A Blockchain A-Z of useful articles, explanations and analyses of the key issues, aspects and concerns of blockchain technology and distributed/shared ledgers; and their current and future potential in banking & finance, law, government and commerce.
The 3Ps of the Blockchain: Platforms, Programs and Protocols
Breaking-up the bitcoin-blockchain paradigm
In a perfect world, we would have a single blockchain and a single cryptocurrency. But that doesn’t seem to be in the cards, whether it is technically feasible or not. Although wide-scale adoption and a critical mass of users aren’t there yet, the market is signaling for a diversification of choices, some based on the bitcoin currency and its blockchain protocol, and others not.
There are six various permutations that I’m seeing in this emerging landscape:
Bitcoin currency + bitcoin blockchain: Bitcoin. Yes, that’s the only one there, as it’s the reference point.
Bitcoin currency + non-bitcoin blockchain: Blockstream, Truthcoin. Side chains are used, and they are “pegged” the main bitcoin blockchain via various schemes.
Non-bitcoin currency + bitcoin blockchain:Factom, Mastercoin, Counterparty, Namecoin. In this case, the bitcoin blockchain is used, but a native currency fuels the operations of that other platform.
The lines between protocol and platform are sometimes distinct (e.g. Namecoin, as a protocol), and sometimes they are not (e.g. Ethereum, as a platform and protocol). Smart programs are arguably the next category of “apps” to live on the blockchain, aside from the multitude of cryptocurrency wallets and payments services that have dominated so far.
The following segmentation matrix shows what we see today, but there is no guarantee that the landscape will stay the same in the near future. Many players have a vision, but still don’t have users, let alone working beta versions or even testbeds. I don’t remember a time when white papers generated so much interest and excitement, way before products arrived.