NXT, the 2.0 blockchain platform, has released a bundle of new features in their latest 1.5.10 release which include: Decentralized Voting, escrowed transactions (Phasing), Prunable Messages of up to 42 kilobytes (4,000 – 5,000 words), and more.

NXT is a second generation blockchain and financial network and smart contracting platform built from scratch in Java.

NXT has been involved in the blockchain tech development race since late 2012 and has one of most active crypto-currency decentralized asset exchanges to date, up there with Bitshares, Counter Party, Omni and NuBits. It allows users to create 'altcoins,' equity, assets and currencies at will and for fairly small fees. All of this on top of a network secured by one of the largest and most active Proof of Stake communities.

You can experiment with all the new and old features on this test-net, courtesy of the Jay wallet. Below are some of the features included in the NXT 1.5.10 update.

Phased Transactions

The new release comes with the much awaited feature of escrowed transactions, official named Phasing or Phased transactions. NXT has many transaction types such as creating an asset or currency, registering an alias, sending anything to anyone in NXT, sending messages, Voting Polls, Voting submissions, etc.

Phasing allows any and all NXT transactions to be recorded on the blockchain, only if all or a certain amount of parties approve it.

Users can define who they want to have a say on their transactions with a variety of standards including:

  • A white list of specific accounts that must approve. Similar to Bitcoin n of m signatures (multi-sig) can be set;
  • Accounts with a user defined percentage or 'Stake' in a specific asset or currency, hosted on top of NXT;
  • Accounts with a specific amount of NXT, asset or currency.

All Phased transactions have an expiration date, which the user can also define. Thus, if others don't approve the transaction, the resources you were attempting to send will become available again for later use and not get stuck in “pending” limbo.

Decentralized Voting

This is perhaps one of the most striking features in the new release. NXT's blockchain secured Voting System allows organizations to have virtually free, cryptographically proven and externally verifiable voting elections and community based decision-making. Politicians, who are serious about transparency and democratic voting around the world, should be excited about the possibilities.

It is not just governments and the political democratic processes that can benefit from this technology, but corporations, companies, small communities or any other social structure you can come up with.

It costs 10 NXT for a basic poll, which at current prices equates to about US$0.10.

Some, however, are concerned about the level of transparency and lack of anonymity it has, pointing out that it can not as of yet be effectively used in political elections since NXT accounts voting on a poll can be seen in plain text on the blockchain. A user on the NXT forums by the name of bfffranca adds:

“Most (if not all) cryptographic voting schemes are private (no one can see my vote) and receipt-free (I can't prove that I voted on a given option), this is done to avoid coercion and vote buying. Nxt's voting system is neither so it can't be used for any serious election.”

However, like most things this is not a black or white issue. Another poster by the name of Kwilliams responded:

“Whereas I agree about the importance of anonymity in [political] voting, when it comes to business voting things are quite the opposite. A corporation is always an oligarchy, buying votes is the norm (it's called stake) and buying and selling influence (at the board) is how things are done.”

Also, let’s remember that in our Republic (US of A) for the longest time the ballot was reserved to male property owners. And while the ballot was indeed anonymous - the real voting (taking place in Congress & Senate) has always been public. Indeed all legislation and policy decisions to this day are passed with non-anonymous votes. And this is how most of the parliaments in the world operate.”

Possible future features could allow users to lease their voting power to others whom they trust or consider more knowledgeable or better equipped to make a decision as well as prevent given accounts from leasing their voting power.

Prunable Messages

With the new release, developers are able to submit arbitrary messages of up to 42 kb to the blockchain. These and every other arbitrary message that is sent will now be by default prunable. This means that after two weeks of being sent, it will be deleted from the bloackchain to avoid blockchain bloat.

The pruning of messages however, is optional. Users that wish for a message to stay on the blockchain can pay the corresponding fee before the 2 weeks are up extending its blockchain longevity. The fee is proportional to the amount of bytes of the message. This information can also be searched for, of course, though the feature has not made it to the user interface yet.

You can learn more about Prunable Messages on the NXT forums and their wiki as it gets updated.

Windows Install Package

Last but not least, the latest NXT wallet comes prepackaged with NXT.exe, a Windows executable file that will install the software on Windows machines without the scary black terminal window and a familiar wizard for non tech savvy users. Windows users will now also get an NXT icon on their system tray like a regular software product.

The software releases are now signed by the NXT Foundation who received authorization from Microsoft so don’t expect any “Unstrusted Software” warnings, according to core developer of NXT, Lyaffe, in an interview with Cointelegraph, who added:

“I think it brings us allot of credibility and legitimacy in the windows world.”