There are good reasons and bad reasons to use blockchains. In conversations with people thinking about blockchain use cases, I have noticed common confusions and conflations arising from words initially used in a narrow context (usually to describe bitcoin’s blockchain) being understood more generically for blockchains. In this post I hope to untangle some of these common misconceptions.
Q&A with George Samman, co-author of KPMG’s report: “Consensus: Immutable agreement for the Internet of value”
I have heard this comment many times:
“Blockchain” is a solution looking for a problem.
That is incorrect – here’s the problem statement, originally articulated in 2008:
The problem statement, to paraphrase, is
“How do people pay each other electronically without being at the behest of Financial Institutions?”
The proposed solution is:
The full audio episode is here and I recommend subscribing to the podcast if you are in to FinTech. A transcript of the relevant section is below, edited for clarity:
This short article attempts to explain what people mean when they are talking about blockchains being a “single source of truth”. In classic Chinese Whispers style, the narrative has become confused about what is meant by “truth”.
This is currently relevant to discussions in the insurance industry where blockchain enthusiasts may be eager to promote blockchains as a solution to the problem of verifying if something has happened or not.
Here, I permanently recorded on Bitcoin’s blockchain a non-truth about the world.
This article attempts to explain the difference between the revolutionary disruptive innovation of bitcoin and the evolutionary efficiency innovations of industry workflow tools, and why calling them both “blockchains”, even as a generic term, is incredibly confusing.
For the rest of this post, I will use the phrase “industry workflow tools” instead of industry blockchains, as some of the emerging solutions being proposed in this space are not blockchains (eg, R3’s Corda is not a blockchain but Digital Asset’s solutions are – however, both companies are proposing industry workflow tools).
Over the past year I’ve been asked my thoughts about ‘loyalty points on blockchains’ many times. The thinking seems to be bitcoin -> digital currency -> digital tokens -> loyalty points and at first pass it feels like a natural extension of a theme. People read about cryptocurrency trading and interoperability then think “Wouldn’t it be really cool if I could exchange my loyalty points for other ones, or if I could buy and sell them with real money?”.
This post attempts to describe how I understand the purpose of loyalty points, and in this context, how applicable blockchains are as a technical solution.
Over the past year I have come across many blockchain ‘proof of concepts’, that take existing business ideas or challenges and apply a specific technical design (blockchains) to the solution. The usual problem/solution decision process has been turned on its head:
I enjoyed listening to episode 107 of the podcast “Epicenter Bitcoin” where Gideon Greenspan, CEO and Founder of Coin Sciences was interviewed about MultiChain. Gideon also writes a great blog. Here are my notes on parts of the podcast that I found particularly interesting. Misunderstandings and paraphrasing errors are mine.
Note: The term ‘miner’ is used frequently in the podcast but I try to refer to them here as block-makers or block-adders.
In the context of data security, the immutability of data stored on blockchains is important. What do people mean when they say “Blockchains are immutable”? In this post I try to explain the key concepts.