China’s massive Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN) will use U.S. blockchain startup Digital Asset’s DAML smart contract language—exclusively.
The BSN is a global infrastructure project, intended to provide DApp developers a source of data storage and bandwidth for projects on a number of decentralized blockchains—including Ethereum, EOS, Tezos, NEO, Nervos, and IRISnet—as well as enterprise platforms. The DApps will be interoperable across blockchains.
Digital Asset and BSN development firm Red Date Technology announced this week that platform-agnostic DAML will be “the exclusive standard for developing decentralized applications (DApps) built” on the platform. Secretary-General of the BSN Development Association Min Tan said:
“The BSN needs a unified smart contract programming language for our developer community and open source DAML smart contract technology is the perfect fit.”
A rapid development plan
As part of the collaboration, Red Date Technology and Digital Asset will run a pilot project to demonstrate much more than the integration of DAML into BSN’s architecture. The two firms plan to jointly deploy an application interoperating across two ledgers—Hyperledger Fabric and WeBank’s FISCO BCOS. All of this by November 2020, just in a few months.
This is just a reminder of the success that Hyperledger fabric is currently seeing. Just a few days ago, Renault launched a Hyperledger-based blockchain project that certifies the regulatory compliance of vehicle components and subcomponents—all the way through from the design to the production phase.
The Forbes 50 list of top companies using blockchain also showed that most of the firms using the technology are using private, permissioned blockchains.
Most large companies are working with two to four platforms for private, enterprise blockchains, with Hyperledger Fabric the most-used, accounting for 26. Ethereum was next with 23, followed by Corda (13), JPMorgan’s Quorum (10), and Bitcoin (8).
A focus on interoperability
The choice to use DAML is apparently motivated by the ability to write a contract once and then deploy it on multiple blockchains, allowing for better interoperability. This purpose is made very clear by the firms.
The announcement highlights the importance of interoperability by explaining that “today, each blockchain platform has its own smart contract language” and consequently DApps “have to be written specifically for each protocol, and so are unable to interoperate.” This is a problem Digital Asset and BSN are aiming to solve.
The partnership “will allow developers to write their smart contracts once, deploy to their preferred platform, and interoperate with any other application on a BSN network,” according to Digital Asset.
Is BSN too centralized?
Then there’s the question of centralization. Beijing has not been subtle about it’s desire to be the world leader in blockchain—President Xi Jinping said it outright.
White hat hacker and co-founder of crypto-focused digital rights nonprofit Paralelni Polis, Pavol Luptak, voiced concern that this announcement “shows an excessive amount of control” over the service by the government. He explained that this is not how it works with the decentralized infrastructure that Bitcoin users are familiar with. For instance, he explained how it works in crypto:
“Development crypto teams are not the only ones who decide about crypto protocols, usually they have to persuade e.g. crypto miners to accept the new implementation with the new protocol (the hard fork). This [how it works with] Bitcoin. And it is also the answer why it is so hard to make hard forks.”
Luptak also explained that he believes that decentralized services managed by a government make no sense and that in such instances decentralization loses its meaning. He said that “if someone needs to have control over anything, then using blockchain does not make sense at all.”
BNP Paribas also adopts DAML
Digital Asset scored another win on Sept. 15, when the multinational bank BNP Paribas’ Securities Services announced it will develop real-time trade and settlement apps using DAML smart contracts.
The goal is to provide customers real-time access to the DLT-based trading and settlement platforms the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) and Hong Kong Exchange (HKEX) are creating. It will also be used for a corporate election platform.
“As a leading provider of custody and third-party clearing solutions in Asia Pacific, BNP Paribas has an important role to play in ensuring market participants can fully capitalise on the smart contract technology that underpins the latest clearing, trading and settlement innovations,” said Luc Renard, BNP Paribas Securities Services’ head of financial intermediaries client line & digital transformation APAC. “We believe that DAML has the potential to emerge as a new standard for international capital markets. As a platform-agnostic, smart contract language, it can be used by almost any trading and settlement platform an exchange might select.”
Updated at 2:30 p.m. on Sept. 17 to include Pavol Luptak comments.