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Cryptocurrency Tutorial: How to Create Services

In this demo we create a single-node blockchain network that implements a minimalistic cryptocurrency. The network accepts two types of transactions: creates a wallet with a default balance and transfers money between wallets.

You can view and download the full source code of this demo here.

Create Node

Exonum is written in Rust and you have to install the stable Rust compiler to build this demo. If you do not have the environment set up, follow the installation guide.

Let’s create minimal crate with exonum dependency.

cargo new --bin cryptocurrency

Add necessary dependencies to your Cargo.toml:

name = "cryptocurrency"
version = "0.1.0"
authors = ["Your Name <your@email.com>"]

iron = "0.5.1"
bodyparser = "0.7.0"
router = "0.5.1"
serde = "1.0"
serde_json = "1.0"
serde_derive = "1.0"
exonum = "0.1.0"

We need to import crates with necessary types. Edit your src/main.rs:

extern crate serde;
extern crate serde_json;
#[macro_use] extern crate serde_derive;
#[macro_use] extern crate exonum;
extern crate router;
extern crate bodyparser;
extern crate iron;

use exonum::blockchain::{self, Blockchain, Service, GenesisConfig,
                         ValidatorKeys, Transaction, ApiContext};
use exonum::node::{Node, NodeConfig, NodeApiConfig, TransactionSend,
                   ApiSender, NodeChannel};
use exonum::messages::{RawTransaction, FromRaw, Message};
use exonum::storage::{Fork, MemoryDB, MapIndex};
use exonum::crypto::{PublicKey, Hash};
use exonum::encoding::{self, Field};
use exonum::api::{Api, ApiError};
use iron::prelude::*;
use iron::Handler;
use router::Router;

Define constants:

// Service identifier
const SERVICE_ID: u16 = 1;
// Identifier for wallet creation transaction type
const TX_CREATE_WALLET_ID: u16 = 1;
// Identifier for coins transfer transaction type
const TX_TRANSFER_ID: u16 = 2;
// Starting balance of a newly created wallet
const INIT_BALANCE: u64 = 100;

Declare main function:

fn main() {

In the code above we have set up a logger that will output information on Exonum node activity into the console.

You can try to run the blockchain at this point with

cargo run

Initialize Blockchain

Exonum contains Blockchain type. To create a blockchain we should create a database instance and declare a list of provided services. As we have not implemented a service yet, we keep the list empty.

Put this code after logger initialization into main function body:

let db = MemoryDB::new();
let services: Vec<Box<Service>> = vec![ ];
let blockchain = Blockchain::new(Box::new(db), services);

We use MemoryDB to store our data in the code above. MemoryDB is an in-memory database implementation useful for development and testing purposes. There is LevelDB support as well that is recommendable for production applications.

A minimal blockchain is ready, but it is pretty much useless, because there is no way to interact with it. To fix this we need to create a node and provide an API to interact with the blockchain.

Create Keys

Every node needs public and private keys. Keys are unique to every node and are used to identify it within the network. We will create temporary keys using exonum::crypto::gen_keypair() function, but for ordinary use you should load the keys from the node configuration file. The node needs two pairs of keys, actually: one for interaction with other nodes while reaching consensus and another one for service needs.

let (consensus_public_key, consensus_secret_key) =
let (service_public_key, service_secret_key) =

Configure Node

For launching a node a blockchain instance and node configuration are required. Node configuration consists of two parts:

  • Local configuration which includes:

    • Node configuration (e.g., IP settings and other configuration parts)
    • API configuration (e.g., settings of REST API)
  • Global configuration or genesis configuration (all parameters that need to be the same for all the nodes in the network)

Genesis configuration contains a list of public keys of validators, i.e., nodes that can vote for block acceptance. Our demo blockchain network has only one validator (our node). Fill this list with the public keys we have just generated:

let validator_keys = ValidatorKeys {
    consensus_key: consensus_public_key,
    service_key: service_public_key,
let genesis = GenesisConfig::new(vec![validator_keys].into_iter());

Let’s configure REST API to open the node for external web requests. Our node will expose API on port 8000 of every network interface.

let api_address = "".parse().unwrap();
let api_cfg = NodeApiConfig {
    public_api_address: Some(api_address),

We also configure our node to listen to peer-to-peer connections on port 2000 for all network interfaces. This port is used for interactions among full nodes in the Exonum network.

let peer_address = "".parse().unwrap();

// Complete node configuration
let node_cfg = NodeConfig {
    listen_address: peer_address,
    peers: vec![],
    external_address: None,
    network: Default::default(),
    whitelist: Default::default(),
    api: api_cfg,
    mempool: Default::default(),
    services_configs: Default::default(),

let mut node = Node::new(blockchain, node_cfg);

Declare Persistent Data

We should declare what kind of data we want to store in the blockchain.

For our case we need to declare a type to store the information about the wallet and its balance. Inside the wallet we want to store the public key to validate requests from the owner of the wallet. We want to store the name of the owner for convenience reasons. Also, we need to keep the current balance of the wallet. Summing it all up, Wallet datatype will look like:

encoding_struct! {
    struct Wallet {
        const SIZE = 48;

        field pub_key:            &PublicKey  [00 => 32]
        field name:               &str        [32 => 40]
        field balance:            u64         [40 => 48]

Macro encoding_struct! helps declare a serializable struct and determine bounds of its fields. We need to change wallet balance, so we add methods to the Wallet type:

impl Wallet {
    pub fn increase(&mut self, amount: u64) {
        let balance = self.balance() + amount;
        Field::write(&balance, &mut self.raw, 40, 48);

    pub fn decrease(&mut self, amount: u64) {
        let balance = self.balance() - amount;
        Field::write(&balance, &mut self.raw, 40, 48);

We have added two methods: one to increase the wallet balance and another one to decrease it. We used Field::write because the data in the structs processed by encoding_struct is stored as a binary blob and we need to overwrite it in-place.

Create Schema

Schema is a structured view of the key-value storage implemented by MemoryDB. To access the storage, however, we will not use MemoryDB directly, but rather a Fork. Fork is a mutable snapshot of the database, where the changes can be easily rolled back; that is why it is used when dealing with transactions and blocks in the blockchain.

pub struct CurrencySchema<'a> {
    view: &'a mut Fork,

For access to the objects inside the storage we need to declare the layout of the data. As we want to keep the wallets in the storage, we will use an instance of MapIndex, a map abstraction. Keys of the index will correspond to public keys of the wallets. Index values will be serialized Wallet structs.

Fork provides random access to every piece of data inside the database. To isolate the wallets map into a separate entity, we add a unique prefix to it, which is the first argument to the MapIndex::new call:

impl<'a> CurrencySchema<'a> {
    pub fn wallets(&mut self) -> MapIndex<&mut Fork, PublicKey, Wallet> {
        let prefix = blockchain::gen_prefix(SERVICE_ID, 0, &());
        MapIndex::new(prefix, self.view)

    // Utility method to quickly get a separate wallet from the storage
    pub fn wallet(&mut self, pub_key: &PublicKey) -> Option<Wallet> {

Define Transactions

Transaction is a kind of message which performs atomic actions on the blockchain state.

For our cryptocurrency demonstration we need two transaction types:

  • Create a new wallet and add some money to it
  • Transfer money between two different wallets

Declaration of any transaction should contain:

  • Service identifier
  • Unique (within the service) message identifier
  • Size of the fixed part of the message

Exonum will use these constants for (de)serialization of the messages.

Creating New Wallet

A Transaction to create a new wallet should contain the public key of the wallet and the name of the user who created this wallet:

message! {
    struct TxCreateWallet {
        const TYPE = SERVICE_ID;
        const ID = TX_CREATE_WALLET_ID;
        const SIZE = 40;

        field pub_key:     &PublicKey  [00 => 32]
        field name:        &str        [32 => 40]

Transferring Coins

Transaction to transfer coins between different wallets is declared as follows:

message! {
    struct TxTransfer {
        const TYPE = SERVICE_ID;
        const ID = TX_TRANSFER_ID;
        const SIZE = 80;

        field from:        &PublicKey  [00 => 32]
        field to:          &PublicKey  [32 => 64]
        field amount:      u64         [64 => 72]
        field seed:        u64         [72 => 80]

The transaction involves two public keys: for the sender’s wallet (from) and for the receiver’s one (to). It also contains the amount of money to move between them. We add the seed field to make sure that our transaction is impossible to replay.

Transaction Execution

Every transaction in Exonum has business logic of the blockchain attached, which is encapsulated in the Transaction trait. This trait includes the verify method to verify the integrity of the transaction, and the execute method which contains logic applied to the storage when a transaction is executed.

In our case verify for both transaction types will check the transaction signature. execute method gets the reference to the Fork of the storage, so we wrap it with our CurrencySchema to access our data layout.

For creating a wallet, we check that the wallet does not exist and add a new wallet if so:

impl Transaction for TxCreateWallet {
    fn verify(&self) -> bool {

    fn execute(&self, view: &mut Fork) {
        let mut schema = CurrencySchema { view };
        if schema.wallet(self.pub_key()).is_none() {
            let wallet = Wallet::new(self.pub_key(),
            println!("Create the wallet: {:?}", wallet);
            schema.wallets().put(self.pub_key(), wallet)

This transaction also sets the wallet balance to 100.

TxTransfer transaction gets two wallets for both sides of the transfer transaction. If they are found, we check the balance of the sender. If the sender has enough coins, then we decrease the sender’s balance and increase the receiver’s balance.

We also need to check that the sender does not send the coins to himself. Otherwise, if the sender is equal to the receiver, the implementation below will create money out of thin air.

impl Transaction for TxTransfer {
    fn verify(&self) -> bool {
         (*self.from() != *self.to()) &&

    fn execute(&self, view: &mut Fork) {
        let mut schema = CurrencySchema { view };
        let sender = schema.wallet(self.from());
        let receiver = schema.wallet(self.to());
        if let (Some(mut sender), Some(mut receiver)) = (sender, receiver) {
            let amount = self.amount();
            if sender.balance() >= amount {
                println!("Transfer between wallets: {:?} => {:?}",
                let mut wallets = schema.wallets();
                wallets.put(self.from(), sender);
                wallets.put(self.to(), receiver);

Implement API

Finally, we need to implement the node API. With this aim we declare a struct which implements the Api trait. The struct will contain a channel, i.e., a connection to the blockchain node instance.

struct CryptocurrencyApi {
    channel: ApiSender<NodeChannel>,

To simplify request processing we add a TransactionRequest enum which joins both types of our transactions. We also implement the Into<Box<Transaction>> trait for this enum to make sure deserialized TransactionRequests fit into the node channel.

#[derive(Clone, Serialize, Deserialize)]
enum TransactionRequest {

impl Into<Box<Transaction>> for TransactionRequest {
    fn into(self) -> Box<Transaction> {
        match self {
            TransactionRequest::CreateWallet(trans) => Box::new(trans),
            TransactionRequest::Transfer(trans) => Box::new(trans),

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize)]
struct TransactionResponse {
    tx_hash: Hash,

To join our handler with the HTTP handler of the web-server we need to implement the wire method. This method takes the reference to a router. In the method below we add one handler to convert JSON input into a Transaction. The handler responds with a hash of the transaction. It also sends the transaction to the channel, so that it will be broadcasted over the blockchain network and included into the block.

impl Api for CryptocurrencyApi {
    fn wire(&self, router: &mut Router) {
        let self_ = self.clone();
        let tx_handler = move |req: &mut Request| -> IronResult<Response> {
            match req.get::<bodyparser::Struct<TransactionRequest>>() {
                Ok(Some(tx)) => {
                    let tx: Box<Transaction> = tx.into();
                    let tx_hash = tx.hash();
                                 .map_err(|e| ApiError::Events(e))?;
                    let json = TransactionResponse { tx_hash };
                Ok(None) => Err(ApiError::IncorrectRequest(
                    "Empty request body".into()))?,
                Err(e) => Err(ApiError::IncorrectRequest(Box::new(e)))?,

        // Bind the transaction handler to a specific route.
        let route_post = "/v1/wallets/transaction";
        router.post(&route_post, tx_handler, "transaction");

Define Service

Service is a group of templated transactions (we have defined them before). It has a name and a unique id to determine the service inside the blockchain.

struct CurrencyService;

To turn CurrencyService into a blockchain service, we should implement the Service trait to it.


Read more on how to turn a type into a blockchain service in the Interface with Exonum Framework section.

The two methods of the Service trait are simple:

  • service_name returns the name of our service
  • service_id returns the unique id of our service (i.e., the SERVICE_ID constant)

The tx_from_raw method is used to deserialize transactions coming to the node. To choose the right deserializer, we can use message_type() to get the unique identifier of the message we declared before. If the incoming transaction is built successfully, we put it into a Box<_>.

The remaining method, public_api_handler, creates a REST Handler to process web requests to the node. We will use it to receive transactions via REST API using the logic we defined in CryptocurrencyApi earlier.

impl Service for CurrencyService {
    fn service_name(&self) -> &'static str { "cryptocurrency" }

    fn service_id(&self) -> u16 { SERVICE_ID }

    fn tx_from_raw(&self, raw: RawTransaction)
        -> Result<Box<Transaction>, encoding::Error> {

        let trans: Box<Transaction> = match raw.message_type() {
            TX_TRANSFER_ID => Box::new(TxTransfer::from_raw(raw)?),
            TX_CREATE_WALLET_ID => Box::new(TxCreateWallet::from_raw(raw)?),
            _ => {
                return Err(encoding::Error::IncorrectMessageType {
                    message_type: raw.message_type()

    fn public_api_handler(&self, ctx: &ApiContext) -> Option<Box<Handler>> {
        let mut router = Router::new();
        let api = CryptocurrencyApi {
            channel: ctx.node_channel().clone(),
        api.wire(&mut router);

CryptocurrencyApi type implements Api trait of Exonum and we can use Api::wire method to connect this Api instance to the Router.

Run Service

We have implemented all the pieces of a minimalistic blockchain. Now, add CryptocyrrencyService to services list of the blockchain and run the demo:

let services: Vec<Box<Service>> = vec![

To compile and run the final code enter:

cargo run

This will build the code and start the compiled binary.

Send Transactions via REST API

Let’s send some transactions to our demo.

Create the First Wallet

Create create-wallet-1.json file and put there:

  "body": {
    "pub_key": "03e657ae71e51be60a45b4bd20bcf79ff52f0c037ae6da0540a0e0066132b472",
    "name": "Johnny Doe"
  "network_id": 0,
  "protocol_version": 0,
  "service_id": 1,
  "message_id": 1,
  "signature": "ad5efdb52e48309df9aa582e67372bb3ae67828c5eaa1a7a5e387597174055d315eaa7879912d0509acf17f06a23b7f13f242017b354f682d85930fa28240402"

Use curl command to send this transaction to the node by HTTP:

curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST -d @create-wallet-1.json \

This transaction creates the first wallet associated with user Johnny Doe. The transaction endpoint returns the hash of the transaction:

  "tx_hash": "44c6c2c58eaab71f8d627d75ca72f244289bc84586a7fb42186a676b2ec4626b"

The node will show in the log that the first wallet has been created:

Create the wallet: Wallet { pub_key: PublicKey(3E657AE),
                            name: "Johnny Doe", balance: 100 }

Create the Second Wallet

To create the second wallet put the code into create-wallet-2.json file:

  "body": {
    "pub_key": "d1e877472a4585d515b13f52ae7bfded1ccea511816d7772cb17e1ab20830819",
    "name": "Janie Roe"
  "network_id": 0,
  "protocol_version": 0,
  "service_id": 1,
  "message_id": 1,
  "signature": "05f51eb13cfaaebc97b27e340048f35f40c7bb6e3ae4c47728dee9908a10636add57700dfce1bcd686dc36fae4fa930d1318fb76a0d5c410b998be1949382209"

Send it with curl to the node:

curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST -d @create-wallet-2.json \

It returns the hash of the second transaction:

  "tx_hash": "8714e90607afc05f43b82c475c883a484eecf2193df97b243b0d8630812863fd"

The node will show in the log that the second wallet has been created:

Create the wallet: Wallet { pub_key: PublicKey(D1E87747),
                            name: "Janie Roe", balance: 100 }

Transfer Between Wallets

Now we have two wallets in the database and we can transfer money between them. Create transfer-funds.json and add to the file:

  "body": {
    "from": "03e657ae71e51be60a45b4bd20bcf79ff52f0c037ae6da0540a0e0066132b472",
    "to": "d1e877472a4585d515b13f52ae7bfded1ccea511816d7772cb17e1ab20830819",
    "amount": "10",
    "seed": "12623766328194547469"
  "network_id": 0,
  "protocol_version": 0,
  "service_id": 1,
  "message_id": 2,
  "signature": "2c5e9eee1b526299770b3677ffd0d727f693ee181540e1914f5a84801dfd410967fce4c22eda621701c2b9c676ed62bc48df9c973462a8514ffb32bec202f103"

This transaction transfers 10 coins from the first wallet to the second. Send it to the node with:

curl -H "Content-Type: application/json" -X POST -d @transfer-funds.json \

This request returns the transaction hash:

  "tx_hash": "e63b28caa07adffb6e2453390a59509a1469e66698c75b4cfb2f0ae7a6887fdc"

The node outputs to the console information about this transfer:

Transfer between wallets: Wallet { pub_key: PublicKey(3E657AE),
                                   name: "Johnny Doe", balance: 90 }
                       => Wallet { pub_key: PublicKey(D1E87747),
                                   name: "Janie Roe", balance: 110 }

Hurray! 🎉 You have created the first fully functional Exonum blockchain with two wallets and transferred some money between them.