MOSCOW – A team of experts in Switzerland has devised a low energy cryptocurrency transaction system as an alternative Bitcoin, which has a huge toll on the environment due to its “astronomical” energy consumption, the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne said on Monday.
The new system which experts have dubbed Byzantine Reliable Broadcast will be available from the end of next year, and seeks to reduce the limitations of Bitcoin, whose energy consumption is already having a significant environmental impact, EPFL said.
Led by computer scientist Rachid Guerraoui, the new model can achieve safe cryptocurrency transactions on a large scale with an energetic cost of virtually zero.
“Roughly equivalent to that of exchanging emails,” Guerraoui said.
Bitcoin requires that transactions are verified by all participants in the system; however, the Swiss team devised a model that assumes that everyone is innocent until proven otherwise and no expensive verification operations are required.
“We take a minimalist approach. We realize that players don’t need to reach consensus; they just need to prevent malicious behavior when it manifests,” Guerraoui said.
“So, we assume everyone is honest, and if players see someone trying to do something wrong, they ignore that player – and only that player,” the expert added.
But how can users be sure there are no malicious players involved in transactions?
Guerraoui explained that the key to ensuring safe transactions was communication.
“If a malicious player wants to make a payment, for example, this system would not allow anyone to accept money from that player until a randomly chosen sample has confirmed the player has not sent money to anyone else; otherwise, the payment will not be accepted,” the expert said.
“Basically, we’re saying that you only need to exchange information with a sample of players to implement a cryptocurrency.”
The bitcoin model, devised in 2008 by a mathematician whose real name is unknown but who signs with the code name of Satoshi Nakamoto, stipulates that to ensure the safe use of cryptocurrency all users are required to participate in the verification of operations.
Those involved in these transactions must, therefore, carry out complex mathematical operations that other members of the bitcoin system must confirm, leading to colossal electricity usage per transaction.
It is estimated that Bitcoin’s financial network amounts to an electric bill similar to that of a country like Austria and a global carbon footprint comparable to that of Denmark, EPFL said.
The environmental impact of a single Bitcoin transaction is equivalent to about 300 kilos of carbon dioxide, the new EPFL model would barely be a few grams.
On average in the first 2019 quarter, there were over 362,000 Bitcoin transactions per day worldwide, according to German online portal for statistics Statista.