Author: Dr. Stefan Teis (Deutsche Börse AG, Group Business & Product Development)
We believe that blockchain technology has the potential to fundamentally impact many aspects of our online lives, from commerce to data storage and many things in between. With this belief in mind, we think that it is important to have robust and efficient open standards for blockchain/distributed ledger technology so that such technology can be brought forward to mainstream commercial adoption.
We believe that the future will involve a world with many interconnected distributed blockchains, each of which will be specialized to suit the purposes of its users, but also may require communication with other blockchains. Thus, any open standard for blockchain technology should be as modular as possible.
With the expected future widespread use of blockchain technology, the parallel existence of a variety of blockchains needs to be taken into account. It is likely that many use cases will span across several blockchains. Thus interoperability between different blockchains becomes key in realizing real-world use cases.
While a technical standardization of the general inter-chain communication might be desirable in the long run, we believe that interfaces to Web Technologies and modularity as well as reusability of blockchain code bases will be more relevant for a wide proliferation of blockchain technology in the near future.
To our opinion Web Technologies are the most important means of connecting a wide variety of users to blockchain technology and thus contribute to a wide adoption of this new technology.
In the ideal world users/developers would be able to build end user applications based on Web technologies connecting directly to the different blockchains, or the respective validating or non-validating nodes. Thus avoid having to duplicate the set-up of parts of the blockchain infrastructure locally at the user’s site. Examples of the facilitated user interactions are
As user interactions with a blockchain do not only involve a pure data exchange but also the handling of the respective cryptographic methods for ensuring the respective transaction, smart contract and user confidentiality embedding these blockchain native methods in a Web Tech stack would greatly facilitate the development of end-user applications.
In the current environment quite a few fairly monolithic blockchains designed specifically with their underlying use-case in mind have emerged. The Hyperledger project plans to ambitiously move towards a modular architecture resulting in „pluggable“ components for setting up blockchain networks. These are thought to support the buildup of networks for bespoke use cases where the individual components like consensus algorithms, identity services, transaction confidentiality etc. can be adjusted according to the specific requirements. As Hyperledger project we would like to see parts of our code to be reused by other projects, thus contributing to a standardization of the blockchain technology over time.
As we believe in a standardization/modularization of the blockchain technology over time we think that it might be too early to strive for a technical standard for a general purpose inter-chain communication protocol or even data format. Instead we would like encourage the different ongoing projects to converge towards common architectures and/or even common tech stacks or set of reusable modules.
However, it might be the right time to encourage the community to start discussing a general framework of inter-chain communication. This framework, if embedded in different emerging blockchain technology stacks, could serve as the starting point for the development of standard APIs enabling the inter-chain communication and thus start the discussion around the technical realization of such a protocol.