The Stratis Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is a service provided by Stratis Group Ltd which is targeted at enterprises and is offered as a part of their Blockchain as a Service. The DLT allows a customer of Stratis Group Ltd to set up a permissioned cryptocurrency with a valueless unit of account using a Proof of Authority (PoA) consensus protocol. We’ll quickly break down what this means.
A permissioned blockchain can only be written to by nodes with the authority to do so; block issuers are known and entrusted with the role of block production. By comparison, anyone can participate in Bitcoin block production. Anyone can attempt to write to the Bitcoin blockchain by running a mining node. It is unlikely they will succeed in writing to the Bitcoin blockchain unless they have a competitive hashrate, but there is nothing preventing them from trying. Only authorised nodes can participate in writing to and securing a permissioned cryptocurrency, hence Proof of Authority.
A permissioned PoA cryptocurrency needs to have a unit of account, but the unit of account doesn’t have to be a value-bearing coin. The coins of Proof of Work and Proof of Stake cryptocurrencies have to be value bearing in order to incentivise behaviour which is beneficial to the network. The basic idea being that people will be selfish and do what’s best for them, so the cryptocurrency has to ensure that the most selfish things someone can do are the things which are beneficial to the network: people will get more value out of participating in Proof of Work and Proof of Stake on the correct chain with the correct software than they will by participating on the wrong chain with the incorrect software, as the coins they receive will not be recognised by the overall network and thus be worthless. This is not a consideration for permissioned PoA cryptocurrencies.
The DLT can be used in applications which use a private blockchain. PoA makes it easier to maintain a private chain than PoW or PoS as the block producers are known (thus are held accountable) and it requires very little computational power. There are similarities between using the DLT for a private blockchain and using a private sidechains. However, there are significant differences between the two. You can read about those differences here.
The Stratis DLT will allow customers to build out cryptocurrency applications which don’t require value bearing currencies, but instead will be purely utility or data bearing. We’ll go through one simple example of such an application:
Blockchain networks are a way of syncing multiple disparate ledgers; they are a way of ensuring that all parties have a copy of exactly the same data. It is easy to think of cases where it is important that many different parties are reading and writing to perfectly synced records of data. One such example would be someone catching a flight. There are many parties involved in a customer catching a flight. Between the time they buy the ticket online and the time they actually take off there are numerous moving parts and parties who will all need up to date data on the status of the customer’s journey to the plane: the ticketing company, the airline, the airport, the baggage handling company, insurance companies and so on. No doubt we’ve all experienced something similar to this at some point: the app on your phone says you’re boarding right now from Gate 22, the screen at the airport is saying the flight is cancelled, the airline itself is saying it’s just delayed and when you finally get to Ibiza it turns out your luggage is in New York. DLT could ensure that all of these separate parties have access to a copy of data that is guaranteed to be shared by the other authorised parties. Likewise, any updates to the data are seen by all parties.