Interledger Kicks Off ILP Workshops in SF, Singapore and Tokyo are Next

Nov 14, 2017 · 5 min read

Over the last two years, the Interledger team has made significant strides with their open source protocol.

From collaborating with the Gates Foundation to create Mojaloop, to working with Hyperledger to develop Hyperledger Quilt, ILP is powering the effort to connect the world’s payment networks.

In the spirit of furthering connectivity and sharing information, the Interledger team is holding a series of workshops — which kicked off in the San Francisco Bay Area — designed to share the evolution of ILP, as well as give insight into what’s next for the technology.

The team kicks off workshops in SF

The first workshop, held in San Francisco on November 8, opened with remarks from Adrian Hope-Bailie, Ripple’s standards officer.

After welcoming the attendees, he listed the collaborations and work the team has done with various banks, payment providers and companies to send payments across different ledgers.

“We recently created a group within the Hyperledger Foundation called Hyperledger Quilt — a project where we’re building a Java implementation of the protocol in collaboration with our colleagues at Everis. But probably the most mature implementation of the protocol is in the JS Foundation — where we have a project called Interledger.js.”

Hope-Baille went on to describe how these workshops are designed to facilitate discussions and questions in addition to showing off what Interledger can do.

“We hope to show you some exciting stuff tonight,” Hope-Baillie added.

A brief overview of Interledger protocol

Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas began the next stage of the workshop by recounting the talk he gave to a major company, describing the pain points associated with sending global payments.

“I wanted to explain Interledger to them why their business should care about it,” said Thomas.

Thomas researched the different payment methods accepted by the global company. However, there were a few countries that didn’t have many choices of payment methods, leaving many people that worked with this company without a solution for receiving money.

But the company is not at fault, the fragmented payment network is to blame.

“The problem is clear: All of these payment networks are disconnected,” added Thomas.

However, blockchain is not the silver bullet. “We can’t replace everything with blockchain. Just because everyone adopts some sort of blockchain doesn’t make those systems any more interoperable. [It’s possible] if they all adopt the same blockchain, but that’s unrealistic,” he said.

Thomas continued to explain that what’s needed is a protocol that can interface with the disparate systems and won’t change how the payment system works — allowing the systems to interoperate.

“Interledger is an effort to try to create a protocol that provides interworking for money.”

ILP is inspired by the Internet

When it came to solving the fragmented payment network dilemma, the Internet provides a guiding light.

In the early days of the Internet, there were different standards for networking or connecting computers. However, it wasn’t advantageous to do away with each one — there were reasons for each standard. Instead, it was better to preserve and connect them.

“There’s a reason for [different standards]”, Thomas explained. “There’s a reason why wifi is different than ethernet because the underlying physics are different.”

Analogously, mobile money is a necessary standard that must be kept — especially for people living in developing economies where they don’t have access to banking services.

“We wanted to have a solution that has that same sort of flexibility [as the internet]. We wanted to know how it was achieved and how it was successful at solving this problem,” Thomas said.

The team found that the answer was simplicity. The protocol itself can have different functionality but it has to be simple and lend itself to interoperability.

“If you look at the architecture [of ILP] it reflects that,” added Thomas.

How the ILP team is driving adoption of ILP

After talking about the protocol and what it looks like, Thomas shifted gears to discuss the adoption of ILP.

First, he detailed how digital assets factor into ILP and which ones are best suited for the protocol.

“You’ll need ledgers that support ILP, and applications on top that build on it,” Thomas explained. “Starting with the ledgers, the first candidates are digital assets. We’ve built plugins for various common digital currencies… XRP is the fastest and that’s the one we use for tests, which works the best.”

Then, the next step is to connect blockchain experiments to Interledger. The ILP team worked with Chain and integrated with their blockchain to make an Interledger plug in.

As mentioned earlier, the team also worked with Hyperledger to create Hyperledger Quilt, to attempt to connect Hyperledger’s blockchains using Interledger.

“We’re trying to make it as widely useful as possible,” added Thomas.

When it comes to banks adoption of ILP, the bank’s customers (corporates, retail customers, etc.) will be the drivers of this technology. The customers will experiment with digital assets, using mobile money , which will prompt companies to asks banks, merchant processors to support Interledger.

Finally, central banks, offer the best opportunity for adopting Interledger. Ripple recently conducted a study with Bank of England, who was looking for the next iteration of their settlement system. After the test, the BoE was very interested in using Interledger to enhance and increase the speed of their real-time global settlement system.

A deep dive into demos

In order to convey the power of ILP, the workshop pivoted to focus on demos lead by Ripple’s software engineer, Ben Sharafian.

There were a series of demos each focused on a few different use cases. The first demo focused on a developer building her AI who wants it to accept payments across different payment providers, digital currencies, methods, networks, etc.

The second demo titled, “Unhash,” was designed for demonstrating how ILP can help with content-addressed file storage. One use case is, you have a file that you want to have hosted but you need a standard way to pay for that hosting irrespective of where it’s hosted.

In the context of the “developer working on her AI,” she would use Unhash if she submitted a file to the server with money attached to it. Then, the intended recipient who wants to have access to that file can download it using the hash of the file as the way of discovering it at potentially hundreds of different possible hosts.

The next demo was titled, “Codius,” which is a host for decentralized services. Thomas and Evan Schwartz — the co-inventor of Interledger protocol — had worked on Codius before they worked on Interledger.

Codius started off as a protocol for smart contracts, which then evolved into a general platform for services. At that time, getting and receiving payments was the limiting factor for Codius. However, the demo showed how ILP solved that particular problem.

The demo session concluded with a Web Payments demo by Adrian Hope-Bailie, which focused on a set of web standards that are rolling out in browsers today, and how Interledger works with those standards.

The next stop for the ILP workshops

The San Francisco workshop was the first of three ILP events. The next workshop will be in Singapore on November 15 and Tokyo on November 20.

If you’re in the area on either of those dates register to attend the workshops to meet the team in person, and ask questions about what’s next for the future of ILP.

Register today for the Singapore or Tokyo workshops!

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