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Blockchain 101

What is Blockchain?

Blockchain is a technology that allows for the creation of scarce, transferable digital assets. It is a ledger that handles the “double spend” problem of accounting/economics for digital assets. Blockchains are…

Networks

A blockchain is a network of computing machines that connect together and create a computing system that can power an array of applications.

Decentralized

A blockchain ledger is not stored in one (central) computer or database. Each network participants maintains a copy of the latest state of the ledger.

Blockchains are often called decentralized or distributed because the records and blocks are confirmed by the multiple network participants, so all parties can agree on the shared dataset and no single party has complete authority.

Database / Ledgers

A blockchain is a distributed database that maintains a continuously-growing list of records called blocks.

Each block contains a timestamp and a link to a previous block. The data in a block cannot be altered retrospectively.

Secure & Verifiable

Blockchain allows information to be updated, verified, and shared securely—not copied like traditional databases.

For example, if you were to send an email with a file attached, the recipient would not be getting the exact attachment. Instead they would be getting a copy. But how do either of you know if that data is accurate or hasn’t been changed since you have two copies? How can you be sure of its verified accuracy?

Blockchain vs. Cryptocurrency

Blockchain & cryptocurrency are related through transactions, protocols, and cryptography – but NOT the same

Cryptocurrency

Digital currency that is managed through a blockchain technology

  • BTC – Bitcoin
  • ETH – Ether
  • LTC – Litecoin
  • BCH – Bitcoin Cash
  • 1000’s of others
Blockchain

Database and Network Technology

  • Ethereum
  • BlockApps STRATO
  • HyperLedger
  • Fabric
  • Corda

What are the different types of blockchains?

There are two general types of blockchains: Public & Enterprise

Public Blockchains
  • All activity visible to the public
  • Network members can self-identify, but are usually anonymous
  • Network latency does not scale well

Examples include:

  • Ethereum
  • Bitcoin
  • Ripple
Enterprise Blockchains (AKA Private or Permissioned)

Enterprise blockchains are for business data and transactions with enterprise-grade security & performance

  • Activity visible by network members only
  • Visible identity of network members
  • Lower network latency

Examples include:

  • BlockApps
  • Enterprise Ethereum Alliance
  • Hyperledger

What is "Enterprise Blockchain"?

Enterprise blockchain is blockchain technology that goes the extra mile.

Ethereum blockchain technology is sometimes dubbed as Web 3.0 because it poses a revolutionary approach to networking and communications. However, the protocol and standards defined in Ethereum’s white paper and yellow paper only go so far….

Enterprise blockchain technologies like STRATO go the extra mile to provide greater security, reliability, and features that make it useable in the real world.

Why is Enterprise Blockchain Valuable?

Enterprise blockchains address the shortcomings of legacy business networks.

Enterprise blockchains have the potential to:

  • Remove intermediaries (typically aggregators or clearinghouses)
  • Reduce the overall number of systems and improve operation excellence between parties
  • Provide extensibility, platform ownership, standardization

How does blockchain help with supply chain transparency?

More transparency, better compliance and new supply chain efficiencies through a shared ledger

Standard Supply Chain Management

Each party maintains their own transaction records

  • Difficult to verify records
  • Inconsistent data formats between parties
  • Mismatches between parties require manual reconciliations (delays and resources)
  • Limited visibility
Solution: Blockchain Ledger

Parties maintain a shared ledger of information

  • Standardized data formats and better analytics capabilities
  • Real-time information updates
  • High-visibility (with data privacy options)

Why is decentralization important?

Challenge: Centralized Intermediaries
Intermediary captures a lot (30%+) of transaction value

Solution: Blockchain Ledger
One single shared ledger replaces the need for an intermediary

Why is extensibility important?

Challenge: Multiparty Reconciliation

  1. Need to verify data between many counterparties
  2. Need to maintain multiple systems
  3. Manual reconciliation and varying data standards

Solution: Blockchain Ledger

  1. Blockchain system stays in-sync as updates are validated by the network
  2. Reliable data standards and processes

Ethereum

How are STRATO and Ethereum related?

STRATO is built based on the Ethereum protocol with modifications that make it enterprise-grade – mostly to help customize and manage privacy, governance and throughput.

BlockApps also chooses to build STRATO based on Etheruem specifications because:

  • It’s one of the most widely-used blockchain technologies in the world with a very large developer pool that enables large scale, affordable development
  • There is significant interest in Enterprise-grade ethereum due to its flexibility and extensibility via smart contracts – see the EEA for more info

Does STRATO use the public Ethereum network?

No. STRATO networks are private and not linked with the public network’s nodes, transactions or cryptocurrency.

Does STRATO use Ether or cryptocurrency?

No. STRATO networks are private and not linked with the public network’s nodes, transactions or cryptocurrency.

How does STRATO handle updates to Ethereum?

Our work with the EEA keeps STRATO up-to-date with both new public Ethereum standards and private/enterprise standards.

While the PublicNet Ethereum protocol is not updated very often, we watch it closely and are ready to make any changes that improve the product or resolve bugs and security issues.

What happens if Ethereum forks (or fails)?

Nothing will happen to STRATO if the Ethereum PublicNet forks or fails.

While we like to keep up-to-date with current Ethereum standards, STRATO is focused on maintaining enterprise-grade functionality and reliability to its users. We will never require updates that put this functionality at risk.

BlockApps STRATO

What is STRATO?

Read all about it here!

In short, STRATO is a flexible blockchain solution for building and running business networks. STRATO serves as the base layer for secure business network transactions and activity, creating a highly extensible platform for business groups to use.

Who uses it?

STRATO is used by Fortune 500 companies, industry-owned businesses, and software startups alike.

Large companies like Bayer, BHP Billiton, Ticketmaster and John Hancock use enterprise-grade STRATO to manage and enhance various processes relevant to their business.

Meanwhile, partners, developers and technology companies build solutions and applications on STRATO.

How can I get STRATO?

You can get STRATO in minutes through cloud marketplaces including Amazon Web ServicesGoogle Cloud Platformand Microsoft Azure.

Alternatively, if you want to use STRATO without the marketplace you can buy a licenseand BlockApps will set up the STRATO for you.

If aren’t sure which option is best for you (or need a larger network) contact our team and we’ll be in touch!

How do I use it?

Our developer docs have everything you need to get started and build applications using STRATO.

If you can’t find the information you’re looking for, please contact us.

Can STRATO be installed on-premise?

Yes. We understand the needs of banks, medical facilities and enterprises with sensitive data. See “How can I get STRATO” for more details.

What's a Genesis Block?

A genesis block is the first block in the blockchain.

In STRATO, a genesis block is added right after a new network is created. It sets the stage by containing all of the starting rules for the network (see Governance)

STRATO Features

How does STRATO work?

STRATO allows for the creation of private blockchain networks. These private networks can be used for many different types of transactions and activities.

What makes STRATO special?

So. Many. Things. Check out our features page for a full list.

In short, STRATO allows users to quickly create private blockchain networks with custom privacy and governance configurations.

STRATO is also built to be used in the real world by real people, meaning all of these features are as accessible and user-friendly as possible.

Is STRATO compliant with business regulations?

In short – yes. STRATO’s privacy and governance features allow users to create networks and infrastructures that are compliant with regulations such as HIPAA or GDPR.

Rules for data storage and transfer can be encoded into STRATO in various ways, allowing for segregation of access by region, role and/or asset lifecycle.

Like any technology, however, it is only as compliant as the processes and people that surround it!

How fast is STRATO (TPS)?

The latency of a STRATO network is totally dependent on the configuration. Configurations with more complex governance rules and data checks will naturally be slower than others.

To date, however, we have never seen a STRATO network latency that didn’t satisfy customer needs.

What’s important about STRATO network latency is how well it scales. As a network grows, there is only a marginal impact on latency.

Is STRATO scalable?

Yes. Very scalable.

Both data volume and the intensity of business logic can impact blockchain network performance – but STRATO is designed to limit this volume and burden through use of private chains (see Private Chains)

Does STRATO use tokens or gas?

Tokens: Not necessarily. Many STRATO networks don’t use tokens at all. Others use them as an internal store or measure for the private network.

Gas: Yes, gas is provisioned to each account and can be used to create limits on network activity (prevent infinite loops, DDOS-style attacks), but is not necessarily rationed in private networks.

PBFT (Partial Byzantine Fault Tolerance)

What's the difference between PBFT and BFT?

In short, BFT is a concept and PBFT is a consensus algorithm.

For example, bitcoin uses the mining proof-of-work (PoW) consensus algorithm to achieve BFT (Byzantine Fault Tolerance)

Compared to PoW, PBFT is a more efficient and enterprise-friendly algorithm with higher throughput, lower latency and faster transactions – all with the same level of security and finality of your transactions – meaning they cannot be reversed.

Why does BlockApps use PBFT?

PBFT is a consensus mechanism similar to voting. It is the most mature and enterprise friendly of all algorithms. With PBFT, each member of a blockchain network has voting rights that are defined and agreed-to by the whole network in advance (see Governance).

What's the difference between PoS and PBFT?

Proof of Stake (PoS) is a weighted voting mechanism, where your voting rights are based on how much you have invested in the network.

PoS is much more rigid and less mature that PBFT.

What's the difference between PoA and PBFT?

Proof of Authority (PoA) is a less mature and less robust consensus mechanism than others.

PoA comes in many flavors, and many of them lack finality – a key benefit for enterprise blockchain that ensures transactions won’t be reversed sometime in the future.

TraceHarvest

What is TraceHarvest?

The TraceHarvest Application is the first blockchain solution of its kind to track and trace the full lifecycle of agricultural products, starting at the seed source. It was created in cooperation with one of the world’s largest seed providers, Bayer Crop Science.

TraceHarvest is designed to connect all aspects of the agribusiness value chain, bringing supply chain efficiencies, transparency, compliance, and stewardship to agricultural products.

TraceHarvest will set new standards in sustainability, driving digital transformation, and food system resiliency that will shape the future of the agriculture industry.

What problem is TraceHarvest solving?

Current farm-to-table solutions don’t capture information about the seed source, which contains some of the most important information about the agricultural products we consume.

TraceHarvest improves traceability, providing a clearer picture of where our ingredients come from for food processors. Seed providers benefit from being able to see how their products are used and improved stewardship compliance.

TraceHarvest’s enhanced traceability also provides the means to solve problems beyond the seeds themselves; promoting both sustainability and consumer well-being through solutions including carbon offset crediting, outcome-based pricing, and safer, faster food recalls.

How does TraceHarvest use blockchain?

TraceHarvest uses a permissioned blockchain ledger (also known as an enterprise blockchain) to track the status of agricultural products. It does not use cryptocurrency or any open public networks.

TraceHarvest also uses Solidity smart contracts – a unique feature of the Ethereum blockchain protocol – in order to program and automate business activities and rules into the TraceHarvest network.

Importantly, TraceHarvest then runs on the BlockApps STRATO blockchain platform, which makes it truly enterprise-grade and production-ready. Visit FAQs for more information, starting with blockchain 101.

How does TraceHarvest keep information private?

Data privacy is a key priority of the TraceHarvest network. As a permissioned blockchain network, all network participants are known and secure within the network.

All members of the network voluntarily contribute and own their data – information is kept private within TraceHarvest and never shared with any network member without consent.

How does TraceHarvest compare to other agriculture blockchain technologies?

TraceHarvest is the first agricultural traceability solution to start the very beginning of the growing process: the seed source.

Other blockchain solutions tend to focus on the ‘farm-to-table’ segment of the value chain, or on improving crop trading.

This is why we don’t consider other current blockchain solutions as competitive; we see a future where these other blockchains interoperate with TraceHarvest.

How do you join TraceHarvest?

TraceHarvest is now open to new members, and we’re already seeing high levels of interest from companies across the value chain.

Input providers (e.g. seeds, crop protection) and food companies are encouraged to join today and see the benefits of TraceHarvest seed traceability.

Any agriculture business or partner that wants to be part of the industry’s transformation is also welcome.

Sign up below to stay in the loop with the latest information – including new resources, events and promotions – or request a meeting with our Director of Business Development – Agriculture Sid Siefken at [email protected]

TraceCarbon

What is TraceCarbon?

TraceCarbon is a blockchain enterprise application that enables compliance and transparency through the traceability it provides for the CO2e ecosystem, including corporate reporting, project effectiveness and product lifecycle analysis.

What problem is TraceCarbon solving?

In response to shifting consumer preferences and expanding environmental legislation, many large companies like AmazonBP and Delta are making strong commitments and taking the necessary steps to reduce their carbon emissions.

Companies have been tracking their Carbon Footprint for a number of years yet they do not have confidence in the numbers and the process they currently use is extremely time consuming. The means of tracking carbon outputs have so far been lackluster at best. This is due to numerous factors that complicate the measurement and tracking process, including:

  • the multitude of data sources that exist throughout the supply chain
  • the regulations and emissions standards that vary, in some cases drastically, from one region to the next
  • the diversity of formulas, calculations and models to measure carbon emission

For a global company trying to meet standards and accurately track and attribute emissions for their operations around the world, this is nearly impossible to do efficiently with current tracking methods.

The main method organizations currently use to measure and track emissions, which involves manual data entry into spreadsheets, can produce inaccurate and difficult to prove results. This forces companies to overestimate their emissions numbers to avoid regulatory penalties.

This means we do not currently have an accurate measure of carbon levels being released into the atmosphere, which is troubling. It’s impossible to know if the world is on track to cut emissions by the level scientists have indicated is needed, and that were agreed to in treaties like The Paris Agreement, if we can’t fully trust the data that companies are reporting.

A new method of tracking is needed – the status quo is no longer good enough. This will require companies to embrace a new set of technology tools that are already reshaping many other industries. Through a combination of connected IoT, digital twins and blockchain, a more accurate and efficient tracking process can emerge.

What methods are companies currently using to track emissions?

The current method many companies employ when tracking their carbon outputs is quite simple in design – inputting emissions data into spreadsheets where the data can be tracked. These spreadsheets are compiled at operational points all over the world and sent to the office of the CFO to be parsed, sorted and then reported to the various regulatory bodies. This is not an easy task, since if any errors, even accidental, are caught upon audit, the company will face fines.

The fact is, at many companies the CFO can’t fully trust the emissions numbers that are reported to them – not because they lack faith in the team doing the collecting, but because there is no way to guarantee that the numbers have been accurately recorded at each step of the process. Most organizations have vast operational networks, spanning continents with hundreds or even thousands of employees involved in the emissions tracking process at one point or another. It’s simply not feasible to trust that everything was tracked with 100 percent accuracy; any errors pose far too big a risk.

Rather than risking fines if the numbers turn out to be inaccurate upon audit, many companies are forced to systematically overestimate their carbon emissions. Companies miss out on remediation credits they are entitled to claim, and also distorts the carbon output data that governments and scientists worldwide are using to make policy recommendations and decisions.

How can blockchain technology help?

Companies need a reliable place to record the emissions data that will be accurate and easily referenced in case of audit. Blockchain fits the bill. It’s an immutable ledger – meaning that the data inputted from IoT sensors and digital twins can be trusted as fully unaltered, giving the CFO proof that data shared with them is factual and accurate. A blockchain platform also allows for attestations to be associated with the data readings. Examples are a pdf of a calibration certificate, a spreadsheet showing the detailed calculations, etc.

Using a blockchain also allows companies to navigate the regulatory mess that comes with operating in numerous jurisdictions around the world, as the time and location data can be embedded right alongside the emissions data, tying it together in an accurate and reliable way that would stand up during an audit.

This single source of truth for all company data lets the CFO report with confidence and ultimately claim more of the credits the organization is entitled to. Blockchain also provides the means to take the next-gen towards efficiency by tokenizing the ecological savings that can then prove regulatory compliance.

While embracing these new technologies within a company will certainly save time and reduce risks for any company that adopts them, we can also make a dent in the larger issue – an accurate picture of global carbon emissions – by adopting industry standards at a wider scale.

How do you join TraceCarbon?

TraceCarbon is now open to new members, and we’re already seeing high levels of interest from companies across the value chain.

Companies are encouraged to join today and see the benefits of TraceCarbon traceability.

Any business or partner that wants to be part of the industry’s transformation is also welcome.

Sign up below to stay in the loop with the latest information – including new resources, events and promotions – or request a meeting with our Director of Business Development – John Chappell, [email protected]