Mina Protocol is a lightweight, "succinct" blockchain implementation that aims to enable broader network participation than possible with earlier networks. Its native currency is known by the ticker symbol MINA. It serves as a medium of exchange and creates an incentive for transaction validators to commit resources to the protocol.
Self-described as the "world's lightest blockchain," Mina Protocol uses a variation of a delegated proof-of-stake consensus mechanism called Ouroboros Samasika and an implementation of recursive zk-SNARKs to maintain a consistent total blockchain size of around 22 KB. Much smaller than Bitcoin's blockchain — which is already hundreds of gigabytes and still growing — Mina aims to foster greater decentralization by ensuring node operators' hardware requirements remain low.
The data-storage demands of previous blockchain systems are cumulative. Node operators must reference ever more data as block producers add new blocks to the chain. As a result, many users must trust transaction verification to those users operating hardware capable of storing large volumes of data. By contrast, Mina Protocol seeks to ensure that anyone can participate in transaction validation, including those with less powerful hardware, such as mobile phones.
The network also leverages zk-SNARKs technology to support decentralized applications. These so-called "snarkified applications" — or Snapps — can interact with existing websites and online services without compromising a user's privacy. Additionally, Mina Protocol's Snapps are more efficient than Ethereum's DApps, for example, because the entire network does not need to perform every computation.
MINA serves as the Mina Protocol's medium of exchange. Network users creating transactions incentivize block producers with fees paid in MINA.
At the network's launch, 1 billion MINA were in circulation. New units of MINA enter the circulating supply with every new block of transactions added to the chain. The protocol enforces an initial inflation rate of 12%, which falls to 7% over its first five years. This unlimited total supply means new issuance will likely continue to exert downward pressure on the MINA price.
That said, the Mina Protocol's complementary incentive structures may create ongoing demand for the crypto asset. For example, the network's delegated proof-of-stake consensus mechanism rewards block producers who voluntarily lock up MINA. Similarly, it encourages those who might not want to produce blocks themselves to commit MINA, further reducing potential selling pressure.
Finally, a marketplace — or, in the ecosystem's terminology, a "Snarketplace" — determines the cost of turning transaction data into zk-SNARKs. A third type of Mina Protocol participant called "Snarkers" produces the lightweight proofs used during transaction verification. With Snarkers incentivized to offer their services as cheaply as possible, the cost to transact should remain low.
Those behind the Mina Protocol hope that the network's accessibility and privacy enhancements will create high demand for MINA. If demand outpaces any selling created by the asset's continued issuance, the MINA price should grow.
Mina Protocol was created in June 2017 by the San Francisco-based software development company 0(1) Labs. The project's documentation credits Evan Shapiro and Izaak Meckler as the firm's co-founders.
Mina Protocol was initially named the Coda Protocol. However, a legal dispute with R3 inspired a rebrand to Mina in September 2019. The team launched the project's testnet in late 2019 and completed a CoinList public sale during March 2021. With more than 40,000 individuals reportedly contributing over $18.7 million in just four hours, the sale became the largest ever on the platform.
In addition to an impressive group of global contributors — including the CEO of Clubhouse, Paul Davison — the Mina Protocol website also lists several high-profile backers. Among them are Dragonfly Capital, Polychain Capital, Paradigm and Three Arrows Capital.