Blockchain-as-a-Service means what exactly?

Tuesday 20 September 2016

Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) is a broad term than can cash out in various ways.

In the course of creating Incent, we looked at several different blockchain solutions over the last two years - what might now be called Blockchain-as-a-Service. Our needs were relatively straightforward: we wanted to host a token that could be sent freely from merchants to customers and vice versa, as well as to exchanges. Many different platforms could have done the job - Nxt and Counterparty were two we looked at - but the problem of transaction fees kept coming up. You could create an asset easily enough, but if you wanted to move it around you’d have to pay tx fees in a different currency. That added friction and complexity that ruled out those options.

IncentDifferent BaaS solutions could have fitted our loyalty application

Circling back round to this over the past several months, some new options have arisen. Here, I’ll briefly survey some of the BaaS solutions we could have gone for. These would look similar or identical from the perspective of the end user. Hence the choice that organisations take will likely be determined by factors other than technology and infrastructure.

You can read a full rundown of this subject on Medium. Briefly, here are three possible solutions - and there may well be others on the horizon.

  1. A clone. Just like an alt based on the bitcoin code, this gives you a high degree of control over the parameters of your token - but it also comes with full responsibility for maintaining the network. For many organisations, that’s going to be too much to deal with.
  2. A sidechain on a suitable platform. Nxt 2.0 (Ardor) and Stratis will both offer variations on this theme. You’ll be able to launch new blockchains, secured on the main chain. This gives you flexibility in creating your own chain, depending on what parameters the platform offers - possibly including consensus method, block space, block time, tx fees, and so on. However, maintaining the network falls to the main chain, making this the ideal BaaS solution for many organisations.
  3. A 2.0 token. This is the option Incent went for: creating a token on the Waves platform. Asset-to-asset trading in the core sidesteps the problem of paying tx fees in a different currency. Whilst a whole new blockchain or a sidechain might have had the same effect and looked the same for end users, the former brings technical overheads and the latter is not yet an option, though this may change in 2017.

Visit the Incent site at www.IncentLoyalty.com and join the ICO on 1 October.


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