transaction fees they earn. Since many Snarkers are posting fees, the block producer will usually go for the most cost-efficient ones, so the participants compete to produce that.

Lifecycle of a Mina Transaction

A Mina transaction starts with the verifier executing the transaction, after which it enters the mempool. At the same time, the Snarkers make proofs for the new transactions without snarks. The next step is when the Block producer is picked to produce a block and select the most profitable transactions and an equivalent number of unsnarked transactions. Next, the block producer must buy SNARKS from the SNARK order book that corresponds with these transactions.  After that, the block producer can add a new block to the Mina blockchain. Then, the queue state gets an update with the addition of new transactions and deleting the snarked transactions. The block producer then updates the zk-snark for blockchain, and the new block is validated.

MINA Token

The MINA token is the native cryptocurrency on the Mina protocol. It has been listed on various crypto exchanges such as CoinList, OKEx, and Kraken. But the token is not available for people in United States, Canada, Australia, and Japan.

As of June 2021, the MINA token has a circulating supply of 150,013,663 tokens out of a maximum supply of 827,207,452 tokens.

Pros and Cons of Mina

Mina protocol offers many solutions to the current problems faced by many blockchain networks, but it is not without its challenges too. Let us have a better knowledge of the pros and cons that Mina has.

Firstly, the idea behind the protocol itself is unique, and it solves most of the problems that modern blockchains are facing. Secondly, the network is lightweight and allows devices with average computing power to be full nodes. Further, several top-level funds are backing the project.

However, since the protocol is open source and is not patented, forks of the technology can emerge in the future. Besides, the existing version of the protocol does not support smart contracts.

Conclusion

Mina protocol is still in its early stages, but it already offers potential solutions to scalability, high energy consumption, and cost of transactions on modern blockchains. It was one of the most anticipated projects back in 2017 and has proved to be the world’s lightest blockchain powered by participants.

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FAQ

What is Mina Protocol?

Mina protocol is the cryptocurrency protocol based on the principle of succinct blockchain. It is the first compressed blockchain with a whole size of 22 KB. Unlike other blockchains that require a high level of computing power to process transactions, the bar for nodes entry into this platform is quite low. As a result, it possible for anyone to connect, sync, and verify the chain almost instantly.

How did Mina appear?

The protocol was created in 2017 and started as a Coda protocol before the name was changed to Mina. It was created to serve as a succinct blockchain that would minimize the computational requirement needed to operate DApps more efficiently.

What is the tech basis of Mina protocol?

Mina Protocol is based on the idea of a succinct blockchain built on SNARKS (succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge). The whole blockchain network is just 22KB, which is the size of few tweets. All it takes for users on Mina Protocol to verify the entire transaction history is a zk-SNARK zero knowledge of proof. It uses a Proof-of-Stake algorithm called Ouroboros Praos.

What are the key participants of the Mina Network?

There are three key participants in the Mina network: the Verifiers, Block producers, and Snarkers.

What is Mina SNARK?

A Mina SNARK (succinct non-interactive arguments of knowledge) is a micro-crypto certificate stored by nodes and used to verify transactions.

How is the Mina transaction conducted?

A transaction on Mina starts with the verifier, and every participant on the network is involved in conducting a transaction.  Once the verifier executes the transaction, the snarkers create snarked proofs for the transaction, which block producers have to buy to add such snarked transactions to the queue when creating a new block.

How is Mina governed and secured?

Every user on the blockchain can validate the ledger, ensuring that the protocol is censorship-resistant and permissionless. Furthermore, since anyone can be a block producer on the network, its level of decentralization continues to grow, and so does its security and resilience.

What are the advantages of Mina protocol?

This is the first compressed blockchain, the lightest of its kind, and it supports full decentralization while also enabling scalability and privacy at the same time.

What is MINA token?

The Mina Token is the native token of the Mina protocol and currently worth $3.48. It had a community token sale on CoinList in which $18.75 million worth of tokens sold out within 4 hours.

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