Hardly a day goes by without a new announcement of large corporations testing out blockchain solutions in some capacity. Big companies are getting in the game en masse, and the wave of adoption is growing.
But almost as often, questions arise regarding the technology’s true ability to grow along with this interest. So, what are the obstacles that still stand in the way of the mass adoption of distributed ledgers?
Up until recently, scalability has been the main issue facing distributed ledger technology. In fact, it has been the biggest challenge for pioneer blockchain platforms such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. As the number of users and transactions continue to grow, the amount of data in a given blockchain keeps accumulating and, when space runs out, the transaction speed goes down.
While Bitcoin and Ethereum are still contemplating how to best approach the scalability issue, groundbreaking solutions are popping up. One of the most notable ones is Ardor, a project by Jelurida, the company behind the cryptocurrency NXT.
NXT is among the top 20 cryptocurrencies in the world by market capitalization, and it stands out from bitcoin because it depends on proof of stake (PoS), rather than proof of work (PoW), as a validation protocol. In PoS, blockchain validation depends on the number of coins held by a miner, while PoW is dependent on the miner’s amount of computing power.
As a blockchain gets bigger, the amount of computing power required to mine coins increases exponentially and so do the costs of infrastructure maintenance and electricity bills. However, with PoS, there is no special mining equipment required and, therefore, the costs are low.
The Ardor project also addresses blockchain scalability and usability by introducing what is known as “child chains.” A child chain is an offset from the main Ardor chain designed to provide specific business purposes while maintaining the security and the functionality of the parent chain. Simply put, when a business decides to use the Ardor blockchain, a child chain is trimmed from the main chain and customized for the specific purpose of that business.
The child chain comes without the technical requirements of running a blockchain, given that all of the legwork is done at the main chain and is the responsibility of Jelurida. This approach can be termed as “blockchain as a service” since it’s open to all users and does not require any technical background in blockchain technology to implement.
Also, the pruning of the child chains from the main network separates transactions and data that do not affect the security from those that do, hence further eliminating blockchain bloat. Consequently, the speed per transaction skyrockets, making it possible for the technology to be used in day-to-day activities. The ability to improve transaction speeds without compromising on blockchain security has been a major headache for Bitcoin and Ethereum.
To tap into the Ardor blockchain, all that is required is for the users to identify a specific purpose and an expert from Jelurida will take them through the features that they need and the installation process.
For instance, if a real estate company wants to use blockchain smart contracts to facilitate rental housing deposit refunds, all it needs to do is to define the contract conditions and Jelurida will guide the company through creating a child chain for that purpose and connecting it with the main Ardor network.
Other projects providing a solution similar to Ardor include EOS and RChain. The EOS project aims to introduce an operating system-like infrastructure where decentralized applications can be built. With such a platform, scalability will increase to millions of transactions per second at zero processing fees. However, unlike the Ardor project, EOS is still in its beginning stages of development.
On the other hand, the RChain project addresses the scalability problem through what it calls “Rho Virtual Machines.” These are side chains that operate in a similar fashion to the Ardor child chains. Like EOS, this project is still at the beginning of its development.
As more solutions appear, the possibility that blockchain technology is adopted by the masses is being realized. With many new projects in development vying to solve blockchain technology's scalability issues, the possibility of actionable solutions is getting nearer.
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