bookmark_borderCosmos 跨链功能 IBC 已正式启用

链闻消息,Cosmos 宣布已正式开启 IBC 跨链通讯功能,任何 IBC 兼容的链都可以将其代币发送至 Cosmos Hub,同时 Hub 的原生代币 ATOM 也可以转移至其他链。IBC 可以处理多链之间的智能合约,实现数据和消息在合约间传递,其逻辑可以分布在不同区块链中,Cosmos 团队认为,IBC 通过分片解决了区块链的可扩展性问题,将区块链应用分拆到多个区块链中。

原文链接:Cosmos 跨链功能 IBC 已正式启用

bookmark_borderThe promise of smart contract adoption is held back by crypto silos

Smart contracts present one the most promising tech solutions for business, but there are still barriers that have to be addressed.

The internet is buzzing over recent developments in decentralized finance, or DeFi — smart contracts are hotter than ever. You might think you missed the coronation ceremony, but smart contracts are actually used in only a small corner of the crypto world, albeit a corner worth billions of dollars. It’s a promising concept that has gone widely unused in the business world.

Despite the headlines and in spite of crypto-cloistering, smart contracts are not overhyped. The ability to execute secure and complex business transactions is a barrier that keeps plenty of people out of business altogether. Moreover, every major company in the world would jump at a meaningful chance to reduce expenses, due to the endless legal fees involved with business transactions. Although tedious and expensive, unknown business partners must develop a sense of trust between each other to ensure the fulfillment of contracted work. Smart contracts can streamline this process and lower costs for everyone.

While all of this is true and exciting, smart contracts are almost only used in the world of cryptocurrencies. Although there are billions of dollars flowing through smart contracts, they remain locked in this speculative world of crypto trading. What are smart contracts, and what will it take to turn these transformative promises into a popular process?

What makes a contract smart?

There’s nothing inherently smart about smart contracts. Like SpaceX and Chumbawamba, smart contracts are poorly named. The easiest way to understand smart contracts is to think of them as computer programs. As with any contract, these programs bring together two or more parties in a binding agreement. While normal contract agreements are paper-intensive (even digitally), heavily reliant on legalese and slow to form consensus, smart contracts are relatively lightweight, fast and flexible.

Smart contracts are natural outgrowths of blockchains and related distributed ledger technologies, or DTLs. Because of the transparency and immutable nature of DLTs, smart contracts bring parties together through security and trust. Before blockchains, the idea of digital contracts was unimaginable, as each party would have no way to ensure digital trust and security.

The legal expertise and careful deliberation needed for contract work are replaced by code and automation in smart contracts. Once two or more parties enter into a smart contract, and the contract is automatically saved under ideal, secure conditions. This helps businesses save time and money, while also opening up for more opportunities. So, what’s the holdup? Why aren’t smart contracts more mainstream?

That’s going to cost you

Since most smart contracts are built on blockchains, every transaction requires a fee to validate the block and inscribe it into the DTL. The reason for the fee is that blockchains rely on miners to perform the computing labor involved, by adding new blocks to the network. No fees means no incentive for miners, and this would not bring new transactions. So, blockchains have fees, but what’s worse is that the fees are volatile, fluctuating according to network traffic and currency valuations.

Related: Going feeless is the only way to enable blockchain adoption

If you’re a business owner thinking about moving parts of your operation to a blockchain-enabled smart contract, problems with fees could become a major headache. If you’re an individual who would like to leverage blockchains to protect yourself in a business agreement, the fees involved with smart contracts might be too expensive to consider. A zero-fee structure would be ideal, but the fees must be transparent and stable, so people can fit smart contracts within their budget.

The most widely used smart contract platform in the world right now, Ethereum, becomes more expensive to use the more popular it becomes. This is the opposite of how a business is supposed to function, and a clear sign that something is fundamentally wrong with the smart contract design.

Stuck in the silo

Email is a great tool that has transformed the way people do business. However, imagine if email were only possible between users of the same service. If that were the case, we might see some limited email operations within larger offices, but certainly not in the mainstream.

Smart contracts do not have this interoperability at the moment. This means that if a company wants to enter into a smart contract with another company, both companies must be working with the same cryptocurrency. This may lead to limited interactions between closely aligned business partners, but the separation of different protocols into isolated silos will never be widely adopted.

It’s not reasonable to expect any major business to commit to one cryptocurrency, especially given the degree of volatility in crypto. Unfortunately, almost every smart contract protocol today is intimately bound to its parent blockchain, and getting these various protocols to work with one another is no easy task.

Who’s in charge here?

The aforementioned problems of lower or non-existent fees and of interoperability can be solved from within the crypto community by developers working toward a common goal. However, there are other issues at play, such as the environmental impact of mining, lag time in executing transactions on a DLT, privacy protocols on public ledgers, and the “oracle” problem of bringing outside data into the DLT environment.

A bigger problem that belongs in a completely different category is legal jurisdiction, which cannot be solved internally. In conventional or current contract law, a jurisdiction is always established within the terms of the contract. There are entire branches of international and business law that govern accountability and consequences if and when things turn south.

Smart contracts represent a unique development for the entire concept of jurisdiction. Legally, cryptocurrencies operate in a kind of new realm of sovereignty. An agreement that lives in a decentralized, global network of computers, operating on a currency that belongs to no government, and executed by an open-source computer code is a difficult entity to “place.” This is a big reason as to why crypto remains mostly unregulated — what many people refer to as the new “Wild West.” If you’re in a smart contract and the other party wrongs you, which court would take your claim?

The solutions to these problems will come as DLTs grow and gain more power. It’s up to governments and other regulatory authorities to build common legal frameworks that can accommodate smart contracts and other DLT transactions. At the same time, these new technologies will never achieve the required credibility and acceptance if crypto developers continue to act like the gold prospectors in 19th-century California. It’s important that the community continues to think long term and builds up for mass adoption, rather than throwing elbows in this frenzied cash grab.

The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Dominik Schiener is a co-founder of the Iota Foundation, a nonprofit foundation based in Berlin. He oversees partnerships and the overall realization of the project’s vision. Iota is a distributed ledger technology for the Internet of Things and a cryptocurrency. Additionally, he won the largest blockchain hackathon in Shanghai. For the past two years, he has been focused on enabling the machine economy through Iota.

bookmark_borderBahamas’ Sand Dollar nears commercial rollout as interoperability completed

Following cybersecurity assessments, commercial institutions are being cleared to issue the world’s first CBDC: the Bahamas’ Sand Dollar.

The Central Bank of the Bahamas has announced that its central bank digital currency, the Sand Dollar, is expected to achieve full interoperability between its various wallet providers within the week.

A recent statement released by the CBoB revealed that authorized financial institutions, or AFIs, such as payments service providers are expected to be finalized within the coming days.

Essentially acting as wallet providers and prospective issuers of the Sand Dollar, the AFIs in question have been subject to rigorous cybersecurity assessments, the bank stated. The institutions that adopted the bank’s own app have already been cleared to participate, while those that intend to use their own proprietary apps are still being processed. A deadline of Wednesday is expected to be met.

In October 2020, the Sand Dollar became the first CBDC in the world to go beyond the pilot stage and achieve an official launch. The centrally issued digital currency became available for use by all Bahamian citizens upon release, while integration with the commercial banking system has been subject to a gradual rollout. The completion of that integration is now imminent, according to the bank.

“The Central Bank expects to imminently complete the technical integration of the digital infrastructure with the commercial banking system. This will establish links between wallets and bank deposit accounts, through the Bahamas Automated Clearing House (the ACH), and allow transfer of funds in both directions,” the bank stated.

Nine institutions have been cleared to operate as CBDC issuers to date, consisting of four money transmission businesses, three payment services institutions, one credit union and one commercial bank. Interoperability between these entities would allow for the Sand Dollar to be distributed and used more efficiently across a range of different applications. Each Sand Dollar is pegged to the value of the Bahamian dollar, which in turn is pegged to the value of the U.S. dollar.

The CBoB also released new draft regulations aimed specifically at the way payment services providers interact with the Sand Dollar, with a purported focus on consumer protection. The regulation is expected to be finalized by May 1.

“The draft Regulations are intended to enhance the existing legislative framework governing Payment Services Providers (PSPs), specific to their provision of central bank digital currency (CBDC) linked services,” the statement said.

bookmark_borderAleph introduces DApp to ‘back up’ NFT art pieces

NFT “rug pulls” can be a serious risk when the file is stored on a centralized platform.

Aleph.im, a decentralized filesharing platform, has launched a decentralized application, or DApp, that lets users automatically back up the data underlying their nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, on a censorship-resistant, decentralized network.

The concept of NFTs has generated considerable buzz in the last weeks due to their application for buying and selling digital art. The immutable token stands in as the unique and non-counterfeitable representation of a specific piece of art, even if the specific art piece is fully digital and could be copied by anyone. While this issue is often highlighted by NFT critics, sometimes the opposite problem exists.

Generally, NFT files are created and hosted on the InterPlanetary File System, or IPFS, a decentralized storage network. Files stored on IPFS are immutable and uncensorable, making it a great location for storing the underlying art of an NFT. However, the tokens sometimes point to centralized file storage solutions, including Amazon S3.

Centrally stored NFTs is where Aleph comes in with its DApp, allowing anyone holding such an NFT to easily back it up on the distributed network. Jonathan Schemoul, founder of Aleph, told Cointelegraph that this system protects the owner of the NFT if the underlying file is deleted or modified. The DApp takes a snapshot that persists no matter what happens to the original file.

Storing the underlying file of an NFT on centralized storage systems means that its creator could always choose to modify or remove the digital art item. The file’s longevity can also be a cause of concern, as the hosting provider’s account may be closed by the platform due to a number of issues.

The file storage contradiction was exemplified by James Prestwich, co-founder of Summa, who is responsible for what could be the first “NFT rug pull” back in December 2020. Eli Krenzke, a researcher at Polychain, had purchased an NFT of one of Prestwich’s tweets, which Prestwich promptly deleted. While the particular episode was seen as a joke aimed to prove a point, the issue could be serious for much more expensive NFTs.

Aleph’s app currently does not support saving tweets, Schemoul said, “But we could add it if there was a need.” The hosting solution would work by referencing the tweet’s link, and “It’d be pretty easy to add, as all the backend is there,” Schemoul added.

Compared with storing via IPFS, the Aleph team said that its solution is more resilient, as content on the IPFS network would need to be “pinned” to be always accessible, a service usually provided by centralized platforms. The Aleph platform supports NFTs from SuperRare, Rarible and OpenSea, though the tokens must effectively exist as NFTs, and not as gasless mints tracked internally by the platforms.

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