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Ripple just introduced the concept of PayID, which sounds a little like Proton, but is fundamentally different.

The core idea of this initiative (“backed” by a number of wallets such as blockchain.com) is to create an “open source identity standard”, that allows for sending of tokens to human readable addresses.

In PayID, this works by having a wallet or an app such as blockchain.com create names for users like “alice$blockchain.com” which resolve to URLs like “blockchain.com/alice”.

This might sound reasonable, but it has several enormous problems:

First problem: simplicity of name space

One of the reasons Twitter grew so much in popularity is the simplicity of the name space. @jack is Jack Dorsey. @dotkrueger is my own twitter handle. A simple 4 character or more user name, that can be referred to inline by the “@” symbol uniquely identifies the user.

“jack$blockchain.com” doesn’t feel quite the same as “@jack”.

This is not just a small dig. Name format matters. I don’t want my name to be associated with blockchain.com or any other app. I just want to own my name. And I want the name to be easily communicated. “send me $10 at @jack” is so much better than “send me $10 at “jack$blockchain.com”. Better in text, and far better as a verbal communication.

Second problem: reliance on third party

Twitter can ban users. Craig Wright of Bitcoin SV, is just one example. But if your name is “fred$randomapp.com” then if randomapp.com shuts down, or even just fails to renew the randomapp.com website, you name is compromised.

By allowing for individual sites to control the names underneath these sites, you are basically enabling any of these sites to delete the usernames underneath them. This is not a secure setup in general. Any of these sites could arbitrarily request payment for your name, delete your name or simply go out of business.

As a person who has been deeply involved in the ICANN world, I can tell you that the domain registrar world is not the right basis for a payment namespace. Indeed, if the system was setup today, a blockchain system would be a far better way to allocate names than the complex, fee-driven registry/registrar setup.

A better system: on chain @names

Building on EOSIO, Proton uses on chain @names as the basis for its payment protocol.

These names have two massive initial advantages over Ripple’s PayID
1. they are short (e.g.: @fred )
2. they are permanent (can’t disappear with the wallet who created them)

Proton has integrated these @names into a fully transparent, on-chain payment request and push to wallet mechanism that is trivial for applications to implement. A great demo is here.

Proton also has the notion of verified on-chain identity, with multiple identity providers. This was the initial promise of civic — but never executed. We have built this into our blockchain, with blue checkmarks for individuals, and soon businesses (similar to an SSL).

Ripple oddly celebrates that there is no “consensus mechanism” for their names. But this is exactly the beauty of Blockchain, and perhaps the single best innovation of Dan Larimer at eos.io. We’ve taken this, and the pioneering work of GreyMass, and built it into a true blockchain payment protocol.

Footnote

PayID reports that it has “100 million users and counting”. This is completely erroneous. They are including all the users of all the wallets that have signed an MOU to include PayID. In fact there is no way, on the site, to even create a single PayID username.

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