Earlier this week Bitcoin Magazine reported that the Linux Foundation announced technical updates to the new Hyperledger Project, a formal open governance structure, as well as new members from across the industry.
The Hyperledger Project wants to develop a new open source blockchain separated from the Bitcoin blockchain. Digital Asset Holdings, the fintech startup headed by the financial superstar Blythe Masters, contributed its Hyperledger mark, which it had acquired in June with the purchase of San Francisco-based digital fintech company Hyperledger.
The Hyperledger team, now part of Digital Asset Holdings, developed distributed ledger technology for private blockchains, without a built-in digital currency, to allow financial operators to clear and settle transactions in real time, using a proven consensus algorithm capable of thousands of transactions per second.
The placeholder domain hyperledger.com now redirects to the official Hyperledger website hyperledger.org.
The updated list of Hyperledger founding members consists of 28 top companies in the technology and financial services space. It appears that the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project is moving very fast and is on its way to becoming a leading force in the blockchain technology development space.
Founded in 2000, the Linux Foundation wants to be the organization of choice for the world’s top developers and companies to build ecosystems that accelerate open technology development and commercial adoption.
The technology of the original Hyperledger team is independent of Bitcoin, and many companies in the new Hyperledger Project support radical alternatives to Bitcoin. For example, Accenture and Digital Asset Holdings CEO Masters, among others, expressed support for private, “permissioned” non-Bitcoin blockchains.
“To be used by financial institutions, including capital markets firms and insurers, blockchains must supplant the costly methods introduced by Bitcoin with a mechanism that guarantees security, privacy and speed without paying for anonymous consensus,” said two Accenture executives in July.
In other words, Bitcoin should disappear and be replaced by a closed blockchain. So is Hyperledger a first step in that direction?
Bitcoin Magazine reached out to the Linux Foundation for clarifications and further explanations.
“The Linux Foundation believes a shared infrastructure that is open to critical inspection and collaboration will be pivotal in driving global adoption of blockchain for distributed ledgers,” Linux Foundation executive director Jim Zemlin told Bitcoin Magazine. “I’m extremely bullish about how the developers involved in Hyperledger Project are openly looking at various architectures, concepts and technologies, aiming to integrate code from a variety of sources to build a neutral technology that can work for all.”
Zemlin also answered some specific burning questions about the nature, plans and policies of the Hyperledger Project.
Bitcoin Magazine: Does the Hyperledger Project support a specific (existing or planned) digital currency for payments and financial applications?
Zemlin: No, the scope of the Hyperledger Project is limited to the development of the underlying blockchain fabric that can support a broad range of use cases. Applications and domain-specific frameworks are outside the scope of the project, but will obviously be encouraged to leverage the project’s deliverables.
Bitcoin Magazine: Is the Hyperledger Project a replacement for Bitcoin and/or other existing cryptocurrencies?
Zemlin: This project’s mission will be to build and advance a general purpose blockchain framework that can be used across industry sectors, from financial services to retail to manufacturing and more. There is ample room in the market for cryptocurrencies and even multiple implementations of the blockchain, but everyone stands to lose if these don’t interoperate and work together. The hope would be that the fabric produced by the Hyperledger Project can satisfy a broad set of use case ranging from cryptocurrencies, supply-chain visibility, asset transfer, IoT, business contracts and so much more. We’ll see thousands of applications and many uses cases, but open source and industry-wide collaboration are essential to realizing the full potential of distributed ledger technology.
Bitcoin Magazine: Do you plan to implement full programmability with a Turing-Complete scripting language to support transactions and smart contracts of arbitrary complexity?
Zemlin: One of the proposals on the table in the technical community supports execution of code written in any language. However, the community has not yet reached consensus on this point.
Bitcoin Magazine: What’s your position on the privacy issue?
Zemlin: It is important to realize that the Hyperledger Project is hosted by the Linux Foundation, but the community that has gathered to support and lend their resource and expertise to develop this key technology is just now coalescing and does not yet have a singular point of view.
The Hyperledger Project continues to unfold. Bitcoin Magazine will follow further developments.
Giulio Prisco is a writer specialized in science, technology and business. He is persuaded that Bitcoin and its underlying technology are about to bring disruptive positive changes to finance, business, and society.