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Proof-of-Personhood: Redemocratizing Permissionless Cryptocurrencies

Maria Borge, Eleftherios Kokoris-Kogias, Philipp Jovanovic, Linus Gasser, Nicolas Gailly, and Bryan Ford

IEEE Security & Privacy on the Blockchain (IEEE S&B)
April 29, 2017


Permissionless blockchain-based cryptocurrencies commonly use proof-of-work (PoW) or proof-of-stake (PoS) to ensure their security, e.g. to prevent double spending attacks. However, both approaches have disadvantages: PoW leads to massive amounts of wasted electricity and re-centralization, whereas major stakeholders in PoS might be able to create a monopoly. In this work, we propose proof-of-personhood (PoP), a mechanism that binds physical entities to virtual identities in a way that enables accountability while preserving anonymity. Afterwards we introduce PoPCoin, a new cryptocurrency, whose consensus mechanism leverages PoP to eliminate the disadvantages of PoW and PoS while ensuring security. PoPCoin leads to a continuously fair and democratic wealth creation process which paves the way for an experimental basic income infrastructure.

Paper: PDF

Talk slides: PDF PowerPoint

Followup: Identity and Personhood in Digital Democracy

Topics: Blockchain Identity Privacy Anonymity Democracy Personhood Bryan Ford