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About NuCypher (NU)
A layer-2 solution implemented on top of Ethereum, the NuCypher protocol offers one-stop privacy and security-key-management services for independent blockchains/decentralized applications (“dApps”). An ETH-run ERC-20, NU is NuCypher’s native rewards token.
Solving for the limitations of centralized data security providers, NuCypher leverages a cryptographic concept known as Proxy Re-Encryption (PRE), allowing for a decentralized approach to discreetly sharing private data on public chains ().
At its core, NuCypher seeks to enable developers to share sensitive data among network users. Viewed as more scalable than traditional public-key cryptography, NuCypher’sdelegates decryption access controls with a level of security and efficiency that legacy networks supposedly can’t rival. These access controls hold the key to NuCypher’s cryptographic puzzle. Data owners can set them for any given piece of data such that only intended parties can decrypt the information by leveraging Umbral, the network’s re-encryption scheme. Within Umbral there is an all-powerful node mammal-being called Ursula, which is, as one , “the character in our narrative that performs this PRE operation,” running the show and doing things traditional centralized plain-vanilla public key cryptography encryption services can’t. At any moment in time, Ursula stands ready to perform re-encryption in exchange for a monetary reward, even in the event key authority figures are offline; critical to the process are the network’s re-encryption keys, which facilitate the transfer of cyphertext (i.e., encoded data) from one public key to another.
For dApps and public blockchain protocols, NuCypher would seem to be uniquely positioned as a means of enabling projects to manage and share sensitive data while simultaneously leveraging the benefits of a fully decentralized and permissionless ecosystem.
Cracking the private sector doesn’t seem out of NuCypher’s reach. Healthcare networks and financial service providers (among others) need a secure means of sharing sensitive data amongst intended recipients.
Brainchild of computer scientists MacLane Wilkison and Michael Egorov, NuCypher in 2015 began carving a niche in helping large banks manage data. The project had enough promise and success to justify a spot in the Y Combinators accelerator class the following summer, leading to a seed round of funding that saw NuCypher raise $750,000.
Seeing promise in decentralized, permission-less protocols, NuCypher shifted towards serving blockchains and dApps, and in 2017 marked their entry into the crypto space with a privately held. Coins were available to the public within a year. The in October 2020 and NU (closing that year under $0.20) started to rally (to more than $1) around one year later in October 2021.
Within the NuCypher ecosystem, the NU token serves as the grease that keeps the gears grinding. It’s a reward token used to incentivize nodes (Ursulas) to perform re-encryption and access control services on the network.
In October of 2021, NuCypher found momentum in the wake of the news it was merging with fellow privacy-based protocol Keep. The move saw NU’s transaction volume spike 20,000% within a 24-hour period, representing roughly $2 billion worth of value swapping hands.
Wilkison has said that innovation can be expected from the network’s DAO. It’s a development that could see the protocol become more enmeshed within the DeFi space through projects like trustless transaction validation and lending pools (CoinList).
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