Blockchain Workshop Position Statement

Author: David Vorick (Nebulous)

Hello, I would like to participate in the 'Blockchains on the Web' workshop in late June. My name is David Vorick, and I've been following Bitcoin since 2011, active in the space since 2013. I created my own blockchain and altcoin called 'Sia', in 2014 and have been running that blockchain with a team since June 2015. I consider myself to be an expert in the field of blockchain security and design.

I would like to lead a discussion on blockchain scalability, specifically the limitations of operating directly on a blockchain, and potential scalability enhancements such as the Lightning Network, and how this might affect web standards.

The Bitcoin blockchain can only support about 3.5 transactions per second. A significant number of technical issues prevent this number from being increased, and alternative blockchain structures lack security or rely on centralization to overcome the scaling barrier. There are methods for moving transactions off-chain, the most popular being payment channels and payment channel networks such as the Lightning Network. Other methods such as sidechains also offer methods for introducing scalability, but each has security implications.

3.5 transactions per second does not provide enough scale to justify a web standard for payments, even when coupled with the best known scalability solutions. Alternative applications like decentralized DNS, decentralized CA, and other potential smart-contract based applications may yet prove to be critical to the evolving Internet, though Bitcoin's payment application is really the only one which has a significant amount of maturity.

The use of a federated system, like DNS, may enable a scale which could bring the blockchain to the whole world, however the security model in a federated system is significantly different and requires all participants to trust the federation. Control over the world's payment system could also be much more significant than control over domain name mappings.

I would also like to see topics on the openness of blockchains, regulations around blockchains, and what a global blockchain looks like in the context of emerging environments such as Africa and India, especially given that blockchains offer the most potential to previously unbanked areas which are unable to comply with developed world banking regulations.