Beyond Individual Blockchains: Creating the Network of Networks

In case you have not already noticed, we are past the initial blockchain hype. Welcome to the world where many companies have many operational blockchain solutions. Blockchain leverages the benefits of goods tracking in the food industry, parcel tracking in the logistics industry, or improving the effectivity of financial transfers, and many more.

“We can currently see industry-specific blockchain solutions emerging, with several different networks within one industry. The larger the network, the more benefits blockchain brings. If this stands true and several networks exist segregated within each industry, we are all missing the point.”

Source: Pexels.com

Currently, there are more than 100 active blockchain solutions for industries, which are bringing visible benefits (source: ibm.com). However, there are companies that operate in a multi-industrial environment, or that have many partners spread across several existing networks. These circumstances decrease the potential value blockchain has.

What should we do now?

The next step should now be establishing an architecture that can connect the networks, to ease the process of blockchain utilization for companies. There already are some initiatives that are pointing towards this trend as a next step in the blockchain evolution such as Polkadot or Hacera.

Hacera works like Yellow Pages of the blockchain. It lists the existing projects regardless of their mother foundation or industry. Companies can then go ahead and join projects that are relevant for them to leverage the benefits of blockchain in more areas of their business. Polkadot then establishes an effective system of linking the different networks using bridges.

On October the 1st, Hyperledger and Ethereum Enterprise Alliance announced a partnership. These two, probably the most influential blockchain foundations are noticing this emerging need of connecting the networks. It is the only way to fully capture the potential in uncovers.

The ultimate solution

Currently, when an individual or a firm implements any kind of blockchain solution, they access it via an Application Programming Interface (API). Each solution comes with its own API. Therefore, a business that for example uses a solution to track its shipping and would like to start implementing blockchain in their trade financing would have to start a new process of blockchain implementation via a new API.

The solution is to bring existing blockchain networks together, creating a ‘general application’. This has the potential to rapidly change the way companies utilize blockchain today. Instead of numerous APIs that have to be used now for different blockchain solutions, there will only be one ‘general’ API that will be used to access the interconnected blockchain economy.

“We need to be making a conscious effort to architect our solutions supporting interconnectivity of networks.”

See the bigger picture

Ten years ago, in 2008, the world was introduced to the first strong use case for blockchain. Creating a peer to peer network for a secure digital asset exchange among untrusted parties was the ultimate goal. Several hypes and years of development later, we have established that blockchain can be incredibly useful and transformative for most industries and developed solutions that prove this discovery, bringing benefits to early adopters. That is the phase we are in today. Now, we need to look at how to take it a step further, connect the existing networks and unlock the full power of blockchain network of networks.


Beyond Individual Blockchains: Creating the Network of Networks was originally published in Data Driven Investor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.