One of the biggest challenges with blockchain is that it is not private. But full transparency is not something that organizations can manage; The idea of having their business out there for everyone to see is more than a bit unnerving (how many cases of practical use one can think of).
Does this mean that we will never see the widespread adoption of blockchain in the business? Michael Smolenski believes he has a way to make it happen.
The potential for a private and fast blockchain
Smolenski is an electrical engineer and software. His career took him from Goldman Sachs to Westpac Bank to MotionWerk (blockchain company) and a series of startups. In 2014 he created the Peer-to-Peer Lending startup, and when Bitcoin arrived and then Ethereum launched, he said he could see the potential of the blockchain combined with the work he was doing. His work in blockchain won him or made him a finalist in a number of hackathons. It is sure that Smolenski understands the advantages and challenges of the blockchain.
He said he knew that there was still a long way to go for the technology to become mainstream and spend much of his free time developing solutions. Then, in a Blockchain Hackathon at Consensys 2017 in New York, he presented the bases for Lightstreams.
Lightstreams is a blockchain specialized in the distribution of content (video, audio, personal information, intellectual property and so on). Smart Contracts are used to manage, track down and track down who you gave permission to when you gave it and how. Essentially, Lightstreams focuses on privacy, privacy and scalability.
Smolenski used Facebook as an example. People woke up one day and realized that they did not know that Facebook was giving away their personal information and they did not have control over who and how it was shared. Lightstreams is the technology that Smolenski said that can give you a back check and potentially get paid for your information.
Lightstreams is not a solution; is a specialized blockchain that provides a lower-level protocol, similar to an operating system. Together with his company he builds solutions on top of the protocol, he is openly available to block developers to build their own applications.
An example: Ocean Protocol (the co-founder is an advisor of Lightstreams) is building a blockchain project for a & rs exchange market. As a user / company, you can sell your data to these systems where IA takes data and does the work it needs to do. Lightstreams may provide provisioning of access to this data. A couple of simpler examples are a classic content producer that sells their content directly to the public (classical disintermediation) or a person who wants to share their medical records among all the doctors.
Together with privacy issues, Smolenski said blockchain technology is too slow and not scalable. Performance is another area of focus for his team right now.
I saw the video explain how Lightstreams used blocks to share content, and it was very interesting, not just in the way people can buy content from a content producer, but the way that all those who are granted permission for a content are involved in sharing such content with others, not just with the content producer. This ability to share content among all authorized users is what makes Lightstreams more secure than other blockchains, but also more scalable.
The Lightstreams test network is up and running and companies can start working on it. Smolenski plans to launch it live with TokenSail in September. It will be launched on the Ethereum network, but Smolenski said that next year they will want to start an independent blockchain to provide better performance and a better governance system.
Overcome some of the challenges of the blockchain
From a technical point of view, working with blockchain is difficult because it is a paradigm shift, Smolenski said. It is peer-to-peer, not central, which makes development more difficult. Smolenski wants to make it more user-friendly and "less clumsy" than it is today. It feels part of the reason why we have not seen a widespread adoption is that it is not yet a user-friendly ecosystem.
That said, Smolenski said that every major activity has a blockchain lab somewhere. He was involved in a high profile project in Germany last year – electric car charging stations. He used blockchain technology for peer to peer charging of electric cars. Imagine going to someone's home and using their electricity to recharge your car.
Smolenski thinks that the challenge is the end user who convinces the consumer to use the technology. Working on potential B2B applications is a little easier. Many of his team's developers have worked on the back-end systems of the travel industry and can see the applications of the blockchain to improve that industry, also showing the availability of hotels and rooms.
In a B2B environment, the focus is on the integration of business systems and you have no customers to think about. In a B2C environment, he said that you're competing with systems that already work well (network effect at work here), and it's hard to convince them to move on to something new.
Smolenski was fond of Lightstreams and the value that blockchain brings to the distribution of content. He is also very articulate about how his solution works (his videos are very easy to understand) and made me reflect on the challenges of sharing content today. It's the storage challenge, usually on cloud platforms and the cost that comes with it, not to mention if it's popular content, what can you end up paying for network throughput. So, there is the challenge of getting paid for your content and giving some money to the payment solution provider. Everything you do to get your content out there requires the involvement of someone else who gets a piece of your cake.
Lightstreams can give you full control and keeps most, if not all, of the money in your pocket. It looks promising. It requires your content buyers to use the Lightstreams app, but the number of apps we upload on our smartphones, tablets, and laptops is any indication, it's a small thing.
Lightstreams is not the only blockchain developer to look at privacy, Smolenski said that others look at it from different aspects. And everyone is trying to solve the performance problem. I'm curious to see where this goes, and if there's a market that can adopt this technology in the world of content producers before, rather than later.
Image Credit – Feature Image – Computer Security and Privacy Concept, by @stoatphoto – by Shutterstock.com.