The COMIT Network
COMIT stands for Cryptographically-secure Off-chain Multi-asset Instant Transaction network. It’s a mouthful. But when you boil it down, It’s just a way to process transactions rapidly, and across blockchain assets.
So if you’ve got a customer and they want to pay you in Litecoin but you want to take payment in Bitcoin, COMIT can help.
Let’s say you have a math equation that follows a couple of simple rules.
When you put the same number into this math equation, you always get the same result.
There’s no way way to reverse the equation. Meaning, just because you know the result, doesn’t mean you can figure out the answer.
This describes a form of cryptographic hash function. You’ve probably heard of these things before. They’re kinda a big deal. They mean that you can give me a lock, and I have no way of finding the key. I could try to guess the key but my chances of guessing correctly are so vastly remote that we can pretty much completely rule that out.
There are a lot of hash functions, each having subtly different properties. There are people who spend their lives examining these functions. They are the basic building blocks of cryptography and cryptocurrencies.
So, you want to take payment from your customer. The one with the Litecoin that you’d prefer to turn into Bitcoin. You pick a big crazy number that they can never guess. That’s your secret key. You keep that a secret, but you take that secret key and you run it through a hash function and you get another big crazy number. That’s the number you give to your customer.
Now, COMIT runs the COMIT Routing Protocol (CRP). This is the part of the system that analyzes the network and finds the right path for a transaction. There are Nodes on the network, called Liquidity Providers (LP’s) that volunteer funds to aid in transactions. These LP’s are compensated in return for the use of their funds. The CRP is designed to search through these LP’s and find the combination that will result in the fastest, safest, and cheapest possible route for your transaction.
When the CRP finds the optimal route for your transaction, the sender takes the hash that you sent and forms a contract with the first LP in the route. This contract ties up the necessary funds under a special constraint called a Hashed TimeLock Contract (HTLC).
This HTLC acts as a promise that if the right number is provided in the right timeframe, the LP accepts payment. Otherwise, payment returns to the sender. The sender can’t cancel this contract. It is only cancelled if the timelock is allowed to expire.
Setting up the Dominoes
This pattern is repeated along the route. Each party enters into one of these HTLC’s with the previous party.
Ideally there is only one LP involved. In our case we would hope that the system would be able to find a node that is willing to swap Bitcoin for Litecoin. But in the case of more obscure blockchain assets, we may need to traverse multiple LP’s.
Whatever path the protocol defines, the end result is a chain of contracts that guide transactions through the network and into your account. These contracts are designed in such a way that if any one of the transactions fails, the whole transaction chain fails. The trigger to activate these transactions is that secret number that only you possess.
With all of these contracts in order, all of the parties involved have open proof that each party is responsible for fulfilling their part of the bargain.
At this point you can provide your secret key and each contract takes that secret key and passes it through the same hash function. If the result is equal to the number you provided to the customer in the first place, the transactions are validated.
If you want to dig a little deeper, TenX just released an article on Medium that sheds light on some of the details of how they plan to bootstrap COMIT.
TenX works with credit card providers to connect this transaction network to a payment card, allowing you to quickly and safely convert cryptocurrency funds into card transactions. Currently, TenX supports Bitcoin, Dash and Ether, but the system is capable of supporting most blockchain assets and the team plans to expand offerings in the future.
You can download the TenX mobile wallet and take a look. It’s available for both android and IOS. If you’re in a country where TenX is available you can order a debit card that links to that wallet. The card and services are not yet available in the US.
There are plenty of other systems out there that seek to link cryptocurrencies to payment cards: Xapo, bitpay, shift, etc. There are also other networks designed to provide liquidity between cryptocurrencies: XRP, OMG. Where TenX seems to stand out is in effectively combining the two concepts and integrating an ERC20 token as an incentive to using the system.
So TenX itself is a payment system, but it also maintains an associated token under the symbol PAY. Where does this token fit in?
With a traditional credit card transaction, merchants pay a fee when they accept payment. That fee ranges somewhere between 0.5% and 3%. This fee is split between the merchant’s bank, the credit card processing system, and the card’s issuing bank.
With traditional credit cards this fee goes to the card issuer. However, some portion is often returned to the user as an incentive for using the card. That’s where those credit card rewards programs come from.
Instead of a rewards program TenX distributes PAY tokens in the amount of 0.1% of purchases. Additionally, a reserve of 0.5% of the payment volume on the network is periodically distributed to holders of PAY tokens in proportion to their holdings. TenX plans to distribute this incentive monthly at first, with hopes of increasing distribution frequency in the future.
The Token Sale
On June 24th 2017 starting at 9PM Singapore Time, 51% of PAY tokens in existence were released in an Initial Token Sale. Of the remaining tokens, 29% were retained by TenX to fund development. The remaining 20% went to TenX’s founders, employees, and early investors. No new PAY tokens will be created.