During day 1 of Consensus 2018, one theme kept emerging: whether centralized networks are worth pursuing.

Opinions on permissioned blockchains used by single entities vary widely across the blockchain community. While some consider them useful tools for companies, others argue that a centralized blockchain is not a real blockchain and provides no greater security than current data storage and transfer systems.

At the first day of Consensus 2018, a common topic discussed was how companies should share their blockchains with other players in their fields to ensure that that the chain remains trustworthy. 

ETHNews sat down with a representative from Greenstream, who shared details about a permissioned blockchain his team is building for the marijuana industry. The blockchain-based supply chain would be accessible by retailers, suppliers, regulators, and other parties necessary to maintaining a trusted and decentralized network. When I asked about companies building their own internal blockchains, he immediately struck it down, stating that a centralized network offers little added security to a company’s operations. 

Later, in a discussion about blockchain in the automotive industry, panelists were asked if they believed blockchain tech motivates cooperation across the industry and tears down competition. The panelists agreed that companies can still protect their valuable data with a shared permissioned blockchain and that competition would not be harmed by it.

“A supply chain should be decentralized. If my nodes are validating my information, then it can’t be trusted. If GM is validating Ford’s and vice versa, then you can trust it,” said Sebastien Henot, manager of business innovation at the Renault Innovation Lab in Silicon Valley.

In the keynote session yesterday, Jimmy Song, a partner at Blockchain Capital, expressed skepticism of enterprise blockchains: “How can you decentralize something when you’re a centralized entity developing it?”

Amber Baldet, former head of J.P. Morgan’s blockchain arm, was on hand to announce a partnership with Patrick Mylund Nielsen, former lead developer of J.P. Morgan’s Quorum. The two have formed a new blockchain startup called Clovyr which will be akin to an online Dapp store. She brought up the issue that institutions provide assets for collateral in order to secure loans, often internationally, but will sometimes offer the same asset to multiple lenders – creating instances of double spending. She argued that a decentralized and permissioned blockchain should be shared and monitored by financiers around the globe to safeguard against this type of double spending. While financiers may be competing with one another, in cases like these, collaboration can actually be of greater benefit to them. 

Roni Rose is the founder of Blockchain Bea, a podcast that teaches non-technical people about the basics of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech in a fun and casual way, as well as introduces them to ventures using blockchain to make a positive impact.

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