ZmnSCPxj » Bitcoin » Chaumian CoinJoinXT


CoinJoinXT is a privacy-enhancing technique by which a group of participants creates a subgraph of transactions that pay out to each participant what that participant put in.

In this writeup I present a Chaumian, equal-valued CoinJoinXT.



As is usual for Chaumian mixes, there exists a central server that operates as a Chaumian bank. Extra care is taken in this protocol to ensure that input providers only release their funds if they can acquire the equivalent amount as output of the mix.

  1. The central server declares the equal output value, a time limit L as a future block height, a confirmation depth D in blocks, and a feerate it charges for the mix service.

  2. Clients connect over Tor to the server and check if they find the mix characteristics acceptable.

  3. Client provides one or more introductory transactions, which are signed but invalid transactions that pay out to one output with an invalid empty scriptPubKey. These outputs will be filled with a SegWit address derived later, and the total value must exceed the equal output value. All inputs of all introductory transactions must be SegWit. The client also indicates a destination scriptPubKey for its change output, and a separate scriptPubKey for its backout output.

  4. Client provides a mix session public key, together with a signature of an empty message using that public key, to attest that it knows the private key.

  5. Server waits until enough clients have registered their inputs.

  6. Server may add one or more of its own inputs, which it can merge together with fees it charges for the mix.

  7. Server generates the aggregate mix session public key, which is the multisignature public key aggregated from the individual client mix session public keys. Every output generated as intermediate output of the subgraph must be derived trivially from the aggregate mix session public key, but must be distinct from it to prevent information leakage.

  8. Server generates output public keys for each introductory transaction. It fills in the scriptPubKey of the introductory transaction to the output public key, creating the corresponding entry transaction. It also generates the backout transaction, which spends the entry transaction and pays out to the indicated backout scriptPubKey for that client, and has an nLockTime of L. The server generates these also for any of its own inputs that it wishes to add to the mix to merge with the fees it extracts.

  9. Server provides all the entry transactions and backout transactions to all clients, together with the tweak used for each entry transaction output.

  10. Each client checks that all of its own introductory transactions were included as an entry transaction, and that the backout transactions spending those entry transactions are valid and pay to their chosen backout address. Then each client gives its share of the signature to all backout transactions, and stores all the entry transaction outputs as the input UTXO set.

  11. Server combines all signatures to all backout transactions, including any tweaks it added to blind the public key, and then sends the signatures to the backout transaction of each client to that client.

  12. Client verifies that the signature to their backout transaction is valid, then signs their entry transaction and broadcasts it over the Bitcoin network, as well as giving a signed copy to the server.

  13. Each client and server generates a blinded signature that the client will later use to claim an output.

  14. After a random time, each client connects over a new Tor circuit to the server, unblinding the signature and presenting it as proof that the server should consider it a valid payee. Client provides two scriptPubKey to be used as output addresses, then disconnects this connection (but retains its previous connection that it used for inputs).

  15. Server generates the proposed transaction graph. A later section of this writeup will propose methods of generating this transaction graph. A key element is that there exists a keystone transaction that every other transaction in the graph must directly spend, or spend a transaction that transitively spends a transaction that spends directly from the keystone transaction. The keystone transaction itself does not spend any other transaction in the transaction graph. Every output of a transaction that is spent by another transaction (an intermediate output) in the proposed transaction graph must be a tweak from the aggregate mix session public key. All transactions in the proposed transaction graph must have nLockTime between the current block height, and less than L. Transactions must have equal or greater nLockTime as transactions they spend, except for the keystone transaction which has nLockTime equal to the current block height. The server must also includes its own fee payout (merged with inputs it added) as an output of the proposed transaction graph.

  16. Server waits for all entry transactions to be confirmed with depth D. If the time L becomes too near, the server aborts the protocol and blames all entry transactions that have not confirmed with depth D by that time, banning the transaction outputs involving those entry transactions from future mix rounds.

  17. Server provides the proposed transaction graph to each client, together with the tweak on each intermediate output.

  18. Client validates that the proposed transaction graph has a keystone transaction, that all non-keystone transactions spend directly or indirectly from the keystone transaction, that non-intermediate inputs spent belong to the input UTXO set, and that non-intermediate outputs pay to their indicated change and output addresses, and that the payouts are correct, i.e. their change is correct and the payouts to their output addresses sum up to the equal value indicated.

  19. Client provides its share of the signature for all non-keystone transactions to the server.

  20. Server aggregates the signatures for all non-keystone transactions, applies the tweaks to each output spend, and provides all non-keystone transaction signatures to all clients.

  21. Client validates the signatures of the non-keystone transactions. Then it provides its share of the signature for the keystone transaction.

  22. Server aggregates the signatures for the keystone transaction, applies the tweaks to the inputs being spent, provides the aggregated signatures for the keystone transaction to all clients, and then broadcasts the keystone transaction.

  23. Clients and server wait until the entire transaction graph is published onchain.

Of note is that the above protocol inverts the use of backouts and promise UTXOs compared to the original CoinJoinXT proposal. The above protocol has backouts on each proposed input, rather than on the proposed transaction graph that could be invalidated by a proposed input. This allows for easier scaling to more users and more complex graphs, at the cost that each promised input has to be confirmed deeply before signing the proposed transaction graph. This will often lead to simple one-input one-output entry transactions, which could be used as a way to expose a Chaumian CoinJoinXT.

Generating the Proposed Transaction Graph

Before creating the proposed transaction graph, the server assigns some values to each client output addresses, summing up to the equal value given to each client output. The server can choose one output address to be equal to some “round” number of some fiat amount, or some “round” amount of bitcoins, or equal to a change output to make it less clear to third parties whether an output is change or part of an equal-valued output. Once it has assigned values to each pair of output addresses, it can break the pair and treat each output independently, and also shuffle them with the change outputs it also has to pay out.

The simplest way to generate the proposed transaction graph is to shuffle the inputs, shuffle the outputs, then generate transactions by taking inputs until the topmost output can be covered, popping off the involved inputs and outputs, and ensuring that succeeding transactions always spend the change output of the previous transaction. The first transaction in this sequence is then the keystone transaction.

The above simple strategy leads to a long straight chain of transactions, which might be long enough that many transactions have to have the same nLockTime in order to fit within the current blockheight and the time limit L. This long chain of transactions matches peel chains in blockchain analysis, indicating that there is a single wallet that has received a number of inputs and is now paying out apparently random-valued outputs.

It would be possible to randomly assign inputs and outputs to two “virtual” wallets. One of the wallets will have more total input value than output value, so has to pay the difference to the other wallet; this initial transaction is the keystone, so the change must be spent by the paying virtual wallet while the received output of the payee must be treated as the change that must be spent by the payee virtual wallet. Then two peel chains are generated.

The splitting strategy can be repeated to split the payouts further to more virtual wallets, taking care that each virtual wallet has a spendable input that is directly or indirectly an output of the keystone. Blockchain analysts will be able to identify these wallets as separate clusters, making it less likely that they will realize that it is really an equal-sized CoinJoin.