Cryptocurrency Tutorial: How to Create Services

In this tutorial we create an Exonum service that implements a minimalistic cryptocurrency, and a single-node blockchain network processing requests to this service. The service 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 tutorial here.

For didactic purposes, the tutorial is simplified compared to a real-life application; it does not feature the client part and does not use Merkelized data collections. You can find a tutorial containing these features here.

Create a Rust Project

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

Let’s create a minimal crate with the exonum crate as a dependency.

cargo new cryptocurrency --lib

Add necessary dependencies to Cargo.toml in the project directory:

name = "cryptocurrency"
version = "0.1.0"
edition = "2018"
authors = ["Your Name <[email protected]>"]

exonum = "1.0.0"
exonum-crypto = "1.0.0"
exonum-derive = "1.0.0"
exonum-proto = "1.0.0"
exonum-rust-runtime = "1.0.0"

failure = "0.1.5"
protobuf = "2.8.0"
serde = "1.0"
serde_derive = "1.0"
serde_json = "1.0"

exonum-build = "1.0.0"


Rust crates have the src/ file as the default entry point. In our case, this is where we are going to place the service code. Let’s start with importing crates with necessary types:

use exonum::crypto::{Hash, PublicKey};
use exonum::merkledb::{
    access::{Access, FromAccess},
    Fork, MapIndex, Snapshot,
use exonum::runtime::{ExecutionContext, ExecutionError};
use exonum_derive::*;
use exonum_proto::ProtobufConvert;
use exonum_rust_runtime::api::{self, ServiceApiBuilder, ServiceApiState};
use exonum_rust_runtime::Service;

use serde_derive::{Deserialize, Serialize};


Let’s define some constants we will use later on:

// Starting balance of a newly created wallet
const INIT_BALANCE: u64 = 100;

Declare Persistent Data

Exonum uses Protobuf as its serialization format for storage of data. Thus, we need to describe our structures using the Protobuf interface description language first. The corresponding Rust structures will be later generated from them.

We should declare what kind of data the service will store in the blockchain. In our case we need to declare a single type – wallet. Inside the wallet we want to store:

  • Public key which is the address of the wallet
  • Name of the owner (purely for convenience reasons)
  • Current balance of the wallet.

As a first step we add a module named proto to our project. We add a service.proto file to this module and describe the Wallet structure in it in the Protobuf format. The Wallet datatype will look as follows:

syntax = "proto3";

// Allows to use `exonum.PublicKey` structure already described in `exonum`
// library.
import "types.proto";

// Wallet structure used to persist data within the service.
message Wallet {
  exonum.crypto.PublicKey pub_key = 1;
  string name = 2;
  uint64 balance = 3;

Secondly, to integrate the Protobuf-generated files into the proto module of the project, we add a file with the following content to the proto module:


pub use self::service::*;

include!(concat!(env!("OUT_DIR"), "/"));
use exonum::crypto::proto::*;

We also need to add the proto module to file:

mod proto;

As a third step, in the file we introduce the main function that generates Rust files from their Protobuf descriptions.


Make sure that at this stage you have protoc installed. See the install page for details.

use exonum_build::ProtobufGenerator;

fn main() {

Finally, we create the same structure definition of the wallet in Rust language based on the proto schema presented above. The service will use the structure for further operations with data schema and to validate the corresponding .rs Protobuf-generated file with this structure:

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Clone, Debug)]
#[derive(ProtobufConvert, BinaryValue, ObjectHash)]
#[protobuf_convert(source = "proto::Wallet")]
pub struct Wallet {
    pub pub_key: PublicKey,
    pub name: String,
    pub balance: u64,

Derive ProtobufConvert from exonum_derive helps to validate the Protobuf structure presented earlier. In this way we make sure that exonum::crypto::PublicKey corresponds to the public key in the proto format. Therefore, we can safely use it in our Wallet structure.

We need to change the wallet balance, so we add methods to the Wallet type:

impl Wallet {
    pub fn new(&pub_key: &PublicKey, name: &str, balance: u64) -> Self {
        Self {
            name: name.to_owned(),

    pub fn increase(self, amount: u64) -> Self {
        let balance = self.balance + amount;
        Self::new(&self.pub_key, &, balance)

    pub fn decrease(self, amount: u64) -> Self {
        debug_assert!(self.balance >= amount);
        let balance = self.balance - amount;
        Self::new(&self.pub_key, &, balance)

We have added two methods: one to increase the wallet balance and another one to decrease it. These methods are immutable; they consume the old instance of the wallet and produce a new instance with the modified balance field.

Create Schema

Schema is a structured view of the key-value storage used in Exonum. To access the storage, however, we will not use the storage directly, but rather a generic Access abstraction. Access is a trait that wraps underlying database access types like Snapshots and Forks.


Snapshot represents an immutable view of the storage, and Fork is a mutable one, where the changes can be easily rolled back. For more details see MerkleDB docs.

As the schema should work with both types of storage views, we declare it as a generic structure with a template parameter that implements Access trait:

#[derive(Debug, FromAccess)]
pub struct CurrencySchema<T: Access> {
    /// Correspondence of public keys of users to the account information.
    pub wallets: MapIndex<T::Base, PublicKey, Wallet>,

The structure layout corresponds to the database layout in the storage, so we don't need to create any glue code to connect this structure to the database. This code is generated automatically by deriving FromAccess.

Since 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 stored as serialized Wallet structures.

To initialize our CurrencySchema, FromAccess trait provides a convenient method from_root. Using this method, we can implement a constructor to simplify interaction with CurrencySchema:

impl<T: Access> CurrencySchema<T> {
    pub fn new(access: T) -> Self {

Define Transactions

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

For our Cryptocurrency Tutorial we need two transaction types:

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

The transaction to create a new wallet (TxCreateWallet) contains a name of the user who created this wallet. Address of the wallet will be derived from the public key that was used to sign this transaction.

// Transaction type for creating a new wallet.
message TxCreateWallet {
  // UTF-8 string with the owner's name.
  string name = 1;

The transaction to transfer tokens between different wallets (TxTransfer) has a public key of the receiver (to). It also contains the amount of money to move between the wallets. We add the seed field to make sure that our transaction is impossible to replay. Sender's public key will be the same key that was used to sign the transaction.

// Transaction type for transferring tokens between two wallets.
message TxTransfer {
  // Public key of the receiver.
  exonum.crypto.PublicKey to = 1;
  // Number of tokens to transfer from the sender's account to the receiver's
  // account.
  uint64 amount = 2;
  // Auxiliary number to guarantee non-idempotence of transactions.
  uint64 seed = 3;

Now, just as we did with the Wallet structure above, we need to describe the same transactions in Rust:

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Clone, Debug, ProtobufConvert, BinaryValue)]
#[protobuf_convert(source = "proto::TxCreateWallet")]
pub struct TxCreateWallet {
    pub name: String,

#[derive(Serialize, Deserialize, Clone, Debug, ProtobufConvert, BinaryValue)]
#[protobuf_convert(source = "proto::TxTransfer")]
pub struct TxTransfer {
    pub to: PublicKey,
    pub amount: u64,
    pub seed: u64,

Service Interface

To make the service support the transactions defined above, we need to declare a service interface. A service interface is basically a trait with methods that correspond to the transactions processing logic. In our case the interface will look as follows:

/// Cryptocurrency service transactions.
pub trait CryptocurrencyInterface<Ctx> {
    /// Output of the methods in this interface.
    type Output;

    /// Creates wallet with the given `name`.
    #[interface_method(id = 0)]
    fn create_wallet(&self, ctx: Ctx, arg: TxCreateWallet) -> Self::Output;
    /// Transfers `amount` of the currency from one wallet to another.
    #[interface_method(id = 1)]
    fn transfer(&self, ctx: Ctx, arg: TxTransfer) -> Self::Output;

exonum_interface macro generates a glue to dispatch transactions and deserialize their payload within service. interface_method macro assigns the numeric IDs to the transactions. This is required, since a call information in transactions contains the transaction ID rather than the method name.

With that, target users will know which transaction ID they should set to invoke a certain method.


All the transactions numeric IDs should be unique. An attempt to create two methods with the same numeric ID will result in a compilation error.

Reporting Errors

The execution of the transaction may be unsuccessful for some reason. For example, the transaction TxCreateWallet will not be executed if the wallet with such public key already exists. There are also three reasons why the transaction TxTransfer cannot be executed:

  • There is no sender with the given public key
  • There is no recipient with the given public key
  • The sender has insufficient currency amount.

Let’s define the codes of the above errors:

/// Error codes emitted by `TxCreateWallet` and/or `TxTransfer`
/// transactions during execution.
#[derive(Debug, ExecutionFail)]
pub enum Error {
    /// Wallet already exists.
    WalletAlreadyExists = 0,
    /// Sender doesn't exist.
    SenderNotFound = 1,
    /// Receiver doesn't exist.
    ReceiverNotFound = 2,
    /// Insufficient currency amount.
    InsufficientCurrencyAmount = 3,
    /// Sender same as receiver.
    SenderSameAsReceiver = 4,

Deriving the ExecutionFail trait here will make our errors generic and compatible with other error kinds used within Exonum blockchain; this trait is similar to failure::Fail.

Transaction Execution

Above we've defined the interface of our service, but currently this interface has no implementation. Thus, there is no actual business logic attached to them. To fix this situation, we should declare our service, and then implement the CryptocurrencyInterface trait for it.

Service is a struct which implements specific traits defined by the Rust runtime:

/// Cryptocurrency service implementation.
#[derive(Debug, ServiceFactory, ServiceDispatcher)]
#[service_factory(proto_sources = "crate::proto")]
pub struct CryptocurrencyService;

impl Service for CryptocurrencyService {}

service_dispatcher macro collects information about interfaces implemented by service, and service_factory macro generates a code to create instances of our service, similarly to the factory method pattern.

The implementation of the Service trait can contain the additional elements of the service lifecycle, like wiring the API. Currently we can skip them and leave the implementation empty.

Now, when we have the structure, we can implement the actual business logic. We will do it in two steps, one step for each transaction we have.

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

impl CryptocurrencyInterface<ExecutionContext<'_>> for CryptocurrencyService {
    type Output = Result<(), ExecutionError>;

    fn create_wallet(
        context: ExecutionContext<'_>,
        arg: TxCreateWallet,
    ) -> Self::Output {
        let author = context
            .expect("Wrong 'TxCreateWallet' initiator");

        let mut schema = CurrencySchema::new(context.service_data());
        if schema.wallets.get(&author).is_none() {
            let wallet = Wallet::new(&author, &, INIT_BALANCE);
            println!("Created wallet: {:?}", wallet);
            schema.wallets.put(&author, wallet);
        } else {

    // `transfer` transaction will be implemented on the next step.


Calling expect in the code above is not really suitable for production use. In actual services consider using CallerAddress for better forward compatibility.

This transaction also sets the wallet balance to 100. To work with database, we instantiate CurrencySchema using service_data method of ExecutionContext.


ExecutionContext structure provides an interface to interact with blockchain and service data. For our service, we can obtain both mutable and immutable access to data; for any other kind of data, only read-only access is available.

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 tokens, 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 tokens to himself. Otherwise, if the sender is equal to the receiver, the implementation below will create money out of thin air.

impl CryptocurrencyInterface<ExecutionContext<'_>> for CryptocurrencyService {
    type Output = Result<(), ExecutionError>;

    // We implemented the `create_wallet` transaction in the previous step.

    fn transfer(
        context: ExecutionContext<'_>,
        arg: TxTransfer,
    ) -> Self::Output {
        let author = context
            .expect("Wrong 'TxTransfer' initiator");
        if author == {
            return Err(Error::SenderSameAsReceiver.into());

        let mut schema = CurrencySchema::new(context.service_data());
        let sender = schema.wallets.get(&author).ok_or(Error::SenderNotFound)?;
        let receiver = schema

        let amount = arg.amount;
        if sender.balance >= amount {
            let sender = sender.decrease(amount);
            let receiver = receiver.increase(amount);
            println!("Transfer between wallets: {:?} => {:?}", sender, receiver);
            schema.wallets.put(&author, sender);
            schema.wallets.put(&, receiver);
        } else {

Implement API

Next, we need to implement the node API. With this aim we declare a blank struct that includes a set of methods that correspond to different types of requests:

#[derive(Debug, Clone, Copy)]
struct CryptocurrencyApi;

For CryptocurrencyService, we want to implement 2 read requests:

  • Return the information about all wallets in the system
  • Return the information about a specific wallet identified by the public key.

To accomplish this, we define a couple of corresponding methods in CryptocurrencyApi that use state to read information from the blockchain storage.

For parsing a public key of a specific wallet we define a helper structure.

/// The structure describes the query parameters for the `get_wallet` endpoint.
#[derive(Debug, Serialize, Deserialize, Clone, Copy)]
pub struct WalletQuery {
    /// Public key of the requested wallet.
    pub pub_key: PublicKey,

impl CryptocurrencyApi {
    /// Endpoint for getting a single wallet.
    pub fn get_wallet(
        state: &ServiceApiState<'_>,
        pub_key: PublicKey,
    ) -> api::Result<Wallet> {
        let schema = CurrencySchema::new(state.service_data());
            .ok_or_else(|| api::Error::not_found().title("Wallet not found"))

    /// Endpoint for dumping all wallets from the storage.
    pub fn get_wallets(
        state: &ServiceApiState<'_>,
        _query: (),
    ) -> api::Result<Vec<Wallet>> {
        let schema = CurrencySchema::new(state.service_data());

The state contains an interface to access blockchain data, which is needed to implement read requests.

As with the transaction endpoint, the methods have an idiomatic signature

type Handle<Query, Response> =
    fn(&ServiceApiState<'_>, Query) -> api::Result<Response>;

We also declare a helper method to wire the API, which later can be invoked by the service:

impl CryptocurrencyApi {
    /// `ServiceApiBuilder` facilitates conversion between read requests
    /// and REST endpoints.
    pub fn wire(builder: &mut ServiceApiBuilder) {
        // Binds handlers to specific routes.
            .endpoint("v1/wallet", Self::get_wallet)
            .endpoint("v1/wallets", Self::get_wallets);

Wire API

As the final step of the API implementation, we need to tie the request processing logic to the specific endpoints.

Previously, we left the Service implementation for CryptocurrencyService empty, but now we want to wire API, so we should add a corresponding method to the implementation:

impl Service for CryptocurrencyService {
    fn wire_api(&self, builder: &mut ServiceApiBuilder) {

Default Instantiation Params

Let’s define default instantiation parameters for the service in order to simplify its instantiation (for example, in creating a test node below).

impl DefaultInstance for CryptocurrencyService {
    const INSTANCE_ID: u32 = 101;
    const INSTANCE_NAME: &'static str = "cryptocurrency";

Create Demo Blockchain

The service is ready. You can verify that the library code compiles by running cargo build in the shell. However, we do not have the means of processing requests to the service. To fix this, let us create a minimalistic blockchain network with one node and a single service we’ve just finished creating.

The code we are going to write is logically separate from the service itself. The service library could be connected to an Exonum-powered blockchain together with other services, while the demo blockchain is a specific example of its usage. For this reason, we will position the blockchain code as an example and place it into examples/

Additional Dependencies

Since services themselves do not require the Exonum node, in this example we want to create a node and interact with it. Thus, we need to add more dependencies to our Cargo.toml:

# Dependencies required for the example.
exonum-cli = "1.0.0"


Add imports to example/ file:

use exonum_cli::NodeBuilder;
use failure::Error;

use exonum_cryptocurrency::contracts::CryptocurrencyService;

That is, we import our service and the builder for an Exonum nodes.

Run Node

We need to implement the entry point to our demo network – main function:

fn main() -> Result<(), Error> {

That is, we:

  1. Initialize logging in the Exonum core library.
  2. Create a single-node development network with our service. The node will store its database files in a temporary directory, which will be automatically cleaned up on exit.
  3. Run the created node.

The demo blockchain can now be executed with the RUST_LOG=info cargo run --example demo command. The node will expose public and private HTTP APIs on localhost:8080 and localhost:8081 respectively.

Interact With Blockchain

Send Transactions via REST API

Let’s send some transactions to our demo blockchain. Usually transactions are created, signed, serialized and sent with the help of the light client. The service receives an already serialized byte array. Therefore, for simplicity, in our examples below we use the ready-made transactions prepared with the light client.

Create the First Wallet

Create create-wallet-1.json file and insert the following code into it:

  "tx_body": "0a0f0a0d0a02086512070a05416c69636512220a20070122b6eb3f63a14b25aacd7a1922c418025e04b1be9d1febdfdbcf676157991a420a40fe3c632764e71d135b47d9b17b4f6aab296b94aefc0dea9ca2cfc781cfa7677b445d473086758cbbf4f0b09cf9d61953b77c67ae87a123a553bdf7578236b703"

Use the 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 Alice. The transaction endpoint returns the hash of the transaction:

  "tx_hash": "abe9ac1eef23b4cda7fc408ce488b233c3446331ac0f8195b7d21a210908b447"

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

Create the wallet: Wallet { pub_key: PublicKey(070122b6...),
                            name: "Alice", balance: 100 }

Create the Second Wallet

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

  "tx_body": "0a0d0a0b0a02086512050a03426f6212220a20542eee3b38904e57b903fcfa6965f4643bb8beff409b61860d0ee2283050fbc71a420a4081d04a2c438e35cfdcf089826294916dc106f7580c6e09f531c564e144d4668c0d9b23a7aaf85cfcd708fd218617c80f96f3b11ad9c63835860587e9a0856a0c"

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": "59198ccaba93d0dcf2081f3820e54e5233d7eaf223f13c147df88ccfc351ac27"

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

Create the wallet: Wallet { pub_key: PublicKey(542eee3b...),
                            name: "Bob", 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 the following code to this file:

  "tx_body": "0a3a0a380a040865100112300a220a20542eee3b38904e57b903fcfa6965f4643bb8beff409b61860d0ee2283050fbc7100518c9a69e809091f8e13e12220a20070122b6eb3f63a14b25aacd7a1922c418025e04b1be9d1febdfdbcf676157991a420a4043107104edd28c2c1367cb50dfdee80ce583f00a9bc3ea46f5a8eded41f45a5da0be3aa503ff80705477d1e77d137a66de095102f25b20fee2c06ce217084a0e"

This transaction transfers 5 tokens 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": "b5d68015cb47f1b1f909e7667c219f1c63a0b7c978cdd6e8ffc279d05ba66fec"

The node outputs to the console the information about this transfer:

Transfer between wallets: Wallet { pub_key: PublicKey(070122b6...),
                                   name: "Alice", balance: 95 }
                       => Wallet { pub_key: PublicKey(542eee3b...),
                                   name: "Bob", balance: 105 }

Read Requests

Let’s check that the defined read endpoints indeed work.

Info on All Wallets


This request expectedly returns information on both wallets in the system:

    "pub_key": "070122b6eb3f63a14b25aacd7a1922c418025e04b1be9d1febdfdbcf67615799",
    "name": "Alice",
    "balance": 95
    "pub_key": "542eee3b38904e57b903fcfa6965f4643bb8beff409b61860d0ee2283050fbc7",
    "name": "Bob",
    "balance": 105

Info on Specific Wallet

The second read endpoint also works:

curl "\

The response is:

  "pub_key": "070122b6eb3f63a14b25aacd7a1922c418025e04b1be9d1febdfdbcf67615799",
  "name": "Alice",
  "balance": 95

Graceful Shutdown

To gracefully shut down the node, you can send the corresponding command via private API:

curl -X POST ""


Hurray! 🎉 You have created the first fully functional Exonum blockchain with two wallets and transferred some money between them. Next, we are going to test it.