For those who haven’t heard of Chain, they started out as a Bitcoin API startup and recently pivoted into the world of permissioned blockchains – which is bang on trend at the moment. Also, this move gives Ludwin a fair degree of credibility in discussing this topic.
During the interview Sonal Chokshi, one of the interviewers, asked a question that I’ve had asked of me a fair few times and, to be honest, I’ve always struggled to answer it succinctly. Her question revolved around whether a permissioned (private) blockchain was simply a database – implying that this isn’t all that interesting (which generally reflects the view most bitcoin maximalist have).
Ludwin gave a very restrained and thoughtful answer, which is generally missing in conversations relating to this question. Specifically, he noted that a permissioned blockchain is different from a database in two crucial ways:
- it’s shared. That is, it’s distributed to every participant in the network (implicitly making it more fault tolerant); and
- more critically, the assets which sit on the network are controlled by the owner of the asset.
The second point, he noted, is one that is commonly forgotten about during a ‘blockchains are only databases’ debate. Ludwin noted that this is a critical differentiator, as usually it’s the owner of the database who owns the assets that reside on that database.
Although a bitcoin maximalist might dispute this, it is true that many do forget about the ‘magic’ of private keys on a permissioned system. Regardless, of what you think I do highly recommend the podcast and I’ve included a link to it below.