Wanchain strengthens the blockchain space through interoperability (Part 1)
Since the inception of Bitcoin in 2009, blockchain technology has transformed tremendously. Bitcoin — as the most well-known cryptocurrency — has paved the way for decentralized P2P networks, smart contracts, DAGs, and practical enterprise use cases. Blockchain, as a whole, has allowed greater transparency, efficiency, and security. These are some of the critical factors for enterprises when evaluating new services and solutions.
Nevertheless, there is one prominent area that needs more focus — blockchain interoperability. Blockchain interoperability means that different networks (blockchains) can freely share value and data. Currently, there are numerous blockchains, with the primary obstacle being this lack of external communication. At Wanchain, we have decided to focus on this particular interoperability problem; on how to bridge different networks together (public and private) and have them all communicate, operate, and interact under standardized rules and procedures.
Diffusion of Innovation, Source
How it all started
Wanchain started in 2016 when Jack Lu formed a research team from Beijing University (Peking University). They started research into different interoperability technologies until they created a Proof of Concept (PoC), bridging Ethereum to another EVM-based chain. Wanchain was born shortly after, and the race to solve the interoperability problem began. Wanchain has achieved significant milestones since its inception. These are the 1.0 release (mainnet with privacy), 2.0 (bridging Ethereum), 3.0 (bridging Bitcoin), and soon, we will release the EOS integration and 4.0 (connecting private blockchains to our public platform). To better understand how interoperability works on a practical level, we will guide you through several use cases within different industries. From retail payments to tracking of luxury items to digital collectibles, blockchain interoperability is vital and is becoming a topic of focus, slowly but surely.
The similarities to the Internet we know today
In the early days of the internet, the participating networks could only transfer information (via messages) within these siloed intranet networks. It was not until the introduction of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) that systems started implementing TCP/IP protocol suites and allowing communication outside of these hubs. Most of us are unaware of how the internet truly works, and we don’t need to understand how it works either. We’re at a stage now with Blockchain technology that we — the pioneers, the first users, innovators, and marketers — need to come together to improve the user experience, educate the current and future generations, and build solutions to actual problems. All of these factors are vital to lower the barriers to entry and increase usage amongst regular individuals and entities.
From KWDEX to WRDEX
In 2018, we released the first instance of our privacy-enabled smart contract platform, along with significant partners. At first, we discussed the release of a Kyber-Wanchain Dex (KWDEX) until both projects decided to focus on their roadmaps and delay development. Fast forward to the present day, and you have the WRDEX (Wanchain-Rivex DEX) coming out in a few months with cross-chain improvements, new integrations, enterprise partnerships, and research milestones in 2020.
WRDEX is a massive achievement for Wanchain and its ecosystem. The WRDEX is being built with the same vision in mind as KWDEX, allowing you all to trade highly-liquid assets (such as ETH and BTC) in a decentralized and effective way. The DEX operators share the order book, choose which coins to list, how to provide liquidity, and run their marketing and community campaigns. With every individual being the owner of their wallet and assets, users make all the calls from their wallets. It’s no surprise that we’ve transitioned from largely centralized political economies to global decentralized digital economies, where power is transferred to us — the people.
We’ve identified several of the current and future enterprise interoperability use cases, and we want to guide you through them. These are some of the ones currently in development:
Money is a medium of exchange and is accepted as a payment for goods and services, taxation obligations, and repayment of debt. This new digital economy operates under a deterministic set of rules thanks to the introduction of smart contracts. Smart contracts are self-executing code on the blockchain). The traditional financial world has been under attack for centuries, but the stakes are higher than ever. The economies before this technological shift did not allow for such radical change.
Nonetheless, we are now forced into change because the “obligations of the state are being questioned.” In the past, theorists have questioned and discussed a variety of models. Still, it is only now that we are bringing those ideas into code — where we step away from probabilistic towards deterministic outcomes.
Bonds, derivatives, and shares — These are examples of digital assets and financial securities that play a fundamental role in the finance industry. One can transfer these from Lanchains (Private chains on the Wanchain network) or other private networks to a public chain for trading, proof of ownership, or KYC. Wanchain’s interoperability functionalities will allow value to flow between off-chain platforms and on-chain platforms, which will open up the possibilities with blockchain technology. For instance, smart contracts bring algorithmic trust to P2P transactions, where parties can trust the code to be fully deterministic and executed when conditions in the agreement have been satisfied.
Remittance — Remittance is a transfer of money by a foreign worker (typically someone working away from home) to a person in their home country (often a family member). Remittance has been one of the first and most evident disruptions of Blockchain technology, as you take away the middlemen, hefty fees, and the long waiting time to process payments. Interoperability would allow a foreign worker to send WBTC (Wrapped Bitcoin on the Wanchain blockchain) to a family member instantly, who would then be able to redeem the WBTC for the native Bitcoin. The network and the respective assets are secured by what we call “Storeman Nodes.” Each new blockchain integration (ETH, BTC, EOS, etc.) requires a set of 21 nodes that are programmed to split and randomize the private key of a locked account. A closed account holds a certain amount of coins on their respective chains. As a result, no central custodian is holding your assets as the private key is distributed amongst the 21 different Storeman nodes and only 16 out of 21 need to be online again, to recreate the private key.
A supply chain is a network that comprises all the individuals, enterprises, resources, and technologies involved to produce and distribute a product to an end buyer. There are numerous parties involved in a supply chain process, where you begin with natural resources and end with the customer. Payments, auditing, communications, and quality control are just a few of the procedures involved in this chain and industry. Subsequently, there are different systems throughout this entire process. Today, these systems experience inefficiencies due to not being fully bridged together, and this is where interoperability (through Wanchain) will allow two or more systems to transfer value and data.
Luxury Goods — Nowadays, we have blockchains focusing on different markets, where the supply chain is crucial. For instance, Vechain has been collaborating with many institutions for the tracking of luxury items (from production to final delivery). LVMH has opened up a Blockchain division for supporting the growth of its white-label blockchain, hoping their competitors end up using these services. However, the trend has been towards these companies creating their blockchains or working directly with a public platform. Interoperability will become the most critical component in the supply chain as all these independent and siloed blockchains will have no other way to communicate with the external world.
Tracking of goods across a global network — How can a producer in India seamlessly transfer value or data across to a supplier in Denmark? With a standardized “communication” protocol, this is possible. With the implementation of cross-chain NFTs (ERC-721, etc.), tracking devices (RFIDs), and cross-blockchain communication technology, we can create fully interoperable chains regardless of the base layer. Supply chain leveraging blockchain is genuinely changing the overall landscape as we know, including industries such as automotive, vaccines, agriculture, and natural resources.
Decentralization is an important aspect that’s only feasible through blockchain or DLT. Identity is a core part of this. Usually, governments are the ones that are issuing the identity of their respective inhabitants. However, national ID cards, driver licenses, and passports replaced by new digital identities. Digital IDs have started to be issued by countries like in the case of Estonia. These identities can be stored on a distributed ledger, resulting in a tamper-proof, decentralized, and fully transparent identity that is available for everyone — with certain limitations, of course. A new digital identity means that one will be able to verify their identity and personal information without revealing any confidential information. As the technologies and services progress, we will see the entire space open up for communication and data flow between components that require some form of KYC/AML verification.
Evernym (namely Sovrin) has been working on DIDs for years now. DID (decentralized identifier) is a new type of globally unique identifier that does not require a centralized registration authority (like in the case of ICANN for domain names or NANP in the United States for phone numbers). With standardizations and implementations of these identifiers across different blockchains and systems, a fully interoperable global network becomes a lot more apparent. IP addresses allow different devices to connect while DIDs enable people to connect. The work being done through W3 and similar organizations will enable DIDs to fully interact regardless of what blockchain they are on. This would be one of the most significant advancements since the release of the URL and is an important market for Wanchain to penetrate. Please read about our recent partnership with Evernym here.
Voting — Elections are structured and enforced differently in various parts of the world, which is why creating solutions surrounding voting is an essential part of blockchain technology. Here all components and parts of the voting process must communicate with each other, allowing the transfer of data. Interoperability needs to be incorporated to facilitate secure and effective elections, where the entire process can happen in a decentralized manner. No authority, regardless of their ideologies and values, will have the opportunity to tamper with the ballots.
Intellectual Property — [Intellectual Property (IP) is the creations of the mind like inventions, designs, names/images, literary and artistic work.](https://www.wipo.int/edocs/pubdocs/en/intproperty/450/wipo_pub_450.pdf) These IPs might be registered differently between jurisdictions. A public blockchain provides the freedom to check IP databases to verify the rightful owner. All this is established through a structured system with timestamps and other verification methods; society will be able to recognize an individual’s ownership to IPs in a lawful manner.
Today, cities often have different hospitals and clinics with distinct medical record data systems. It’s challenging to attain fast and reliable access to medical data in case a particular patient goes to different hospitals since these systems are not interoperable. This means in reality that you can get treatment at one hospital, but other hospitals or medical centers will not know about this visit. Even if each hospital starts using a different blockchain to assure security, transparency, and immutability, they would still need to communicate externally. Subsequently, this puts increased risk and inefficiencies regarding how the system is currently structured. Wanchain’s interoperability protocol would allow two hospitals (or more) with different blockchains, to communicate with one another.
Medical records — One of the most available and suitable applications for blockchain is patient data management. Due to the structure of the entire medical industry, it’s impossible to build up a complete profile with the patient’s medical history, since care providers and health agencies tend to be separated. This separation results in human error and time-consuming processes, leading to severe structural inefficiencies. All the information will be securely transferred between various parts with blockchain to provide information in a smooth and accessible manner.
Track pharmaceuticals and clinical trials — Hundreds of thousands of people die every year due to counterfeit drugs, e.g., treatment for malaria and pneumonia, children medication, opioids and more. These products do not contain the active ingredient listed on the medication box. The packaging is almost identical to the legitimate pharmaceutical drugs, but they replace the active ingredient with a cheaper, more dangerous alternative. They are usually purchased because their prices are a lot lower than the market price. This situation is mostly taking place in developing countries, but it has also happened in more developed ones like China, who experienced a nationwide vaccine scandal.
The pharmaceutical companies must be working within the guidelines of their respective governments. With interoperability, it will be more convenient to track the state, information, and other essential data throughout the entire medical chain. Interoperability will provide greater availability to check if the medicine has changed or alternated — and also the whole lifecycle of their medication — respectively.
Are companies using Blockchain?
Yes! They are. 2017 was the year of the ICO, the altcoin market boom. Project “value” rose too quickly, and companies were deterred from getting involved with these projects because there was too much noise. 2018 was the #buidl year; the start of #defi on Ethereum and 2019 was the year that companies started to be public about their Blockchain involvement: announcing pilots, releasing PoCs, and announcements regarding collaboration with private and public chains.
Hype Cycle, Source
So how does all of this relate to Wanchain? Well, in many ways. Let’s take one step back and explain the main differences between private and public blockchains. For starters, Wanchain is an open platform, which means that anyone is free to use the platform. There is no limitation to who and how you send and receive value. If someone wants to create a decentralized marketplace using WBTC, WETH, and WAN, they can do so without the support from the Wanchain Foundation. Anyone can issue dApps and tools that can be further improved by the community of developers.
When you look at economics, a public good is a commodity or service that is provided to a particular society without profit. This is done by the government, private individual, or institution. A public chain is offered to the community without profit. Excess value is distributed across a network of miners (e.g., Proof of Work) or validators (e.g., Proof of Stake). You give up electricity, “a stake in the network,” or computing power in return for this token or asset of value.
A private chain, however, is a permissioned network that places restrictions on the participants. There is absolute control over who can write data to the blockchain. Both types of blockchains are necessary. Public chains are distributed (a scattered network of miners or validators secure the network), immutable (transactions cannot be reverted — although in some cases through governance, you can), and transactions can easily be verified by anyone (thanks to block explorers). Private chains can choose their consensus and can easily change the state, economic conditions, and permissions for users. Transactions are faster (fewer nodes needed) and can be adapted depending on compliance requirements (e.g., GDPR compliant). There is a tendency towards believing that private and public chains are competitors when they are compatible.
Lanchains and Wanchains — Bridging the traditional financial world to the new digital economy
Wanchain has two development arms, one for its proof of stake-consensus public chain and one for private chains. Although resources are put mainly towards the development of the Wanchain public chain, we do have a dedicated team of developers that provide PoCs and develop Lanchains for enterprises. As Adam Ludwin, CEO of Chain, puts it: “Over time there will be more of a convergence of what’s happening in the enterprise and what’s happening on the open Internet to create this future of value over IP.” The blockchain space requires standardization when it comes to intra and extra-communication (flow of data & value within and outside of the ecosystem).
To better understand why private and public chains are needed, you can look at the internet. Companies connect to the public domains on the internet but still use private networks for storing files and using it as a medium of communication between employees. Companies that need to share information with partners, governments, regulators, or any other third parties will need to connect to the outside world. Various interoperability standards are being proposed, but the only tested and secure, scalable solution is a combination of atomic swap technology and secure multiparty computation (sMPC). You need wider-community acceptance before distributing such technology to the masses. There needs to trust in the technology before there is a trustless bridge. Wanchain is working on several initiatives outside of its ecosystem to gain brand awareness and, ultimately, a comprehensive understanding of its technologies and services by enterprises in different industries. Weijia Zhang, VP of Engineering, is working closely with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance on interoperability standards, and we are joining forces with several top consortia in the space to help set these standards.
We will continue to work on enterprise and public chain use cases and provide our community with consistent updates on what we’re working on, what it all implies, and how all our technologies and partners work in synergy.
Expect a lot more news as we continue to bridge the traditional financial world to the new digital economy.
Wanchain is a blockchain platform that enables the decentralized transfer of value between blockchains. The Wanchain infrastructure enables the creation of distributed financial applications for individuals and organizations. Wanchain currently enables cross-chain transactions with Ethereum, and today’s product launch will allow the same functionalities with Bitcoin. Going forward, we will continue to bridge blockchains and bring cross-chain finance functionality to companies in the industry. Wanchain has employees globally with offices in Beijing (China), Austin (USA), and London (UK).