Banking giant ING’s blockchain team has announced a major breakthrough that will help overcome one of the biggest obstacles to using blockchain in financial services: protecting data privacy. The new code, known as a “zero-knowledge range proof” (ZKRP) is 10 times more efficient than existing technologies designed to keep information on a ledger private.
“Our solution is 10 times more efficient than other technologies” - Mariana Gomez de la Villa
How does it work?
Currently, information on a public ledger is not private given that changes must be verified by each participant in the network. The ZKRP code adds a layer of cryptography to blockchain technology that resolves this challenge.
The ZKRP solution demonstrates the truth of a specific statement without revealing any additional information beyond what it’s trying to prove. For example, a mortgage applicant could prove that their salary sits within a certain range, without revealing the exact figure. Similarly, the ZKRP could prove that a payment amount is within a limit, without showing the exact amount.
What’s so clever about that?
“Until recently, one of the primary challenges for applying blockchain in the banking sector was ensuring that data privacy was protected and at the same time meeting regulatory reporting requirements,” explained Mariana Gomez de la Villa, global head of ING’s blockchain programme.
“While existing zero-knowledge technology has provided us with a way of overcoming that, the main limiting factor is the resource, and therefore cost, that each verification would generate.”
ING’s specific solution has been benchmarked against similar technologies in Ethereum, the world’s largest blockchain alliance, which the bank is part of. The operating costs of ZKRP are much lower than other technologies.
“ING’s ZKRP solution has been proven to be 10 times more efficient than others in the Ethereum test network, while upholding the same three principles: completeness, soundness and zero-knowledge,” said Mariana.
ING’s blockchain team have launched ZKRP as an open source solution, which means that other interested parties in the development community are able to download, access and even contribute to the solution.