if 2016 year Fintech What interesting topics are on the cutting edge , You're bound to see blockchain in it , This one was initially seen as “ Entertainment is more than reality ” The settlement system adopted by bitcoin , Now it's in Fintech At the forefront of . The reason for this sudden change , It's based on real technological innovation . With The etheric fang (Ethereum) Redefine blockchain application scenarios ,R3、 The establishment of alliance chains such as the gold chain alliance , Trusted and controllable Cloud Computing 、 The evolution of terminal security storage technology , And a lot of institutions join in the exploration , The pace of blockchain application has been greatly accelerated , It even caught the attention of the central bank . We can see that more and more leading enterprises in financial related fields are trying to embrace this technology , Used to solve industry problems .

meanwhile , We can see that blockchain still lacks standardization and landing practice at present , There are some phenomena of blindly following the trend in the industry , Force the technology to mismatched business scenarios , Make blockchain like “ A hammer still looking for nails ”. without doubt , Blockchain has become FinTech The focus of heated discussion in the industry , But where does it come from , To solve some problems ? And where to go , Is it subverting the industry or being forgotten ? We might as well put aside the complicated concept marketing , Let's explore the answers to these essential questions .

   


Where to come from

Blockchain , At first it was just bitcoin's settlement system , Its essence is a decentralized account book scheme based on cryptography , The technology used by blockchain itself is not a new concept , It's based on a set of cryptographic techniques , Through clever design , So as to realize the decentralized settlement demand , However, it is accompanied by some derivative problems . Blockchain is not “ A hammer still looking for nails ”, It's one “ A hammer specially designed for some kind of nail ”, So we need to understand the intention of blockchain , We need to start from “ The father of bitcoin ” Nakamoto's paper talks about .

Nakamoto's bitcoin

2008 year , Nakamoto ( alias ) For the first time in Metzdowd Bitcoin related proposals have been published in the cryptography mailing list of , It includes his previous paper --《 The currency —P2P The e-money system in the world 》, This paper describes how to use cryptographic primitives and specific data structures , Establish a settlement system of distributed peer nodes in an untrusted environment , Three layer cryptography structure of blockchain 、 The proof of workload and the Byzantine fault tolerance problem are both brought out by this article .

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chart 1: Three layer cryptography structure of blockchain

The problems bitcoin has solved :

  • The content integrity of the record

  • The order between records cannot be tampered with

  • Decentralized synchronization fault tolerance of records

The problems bitcoin has to solve :

  • Performance issues associated with decentralized synchronization

  • Complexity caused by workload proof and hidden danger of computing power monopoly

  • Updating iterations becomes more difficult

  • Limitations of application scenarios

these “ The problem that has been solved ” It is the business value provided by blockchain Technology , And from the latest development of blockchain , A series of original improvements , Mostly around “ Problems to be solved ” And unfold .

Unfortunately, this paper is rarely cited by the media , The reason may be that the concept of cryptography is still difficult for the public to understand , But another very important premise of discussion is also covered up : The original design of blockchain , The aim is to support P2P( Peer node ) Record an untrustworthy decentralized trading environment between , and “ Untrusted peer ” This premise has different elaboration and limitation in the field of traditional finance , Ignore this difference and discuss blockchain , It's one of the reasons for misunderstanding .

   

Misunderstanding of blockchain

At present, many emerging industrial application scenarios , Apply blockchain as a tamper proof recording system , For example, through blockchain to ensure transactions 、 Notes 、 contract 、 Integrity of supply chain and other records . However , In actual use , There are still very big misunderstandings .

In fact, blockchain as a tamper proof solution , Only three layers of cryptography are used , The problem of decentralized fault tolerance is determined by its distributed structure . Once blockchain records are generated , You can have forward integrity , That is, for the data that has been generated and recorded , It can be verified by cryptography to ensure that its content is difficult to be tampered with . This requirement , It doesn't need to be based on a decentralized point-to-point scenario , In such an application scenario , Workload proof and other fault-tolerant schemes become redundant designs , It increases the difficulty of landing .

therefore , We can see that in emerging application scenarios “ Broad blockchain ”, And bitcoin, etc “ Blockchain in a narrow sense ”, In fact, there are huge differences in application scenarios .

alike , Blockchain and “ Digital currency ” It can not be generalized . Blockchain as the infrastructure of bitcoin , Often accompanied by “ Digital currency ” All of them come together , However “ Digital currency ” There are very high requirements for application scenarios , Its distribution and management need the design of experts in the economic field , At the same time, it also faces the sensitive risk of policy supervision , Therefore, the industry urgently needs to “ Digital currency ” Decoupled from blockchain , To broaden the application of blockchain .

   

Evolution's competitive currency and Ethereum

Over time , There are also problems with bitcoin , For example, confidentiality and fairness have been questioned . We see the use of “ Proof of zero knowledge ” Instead of a defective signature system “ZeroCoin”, Trying to attract more continuous maintainers to participate in the sharing agreement “Dash”, At the same time, the community is no longer satisfied with clearing transactions , Many other application scenarios have emerged , For example, instead of the traditional domain name resolution service “Namecoin”、 Used for bill trading “Ripple”, And put forward the concept of chain code “ The etheric fang (Ethereum)”.

Ethereum provides a complete operating environment for Turing , It makes the blockchain evolve from the original data storage structure to a platform that can constrain the contract behavior , From this point of view , Ethereum's blockchain has broken away from the original “ Transaction settlement ” scene , And then , We see a lot of imaginative new applications on Ethereum , The most famous one is DAO.DAO The smart contract platform of Ethereum is adopted , Realized the equity crowdfunding system providing digital credentials . Inspired by Ethereum ,R3 and Hyperledger They have also introduced “ Intelligent contract ” The concept of , And continue to improve its ability to expand , Also created the current blockchain hundred contending situation .

   


Where to go

At present, some industrial applications of blockchain we see mainly include the following areas :

  • Financial settlement

  • Bill transaction

  • Financial assets

  • Cooperation contracts

  • Supply chain audit

  • Metadata management

  • Shared economic

  • The Internet of things

And for different industries , We can see that blockchain provides different help , Some guarantee the integrity of records , Some want to build a more flexible and automatic contract platform , Some are data governance for untrusted environments . Due to the inconsistency of industrial demand , We're also seeing fragmented platforms being developed , Finally, the adaptation between industries has become a widespread problem , The industry gradually began to consider standardized and landing solutions .

Standardization and landing

The standardization scheme of monetary settlement has been in finance for a long time IT There is... In the system , for example SWIFT( Global Interbank Financial Telecommunication Association ), It is the most widely used inter-bank settlement agreement at present , It provides a standardized message format and security solution for inter-bank settlement , Its services have spread all over the world 207 A country , More than 8100 home .

With more and more attention paid to blockchain Technology ,SWIFT Together with Accenture, we launched in April this year Distributed ledger system reports , this 20 Page report shows SWIFT Research on the current distributed ledger and the willingness to promote the standardization of monetary settlement . among , There's one with distributed ledger “ Identity and access management ” The concept of application , It shows SWIFTNet PKI Distributed ledger solutions , And access control mechanism ( Such as closed user groups and RMA), yes SWIFT Using existing platforms and resources , A good example of solving identity and access management problems .

But even if it is SWIFT, We are still faced with the slow progress of standardization , Industrial application is lack of landing practice , from Linux The foundation and IBM、Intel And other scientific and technological organizations Hyperledger The super ledger open source project came into being ,Hyperledger It aims to promote the development of cross industry blockchain technology , It's a global cooperative organization , Covering finance 、 Bank 、 The Internet of things 、 Supply chain 、 Manufacturing and Technology . And correspondingly R3 Alliance blockchain , from R3cev launch , So far, it has attracted the participation of dozens of giant banks . We can see that all walks of life are trying to establish industrial application standards , So as to facilitate the subsequent inter industry interaction and cooperation .

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chart 2:Hyperledger An inter industry cooperation network for infrastructure

   

Difficulties and challenges

In the process of blockchain technology implementation , We are still facing many difficulties and challenges , One of the most urgent is to map business requirements to technical solutions , Based on these requirements, the existing blockchain implementation is reformed and simplified , In order to apply to the actual business environment . Even make appropriate modifications to the existing cryptographic structure of blockchain , To meet the specific needs of different scenarios .

On the other hand , The original problems of blockchain , And the long-standing community-based loose structure , This leads to the lack of rapid prototyping in industrial applications 、 Best practices for agile iteration , How to apply blockchain to business prototype faster , And build a sound continuous delivery process , Especially for the practice of development and operation and maintenance phase , It's a very worthwhile area to invest in .

Deconstruction and reconstruction

Because the cryptography and consensus scheme of blockchain are used to solve problems in different fields respectively , From the initial design of bitcoin to the improvement of subsequent blockchains , We can see that , Different technologies have strong pertinence to the problems solved , It can't be copied . We often see many large organizations curious about blockchain technology , But lack of thinking about its business application scenarios , In particular, the industry's understanding of blockchain technology still needs decoupling .

for example , For the scenario of smart contract , We need to implement a safe and controllable execution sandbox to deploy one-time or multiple contract interpreters (intepreter) service , Based on domain concept design DSL and API It will help the business staff to design the contract terms and implementation methods more flexibly .

Smart contracts are based on their automation utility , It also puts forward new requirements for our business abstraction ability , How to design a more complete blockchain smart contract mechanism to map business scenarios , The original business process needs to be split , And implement it at the level of the statute , This and tradition Fintech The system is different , Standardization and normalization are particularly important in this scenario , Digital platform thinking is also essential .

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chart 3: Common technical architectures for smart contract scenarios

Corresponding , For a supply chain scenario that pays more attention to auditing , We should focus on record integrity and audit Visualization , This requires the blockchain to provide richer queries 、 Verification interface . At the same time, for the supply chain with distributed demand , Such as logistics and transportation , It is very important to design a perfect synchronous consensus algorithm .

In addition, in the application of supply chain , One of the core values of blockchain --“ Distributed record integrity ” Has been fully reflected , However, due to the large number of enterprises and industries participating in the supply chain , Unified member management has become a subject that must be considered .

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chart 4: Member management services in supply chain scenarios

in addition , The problems facing blockchain , Essentially, “ Not trusted ” Under the scene of “ Data governance ” problem , therefore , Enterprises' research investment in blockchain should not be limited to the technical level , We should focus more on “ Data value ”, from “ Safe and trustworthy ” Starting from the needs of , Restructuring the blockchain , To meet the business needs of itself and the industry alliance .

   


expectation

Blockchain not only provides a new model for the field of trusted Finance , It also introduces new thinking for other industrial applications , At the same time, business and technology design is also facing new problems . How to embrace the opportunities of digital platform , Face the challenge , It is the industrial application that has great influence on blockchain and Fintech Questions raised , If we can make breakthroughs in these areas , I believe blockchain will bring us more exciting disruptive innovations in the future :

  • Mapping business requirements of different scenarios to technical solutions , Based on these requirements, the existing blockchain implementation is reformed and simplified .

  • Accumulate rapid prototyping 、 Best practices for agile iteration , Faster application of blockchain to business , And build a sound continuous delivery process .

  • For record integrity and audit Visualization , Design a more intuitive way to show .

  • Improve the member management ability of the blockchain , Forming alliances based on standard protocols , To meet the information exchange between more enterprises and industries .

  • Focus on “ Data value ”, from “ Safe and trustworthy ” set out , Restructuring the blockchain , To meet business needs .