Founded in September 2015, Chainvine Ltd seeks to develop a blockchain-enabling platform which is agnostic to the various distributed ledger technologies (‘DLT’) currently available, and is able to use any DLT which suits the user case most appropriately.
Distributed ledger technology is essentially an asset database that can be shared across a network of multiple sites, geographies or institutions. All participants within a network can have their own identical copy of the ledger, and any changes to the ledger are reflected in all copies within minutes, or in some cases, seconds of the change taking place. The security and accuracy of the assets stored in the ledger are maintained cryptographically through the use of ‘keys’ and signatures to control who can do what within the shared ledger. Entries can also be updated by one, some or all of the participants, according to rules agreed by the network.
Distributed ledgers are categorised as permissioned or permission-less, depending on whether network participants (‘nodes’) need permission from any entity to make changes to the ledger. Distributed ledgers can also be categorised as public or private depending on whether the ledgers can be accessed by anyone or only by the participating nodes in the network.
Examples of DLT protocols include:
- Hyperledger: founded in 2015 by Linux Foundation;
- Ethereum: founded by Ethereum Foundation;
- Tendermint: a consensus network founded in 2015;
- Ripple Consensus Network: a transaction protocol used as a real-time settlements, currency exchange, and remittance network; and
- Corda: an open-source blockchain
A ‘blockchain’ is a particular type of data structure used in some distributed ledgers which stores and transmits data in packages called “blocks” that are connected to each other in a digital ‘chain’. Blockchains employ cryptographic and algorithmic methods to record and synchronize data across a network in an immutable manner. This allows block chains to be used like a ledger, which can be shared and corroborated by anyone with the appropriate permissions.
Block chain technology is more than just a database, as it can also set rules about a transaction (‘business logic’) that are tied to the transaction itself. This contrasts with conventional databases, in which rules are often set at the entire database level, or in the application, but not in the transaction.
Distributed ledger technologies have the potential to help governments to ensure the integrity of government records and services. In the NHS, the technology offers the potential to improve health care by improving and authenticating the delivery of services and by sharing records securely according to exact rules. Existing methods of data management, especially of personal data, typically involve large legacy IT systems located within a single institution. To these are added an array of networking and messaging systems to communicate with the outside world, which adds cost and complexity. In this context, highly centralised IT systems present a high risk single point of failure, which may be vulnerable to cyberattack: the data is often out of sync, out of date or simply inaccurate. In contrast, distributed ledgers are inherently harder to hack because, instead of a single database, there are multiple shared copies of the same database, so a cyber-attack would have to attack all the copies simultaneously to be successful. The technology is also resistant to unauthorised change or malicious tampering, in that the participants in the network will immediately spot a change to one part of the ledger. Added to this, the methods by which information is secured and updated mean that participants can share data and be confident that all copies of the ledger at any one time match each other.
Distributed ledgers can provide new ways of assuring ownership and provenance for goods and intellectual property. For example, Everledger provides a distributed ledger that assures the identity of diamonds, from being mined and cut to being sold and insured. In a market with a relatively high level of paper forgery (in terms of provenance authentication), it makes attribution more efficient and has the potential to reduce fraud and prevent ‘blood diamonds’ from entering the market.
Large corporations such as Amazon (AWS), Microsoft (Azure), and IBM (BlueMix) offer blockchain services in the cloud and have started providing Blockchain as a Solution (‘BaaS’) to their customers. Users benefit from not having to face the problem of configuring and setting up a working blockchain, and hardware investments are not required either. For example, Microsoft has partnered with ConsenSys to offer Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (‘EBaaS’) on its Microsoft Azure platform. IBM (BlueMix) has partnered with Hyperledger to offer BaaS to its customers. Amazon has also announced its intention to offer a BaaS in collaboration with the Digital Currency Group, by which developers will have a single-click cloud-based blockchain developer environment that allows for rapid development of smart contracts.
The Company is seeking funding under the Enterprise Investment Scheme to offer a unique platform configuration as a Blockchain as a Service (‘BaaS’), by establishing an environment in which both the Company and its clients can construct DLT-based solutions for use by the client across a number of industries, those clients requiring the Company’s assistance in configuring and setting up a working blockchain to solve inefficiencies and constraints within their business model.