In June the Factom Protocol Authority Node Operators hit Factom’s Subreddit for an Ask Me Anything weekend. Again this was packed with loads of great questions and answers. We’ve collated some of the best in this post and you can read the full AMA here.
ANOs, what are you currently working on that excites you the most? What kind of contribution/effect will it have on the ecosystem and will it generate EC usage over time?
The Factoid Authority:
We will answer as both TFA Labs and TFA (ANO)
TFA Labs is extremely excited to be working on IoT hardware signing leveraging the Factom blockchain. The issues we are solving around IoT data integrity are relevant to several different industries and so the ecosystem will benefit from us pitching the Factom protocol as part of our Signed at Source™ solution.
It seems wise for us not to make any claims or predictions whatsoever on EC usage, but the IoT space is growing exponentially and so is the need for securing devices. There has been no shortage of interest since we went public with SAS and we are in a good position to get the protocol in front of governments and enterprises through our solution.
An exciting thing TFA is working on in partnership with Consensus Networks is Factom-Twitter. We believe this will be the first ever trust-less decentralized platform for deleted tweets. It will burn EC’s and the more entities running the software, the more EC is burnt.
One of the most exciting things that we are currently working on at Factomatic, is the development of DIDs and Verifiable Credentials.
DIDs are an emerging standard for self-sovereign digital identities, which has been adopted by a significant number of blockchain projects. There is also significant interest from major players outside of the DLT space, such as Microsoft, IBM and MasterCard (among others, as can be seen here). We strongly believe that digital identities are a very powerful technology, which will allow secure authorization & authentication, proofs of ownership on the blockchain, encrypted communication, etc. They can also serve as the base layer of any tracking solution be it for documents, in supply chain or many others.
DIDs are also an enabler for Verifiable Credentials, a powerful technology enabling any sort of credential (such as a driver's license, an ID/passport, a professional certificate, a bank account balance, etc.) to be issued in a digital format to some entity. The entity in possession of a credential could then cryptographically prove to another party that they satisfy certain conditions, based on credentials that have been issued to them. This is (in our opinion) revolutionary as it is a technology, which:
- greatly simplifies all sort of processes (e.g. opening a bank account, registering for a service, which requires you to be over 18, showing that you have enough liquidity to complete a deal, proving that you graduated from a given university, etc. etc.)
- allows for selective disclosure: instead of sending a photo of you holding your passport/ID, as part of a KYC process, you could use a verifiable credential to provide only the information that is necessary to complete the process, without disclosing anything else: e.g. that you're above 18 and that you are not a US citizen
Regarding usage: DIDs could be created for just about anything (including inanimate objects). The most straightforward use case is, of course for people, but it could be use for digitized documents, tracking of any sort of object in a supply chain, IoT devices, your pet, etc. Each DID is at least one entry on the Factom blockchain, so usage is limited by adoption, but is potentially huge.
Verifiable credentials are similar: issuance and revocation of credentials requires storing of separate entries on-chain and since the number of use cases for these credentials is very big, only adoption (and scalability of the protocol) are the limiting factors.
For anyone interested in learning more about this, we recommended reading a longer answer we wrote for the previous AMA.
Luciap Technology is a software development ANO and we are contributing to a handful of projects currently. Among those, two are particularly exciting and could have an important impact on the Factom ecosystem:
We are building FAT (Factom Asset Tokens), the tokenization protocol on top of Factom, jointly with DBGrow and Canonical Ledgers. The flexibility of the Factom protocol makes the implementation of pretty much anything you would want in terms of tokenization mechanisms. It just has... to be developed, and that's what we are hard at work at. Note that every single transaction of FAT tokens burns ECs. Luciap is in particular working on a "super wallet" that manages FCT, ECs, FAT tokens (both fungible and non fungible), digital identities, that is cross platform and supports Ledger devices!
We just started ramping up on the nascent PegNet project, a network of pegged assets. The idea (kickstarted by Paul Snow) is to have tokens pegged to assets (currencies, commodities, other cryptocurrencies) and be able to instantly convert one kind to another. These are the very early days of the project and let's be honest, this is a long shot and experimental, but that 100% falls in the "exciting project" category! Feel free to join our Discord https://discord.gg/78CS9x.
Sphereon: DAML smart contracts (Digital Asset), especially combined with FAT and hopefully PegNet and identities is going to make some really interesting use cases, where you can have smart contracts with pegged tokens like for instance dollars and off exchange swaps into other tokens.
Also DAML right now is targeted at private/permissioned blockchains. We hope to bring the public witness for these contracts even to parties using a private ledger, which is a really interesting use case.
Decentralized Identifiers and Verifiable Credentials - simply because we believe the future will be about self sovereign identities and credentials, where people are keeping their own data safe hidden away from large corporate and decide themselves what to share. Since DIDs are a W3C community standard and has backing by large players, we are confident it will see adoption. For identities you want public blockchains most of the time and with our predictive and stable prices we are a nice platform for it. Even with DIDs not on top of Factom we will probably see signing and proofs of DIDs from other protocols on top of Factom.
Factom Interoperability Specifications - his is a specification framework I created for Factom, where the idea is that people with a lot of Factom and domain experience setup specifications targeted at 2nd layer interoperability. This means products voluntary adhering to the specifications will be able to "talk" to each other. This is important, as Factom is pure data only. It means everybody can make their own little solution. It is hard to reach adoption that way.
We are currently working on the front-end of our signing solution. We have been working hard to get stable and scalable APIs these last months. The front-end part of this work will be the visualisation of this work. Hard to tell what EC usage it will bring, but this front-end is certainly needed to convince people to use our solutions. We have been focusing on one partner which will use our APIs in the near future. While it was possible to limit our work to APIs with him it is not enough to get new customers.
We're working on Core, the grant system, an internal project, and PegNet. If I had to choose what I'm most excited about, I'd say PegNet. Mining PNT uses EC (which burns FCT) and you can burn FCT for pFCT. If it gets any traction, it may do a lot for the protocol.
We’re a software development ANO, a couple of our highlights are:
MyFactomWallet: A client-side wallet that features seamless integration with the Ledger Nano.
factomd-api-proxy: A lightweight proxy for the factomd API port that adds several useful features.
OpenNode: A load balanced, multi-ANO, Factom API endpoint.
factomd-docker: An enhanced Docker image for factomd that adds many new features.
The API proxy and the new docker container arose as requirements while designing the thing that really has me excited these days: a Kubernetes Helm chart for factomd. It's probably something only a true geek could be excited about. It neat because it will enable the deployment of factomd to large clusters, and feature easy configuration of load balancers, certificates, rate limiting, secrets, and the blockchain database. The idea is to make it easy for smaller teams and less experienced admins to successfully deploy factomd in an enterprise-class way.
The most exciting thing we are working on right now is Factom Open API.
Additionally we are preparing our BaaS platform for new clients, applying for blockchain-related RFPs, pitching Factom to potential clients in Russia — we are hopeful this should bring significant usage till EOY.
What gets us most excited is the work we have been doing with the state of West Virginia and the potential to partner the Factom Protocol with West Virginia University. We have had meetings with leadership at many levels and the overall sentiment is that this will be hugely beneficial for the state, the university, and the long-term goal to bring awareness, development, adoption and usage to the Factom Protocol. We will be proposing a protocol grant this next round to secure funding to enter into a three-year partnership to host a Factom hackathon, exclusively showcasing the Factom Protocol. All aspects of the hackathon will be using the Factom Protocol. This will bring in local, state, and federal entities to witness the true potential the Factom Protocol delivers, while educating students, faculty, and other attendees how easy it is to incorporate the Factom Protocol into their daily processes.
You can find the details and discussion on the partnership here.
If someone came and gave you a million dollars and told you to invest them freely in pushing forward the Factom Protocol, how would you spend the money and why?
I think a hefty chunk of that money would need to be put towards marketing. Historically, we have had a tough time getting our message out there. Marketing is now receiving more money than in the past and attention from several dedicated ANOs, but additional resources would help us to spread our message further.
I'd also invest in attracting core development talent from the larger blockchain space. More devs does not necessarily result in greater development productivity, but it certainly helps. The better we can make our core technology stack, the better our position will be to score large clients.
Lately, we've been thinking that it would be a good idea to invest more money into incentivizing high-profile ANOs to join the ecosystem. Currently, the process of application is tedious, it's not well advertised and coupled with the early stage of the ecosystem development, this means any interest from high-profile ANOs is extremely unlikely.
However, if we put an incentive model around it for prominent applicants, this could change. One of our team members has outlined his thoughts on this in more detail on the Factomize forum.
Quite honestly. I would keep it to ramp up our development. We have so much interest at Sphereon from companies in all kinds of sectors, yet we only create solutions that are repeatable. This means we have long lead times to create the products and solutions. But we believe we will bring a lot of value the protocol as a whole, with both our solutions and partnerships. Where we always take the approach to create the open-source components for the ecosystem to use and have the commercial sauce on top for our clients and partners.
Of course I was joking about keeping it all ourselves. There is a real need for marketing, PR and sales in the wider protocol. We hope we would have seen more of that at this time after decentralization. But I am seeing a lot of signs it really is happening, despite the low token price.
I would look for projects that can be launched on Factom easier and better. If a million dollars can seed projects on Factom that showcase the lower development, security, and ease of deployment of blockchain solutions with projects that actually add value in the market, then that million dollars could translate into many millions of dollars in the capitalization of the protocol. That helps us market our Factom based products, gain customers and drive investment.
Do you work on a big juicy project with a super cool client that you just cannot say anything about, because you are currently under an NDA?
Yes. Multiple. Not more to add I think. For a list I can disclose see the answer above about projects.
We pitched Factom recently to integrate it into a big juicy project. There is no NDA (as no contract yet), but I am very excited about this possible integration.
That is just the tip of the iceberg of what was covered in the AMA. Be sure to dive deeper in the full AMA here.