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Researchers believe that reversible transactions might reduce crypto theft

Ethereum Reversible Transactions
Ethereum Reversible Transactions / Image Credit: CRYPKYP
1664184856 26 Sep / 09:34

Researchers from Stanford University have developed a prototype for "reversible transactions" on Ethereum, saying that it might decrease the impact of crypto theft.

Kaili Wang, a blockchain researcher at Stanford University, outlined the Ethereum-based reversible token concept in a Sunday tweet, adding that it is not a finalized concept but rather a "suggestion to encourage discussion and even better ideas from the blockchain community," stating:

"The largest cyberattacks we've witnessed are unquestionably thefts supported by solid proof. If there were a mechanism to reverse these thefts under these conditions, our environment would be significantly safer. Our idea enables reversals only if a decentralized quorum of judges approves them."

The proposal was drafted by Stanford blockchain researchers Wang, Dan Boneh, and Qinchen Wang, describing “opt-in token standards that are siblings to ERC-20 and ERC-721,” designated ERC-20R and ERC-721R.

Wang explained that the prototype was not intended to replace ERC-20 tokens or make Ethereum reversible, noting that it is an opt-in standard that “just permits a brief period after a transaction for thefts to be challenged and maybe recovered.”

Under the proposed token standards, a person whose money has been stolen may submit a request to freeze their assets to a governance contract. This will be followed by a decentralized court of judges that must vote “within two days at most” on whether to approve or deny the request.

In principle, both parties to a transaction could give evidence to the judges to have sufficient knowledge to make a fair conclusion.

The nonfungible tokens (NFTs) process would be rather uncomplicated since judges would only need to determine “who now owns the NFTs and freeze that account.”

However, the plan acknowledges that freezing fungible tokens is far more difficult. The thief can divide the cash among hundreds of accounts, put them through an anonymous crypto mixer, or trade them for other digital assets.

In response, the researchers developed an algorithm that provides a “default freezing mechanism for tracking and locking stolen cash.”

It assures that sufficient money in the thief’s account will be frozen to cover the stolen amount, and the funds will only be blocked if there is “a direct flow of transactions from the crime.”

Wang’s tweet sparked a great deal of conversation, with a wide variety of individuals asking further questions, endorsing the notion, rejecting it, and offering suggestions.

Anthony Sassano, an influential Ether (ETH) bull and podcaster, tweeted to his 224,300 followers, “I’m all for individuals coming up with new ideas and putting them out there, but I’m not here for TradFi 2.0.” “No, thank you.”

Sassano clarified further in the comments that he believes that control and consumer protections should be put on “upper levels,” like exchanges and firms, as opposed to the base layer (blockchain or tokens), and he added:

“Implementing it at the ERC20/721 level would essentially amount to doing it at the ‘base layer,’ which I do not believe is appropriate. End users’ protection can be implemented at higher levels, such as the front-ends.”

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