The latest version of NXT crypto coin features some major upgrades, including a built-in escrow system, voting services, and unable messages of up to 42kb.
Both the escrow and voting systems are built around a newly developed transaction type called ‘phased transactions’. These phased transactions are a kind of smart contract which require approval from multiple accounts in order to be successfully processed and recorded on the blockchain.
In many ways, a phased transaction is very similar to Bitcoin’s ‘n of m’ multi-signature transactions, which require a certain number of signatures (n) out of a group of specified addresses (m) in order to be successfully processed. Phased transactions can be used in exactly the same way. One example is to select an unbiased third party to act as an ‘escrow agent’ when two people who do not know each other (and therefore haven’t established trust) want to do business over the internet. A transaction can then be set up which requires 2 out of 3 signatures – so if the two people agree that payment should be made then it goes through, but if there is a disagreement the signature of the escrow agent is required so that they can arbitrate between the two. Other uses include joint accounts and cold storage with an extra layer of security. In NXT’s phased transactions, a set time period is selected when the transaction is set up so that if the required signatures are not made, then the funds are not locked up forever but instead return to the account they came from.
But because NXT also includes an asset registry and exchange, as well as a ‘monetary system’ allowing anybody to create their own digital currency secured by the NXT blockchain, the possibilities are greatly expanded. For example, instead of requiring a certain number of signatures out of a list of addresses, a transaction can be created which assigns voting weight according to how much of a certain asset or coin a person owns. This can be used to create a vote amongst the stakeholders of an asset or coin which requires a certain percentage of the total supply to vote in favour of a measure in order for it to go through.
Building on top of this, the latest version of the NXT wallet includes a secure voting system allowing anybody to set up a poll for a cost of just 10 NXT.
Another addition is the introduction of ‘prunable messages’. This allows users to publish messages of up to 42 kb onto the blockchain. In most cryptocurrencies publishing large messages on the blockchain is not allowed, due to the fact that it bloats the chain and makes running a full node (a wallet which downloads the whole blockchain) much more expensive. In order to avoid the problem, prunable messages remain to live on the blockchain for just two weeks, after which they are removed unless a renewal fee is paid.
In addition to the regular release which is available from nxt.org, this release also has a Windows installer which you can download here