As an organization, DigitalTown has set itself some lofty goals. It aims to put every city in the world on a blockchain, and in doing so ensure that blockchain technology takes its place in history as a technology for good. Blockchain is the natural platform for civic computing. It should enhance the lives of the many, not the few, co-creating quality of life.
DigitalTown is working with a network of communities around the world to introduce self-funding platforms that are locally governed and locally owned, where residents and visitors search, connect, share and transact locally and directly. Each implementation can be owned by local stakeholders, whether by the governing entity or by the residents themselves.
The SmartCity platform includes a blockchain based SmartWallet that enables people to manage Fiat money, Cryptocurrencies and loyalty tokens as well as recording shared ownership as Crypto Assets. Its users are average people, not technical experts, and its wallet will be an accepted form of payment on every main street and market stall in the world.
My introduction to RChain technology came at a point in DigitalTown’s technical journey where we had reached a roadblock. We had deployed an ‘invitation only’ permissioned ethereum blockchain, but it’s performance limitations would not allow us to realize our vision on a public blockchain.
As an example, the delay in transferring funds from one person to another realistically means that the technology is not suitable for in-store transactions. Solutions such as the Lightning network have tackled this challenge for Bitcoin, but DigitalTowns vision is real-time transactions in any currency. The payer should be able to select any currency from their wallet as the source of the payment, and the Payee should be able to select any currency in their wallet as the target — Fiat or Cryptocurrency. Our goal is that this should all take place on a public blockchain, not a private one, and that transfers should be almost instant. Existing blockchain technology simply doesn’t scale or perform at the level that we require.
When making key technology partnership decisions I have always focused on three things — People, Process and Technology — and the order is very important.
Louis Gernster in his book “Who says Elephants can’t dance?” said “I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game — it is the game. In the end, an organization is nothing more than the collective capacity of its people to create value.” It doesn’t matter how great your idea is, or how well funded you are, without the people capable of delivering on that vision you will not succeed. I was fortunate to attend the most recent RChain developer offsite in Boulder, Colorado. I experienced first hand that the team working on the RChain project demonstrated a clear vision along with a culture of teamwork and mutual respect. This is a team that can achieve great things.
RChain is a cooperative. The teams building this new technology are collaborating and contributing from all over the world — a decentralized solution built by a decentralized team. Less than ten years ago we would have laughed at this concept, but today it’s a reality. From a delivery perspective, a review of the RChain Jira projects shows that they have put in place the processes required to oversee the design, development, and delivery of the platform, from Agile best practice to release management, and it’s all in the public domain. RChain’s track-record on delivery speaks for itself — they have hit every milestone.
The technology is designed from the ground up to be scalable, concurrent and performant. In making the leap from the 10–15 transactions a second of Ethereum to over 40,000 transactions a second, RChain opens the door to real-time use cases such as those being developed by DigitalTown. Smart Contracts will be written in a new ‘correct by construction’ language called RHOlang, based on the RHO Calculus, and designed to support the concurrency that is critical to achieving performance. Correct by construction means that the solution has been modeled mathematically to ensure that all of the required functionality will be delivered and the correct behavior exhibited. RChain provides the transparency that means when a contract executes the list of entities that the contract communicates with is known. The underlying technology of RChain is capable of determining which transactions have dependencies, and which do not. This means the system can process transactions concurrently, diverging and converging the chain as it goes. When combined with ‘Proof of Stake’ as the consensus mechanism, as opposed to ‘Proof of Work’, it achieves all of these benefits without the huge waste of compute time and energy associated with bitcoin and ethereum — simply stated: better, faster, cheaper.
RChain have a technology vision that aligns with the needs of DigitalTown. They have assembled a great team and are adopting the best practices required to deliver the platform. They are poised to deliver what could be world-changing blockchain technology.