The Universal ZK Layer for Web3 – Mina Protocol is the most advanced ZK blockchain for proving anything, privately and securely.
The Mina Foundation, a foundation serving the Mina protocol, is committed to providing transparency to the community regarding, among other things, its token activities, operations, holdings and protocol developments. The Mina Foundation is a foundation domiciled in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Mina Foundation is governed by the Mina Foundation Board of Directors. The Board is currently comprised of the following five members:
- Evan Shapiro, Chairman of the Board and former CEO Mina Foundation
- Marco Di Maggio, Harvard Business School and Coinbase Advisory Board
- Tess Rinearson, Head of Product at OP Labs and former Crypto Engineering Lead, Twitter
- Josh Cincinnati, Former Executive Director, Zcash Foundation
- Joon Kim, General Counsel and Professor at Cornell University, Mina Foundation.
This transparency report covers the period from January 01, 2023 until December 31, 2023.
Letter from Chairman of the Board, Evan Shapiro
We established the Mina Foundation a little over 2 years ago, in an effort to build a public benefits organization to support the Mina ecosystem. Since then we have worked to build Mina Foundation into an organization capable of providing the protocol, ecosystem, and community the resources needed to grow and be well supported. This hasn’t always been easy, but I’m proud to say Mina Foundation feels increasingly capable of fulfilling that mission.
Now as Chairman, I strive to continue supporting Mina Foundation on its mission. 2024 seems like it will be an exciting year for the protocol and ecosystem, between Mina’s full time developer count quickly growing, Mina’s zkApps upgrade soon to occur, and zk continuing to generally gain wider awareness.
To help support the protocol and ecosystem over all of these areas, Mina Foundation will need to continue to make strides in community programs, decentralized governance, improved engineering development cycles and delivery, supporting businesses, and all of the other ways Mina Foundation supports the protocol. I believe the foundation is well-positioned to continue making these happen, and look forward to supporting the team as we move forward through this exciting year.
Letter from CEO, Kurt Hemecker
As we reflect on the previous year and look forward to the promising horizon of 2024, our commitment remains steadfast in navigating the dynamic blockchain and zero-knowledge landscape. The industry, renowned for its potential to revolutionize legacy sectors including technology, finance, art, and culture, has faced its share of challenges. The anticipated revolution, heralded by the inception of numerous groundbreaking tools, has been tempered by the realization that these innovations have yet to fully mature to the requisite standards.
As we usher in 2024, there's a palpable sense of optimism fueled by advancements in zero knowledge (ZK) technology. This innovation, having garnered significant momentum in 2023, particularly in scaling solutions, is poised to diversify and enrich its application spectrum. We anticipate pivotal developments in data protection, privacy, and compliance, areas crucial for the maturation and widespread adoption of blockchain and zero-knowledge technology.
The integration of more robust and efficient tools into the blockchain developer's toolkit is expected to catalyze the realization of ZK technology's extensive benefits. The year 2024 is set to witness an expansion in the application of ZK technology across various industries. This technology is not merely confined to niche Web3-native use cases; it holds the potential to seamlessly integrate into and enhance legacy systems, thereby embedding the decentralized ethos of the crypto world into conventional platforms. This integration promises to empower users significantly, ensuring stringent data control and privacy preservation, and fostering a liberated, secure, and reassuring digital experience.
Zero Knowledge Proofs: Pioneering User Data Protection
Amidst the scalability enhancements, data protection emerges as the cornerstone application for ZKPs, underpinning all other blockchain functionalities. In an era where digital platforms often obscure the cost of 'free' services, leading to inadvertent user data exploitation, ZK technology stands as a beacon of empowerment and security.
The industry is on the cusp of witnessing a suite of ZK-powered tools reaching maturity in 2024, set to redefine user interaction paradigms in DeFi and beyond. These tools, ranging from ZK-login mechanisms to ZK-based decentralized voting systems, promise to harmonize integrity with anonymity, addressing long-standing challenges in the digital domain.
Beyond Blockchain: The Versatile Applications of Zero Knowledge Proofs
The transformative potential of ZK technology extends beyond the confines of the blockchain. In sectors rife with data management challenges, ZK technology is poised to emerge as a transformative force. As concerns about data breaches intensify, traditional platforms built on data extraction models are increasingly exploring ZK-powered features to bolster user privacy, such as secure messaging services.
Institutions entrusted with sensitive data are also turning to ZKPs as a solution to verify transactions and interactions minimally, thus ensuring efficiency and intellectual property protection while easing the data management burden. This trend is gaining momentum, with governments and institutions exploring decentralized identifiers (DiDs) for privacy-centric identity verification and service access – a paradigm already in motion in regions such as Estonia.
ZKPs: Bridging DeFi and Compliance
The integration of DeFi platforms with traditional financial institutions, a synergy crucial for liquidity infusion, has been historically challenged by the dichotomy between DeFi's anonymity and traditional finance's regulatory mandates. ZKPs hold the promise of reconciling this dichotomy, enabling DeFi platforms to adhere to KYC norms while maintaining transactional anonymity, thereby fostering a harmonious balance between innovation and regulatory compliance.
The Dawn of a Modular Blockchain Era
Zero knowledge proofs are not merely a feature; they are foundational to the evolution of blockchain technology. As the industry gravitates towards a modular blockchain paradigm, ZKPs are set to play a pivotal role in fostering interoperability and accelerating innovation across all fronts. By enabling a more specialized, focused development approach, ZK technology is shaping an ecosystem where advancements in compliance, scalability, and privacy converge, heralding an era of heightened experimentation and breakthroughs.
The 2024 Outlook: Zero Knowledge Proofs at the Forefront
As we navigate the ever-evolving technological landscape, the adaptability and multifaceted applications of zero knowledge proofs position them as a critical tool in addressing a spectrum of challenges. The year 2024 is set to be a landmark year, with ZK technology extending its influence beyond scaling solutions, marking significant strides in data management, attestations, and cross-sector applications. Our journey is one of continuous innovation, and with zero knowledge proofs leading the way, we are poised to redefine the boundaries of what is possible.
Mina Protocol Governance
In 2023, we welcomed a new member of the Governance team, Remigiusz Antczak, as Decentralized Protocol Governance Project Manager. He worked together with Ben Koppelman and advisor Evan Shapiro to plan, prioritize, and lead the delivery of many governance improvements to the Mina protocol.
After reorganizing and structuring the governance plans internally, Ben and Remi informally shared the initial ideas with the community members. The feedback was very positive, and now the team is working on adjusting the presentation and scheduling the public announcements in the near future, aligned with the protocol’s upgrade.
Key Platform Metrics
Mina Accounts Growth by Month
Mina Account Delegation by Quarter
Block Producers by Month
Snark Workers per Month
Mina Monthly Commits.
Mina Monthly Active Full-Time Developers
Go to the Mina Protocol Developer Report for the full report.
Delegation Program Update
As mentioned in the Foundation’s Delegation Policy, the Foundation has delegated the voting power relating to the MINA tokens it holds to third-party block producers in an effort to promote decentralization within the Mina Protocol ecosystem.
The third-party block producers participating in the Foundation’s Delegation Program consisted of 2.2% US-based block producers and 97.8% non-US based block producers.
Delegation Policy Update | December 2023
Mina Foundation’s move of operations to Switzerland and the transfer of the Foundation’s MINA tokens to newly created Swiss based accounts, meant that rewards earned on these delegated accounts were eligible for supercharged rewards.
The Mina Foundation is committed to reserving supercharged rewards for community members and not to receive supercharged rewards themselves so any portion of the staking rewards earned on delegated tokens that are attributable to such supercharged rewards were required by block producers to be sent to a burn address that the Foundation does not control to ensure they are permanently unspendable.
To support the community in managing these repayments, the Foundation’s policy was updated in December to include a mandatory requirement on participating block producers to run a script (or script logic) that will calculate the reward amounts due to the Foundation, the amount to be sent to the burn address and the hash of the block producer in the memo, to improve payment tracking.
Mina Foundation hosted 2 Discord events for the Delegation Program in Q4, which covered updates, issues and fixes for the community as well as explaining and demo’ing the new payment script.
These events will continue through 2024 to ensure the community remains informed of any updates on the Mina Foundation Delegation Program and to provide an open forum where the community can surface any concerns or issues relating to the program.
In addition to the programs related to Core Protocol development such as Testworld 2.0, Mina Foundation launched three new grants programs aimed at growing the developer ecosystem and building new products and infrastructure. You can read more about the grants programs here.
zkIgnite is a program to support developers and entrepreneurs in building real-world applications and businesses on Mina Protocol - from formulating project proposals, pitching them, receiving funding to bootstrap their projects, to helping connect them with potential backers for further development.
A team of independent, third party electors chosen by the community (“Electors”) is responsible for reviewing proposals, giving feedback, and ultimately deciding which proposals receive funding. Electors are Mina community members, technical experts, and zkApp builders.
As a reminder, community Electors voted to fund 26 projects for Cohort 1 of zkIgnite back in May. In early August, zkIgnite Cohort 1 teams presented their completed projects to a team of Electors. Those Electors were responsible for voting if the teams successfully delivered the milestones they had originally proposed. You can watch the milestone presentations here. Electors voted that 22/26 projects successfully delivered their milestones. There were a few cases where projects had pivoted and changed milestones throughout the program, so the Electors reviewed them on a case by case basis, and voted ‘yes’ if the projects delivered, in Electors’ opinion, equivalent or increased value to the Mina ecosystem (compared against what was originally proposed). You can see a full list of milestones delivered here. These 22 projects then received the MINA token portion of their grant (reminder that USDC grants are paid upfront).
Cohort 2 proposers submitted a total of 93 projects for Electors’ review. The Electors independently reviewed the proposals and voted to fund 24 projects based on their impact, scalability and growth potential, team, feasibility, and architecture.
Cohort 2 builders presented their milestones during the week of January 19-23, 2024. You can view the milestone presentations here. Electors then reviewed and voted on milestone presentations (similar to the process from Cohort 1 listed above). Electors voted that 23 Cohort 2 projects successfully delivered their milestones. You can see a full list of milestones delivered here.
Cohort 3 was announced in December of 2023, and draft proposals are due on January 31, 2024. The budget for Cohort 3 is 2M MINA tokens, and you can read more about it here.
Navigators is an ongoing developer program for new builders to get started building on Mina Protocol. Through hackathons, curriculum, and learn-to-earn technical challenges, Navigators accelerate their understanding of ZK tech and Mina and are rewarded for their participation with monthly grants. The original budget for Mina Navigators program was 6M MINA tokens.
Navigators was kicked off with a large virtual hackathon in October 2023. A team of judges reviewed submissions according to a set of criteria, and issued 51 Navigator badges.
Navigators were then eligible to earn up to 8K MINA per month for building out their projects and meeting the requirements. zkIgnite Cohort 2 grantees were also eligible to earn up to 5K MINA per month for meeting the requirement of 10+ days of commits per month. Here is detailed breakdown of grants issued via the Navigators program:
October: 51 Navigators, 281,010 MINA in grants
November: 43 Navigators, 293,002 MINA in grants
December, 54 Navigators, 392,018 MINA in grants
You can check out the list of Navigators, zkIgnite incentives and program information here. Navigators is slated to run through April 2024. After April, the results will be shared and reviewed, and the program may be continued.
In December, the Mina Foundation announced a new grants program called Core, which aims to support projects committed to improving the Mina Protocol. There are two primary funding areas. The first relates to ecosystem advancements, covering specific deliverables in areas that promote the growth of the Mina ecosystem. This can include anything from token standards, to zkOracles, DA layers and more. The second area is focused on supporting public goods. By actively participating in open discussions and submitting proposals, community members not only play a key role in shaping the vision of Mina but also have the opportunity to secure funding.
There are several critical areas and opportunities currently up for discussion on the Core Grants GitHub, including: an enhancement for asynchronous circuits in o1js, side loading verification keys in o1js, a private identity primitive for Mina, automatic distribution of delegation rewards, zkOracle integration, and several wallet focused standards and tools. We invite all community members and developers to review and participate!
Core Grant opportunities begin with a Request for Comment (“RFC”) or Request for Proposals (“RFP”), which are open to all individuals. RFCs will play a pivotal role in the review and approval process for Core Grants, providing an effective mechanism to oversee planned changes while creating artifacts with historical context. Moreover, the RFC workflow ensures that all stakeholders have the opportunity to review the process. RFCs not only illustrate the rationale behind decisions but also offer insights into the technical landscape at the inception of the proposed idea. Once an RFC is finalized, it could evolve into an RFP where we issue grants for fulfilling the RFC objectives. Some Core Grant opportunities start directly from the RFP stage, and anyone is able to apply. This is usually the case where there is a clear product or infrastructure need, and the scope has already been well-defined.
Use of Tokens to Date
The Foundation defines Treasury as cash and token distributions that are primarily intended to promote and support the administration and operations of Mina Foundation.
The Foundation’s Treasury (as of December 31, 2023):
- 43 million MINA Tokens
- $23 million USD and Stablecoins (USDC & USDT)
The Foundation has spent approximately 2.5 million MINA from its treasury during the period covered by this report. Among other things, such expenses cover community, design, and business operations.
The Foundation converted 3.0 million MINA to USD in 2023 to fund fiat-denominated treasury spending. Please refer to the Token Sale Methodology section below.
The Foundation defines Grants as cash and token distributions that are primarily intended to support the Mina ecosystem and encourage development in the Mina Protocol community.
The Foundation’s Grant (as of December 31, 2023):
- 95 million MINA Tokens
- $11 million USD and Stablecoins (USDC & USDT)
The total number of MINA token grants that the Foundation has awarded during the period covered by this report is approximately 9.9 million MINA. These grants include, among other things, grants from the zkIgnite, Navigators and Core Grants.
The Foundation converted 6.4 million MINA to USD in 2023 to fund fiat-denominated grant spending. Please refer to the Token Sale Methodology section below.
Token Sale Methodology
Mina Foundation converts MINA into fiat using the following methodology:
- Mina Foundation works only with third-party non-US professional service providers. These service providers only sell MINA on exchange to non-US persons only.
- MINA are converted to fiat using systematic strategies, trading up to a maximum of 5% of daily trading volume.
- MINA are sold via limit orders, which are set and executed at the prevailing market price by such service providers.