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Abstract

Chlu is an open protocol to capture ratings and reviews that can be validated by payments made via permissionless cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Litecoin, ZCash and Ethereum.

No new blockchain is required to support Chlu, and there are no changes required to any existing blockchains. Chlu is completely implemented at wallet end. Marketplaces that want to integrate with Chlu do so through libraries that provide implementations of Chlu protocols.

This document defines protocols for Chlu customer and vendor wallets as well as support libraries for marketplaces.

Motivation

Chlu protocol solves the twin problem of vendor reputation locked inside marketplace walled gardens as well as fake reputation data generated by vendors.

Breaking free from reputation walled gardens

At the moment, there is no way for a vendor to be in control of his reputation data, and if a vendor wants to start selling their services or products in a new marketplace, they have to start with zero reputation, even if they have a long history on a different marketplace.

Eliminating fake reviews

Numerous marketplaces and search engines allow users to leave reviews for a business without any verified purchase. Some businesses take advantage of such systems by creating fake reviews for themselves. Chlu addresses this problem by requiring a user to prove they paid a vendor and that the vendor requested a payment from the user before allowing the user to leave a review and rating.

Protocol

Chlu requires a number of components to work together to deliver the goals outlined above. The key components are

  1. Vendor Wallet
  2. Customer Wallet, and
  3. Marketplace library

Each of these components can be provided by any third party, as long as these components follow the protocol described here. To be clear the terms 'vendor wallet provider', 'customer wallet provider' and 'market place library provider' are used in this document to mean any open source project or company providing an implementation of the appropriate component.

The document describes protocols for each of the components, but first the various data structures and messages required by the protocols are defined.

Data Structures

Proof of payment request (PoPR)

PoPR captures the request created by a vendor to make a payment

    message PoPR {
        message ReviewAttribute {
            required string name = 1;
            required uint32 min_rating = 2;
            required uint32 max_rating = 3;
            required string description = 4;
            required boolean is_required = 5;
        }
        optional string item_id = 1;
        optional string invoice_id = 2;
        optional string customer_id = 3;
        optional uint64 created_at = 4;
        optional uint64 expires_at = 5;
        required string currency_symbol = 6;
        required uint64 amount = 7;
        optional string marketplace_url = 8;
        optional string marketplace_vendor_url = 9;
        required string key_location = 10;
        required uint32 chlu_version = 11;
        repeated ReviewAttribute attributes = 12;
        required string signature = 13;
        required string vendor_key_location = 14;
        required string vendor_encryption_key_location = 15;
    }
Field Description
item_id A unique ID for the item from the marketplace or the vendor's site
invoice_id The ID of the invoice generated by the marketplace or the vendor's site
customer_id The ID of the invoice generated by the marketplace or the vendor's site
created_at A unix timestamp (UTC) for when the payment request was generated
expires_at A unix timestamp (UTC) for when the payment request expires
currency_symbol The currency symbol of the cryptocurrency used to make the payment
amount Number of base units in currency (e.g. Satoshis when using BTC)
marketplace_url URL of the marketplace where sale is taking place
marketplace_vendor_url URL of the vendor's profile on the marketplace
key_location The IPFS content address where the marketplace specific vendor key is available. This key is signed by vendor's key available at vendor_key_location.
chlu_version The Chlu protocol version, see more in Versioning section
attributes Any detailed review attributes that the market wants the customer wallet to capture
signature Signature of all of the above, signed by the vendor's private key available to the marketplace or directly signed by the vendor
vendor_key_location The IPFS content address where the vendor's public key is available. This key is used to sign the key available at key_location.
vendor_encryption_key_location The IPFS content address where the vendor's public key for encrypting reviews is available. This key is signed by vendor's key available at vendor_key_location.

ReviewAttribute

A marketplace or a vendor can include request for a detailed review by enclosing one or more ReviewAttributes. If included in the PoPR, each of these should be presented to the customer.

Field Description
name The name of the attribute
min_rating The minimum value for the rating (usually 1)
max_rating The maximum value for the rating (usually 5)
description The description of the attribute
is_required Is this attribute required to be completed

Generating PoPR

A PoPR can be generated directly by a vendor and shared with the customer using Facebook App Links or Firebase Dynamic Links for the wallet provider to send the PoPR.

A PoPR can also be generated by the marketplace library if a customer is checking out of the marketplace and making a payment to the vendor through a Chlu wallet.

If the customer opens the PoPR after the expires_at timestamp the wallet should not allow the payment to be made and should inform the customer of the expiry.

When customer opens the PoPR the customer wallet should show the currency_symbol selected and the amount quoted along with the equivalent base fiat currency the customer has selected. More about this in the Customer Wallet Setup section.

Review Record

This data structure saves the review created by the customer for the vendor.

    message ReviewRecord {
        message DetailedReview {
        required string attribute = 1;
        required string review_text = 2;
        required uint32 rating = 3;
    }
    required string currency_symbol = 1;
    required int32 amount = 2;
    required string customer_address = 3;
    required string vendor_address = 4;
    optional string review_text = 5;
    optional uint32 rating = 6;
    repeated DetailedReview detailed_review = 7;
    required PoPR popr = 8;
    required uint32 chlu_version = 9;
    required string hash = 10;
    required string prev = 11;
}
Field Description
currency_symbol The currency symbol of the cryptocurrency used to make the payment.
amount Number of base units in currency (e.g. Satoshis when using BTC).
customer_address Address of the customer in the selected cryptocurrency
vendor_address Address of the vendor in the selected cryptocurrency
review_text The text of the review left by the customer. Optional because the customer can choose to not review.
rating The overall rating, from 1 to 5, left by the customer. Optional because the customer can choose to not provide a rating.
detailed_review A list of DetailedReview that contains any other details a marketplace wants to capture about the review.
popr The Proof of Payment Request sent by the vendor to the customer. The customer wallet must include this to allow validation of the review.
hash The SHA256 hash of all the contents of the ReviewRecord. This is useful for validating the review, as described in the Validating a Review section.
prev The IPFS location of the most recent review record created by the customer, if any.

DetailedReview

Marketplaces are free to require customers to provide any details in a review, as shown in the attributes field of PoPR. The Customer Wallet must show present these in a way that the Customer can answer the required review questions.

Saving Review Records

The entire contents of the review record are hashed using SHA256 and saved in the hash field. Further, the entire contents (apart from the hash) are encrypted using the vendor public encryption key accessible from IPFS. The location of the encryption key is included in the PoPR.

Payment Record

This is the transaction details stored on the blockchain. For example, on Bitcoin the customer address, the vendor address and the amount are available as inputs and outputs.

    message PaymentRecord {
        required string customer_address = 1;
        required string vendor_address = 2;
        required int32 amount = 3;
        required ReviewRecord review_record = 4;
    }
Field Description
customer_address Address of the customer in the selected cryptocurrency
vendor_address Address of the vendor in the selected cryptocurrency
amount Number of base units in currency (e.g. Satoshis when using BTC)
review_record The IPFS content address where the review is stored

Vendor Wallet Setup

The vendor wallet setup has to achieve the following goals:

  1. Enable marketplaces to sign a PoPR.
  2. Enable wallets to sign a PoPR when directly sending a payment request.
  3. Enable reviews to be encrypted by customer wallets.

To achieve the above, the following key pairs have to be generated and managed by the wallet:

  1. Key pair used to sign and verify PoPR.
  2. Key pair used to encrypt and decrypt Review Record.

Setup Signing Key Pair (Sv, Pv)

When the vendor is setting up their wallet for the first time, a new key pair should be generated to be used for signing the PoPR. The key pair should be an elliptical curve key pair using the same curve as the one used in bitcoin - secp256k1.

This key pair is different from the key pair used to generate bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies key pairs and addresses.

The wallet needs to store the private key, Sv, in the wallet's persistent storage and let the vendor know this key is important to keep receiving reviews that can be validated in the future.

The public key, Pv, is sent to the marketplace when the vendor registers with a marketplace. Any reviews that have been signed by keys that are in turn signed by Pv are considered to be reviews for sales made by the vendor V.

Wallets can also allow a means for the vendor to export this key pair for safe keeping. In such cases wallets should allow importing the exported key to reinitialised the wallet.

Setup Encryption key pair (Sve, Pve)

Wallets have to generate another key pair of type RSA with 2048 length. The public key of this key pair is signed by the key Sv and the signed public key is then saved on IPFS. The location of this signed encryption key Pve is sent to the marketplace during vendor registration.

The sequence diagram shows the wallet setup for vendor wallet.

Sequence diagram for generating vendor's signing and encryption keys and publishing them on IPFS

Exporting Wallet

At the time of exporting wallet data so that it can be used in another Chlu wallet, the wallet has to export all of the following:

  1. Enough information so that key pairs for all the blockchains used by the vendor can be imported in other wallets. Most key pairs can be exported as mnemonics and key paths, but others like Ethereum require a secret that can be saved. Chlu wallets should export all such required information for all cryptocurrencies supported.
  2. Wallets should export the signing and encryption key pairs as well. A mnemonic can be used to export the signing key pair, and an RSA encryption key should be exported in PEM/base64 format
  3. Finally, wallets have to export the IPFS RSA key used to publish content under the vendor's name.

Customer Wallet Setup

Setting up a customer wallet is less involved than the vendor wallet. The wallet should enable the customer to import keys or create new keys for all the cryptocurrencies supported by the wallet.

The wallet must also allow exporting all the keys in the same way as described in the Exporting Wallet section.

The wallet setup should also make sure that there is a means to connect with, read and write to IPFS.

Setup Review Signing Keys

Customer wallets should generate a key pair for signing reviews. The key pair should be an elliptical curve key pair using the same curve as the one used in bitcoin - secp256k1.

This key is used by the customer wallet to update the review or even defer writing the first review until after the product has been received. The section 'Updating a review' describes this in detail.

It is up to the wallet provider how the customer signing key is created and safe guarded. The wallet also has to make sure this key is exported when the wallet is exported, as described in the Exporting Wallet section.

Making a payment with review

When a payment is made, the customer wallet has to make sure 1) review is saved to IPFS and 2) the review content address is saved as part of the cryptocurrency payment.

The payment made conforms to the Payment Record message described above and available here.

The Payment Record includes a reference to the Review Record which in turn holds a reference to the Proof of Payment Request.

The customer wallet must save a review record with the required fields and include it in the Payment Record, even if the customer is not leaving a review. The presence of Review Record in the Payment Record is essential to enable validation of the Payment and the Review.

The sequence diagram shows the protocol for customer wallet to create and save the review as well as make a payment transaction on any supported cryptocurrency. The process is triggered by the customer on receiving a payment request from the vendor or marketplace.

Sequence diagram for saving reviews and making a payment using any supported cryptocurrency

Time stamping Review

Whenever a customer creates or updates a review, the customer wallet should include a hash to the most recent review record created by the customer. The hash is saved in the prev attribute of the review record. This attribute can be blank if this is first ever review created by a customer. This chain of hashes between a customer authored review allow marketplace to get the time elapsed between a review creation and review update. This limits the potential of a customer to sell review update rights to an attacking vendor.

Updating a review

All the reviews by a customer are signed by the customer signing key created during customer wallet setup. A customer can create a new review without requiring any permission.

Each new review has to include the PoPR that resulted in the payment. Without a valid PoPR, a review is considered invalid, and should not be used to compute a vendor's reputation score. Review updates instead do not include a PoPR but have a hash pointer to the previous review that is being updated.

The above proves that the the customer is overwriting the earlier review and the customer has purchased the relevant good from the vendor.

The next section describes the protocol used to validate a review.

Validating a review

Marketplace libraries that load and list reviews for a vendor should validate the reviews before doing so. If reviews are not valid, the marketplace must not list them, or if the marketplace still chooses to do so, it must explicitly inform the user that the review is not validated as per Chlu protocol.

Discovering reviews for a vendor

Marketplaces can discover reviews for a vendor when a vendor chooses to share the reviews with the market. A vendor can share the review and ratings data in a couple of different ways.

  1. A vendor shares the list of addresses and cryptocurrencies where the vendor receives payments.
  2. A vendor runs a service to push reviews to a marketplace. The vendor wallet can choose to provide this service to the vendor, but it is not a required feature. The review record has a reference to the payment captured by customer_address, vendor_address and the currency symbol

To validate a review a marketplace must follow the protocol:

  1. For a given review, fetch the Proof of Payment Requested, PoPR.
  2. Fetch the vendor public signature key, Pvm from IPFS location included in the PoPR's key_location attribute.
  3. Fetch the vendor public signature key, Pv from IPFS location included in the PoPR's vendor_key_location attribute.
  4. Fetch the vendor public encryption key, Pve from IPFS location included in the PoPR's vendor_encryption_key_location attribute.
  5. Verify that Pv is the same as that sent to the marketplace by the vendor at registration time.
  6. Validate that Pve is signed by Pv.
  7. Validate that PoPR is signed by Pvm.
  8. Validate that Pvm is signed by Pv and Pm.
  9. Verify that the contents of the Review Record result in the same hash as included in the Review Record.

If any of the verification in the above procedure fail, the marketplace must not include the review in the vendor profile, or explicitly mark the review as 'not verified with Chlu.'

The sequence diagram below describes the above process.

Sequence diagram for validating vendor reviews

Review completeness

Marketplaces must provide users with all validated reviews found for a vendor. Marketplaces can choose to order them in anyway, and run any statistics and/or algorithms to derive vendor reputation scores, but they should not make any validatable review inaccessible to its users.

Any third party, including vendor wallets can verify that marketplaces are listing all the reviews and doing so correctly. This prevents marketplaces from selecting hiding or showing incorrect reviews for a vendor.

Versioning

The protocol buffers serialisation format is designed to be extensible. In particular, new, optional fields can be added to a message and will be ignored (but saved/re-transmitted) by old implementations.

ReviewRecord and PoPR messages may be extended with new optional fields and still be considered "version 1." Old implementations will be able to validate ReviewRecords against PoPRs containing the new fields, but will not be able to display whatever information is contained in the new, optional fields to the user.

If it becomes necessary at some point in the future for vendors to produce PoPR messages that are accepted only by new implementations, they can do so by defining a new PoPR and ReviewRecord message with version=2. Old implementations should let the user know that they need to upgrade their software when they get an up-version PoPR and ReviewRecord messages.

Reference implementation

ChluNetwork's WIP reference implementation: https://github.com/ChluNetwork/chlu-demo

ChluNetwork's WIP reference implementation javascript support libraries: https://github.com/ChluNetwork/chlu-wallet-support-js

See Also

Bitcoin's Payment Protocol BIP70: https://github.com/bitcoin/bips/blob/master/bip-0070.mediawiki

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