Blockchain-to-blockchain: New B2B?
Recent high-profile ICOs have targeted consumer use cases, but the biggest challenges and greatest rewards are for making Blockchains easier to use for businesses.
With the recent increase in ICOs all over the world, there has been a lot of talk of how Blockchain technology is entering the next generation of its development. Beyond simply functioning as a currency or store of value, investor attention has been taken up increasingly by more indirect applications of Blockchain/crypto technology, meta applications as it were (those that address problems in the crypto ecosystem instead of problems in the outside world).
This makes sense for investors since many of the most successful investments in companies in the tech world do not actually address consumer needs, but instead the needs of other companies (known as business-to-business, or B2B). Companies like Google and Microsoft have made much of their money this way.
And there is a good reason why there are so many ICOs for projects addressing the needs of other crypto projects: complexity. Given the nascent nature of the whole cryptosphere and how new the technology is, it comes as no surprise that projects helping to sort through complexity and make the crypto ecosystem more navigable have received a lot of attention.
One such issue is the proliferation of new altcoins and Blockchains that address different purposes. Many different cryptocurrencies have received substantial investment, and many use cases for different coins are interlinked.
This presents many interoperability and compatibility issues. And since the overall cryptocurrency market is around $150 bln, a company that increases this interoperability and compatibility in the fractured cryptosphere will find plenty of users.
One such project, the Aion Blockchain from Nuco (a company which was started by the former creators of Deloitte’s Blockchain arm, Rubix), looks to do exactly that. From banks and their private Blockchains to the many altcoins, the company wants to make inter-Blockchain transactions easier.
Blockchain: bringing the pieces together
At its heart, the Aion team wants to bring Blockchains together to leverage the network effects present in an already networked industry but specifically targeted at enterprise applications. As things stand, inter-Blockchain transactions are either very difficult or require the use of intermediaries (similar to exchanges). Other projects such as Ripple have seen some success with interledger transactions.
But there are still big challenges in this space. Most relevant are the issues of scalability, interoperability and privacy. Each poses significant problems that projects like Aion wish to address.
Regarding scalability, this has been one of the main issues that has been holding back the progress of crypto and Blockchain adoption. Given how secure and intensive Blockchain transactions can be, the problem of scalability has been in the news a lot over the past few months. Developments like the Raiden Network for Ethereum, the Bitcoin Lightning network and the Bitcoin fork were all prompted by concerns about how much data Blockchains can handle while still being functional. In a world where every major company has its own Blockchain holding a lot of data, having an ecosystem that can handle all these transactions is a must.
This also applies to interoperability. With masses of data flowing from Blockchain to Blockchain, this raises the possibility of compatibility and protocol clashes. If your application cannot easily communicate with a given Blockchain, then that could be a killer for your business.
Privacy is also a problem. One of the fundamental aspects of crypto is that it allows for transparency, but for enterprise companies, this is less desirable since sensitive data should not be publicly visible.
These obstacles to adoption are of particular concern for corporations who handle complex and time-dependent business transactions.
Making Blockchains business-ready
As the CEO of Nuco (the group responsible for the Aion project) said:
“The hundreds of Blockchains existing today will soon become thousands, then millions. Future adoption of this technology relies on a network of Blockchains, both enterprise and public, and we’re on our way to achieving this mission.”
They are creating a Blockchain to link other Blockchains and provide a high-level of security and privacy while doing it. Nuco is also a founding member of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance.
The heart of the Aion solution is a public third-generation Blockchain called Aion-1. It uses an Aion token that will provide incentive for a more efficient ecosystem and settling of transactions.
Once a Blockchain participates with the Aion-1 Blockchain, which allows any organization using Aion to “federate” or communicate with that Blockchain. Participating organizations will also be able to use Aion to scale up their Blockchain capacity. And finally, Aion allows participating companies to “spoke” or create new and independent Blockchains that still allow retention of governance.
Overall, it will be interesting to see if the Aion project can being mainstream-level operability to Blockchains in the way that email clients made communicating via the Internet so easy.
As mentioned, Nuco is the organization that has its roots in Deloitte’s Blockchain division. The team is based in Canada and boasts a solid resume in Blockchain research, having been operating for the past few years. Deloitte, as one of the Big Four financial services consultancies, has extensive experience working with and developing enterprise technology solutions, so the corporate IT caliber of the founders of Nuco should reassure investors of their ability to tackle the problem.
The 20 person team involved in the development and release of the Aion network have a lot of experience with this kind of enterprise tech, which might set them apart compared to other similar projects. There is a significant advantage to being able to Talk the talk of enterprise IT, since winning over new users will be significantly different than in the B2C (business-to-consumer) space.
Time will tell if their solution is the one to bring Blockchain protocols into mainstream corporate use. The first sign of their progress will be from the Aion token pre-sale which starts on Oct. 3. These tokens will allow developers to begin making applications on the Aion network.
Glue that keeps cryptosphere together
They may be less high-profile for everyday users, but B2B solutions are often where the real money in tech is made, and they are also a crucial component allowing further adoption of new solutions.
Looking at the many ICOs and unique solutions that are booming at the moment, it is easy to see how lucrative the market is for helping join up all those networks. If Nuco can crack this for enterprise clients with the Aion network, they could become the Google of the Blockchain world.
- Eoghan Gannon, Guest Author
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