2016 was the year of creating frameworks and filters to determine if a business problem was worthy of a blockchain-based solution. Often, the frameworks would declare inappropriate potential use cases as ripe for blockchaining, as the frameworks were often designed by blockchain vendors or consultants to let as much through as possible. However, many of the proofs of concepts built in 2016-17 have not become industrial solutions. Why?
Two main reasons are:
- The technology didn’t meet the requirements of the use case
- The use cases themselves were selected badly
This post discusses what went wrong with use case selection, and presents two new and better questions for use case selection.
Continue reading “Avoiding blockchain for blockchain’s sake: Three real use case criteria”
Currently a number of central banks around the world are exploring two things:
- A decentralised interbank payment system
- A central bank digital currency
Though often conflated, these are slightly different concepts. You can decentralise your interbank payment systems without allowing the public to have digital access to the central bank’s balance sheet, and vice versa.
This short post is about the first set of experiments: decentralising the interbank payment systems.
Continue reading “Blockchains and cyberwar: Why the next wave of interbank settlement systems will be decentralised”
In May 2017, the Indian Centre for Internet and Society think tank published a report detailing the ways in which India’s national identity database (Aadhaar) is leaking potentially compromising personal information. The information relates to over 130 million Indian nationals. The leaks create a great opportunity for financial fraud, and cause irreversible harm to the privacy of the individuals concerned.
It is clear that the central identity repository model has deficiencies. This post describes a new paradigm for managing our digital identities: se
Continue reading “A gentle introduction to self-sovereign identity”
Some technology startup companies are raising money in a new way, by issuing digital tokens in return for funds. This is often colloquially called “doing an ICO”, and this article aims to explain how this works.
Continue reading “A gentle introduction to Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)”
There is a lot of misleading commentary about smart contracts, leading to confusion about what they are and what they can do. Here are three of the most common myths that I have noticed. This builds on a previous piece, a gentle introduction to smart contracts.
Myth: Smart contracts are self-executing bits of code
Continue reading “Three common misconceptions about smart contracts”
Following on from the “Blockchain is a solution looking for a problem” narrative of 2016, distributed ledger technology has evolved.
Distributed ledgers – databases with shared control over what and how data is added – can be seen a strategic solution to the “reconciliation” workaround that we have had to put up with until now. This strategic solution is applicable to all industries, not just financial services.
Continue reading “Distributed ledgers: “Confirm-as-you-go””
A blockchain is a type of distributed ledger. But new distributed ledgers are emerging. These are databases where control over the data’s evolution is shared between entities. Here’s a handy cheatsheet.
Continue reading “What’s the difference between a distributed ledger and a blockchain?”
This short post is inspired by a conversation I had recently with a couple of finance professors from top business schools who had some questions about blockchains.
Prof A explained that he had heard all the fuss about blockchains but was unsure whether it was revolutionary or evolutionary (I think the word disruptive was also used). I have written about disruption in Fintech and the Evolutionary vs Revolutionary aspects of distributed ledgers before (hint: it depends, it’s both, and yes, perhaps).
Then he asked, “Yes, but is there anything new?”
Continue reading “Yes, but what’s new with distributed ledgers?”
In the context of distributed ledgers, I have noticed that many commentators and consultants confuse shared control of data with the sharing of data itself. The difference is crucial, and this common simplification misses the most important aspect of distributed ledgers.
In this post I discuss three ideas:
- Sharing of data vs shared control of data
- Control of data by rules vs by power
- Enforcement of rules by participants
Continue reading “Distributed Ledgers: Shared control, not shared data”
I have noticed a great deal of confusion when people talk about “Hyperledger”. I recently gave a talk about this at a meetup hosted in Paypal’s offices in Singapore. This article summarises the talk.
Hyperledger is a project, not a technology, and you don’t build stuff on Hyperledger.
When people ask, “What is Hyperledger?”, the answer I give is usually “Do you mean the project called Hyperledger run by The Linux Foundation, or do you mean one of the ledger technologies incubated by that project which used to be confusingly called Hyperledger Fabric?”. The first is a group of people, the second other is a bunch of code.
Continue reading “A gentle introduction to The Hyperledger Project”