Ernst & Young (EY), one of the "big four" global auditors, is launching a free software designed to help corporate customers use the Ethereum blockchain and take an unusual step to encourage adoption.
In an announcement issued on Tuesday, Ernst & Young announced an internal code-named "Nightfall" agreement, which was developed by the consulting firm's team of more than 200 blockchain developers over the past year. It will be released in May. The agreement was created for use cases such as supply chain, food tracking, transactions between company branches and public finances.
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Like other enterprise blockchain platforms, Nightfall leverages a technology called Zero Knowledge Proof that allows private transactions on shared books. But unlike most of these efforts, EY's software is designed to run on the public Ethereum network rather than a proprietary variant.
In addition, Ernst & Young's unusual approach to intellectual property has made the project stand out from the crowd. The company says it will not only open source code, but will also place the code in the public domain of copyright, without any license at all.
Paul Brody, global innovation leader in the Ernst & Young blockchain, said:
“We want to make the most of it and the community, we want people to accept it, adopt it, and improve it. If we retain ownership, people may not invest so much time and energy on things beyond their control. The cleanest way for everyone to use it is to give it away without any conditions."
However, Brody said that this is a difficult decision, he told reporters:
"One year of coding work. This is something worth $1 million, we have to send it out."
a very subtle difference
To take a step back, "open source" and "copyright public" are not synonymous.
These two words are often used interchangeably. However, in law, they mean different things,” said Preston Byrne, a partner at Byrne & Storm.
Open source allows software to be used without paying royalties, which means that authors retain copyright and can theoretically revoke or change licenses, although "taking into account the ability to check code and handle it is a key selling point for the protocol, I have never encrypted I have seen this happen once in the currency field." Bourne said.
On the other hand, copyright public ownership involves the waiver of copyright. Byrne said that this is relatively rare in software because "it doesn't provide a clear licensing framework for future contributions to the code base." If copyright-protected code is added to a codebase that waives copyright, there may be controversy. .
But he said that if a company "just wants to give up its job and doesn't want to do more, then there is not much risk in publishing information to the copyright public domain."
SAP, Microsoft, Carrefour
According to Brody, Ernst & Young's Nightfall solution will run in the Microsoft Azure cloud environment and integrate with SAP's enterprise software to "provide customers comfort, which is not new and not terrible." This is a mature technology supported by the world's leading technology companies. ”
Ernst & Young said that one of the solutions already under test is a system that tracks Microsoft XBox video game platform software license transactions. Using this solution, Microsoft can monitor its interactions with multiple game providers and avoid litigation related to royalty payments.
Other key partners include European food chain Carrefour, which is using Ernst & Young's blockchain solutions to track oranges, eggs and chicken (it is also a participant in the IBM Food Trust blockchain); drug manufacturer Merck Italian winery Placido Volpone; Brody said that there is also a "Italian buffalo mozzarella cheese maker" and "a large Japanese car manufacturer."
In explaining the attractiveness of the blockchain in this area, he said: “The people in the supply chain industry are very confused.” “The benefit of no double payment on the blockchain is that if the vaccine enters the farm from the distribution center, it must Come out of the distribution center."
One of the most important principles advocated by EY in Nightfall is that an enterprise blockchain should not handle the hashing of digitized PDF documents, but should handle tokens tied to physical goods.
To achieve this goal, EY used the ERC-721 non-replaceable token (NFT) standard on Ethereum, the most famous example of which is the collection called CryptoKitties. (EY's consultants include William Entriken, the lead author of the standard, and Mary Maller, a cryptographer who is one of the leading researchers in zero-knowledge proof.)
“We made a big investment in token technology. We built a special token that is compatible with ERC 721, separating physical assets from the legal ownership of the asset. For example, when a car is driving The shipping company does not own the car when it goes to the buyer's ship.
He said that along this road, it is possible to distinguish and replace the different components of traded goods. “We can imagine a future: a power company has a battery in your car that you can plug it in at any time.”
Towards a broad openness
For more than a year, Brody has been promoting the benefits of the public blockchain to businesses, which has made EY stand out from the corporate group that prefers to use private or licensed books.
“Imagine that every car manufacturer and freight company is running its own private blockchain. The size of a pile of shafts is not very good. Although private blockchains are useful, they cannot solve large-scale, scalable transformations. problem."
Brody believes that as companies become more accustomed to using public cloud storage, they will also begin to embrace the public blockchain. In EY's view, the blockchain they chose is very likely to be Ethereum.
The reason is that the vast majority of funds raised in this area are raised for companies based on Ethereum, and most blockchain developers' code is based on the smart contract language Solidity written for Ethereum.
"This development momentum makes me believe that whether it is perfect or not, unless they really mess up, Ethereum is indeed an option."