The shutdown of BTC Trading Corp and Litecoin Global has caused me to consider if there is a way for businesses to manage publicly held shares in a decentralized fashion. I realized it is possible to leverage Peercoin and proof of stake to accomplish this in an elegant and resilient way using a design I will call Peershare. I'd like to present my preliminary design and have my plan criticized and improved by the community. I am seriously considering doing most or all of the development of Peershare myself. Though I am very busy with prior development commitments, I think Peershare can be a critical enabler that brings depth and sophistication to the crypto economy so that it may be worthy of being prioritized above what I am currently focusing on. I'm hoping a community discussion will clarify whether that is true.
First I will talk about what the solution looks like technically. Next I will explain the advantages it offers over centralized security exchanges such as BTC Trading. I will wrap up by walking through what a couple Peershare use cases might look like.
Technical Specifications of Peershare
The solution will consist of two main components: (1) A new type of blockchain which uses only proof of stake. Multiple instances of it will be used as each one contains a single company's shares. (2) A substantially altered version of the Peercoin client which will facilitate the transfer of Peershares and the automated distribution of associated dividends in the form of Peercoins.
Peershare does not require any changes to the Peercoin blockchain or protocol (no hard fork).
To construct the template for company specific instances of a Peershare blockchain a Peercoin fork will be the starting point and then the following changes will be made:
1. Completely eliminate proof of work.
2. Require that each Peershare address in the blockchain contain a Peercoin public address as a property.
3. Make the chain produce 100,000 shares in the genesis block (for an IPO).
4. Because it is anticipated that many of these blockchains will exist on a single client, they need to be small. Transaction volume is expected to be much lower than that for Peercoin, so it would be appropriate to have less frequent and smaller blocks. A block generation target of 60 minutes [Update: may be appropriate with the time interval between blocks halving every two or three years. This would improve confirmation times over the long run while still reducing the cost of storing blockchains over time considering SSD storage pricing are halving every 12 to 18 months.]
5. Each company starting a Peershare blockchain could choose their own parameters and alterations if they felt the defaults were not optimal for their needs.
Combined Peershare and Peercoin client:
1. The user interface will have a drop down list to allow users to select Peercoin or a particular type of Peershare (for example, it might list Peercoin, Crypto-Trade, Basic Mining, Ltc Miner, etc).
2. The Overview, Send coins, Receive coins, Transactions and Address Book which currently exist in the client will relate to the user drop down selection, which will be Peercoin or a specific type of Peershare. When a new Peershare address is created, the client also creates a Peercoin address. The public key is added as a property of the Peershare address while the Peercoin address and private key is added to the client's wallet in the usual way.
3. Create a popup form accessible from the menu to distribute dividends. A user simply enters the total amount of Peercoins they want distributed as dividends and then selects the Peershare chain they want those delivered to from a drop down list. Behind the user interface a list of all Peercoin addresses contained in the selected Peershare blockchain is constructed along with the amount of dividend each should receive based on the proportion of shares held at each Peershare address. Peercoins are then distributed from the wallet as dividends through the Peercoin blockchain.
Advantages of Peershare over a centralized solution such as BTC Trading Corp
1. Automated dividend distributions require no third parties: Dividends are sent directly to shareholder wallets from the issuer's wallet using only the Peercoin blockchain. The issuer need only enter the total amount of dividend to be sent. The rest is automated. After placing Peershares in a wallet in the same simple way a user places Peercoins in their wallet, dividends simply appear as Peercoins in the user's wallet when issued by a company.
2. Somewhat decentralized exchange of Peershares: Exchange of Peershares are decentralized in the same way exchange of Peercoins are. For example, if Vircurex shut down and ceased trading Peercoins, they would continue to be available at BTC-e, Crypto-Trade, Bter, etc., without any disruption. The present scramble we are seeing by issuers using BTC Trading to re-list their securities on another securities exchange would never occur because the issuer provides the key functions of IPO and dividend distribution themselves so shares can be traded on many exchanges or even person to person.
3. Lack of exposure to regulatory interference: GLBSE and BTC Trading appear to have been shut down by pressure from regulators. Peershare eliminates the need for securities exchanges to assume the responsibilities of executing IPOs, distributing dividends, and screening companies before listing. Regulations for companies issuing their own shares are much more limited than regulations for securities exchanges. Also, with Peershare, regulators would have to confront dozens or hundreds of independent businesses instead of being able to confront one single securities exchange. It's likely regulators would find businesses issuing Peershares to be in compliance or too small to bother with.
4. Privacy: Peershare not does not require any identifying information from shareholders or even issuers. Issuers would not be in a position to require their shareholders to identify themselves if pressed to do so.
Hypothetical use case: Example of IPO
CryptoSafe is a brand-new start up that intends to develop a hardware wallet for crypto-currencies. They decide to use Peershare to raise funds through an IPO and later distribute dividends to shareholders.
CryptoSafe acquires the open source Peershare code and create a new genesis block. The genesis block contains 100,000 shares of CryptoSafe. They secure the network by minting Proof of Stake blocks which will add approximately 1% to the total number of shares each year. They secure an agreement with Crypto-Trade and Cryptsy to facilitate exchange of CryptoSafe shares. They keep 60,000 shares as an owner's stake and continue to secure the network with it. They transfer 20,000 shares to their Cryptsy account and 20,000 shares to their Crypto-Trade account. An IPO is put into motion by placing sell orders for these 40,000 shares at the IPO price, which is 20 Peercoins per share. Individuals may become shareholders by buying CryptoSafe shares at one of these exchanges and then withdrawing the shares from the exchange using their Peershare wallet. When all 40,000 shares are purchased, CryptoSafe will have 800,000 PPC to fund development of their hardware wallet.
Six months later CryptoSafe delivers their first product and receives their first revenue, which is the equivalent of 20,000 PPC. Fulfilling their promise to shareholders, the CFO opens the Dividend Distribution form from the Peershare client menu, then enters 20,000 PPC as the amount to distribute and selects CryptoSafe as the Peershare to distribute to. After confirmation, the client initiates Peercoin transactions to deliver a little less than 0.20 PPC for each of the approximately 100,500 CryptoSafe shares by examining the CryptoSafe blockchain. If a CryptoSafe address held 100 shares, then approximately 20 PPC would be sent to the Peercoin public address embedded as a property of that CryptoSafe address. The exact amount sent per share would be: (20,000 PPC - transaction fees) / total number of CryptoSafe shares.
Hypothetical use case – Example of delisting from a centralized security exchange
Best Miner is currently listed on a centralized security exchange such as BTC Trading and would like to delist and take advantage of Peershare instead.
First, Best Miner raises a motion to make the switch. It is approved. Next, they change a single number in the Peershare blockchain source code to make the genesis block produce the number of shares they have actually issued instead of the default number of shares. They start the blockchain and secure it using a server on hand. They arrange to have Best Miner Peershares traded at a couple of exchanges. Shareholders download the Peershare client configured to use Best Miner (which only requires a .conf setting) and each shareholder sends Best Miner their public Peershare address. Trading at the centralized exchange is halted. Shares are transferred to the Peershare addresses supplied. Trading continues at exchanges such as Crypto-Trade and Cryptsy.
One of the issues to be managed is the cost of transaction fees incurred for dividend distributions. It is possible that fees could exceed dividends or take an unacceptably large proportion of them. Companies issuing Peershare will likely choose longer intervals for dividend distribution. Shareholders will learn aggregate all their shares into a single address to minimize transaction fees, which will be subtracted from the dividend sent by the software. Other methods for minimizing transaction cost for dividend distribution could evolve in the market outside the scope of the system. For instance, it is conceivable that an exchange could pass dividends along to their account holders off blockchain while inexpensively receiving the dividend themselves via the blockchain by keeping the shares of exchange account holders lumped together on a single address. There is also a good chance that the Peercoin transaction fee of 0.01 per KB could be reduced in the future.
Finally, I would like to invite comment and critical evaluation of this plan. In particular I welcome input from Sunny King, super3, hsk81.
If you are interested in using Peershare as an issuer please say so in this thread, or contact me by PM or Bitmessage me at BM-2D9MHYUoyS9DcRDrYHn4ESDxwNz4MkWb6F. When it is ready to implement I will be happy to offer assistance to Peershare issuers to make sure everything goes smoothly.