Accelerated landing of alliance chain, "arms race" and challenges coexist

21st Century Business Herald Ni Yuqing from Guangzhou

Source: 21 Finance

Since the advent of Bitcoin in 2009, the application of blockchain technology has gone through 10 years. Of course, the role of the blockchain is not only reflected in the token (Token) side. As the core technology of digitalization, the journey of the blockchain is to serve various industries.

In recent years, while blockchain technology has evolved, domestic policy dividends have emerged frequently. As early as 2016, the State Council's "13th Five-Year Plan" National Informationization Plan released by the State Council included blockchain. Support at the local government level.

China has once again set off a wave of exploration of blockchain. Blockchain, as explained in terms, is a decentralized distributed ledger and distributed storage database, which has the characteristics of decentralization, tamper resistance, and traceability. According to access and management rights, blockchain can be divided into three categories, one is public chain, the second is private chain, and the third is alliance chain.

Among them, the alliance chain is the type with the most domestic enterprises.

In contrast, the public chain mainly refers to the "blockchain of consensus process" that anyone in the world can read and send information (or transactions) and that information (or transactions) can be effectively confirmed, and can also participate in it. The core application of the public chain is digital currencies including Bitcoin.

However, the public chain cannot meet the business needs of many enterprises, and the affiliate chain to Token (token) came into being. The so-called alliance chain refers to a blockchain that is jointly managed by multiple organizations. Each organization or organization manages one or more nodes, and its data only allows different organizations in the system to read, write and send.

This means that on the alliance chain, partners can solve the problem more efficiently, but at the same time, the blockchain is still in the initial stage of application, and the alliance chain also encounters many challenges, including profit models, credibility, and privacy issues. and many more.

Arms race

At the 2019 CCF Blockchain Technology Conference, Chen Chun, a professor at Zhejiang University and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, pointed out that in terms of the industrialization of the alliance chain, blockchain technology can expand from a single digital currency application to various areas of society and economy, including Finance, legal, medical, energy, entertainment, public welfare and other undertakings.

From the perspective of the industry, these B-side enterprise applications will become the main battlefield of the blockchain in the future, so the alliance chain will also be the mainstay of the blockchain.

A blockchain developer told a 21st Century Business Herald reporter:

"There is no public token in the alliance chain, there is no publicly raised funds, and it is easy to cooperate with supervision. Although the public chain and the alliance chain have different needs and scenarios, large companies tend to be alliance chains."

There are many participants on the desktop. Well-known foreign alliance chains include IBM's Hyperledger Fabric, Microsoft's Coco, Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), and Corda of R3; domestically, BAT, Huawei, Weizhong and other companies have chosen Alliance chain power.

In March 2019, the Cyberspace Office released the first batch of domestic blockchain information service filing numbers. A total of 197 blockchain information services from 18 provinces and cities nationwide were listed. According to statistics, in the first batch of 197 projects, the number of alliance chains was as high as 116, accounting for 59%, and nearly 60%.

From the perspective of the route, the mainstream approach is for enterprises to launch BaaS services (Blockchain as a Service).

Li Jieli, Senior Director of Ant Blockchain, introduced to 21st Century Business Herald reporter:

"At present, the ant blockchain alliance chain is not only in the exploration stage, but has successfully landed about 40 application scenarios, including finance, government affairs, warehouse receipts, real estate and other industries. Trust is used to improve the efficiency of the industry and make these areas complex and collaborative It takes an average of one week from one week to only one minute, an average increase of 10,000 times. At the same time, for SMEs and developers, Ant Financial also launched an open alliance chain product to provide more small, medium and micro enterprises with low cost Use of blockchain technology with low technical difficulty, low threshold. "

There are also a few companies that choose the open source path.

Taking Weizhong as an example, Weizhong established the FISCO BCOS open source platform in 2017 with the Golden Chain Alliance open source working group. "Why Weizhong should be a blockchain? Why should we be open source?" This has become a frequently asked question of Fan Ruibin, the deputy general manager of Weizhong Bank's distributed business technology development department and the leader of Weizhong's blockchain.

Weizhong took the lead in the blockchain layout 4 years ago, laying the foundation for distributed commerce. From the beginning, Weizhong chose the alliance chain. "When the development path was initially decided, out of awe of finance, we considered the alliance chain to be a sustainable development route that takes into account financial innovation and financial stability." Fan Ruibin told the 21st Century Economy Reporting reporter:

"When we wanted to do open source in 2017, the relevant talents in the team were still insufficient. We started from scratch to build a domestic alliance chain open source bottom platform together with partners. , The route taken is quite correct. "

Fan Ruibin further analyzed:

"Even though the majority of alliance chains are not open source to this day. But this logic does not make sense, because blockchain is called a machine that creates trust. If the machine itself is a black box, it is not appropriate, so we will I want to open this black box in an open source way, which greatly reduces the technical and psychological barriers for users. "

Open source is not only as simple as open code, but also requires the support and use of a large number of partners. Therefore, Weizhong has adopted the method of aggregating the upstream and downstream industry chains, and joined together with many partners to build an open source ecosystem. The more vitality.

Hyperledger Fabric is also an open underlying technology. It is understood that its blockchain alliance has more than 250 participating companies. Many technology companies use Fabric's technology to provide blockchain services for businesses. At the same time, the blockchain developer told reporters that there are also many startups in China that make modifications based on Fabric's code and algorithms. They are not self-developed and their competitiveness is not strong.

Disputes and challenges

At the same time, the alliance chain also faces challenges, such as how to let partners in the alliance chain share dividends, future killer needs and scenario exploration, whether it is truly decentralized, privacy issues, and so on.

A blockchain practitioner told 21st Century Business Herald:

"The alliance chain is a trade-off between efficiency and decentralization. Decentralization and efficiency are scales. The public chain is the most decentralized, and the efficiency is actually not high. The fastest public chain, TPS (system swallowing) Measure, the number of system processes per second) is about 1,000, but Visa's TPS can be 10,000, and the efficiency is definitely the highest in a centralized organization. "

Therefore, the alliance chain is based on weakening part of the decentralization and greatly improving business efficiency. Therefore, there are also opinions that the alliance chain weakens the decentralization of the blockchain compared to the public chain.

Focusing on the alliance chain and public chain system, Ma Zhitao, vice president and chief information officer of Weizhong Bank, said that the alliance chain is not only able to serve members of the alliance. It can provide services to the public through the Internet. The evolution and sublimation of the alliance chain should be able to evolve into an ecosystem that provides services to the public. We call it the "public alliance chain". It is not a single chain, but a new block-based The ecosystem created by chain business applications. "

In addition, a major challenge of the alliance chain lies in application scenarios and business models.

In fact, at present, no matter Hyperledger Fabric, FISCO BCOS, or ant blockchain, there are many application scenarios, mainly for B-side industry applications, including finance, logistics, supply chain, and so on. Especially for the players of the open source route, the application of its underlying technology is even more.

For example, Fan Ruibin said that in the financial field, Weizhong has built a supply chain financial service platform based on the blockchain. Supply chain finance has already existed. In Fan Ruibin's view, the most important value of the blockchain is that it can change the application of core enterprises. Good separation of circulation and transfer to small and micro enterprises at the end of the supply chain, so that small and micro enterprises can better obtain financial services from financial institutions.

In addition, many stakeholder decision-making issues can also use the blockchain. Under the guidance of Shenzhen's local financial supervision department, Weizhong, in conjunction with the Shenzhen Mutual Fund Association, launched a benign withdrawal voting platform for online loan institutions. In the field of smart government affairs, Weizhong cooperated with the Macau government to use blockchain technology to help build a smart city in Macau. Fan Ruibin introduced: "Smart City has independently developed and completed the open source entity identification and trusted data exchange solution WeIdentity and other blockchain technologies through Weizhong Bank to achieve secure and efficient cross-agency identity authentication and data cooperation to enhance the residents of Macau. Service experience. This project was completed in July and is currently undergoing internal testing. It will be gradually opened to the public by the end of the year. "

For the Weizhong blockchain, the issue of profitability is currently not considered. However, how to make developers and partners make money is the test they are facing. Of course, the open source ecosystem can help enterprises master blockchain technology for free, do systems at low cost, and help enterprises to connect with resources in the circle. But for the alliance chain enterprises, how to find more B-side requirements and find explosive scenarios is still the problem.

Right now, the alliance chain is still in the stage of trying and verifying technology. A number of blockchain practitioners told reporters that a series of problems such as restrictions on needs and scenarios, unresolved business models, etc., have also led small companies to not have enough motivation to settle their hearts for R & D. And large companies, especially Internet companies, have deep software capabilities, stronger development capabilities and business endorsement capabilities.

In addition, the alliance chain also faces technical challenges, including the relative scarcity of storage space, privacy and security issues, and so on. However, blockchain technology has entered the application phase and is accelerating to land. Combining 5G and AI in the future will become the infrastructure for digital upgrades.

Li Jieli said:

"From the current development trend of domestic blockchains, the alliance chain is combining some of the characteristics of the public chain. The alliance chain is slowly moving towards a more open and more public direction when technology and compliance conditions permit. It is expected that This year may become a year of concentrated outbreak of the alliance chain. "