Blockchain technology has been around for 10 years, and by now it’s obvious that it has the potential to disrupt more than just the finance industry. The reasons are clear: The blockchain is programmable so it can be used for lots of things. It removes middlemen so transactions are trustless. And it’s restricted only by the speed of the internet, making it nearly instantaneous.
Now more and more people are beginning see these benefits and recognise the scope of the blockchain beyond Bitcoin. But it still seems like we need a simple distillation of the practical uses of blockchain before it can become widely used in society.
So what’s holding blockchain technology back? The Valence team have identified the three fundamental problems to be solved.
1. Businesses are struggling to understand what blockchain can do for them.
We’re routinely asked “how can we use blockchain in our business?”. Everyone believes that blockchain will one day transform how businesses run, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to see how to put it into practise today.
Put simply, blockchain is a shared ledger. The key word is “shared.” Its power comes when businesses need to interact with other parties in ways that are fast, cheap, auditable, and trustless. But right now there aren’t many businesses for whom it’s practical or worthwhile to have everything running on a blockchain.
However once they understand the benefits and how they can seamlessly plug the blockchain into their existing systems, they’ll start being able to define what they can outsource to a public ledger.
Valence will make it easier to identify where the benefits of blockchain technology can be leveraged in any business.
2. Developers are struggling with blockchain’s complexity.
The learning curve for blockchain developers is long and steep. Blockchain technology sits at the intersection of economics, cryptography, and computer programming, making it exponentially more complicated than traditional programming. What’s more, even experienced developers can take a long time to appreciate the paradigm shift away from centralized architecture to a decentralized one.
At the moment, every business that wants to investigate blockchain technology would need a team of technical experts with years of blockchain experience. That is of course inefficient, impractical, and very nearly impossible due to the severe shortage of blockchain experts.
Valence’s take on this is that businesses that run a website don’t need a team of electrical engineers who specialize in circuit board design — so why should the blockchain be any different?
3. Users are struggling to reap the benefits
Something as simple as buying cryptocurrency is surprisingly hard when you come across it for the first time. You need to learn about how to buy it, how to store it, which wallet is right for you, which exchange you should use, and how to keep it safe. But shouldn’t using a cryptocurrency be just as easy as using a bank, with the added benefits of a decentralized ledger?
With Valence accessing the benefits of the blockchain will be easy — making it feel as close to things they already do online, but with all the new and added benefits.
So how does Valence fit into this?
Valence will be a new type of platform not seen before — created to solve these three key issues and to kickstart the next generation of blockchain applications.
Encrypt S has spent years researching and building blockchain applications that use the NavCoin protocol. The experience and insights developed along the way has allowed us to design a simplified platform that makes mainstream adoption possible. That’s Valence.
Creating new types of blockchain applications
Turing complete decentralised apps (DApps) became popularised with the rise of platforms like Ethereum. They’re clever systems with many benefits, because they’re completely customizable and distributed. Unfortunately the complexity and rigid nature of Turing complete DApps stored on the blockchain can leave businesses vulnerable. There can be unknown security holes in their smart contracts and scaling issues as the network duplicates the execution of each contract on every node.
Valence will provide a spectrum of blockchain application solutions which sit along the decentralized spectrum, offering businesses simple ways to dip their toes into the blockchain at minimal risk or complexity. Transitional pathways will let them migrate part of their activities to the blockchain without having to restructure their entire businesses model.
A blockchain built to be powerful.
Valence is being built from the ground up to be powerful, scalable, and efficient.
- Valence runs on a proof of stake blockchain, so the infrastructure costs of running the network are greatly reduced. More of a node’s resources can be allocated to processing and routing application data instead of performing proof of work calculations, making it a more performant platform which can scale.
- Valenodes provide a stable, decentralized backbone for serving application data and providing network security.
- With Valence’s proposed ‘selective blockchain’ architecture, it’s possible to run a full network node without needing to download gigabytes of unused application data.
- Using the Valence’s encrypted communication protocol and Valenodes, app servers and users can also communicate securely off chain, reducing network overhead and blockchain bloat.
Making blockchain easier to work with.
Valence aims to make building blockchain applications as accessible to the general public as WordPress or Squarespace has made building websites.
Working with Valence is as simple as following a recipe. In its simplest form Valence provides developers with templates for application configurations. Developers will be able to start building an application with minimal configuration and without any additional programming knowledge.
A Valence application could be an open source mobile or web application that submits unencrypted or encrypted data directly to the blockchain. The only configuration necessary for the app developer would be setting up the data structure. Once they’ve done that they can start writing to the blockchain immediately.
The Valence blockchain interface is language agnostic, meaning developers are free to build applications in whichever language they’re familiar with, which greatly reduces the barrier to entry.
As the platform progresses, Valence will introduce more and more smart contract templates in collaboration with the development community. These will be like plugins that users can simply select and configure for their application, without having to reinvent the wheel and risk contract errors or spend countless hours of research to program them.
The end goal for Valence is to have a suite of application and smart contract templates that can be configured and deployed with no programming knowledge necessary.
Easier to get started
Valence has a similar ethos to NavCoin. The aim is to make blockchain so simple its benefits can be shared with the wider public. With Valence’s range of application types, we envisage that running applications will be as simple as installing a desktop application or using a website.
Finding the balance between providing users autonomy over data and the fact that there will eventually be hundreds of gigabytes of application data stored on the blockchain is no easy task. Valence will introduce a suite of options including thin clients and selective full nodes, which only download full blocks relevant to the applications they use.
Another barrier to entry to the blockchain is that users have to purchase tokens to interact with an application. Any cryptocurrency user knows this is not always the easiest or quickest process.
Valence plans to implement multiple data writing options beyond the usual “user pays” model to overcome this barrier.
- User pays the network fees
- The application pays the fees
- Hybrid where the user submits their data, and the applications pays the fees
As well as making blockchain applications easy to use, Valence aims to make them secure and give users and developers a variety of privacy options.
Data can be stored on the blockchain in plain text, encrypted by the application, or by the user. Data can be submitted directly to the blockchain by the user, or this can be done anonymously by broadcasting it over the encrypted communication protocol to be submitted by a remote application.
These features will be available to developers and can be combined to give applications the level of privacy needed to meet their users’ requirements.
Even at Valence’s highest privacy level incorporating these privacy features will be a seamless experience with nothing additional required from users.
So what’s next?
Valence’s technical White Paper is coming out at the end of March, and will explain the technical details of its features in much greater depth. Following that there will be a series of more accessible articles aimed at helping less technical audiences understand what Valence is and how it works — so stay tuned.
Check out valenceplatform.org to stay up to date.