Transactions describe an atomic collection of changes to the ledger state. Each transaction consists of a sequence of descriptions for various actions1. Each description adds or subtracts (typed) value from the transaction’s value balance, which must net to zero.

Penumbra adapts Sapling’s Spend, which spends a note and adds to the transaction’s value balance, and Output, which creates a new note and subtracts from the transaction’s value balance. Penumbra also adds many new descriptions to support additional functionality:


  • Spend descriptions spend an existing note, adding its value to the transaction’s value balance;

  • Output descriptions create a new note, subtracting its value from the transaction’s value balance;

  • Transfer descriptions transfer value out of Penumbra by IBC, consuming value from the transaction’s value balance, and producing an ICS20 FungibleTokenPacketData for the counterparty chain;



  • CreateProposal descriptions are used to propose measures for on-chain governance and supply a deposit, consuming bonded stake from the transaction’s value balance and producing a new note that holds the deposit in escrow;

  • WithdrawProposal descriptions redeem an escrowed proposal deposit, returning it to the transaction’s value balance and immediately withdrawing the proposal.

  • Vote descriptions perform private voting for on-chain governance and declare a vote. This description leaves the value balance unchanged.


  • Swap descriptions perform the first phase of a swap, consuming tokens of one type from a transaction’s value balance, burning them, and producing a swap commitment for use in the second stage;

  • SwapClaim descriptions perform the second phase of a swap, allowing a user who burned tokens of one type to mint tokens of the other type at the chain-specified clearing price, and adding the new tokens to a transaction’s value balance;


  • OpenPosition descriptions open concentrated liquidity positions, consuming value of the traded types from the transaction’s value balance and adding the specified position to the AMM state;

  • ClosePosition descriptions close concentrated liquidity positions, removing the specified position to the AMM state and adding the value of the position, plus any accumulated fees or liquidity rewards, to the transaction’s value balance.

Each transaction also contains a fee specification, which is always transparently encoded. The value balance of all of a transactions actions, together with the fees, must net to zero.


Note that like Zcash Orchard, we use the term “action” to refer to one of a number of possible state updates; unlike Orchard, we do not attempt to conceal which types of state updates are performed, so our Action is an enum.