Mixin — A Poison Cocktail

10.03.2019

TL;DR. Ecology:-. Technology:-. Decentralization:-. Valuation:-. Rating:1/10. Scam.

Introduction

Mixin Network (XIN) was first announced on bitcointalk.org on April 16th 2018, by user cedricfung. It is very likely the project was discussed in Chinese cryptocurrency circles as early as 2017 however. Looking at the official Twitter handle, the first tweet was October 18th, 2017, and announced a Mixin beta launch around Christmas that year. The beta must have been something different from a Mixin blockchain as not even Mixin's ERC20 proxy token was created until January 2018, which was long after the beta release date.

Cedric Fung was and still is the Tokyo based lead developer of the whole project. At the time he posted the BCT-thread, Mixin was already a temporary token on top of the Ethereum network, but plans had been drafted to fully migrate over to a native Mixin network later on.

On 30th of September 2018, it was announced that the Mixin testnet had successfully been released. The project seems to have adopted ideas from multiple blockchains, like Bitcoin's UTXO model, CryptoNote's privacy features, and some type of DAG technology. A Mixin Kernel had been setup at the center of the network and was operated by multiple Kernel nodes  -  each of which had to stake 10 000 XIN (1% of total supply) in order to establish a punitive Proof of Stake model that supposedly enforced the Kernel's Byzantine Fault Tolerance consensus mechanism.

A more detailed BCT thread went up on October 11th, 2018. Mixin was here described as a public blockchain driven by TEE (Trusted Execution Environment), based on the DAG with aBFT. What this description really meant is not clearly described in the whitepaper. In any case, not only did the team continue to claim Mixin could facilitate billions of transactions per second - they also claimed transactions were free as well as private.

On 25th of February 2019, it was announced that Mixin mainnet was to launch just three days later. Other than another tweet, BD Ratings can't find any longer posts about the launch and who is now running full nodes.

Project funding had been sought through the open sale of XIN tokens on the BigONE exchange for the price of 20 EOS/XIN. 40% of all XIN were sold in this way, while a further 5% were allocated to developers and 5% were allocated to early Mixin Messenger app adopters. That left 50% of the 1 000 000 total supply for a reserve pool to incentivize miners as mainnet launched. How the actual mining incentive works is not known. The team has not detailed this to BD Rating's knowledge - not even in the whitepaper.

Ecology

Parts of the Mixin ecosystem have been severely distorted by bad marketing schemes. This bounty thread for example, runs at time of writing 281 pages long on BCT. The team paid for retweets, for custom tweets, Reddit posts, Telegram messages, and content creation on various blogs. One really bizarre incentive was to give extra XIN to those who wrote positively - not truthfully - about the project. That resulted in the total destruction of any usefulness of the official subreddit, which is now cluttered with hundreds if not thousands of short, useless positive posts about Mixin. Also in the official BCT thread are bounty bots/sockpuppets filling up post after post with one-sentence praise, or irrelevant questions.

It is ambiguous in exactly how people are utilizing Mixin. In the same article that announced a successful testnet launch it was claimed by the team that over 4 million users already had registered on Mixin. There is virtually no community activity on places such as Reddit or BCT, when the Mixin team again speaks of over a million Mixin users. Who is conducting the 90 million transactions, and in what way considering mainnet was not live by this point in time? It is clear that the Mixin team confuses the use of the actual blockchain with some kind of other 'use'. And it doesn't seem to be the Mixin Messenger app since it has only 10 000 downloads and 120 reviews on Google Play.

One reason both the Mixin user- and developer community seems invisible can be if they are mostly based in China. A Beijing meetup attracted a number of people at the end of last year, and so did a hackaton, so it is at least not all hot air.

Lastly, prior to Mixin, Cedric Fung was the main developer for the BigONE exchange where Mixin tokens first were distributed/sold for EOS tokens. BigONE seems to have a shady past, and evidence of fake volume is convincing. This should be concerning as BigONE is listed as the only exchange where Mixin is trading with any trading volume to speak of.

Technology

There is activity on the multiple GitHub repositories, but as for work on the actual codebase itself it seems Cedric Fung is doing all of the work, or at least commits. Total number of developers according to the Mixin team themselves were 10, at the end of 2018. That could be plausible when looking at who is committing code to the different repositories.

In October 2018, a generous developer bounty program was launched by the Mixin team. This is of course good use of collected funds and almost always leads to higher development activity. Soon after the developer bounties were announced, funds were also used for a developer competition in order to encourage dApp development on Mixin.

In what BD Ratings view as tokenomics illiteracy, the team decided to burn XIN network related fees instead of recycling them back to miners, in order to "increase the existing token value". Setting parameters ought clearly to have long term blockchain feasibility in mind, not short term token price movements. Anyway, the team seems to have backtracked on this issue, not for tokenomics reasons but for legal ones as they feared XIN could be classified as a security.

One last thing that has some implications on the Mixin Technology rating is the bad policy the Mixin team has had with regards to marketing and financial incentives. If they manage to incentivize hundreds of fake bots collecting their stupid bounties, there is not much hope left for proper blockchain incentive construction, is there.

Decentralization

The fact that transactions are free on the Mixin Network is hard to really grapple with. Unless BD Ratings has missed something important, free transactions are also here a massive attack surface. Any malicious party can spam the network and increase costs for full nodes, given that is how the Mixin blockchain actually works.

Furthermore, that Cedric is the sole contributor to the Mixin code base is a clear central point of failure. Should he quit, or even be asleep as someone attacks the network, it may have serious consequences.

Valuation

Accounting for total supply (circulating supply places Mixin at #71 on CMC), the Mixin Network is valued to more than USD 130M at time of writing. This is an insane valuation for something that manages to be so unclear about how its code base work, destroys its own subreddit in that it is now totally dead, and has ties to shady exchanges.

To be frank, Mixin Network is quite possibly a full-on scam. Not in the sense that it is a facade with fake things such as made-up team members, fake meetups etc. Mixin is a scam because of the extraordinarily bad way the project has been run, and because so much information about the project is nowhere to be found. Cedric Fung must understand this, but chooses to continue as is anyway.