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Private blockchains are more than “just” shared databases

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Why blockchain detractors are missing the point

And so it goes on. From popular posts to contemptuous tweets to predictions about the future, the world and its mother are lining up to throw tomatoes at private blockchains, before even understanding what they are.

Saying that a private blockchain is just a shared database is like saying that HTML and HTTP are “just” distributed hypertext. It’s wrong in two ways. First, the semantic one: private blockchains are a technology that enables shared databases, like pens enable writing and HTML/HTTP enable distributed hypertext. The bitcoin blockchain and its primary application cannot be meaningfully separated, because one could not exist without the other. But this equivalence does not apply to private blockchains at all.

The second mistake is the use of the word “just”. Just? Were HTML and HTTP just a way to do distributed hypertext? Hypertext was invented decades earlier, so are these technologies a minor footnote in computer history? Oh but let me count the ways in which they earned their place: (a) a simple markup language that any layperson could learn, (b) a hierarchical addressing scheme that works both with TCP/IP and our conceptual model of place, (c) a simple protocol for the state-free retrieval of content, and (d) both client and server software that brought the whole thing to life. We might as well say that Newton was just a scientist and Dostoyevsky just a writer.

So let’s make this perfectly clear: Yes, private blockchains are just a way to share a database. But they enable a new type of shared database, with huge implications for the financial world and beyond. And if you’re willing to read on, I’m going to tell you exactly why.

What is a database?

A database is a repository of structured information, organized into tables. You can think of it as a collection of one or more Excel spreadsheets, which can optionally be linked together. Each table contains information about a set of entities of a particular type, with one entity per row. Each table also has one or more columns, which describe different aspects of those entities. For example, the table for WidgetCo’s internal staff directory might have columns for employee ID, first name, last name, department, internal phone number and room number.

One of the important ways in which databases go beyond spreadsheets is that they contain rules about the data stored within. These rules help ensure that the information remains sane and consistent for the benefit of the entire organization. In today’s most popular databases, the rules take a number of common forms:

  • The database schema defines what kind of information is permitted in each column. For example, the phone number must contain 4 digits and cannot be left blank (“null”).
  • Unique keys which state that a particular column (e.g. employee ID) must have a different value in every row.
  • Check constraints which enforce relationships between the column values in each row. For example, if the department is “Procurement” then the room number must start with a 3 or 4.
  • Foreign keys which enforce relationships between tables. For example, if the database contains another table used for payroll, there might be a rule that every employee ID in the payroll table must also exist in the staff directory.

A transaction is a collection of changes to a database that is accepted or rejected as a whole. Every time a transaction modifies the database, the software ensures that the database’s rules are followed. If any part of a transaction violates one of these rules, the entire transaction will be rejected with a corresponding error.

There are other more esoteric rule types I could list, but they all have one thing in common. They answer the question: Is the database in a valid state? In other words, they act as a constraint on the database’s contents when viewed at a single point in time. And this works just fine for a database which sits inside a single organization, because the main job of the constraints is to prevent programmer error. If one of WidgetCo’s internal applications tried to insert a 3-digit phone number into the directory, this wouldn’t be due to malice, but rather a bug in the developer’s thinking or code. The ability of a database to catch these mistakes is undoubtedly handy, and helps prevent bad information propagating within an organization, but it doesn’t fix problems of trust. (Constraints can also help simplify application logic, for example via foreign key cascading or on-duplicate clauses, but these are still just ways to help developers.)

Database sharing

Now let’s think about how WidgetCo’s internal staff directory might be shared with the outside world. In many cases, there is no problem providing shared read access. The directory can be exported to a text file and emailed to customers and suppliers. It can be posted on the Internet, just like this one. It can even be given an API to allow searching by external code. Shared read is a technical doddle, a question of deciding who can see what.

But things start getting stickier when we think about shared write. What if WidgetCo wants an external entity to modify its database? Perhaps the phones are being replaced by PhoneCo, who will then update the phone numbers in the staff directory. In this case, WidgetCo would create a new “account” for PhoneCo to use. Unlike accounts for WidgetCo’s internal use, PhoneCo’s account is only permitted to change the phone number column, and never add or delete rows. All of PhoneCo’s transactions are processed by WidgetCo’s database system, which now applies two types of restriction:

  • Global rules which apply to all database users. For example, the phone company can’t change a number to contain only 3 digits, and neither can anybody else.
  • Per-account rules restricting what PhoneCo is permitted to do, in this case only modifying the phone number column of existing rows.

So far, so good. We have a shared write database. It works because WidgetCo is in charge of the database and the phone company gains access by virtue of WidgetCo’s good grace. If PhoneCo started setting phone numbers randomly, WidgetCo can shut down their access, terminate their contract, and restore some old data from a backup. And if WidgetCo started misbehaving, say by reversing the new phone numbers entered by PhoneCo, well that would be entirely pointless, since it would only harm WidgetCo themselves. The phone company would consider WidgetCo to be a peculiar customer but not particularly care, so long as they paid their bill on time.

But now let’s see what happens if two or more parties want to share a database which (a) none of the parties controls, (b) can be written to by any party, and (c) can be relied upon by everyone. To make things worse, let’s say that these parties have different incentives, don’t trust each other and may even be fierce competitors. In this case, the solution has always been the same: introduce a trusted intermediary. This intermediary manages a database centrally, provides accounts to all of the parties, and ensures that all operations are permitted according to a known set of rules. In many cases, especially financial, every party still maintains its own copy of the data, so everyone spends a lot of time checking that their databases agree.

It all gets rather messy and cumbersome. But if we’re talking about a shared write database in an environment of limited trust, there is currently no alternative. That’s one of the main reasons why financial transactions go through central clearing houses, why you use Google Calendar even in a small workgroup, and why the crowd-sourced wonder that is Wikipedia spends millions of dollars on hosting. Even as the user interface of the web moves to the client side, centralized servers continue to store the data on which those interfaces rely.

Real shared write

So let’s say that we wanted to allow a database to be shared, in a write sense, without a central authority. For example, several competing companies want to maintain a joint staff directory for the benefit of their mutual customers. What might that actually look like? Well, it would need a number of things:

  • A robust peer-to-peer network that allows transactions to be created by any party and propagated quickly to all connected nodes.
  • A way to identify conflicts between transactions and resolve them automatically.
  • A synchronization technology that ensures all peers converge on an identical copy of the database.
  • A method for tagging different pieces of information as belonging to different participants, and enforcing this form of data ownership without a central authority.
  • A paradigm for expressing restrictions on which operations are permitted, e.g. to prevent one company from inflating the directory with fictitious entries.

Whew. That’s a tough list right there, and it’s simply not supported by today’s off-the-shelf databases. Current peer-to-peer replication technology is clumsy and has a complex approach to conflict resolution. Those databases that do support row-based security still require a central authority to enforce it. And standard database-level restrictions like unique keys and check constraints cannot protect a database against malicious modifications. The bottom line is this:

We need a whole bunch of new stuff for shared write databases to work, and it just so happens that blockchains provide them.

I won’t go into too much detail about how blockchains do these things, because I’ve covered much of it before. Some key elements include regular peer-to-peer techniques, grouping transactions into blocks, one-way cryptographic hash functions, a multi-party consensus algorithm, distributed multiversion concurrency control and per-row permissions based on public key cryptography. A long list of old ideas combined in a new way. HTML/HTTP, if you like.

In addition to all of these, shared write databases require an entirely new type of rule, to restrict the transformations that a transaction can perform. This is an absolutely key innovation, and makes all the difference if we’re sharing a database between non-trusting entities. These types of rules can be expressed as bitcoin-style transaction constraints or Ethereum-style enforced stored procedures (“smart contracts”), each of which has advantages and disadvantages. Perhaps there are other better ways waiting to be discovered. But they all share the property of tying together the database’s state before and after a transaction takes place. In other words, they answer the question: Was that a valid transaction? This is fundamentally different from asking whether the database is valid at a single point in time.

If you’re wondering if this type of database has useful real-world applications, well that’s a fair question. But you might note the intense interest in private blockchains from one sector at least, because of their potential for simplifying processes and reducing costs and delays. Financial institutions are heavy users of today’s database platforms, and those platforms do not enable a shared write scenario. This is what banks are looking for.

This problem and its solution have absolutely nothing to do with bitcoin and the idea of censorship-free money. In fact, the only connection to bitcoin is the technical similarity between the bitcoin blockchain and how some of these private blockchains are implemented today. One key difference is that private blockchains don’t need proof of work mining, since blocks are created by a closed set of identified participants. Over time the two worlds may well diverge further, because their requirements are completely different. Whether you like financial regulation or not, the simple fact is that private blockchains are potentially useful in a regulated world, whereas for now at least, public blockchains are not.

If I may finish with an analogy, the UN Declaration on the Principles of International Law does not tell countries that they can hold any territory they want, so long as it’s surrounded by a clearly-marked fence. Rather, it states that “No territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal”. In other words, it’s a rule regarding the legitimacy of changes, not just of situations. And the UN declaration, which seems so obvious to us now, was a complete revolution in international law. It meant a world no longer based on unilateral power and authority, but one where differences can be resolved by mutual consensus.

When it comes to shared databases, private blockchains do exactly the same thing.

Source: https://www.multichain.com/blog/2015/10/private-blockchains-shared-databases/

Blockchain

DOT, LINK & UNI Price Race To Dip Below $10, Who Will Reach First?

crypto down trend

The post DOT, LINK & UNI Price Race To Dip Below $10, Who Will Reach First? appeared first on Coinpedia – Fintech & Cryptocurreny News Media| Crypto Guide

Polkadot Price Down By More Than 21% The Polkadot price may revist lower levels after initiating a fresh slump since the present trading day. The price dropped on an average of 20% for the consecutive second day and hence new low levels may be fast approaching.  The price touched its peak during mid-may, just before …

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Polkadot Price Down By More Than 21%

The Polkadot price may revist lower levels after initiating a fresh slump since the present trading day. The price dropped on an average of 20% for the consecutive second day and hence new low levels may be fast approaching. 

The price touched its peak during mid-may, just before the crash and dipped later following the market crash. Since then the price continued to trend within a narrow region forming new resistance and support levels. However, with the recent dump, the price broke the support levels around $15.7 and continued to decline. 

dotprice

At the time of writing, the DOT price is $14.08 with a dip of 21.18% in the past 24 hours. However, the next leg down may also be a buying opportunity as a rebound could be on the cards.

Technical Specifications

  • The resistance levels are at $24.78
  • The support levels are at $7.94
  • Indicators point out towards a strong sell

The LINK price recorded its bullish price a week before on 15th June. And later the plunge dragged the price close to $15. However, it broke the support levels at $19.7 and could test the next support levels if the dip continued. 

The RSI failed to surge above the 50 levels in the daily chart and began plunging at the end of May 2021. Currently, the levels are on the verge to enter the oversold area, depreciating the value to a large extent. 

linkprice

At the time of writing, the LINK price is $16.13 with a huge drop of 12.71% in the past 24 hours. However, if the price finds its way up in a coming couple of hours, a decent rebound may be imminent. Else may further slip towards the next support levels.

Technical Specifications

  • The resistance levels are at $26.5
  • The support levels are at $10.29
  • Indicators point out towards a strong sell signal

Uniswap Price Declines By More Than 10%

The UNI price plunged hard since it reached its highest levels close to $50. The initial decline dragged the price to $17 and continued to dip to current levels after a considerable surge. The price broke the support levels for the second time and hence forming a double bottom pattern.

uniprice

At the time of writing, the UNI price is $15.56 with a notable dip of 11.99% in the past 24 hours. The RSI levels are also dropping considerably and on the verge of a trend in the oversold area. The previous dip also had dragged these levels in the same region, yet a surge could not above 50.

Technical Specifications

  • The resistance levels are at $24
  • The support levels are at $7.5
  • Indicators point out at a sell signal

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://coinpedia.org/uncategorized/dot-link-uni-price-race-to-dip-below-levels/

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Bitcoin Sees Largest Exchange Inflows Since March 2020 Crash

Another bearish signal for Bitcoin as the cryptocurrency sees the largest exchange inflows from external wallets last seen in March 2020.

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Another bearish signal for Bitcoin has been looming around the corner with the digital asset seeing the largest inflows from external wallets to spot exchanges last seen in March 2020, signifying investors are ready to sell-off their holdings.

Bitcoin Sees the Highest Daily Spike in Exchange Inflows

Having already lost over 50% of its value from its all-time high in just two months, numerous technical indicators are signaling Bitcoin towards even more adverse price reactions.

Following reports of the digital asset crossing the much-dreaded “death cross”, new on-chain data reveals that investors are depositing massive portions of their holdings to exchanges in order to cash out their holdings.

READ  Gazprom’s Oil Unit Opens Crypto Mining Farm at One of Its Drilling Sites

For instance, data from CryptoQuant shows that on June 21 Bitcoin saw the highest daily spike in inflows from external wallets to spot exchanges, last seen during the COVID-19 induced March 2020 crash, that took the cryptocurrency to as low as $3,000.

Even though the leading cryptocurrency has recovered more than $10,000 from the previous weeks, the digital asset has indeed weakened due to China’s brutal crypto crackdown.

Stablecoin Inflows Drop Considerably

At the same time, data from CryptoQuant indicates that the stablecoin inflows to exchanges seem to have dropped as investors turn bearish on Bitcoin.

For instance, during the first five months of the year, the circulating supply of stablecoins was on a steady rise and accelerated somewhat as the market sold off in May. However, stablecoin issuance came to a standstill at the beginning of June as bearish trends took over the Bitcoin market.

READ  Altcoins Notch Multi-Year Highs as Bitcoin Price Move Towards $60K

Since then, stablecoin inflows to exchanges have fallen to their lowest level last seen in October 2020.

Usually, stablecoin inflows are viewed as bullish catalysts. However, CryptoQuant’s recent newsletter warns of similar spikes in stablecoin issuance in the past followed by a prolonged price declines:

 “After the bottom of the last bear market (2018-2019), we saw a steady rise in issuance events. At the top (June 28, 2019) of this bullish period, there was a large issuance event (the two big spikes in July-August 2019 are due to USDT ETH issuance). It looks like the same is happening right now.”

#Bitcoin #Bitcoin Inflows

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.cryptoknowmics.com/news/bitcoin-sees-largest-exchange-inflows-since-march-2020-crash

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Dogecoin Gets Hit the Hardest Among Top 10 Coins, Plunges Over 20%

Dogecoin has gotten hit the hardest among the top 10 coins and saw its second-worst day of the year on June 22 by plunging down over 36% to $0.17.

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Meme-based cryptocurrency Dogecoin gets hit the hardest among the top 10 coins and saw its second-worst day of the year on June 22 by plunging down over 36% to $0.17, the lowest level since Apr. 23.

Dogecoin Gets Hit the Hardest Among Top 10 Coins

On May 19, joke cryptocurrency Dogecoin shed over 55% within a single day, but it managed to climb back to almost half of the losses before the daily close.

The meme-based coin is currently trading 77% lower since May 8, from its current all-time high of $0.74 on May 8. The market cap, which was $34.97 billion on June 21, has now slid down to $27.22B in just the last 24 hours.

READ  Crypto Market Hits $200 Billion, Bitcoin Rallies To $7K: BCH, LTC, EOS, ADA Analysis

Dogecoin is currently the biggest loser among the top 10 cryptocurrencies, plunging over 20%, despite major altcoins like XRP, Binance Coin, and Polkadot experiencing double-digit losses.

The value of popular cryptocurrencies remained weak on June 22 after the crypto market witnessed a massive crash a day earlier, following China’s intensified crackdown on Bitcoin.

Over the bigger picture, Dogecoin looks weak that needs upside catalysts to rebound from current levels.

For instance, if Dogecoin declines below the support at $0.25, it will head towards the next support level at $0.2250. A successful test of the support at $0.2250 will push the cryptocurrency towards the next support at $0.2150.

Dogecoin-Branded NASCAR Crashes Like DOGE

Stefan Parsons’ car emblazoned with the Dogecoin logo crashed into the wall during Stage 2 at Nashville Superspeedway on June 19th. Fans of meme-based cryptocurrency fans pushed the hashtag #dogecar trend on Twitter.

READ  Vitalik Buterin Reveals Making $4.3M from $25,000 Investment in Dogecoin

The car was sponsored by Springates, a manufacturer of auto parts whose CEO is a DOGE enthusiast. Parson escaped unhurt but the value of the cryptocurrency did not.

DOGE has a long history on the NASCAR tracks. In April 2014, for instance, Dogecoin fans raised 68 million DOGE worth about $42,000 at the time, via a Reddit campaign to sponsor Josh Wise’s Ford Fusion car. Interestingly, Wise raced in the same team as Stefan Parsons’ father Phil.

#DOGE #Dogecoin

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.cryptoknowmics.com/news/dogecoin-gets-hit-the-hardest-among-top-10-coins-plunges-over-20

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VanEck to Launch a Mutual Fund that Invests in BTC Futures

Global investment manager VanEck has recently filed an introductory prospectus to launch a mutual fund that put its money into BTC Futures.

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Global investment manager VanEck has recently filed an introductory prospectus to launch a mutual fund that put its money into BTC Futures through its Cayman Islands-based subordinate. Rest, it has been revealed that the fund may also put some of its unsettled assets into the United States treasuries. 

VanEck to Initiate a Mutual Fund That Invests in BTC Futures

The Bitcoin Strategy Fund is not going to have any exposure to the spot price of the top crypto asset and it said:

“The Fund seeks to achieve its investment objective by investing, under normal circumstances, in bitcoin futures contracts (“Bitcoin Futures”), as well as pooled investment vehicles and exchange-traded products that provide exposure to bitcoin (together with Bitcoin Futures, “Bitcoin Investments”). The Fund does not invest in bitcoin or other digital assets directly.”

In addition to this, it has already been reported that the global investment manager VanEck has filed requisitions for both Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs earlier this year.

However, the United States Securities and Exchange have not approved any of them as of yet. 

Moreover, the SEC has initiated the process of looking for additional comments to affirm whether or not it should checklist the Bitcoin ETF proposal of VanEck.

Mike Novogratz Comments on China Crypto Crackdown

The CEO of Galaxy Digital, Michael Novogratz has recently released a statement sharing his opinion on the effect of the ongoing China crackdown on crypto.

Novogratz took it to Twitter and said:

“China news isn’t good. Xi is an authoritarian leader who wants control over things. $BTC is the opposite of authoritarianism. Chinese citizens will always find a way to move assets outside the system but they are making it harder. Will take some time to play out. Keep the faith.”

Novogratz is sure that the Chinese Crypto owners will be able to shift their assets outside China, but it will take some time.

READ  Block.One Social Media Platform Voice Announces its Launch

#BTC futures #Mutual Fund #VanEck

Coinsmart. Beste Bitcoin-Börse in Europa
Source: https://www.cryptoknowmics.com/news/vaneck-to-launch-a-mutual-fund-that-invests-in-btc-futures

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