My chief concern is not with the concept of side chains per se (yet). I have still much to learn about how they are being considered. I am only concerned with the way the concept is being presented here. However, I am sure that much of this was due to space restrictions as much as anything. The concept of side chains is an intriguing one. It is also clearly attempting to address a major problem with the whole Bitcoin scheme- namely the verification latency it introduces for transactions. This is only one of the hurdles facing Bitcoins acceptance into the world of commerce, but it is a considerable one.
First of all, one should not confuse private and public blockchains. They have one obvious similarity – they are blockchains, decentralized networks. Every participant of the network keeps a copy of this shared ledger, and all these copies are kept sync with the help of a certain consensus protocol. It means that all the participants of the network have access to identical information. Also, all the networks are immutable, and the information they contain can’t be altered.
The NPD report noted IBM is partnering with nine retailers and food companies (Walmart, Unilever, Nestle, Dole, Tyson Foods, Golden State Foods, McCormick & Co., McLane Co., and Driscoll’s) to revamp data management processes with blockchain. Walmart uses blockchain in China to source its pork all the way from the pig to the customer. This enables the retailers to provide transparency to all the players along the supply chain.
My chief concern is not with the concept of side chains per se (yet). I have still much to learn about how they are being considered. I am only concerned with the way the concept is being presented here. However, I am sure that much of this was due to space restrictions as much as anything. The concept of side chains is an intriguing one. It is also clearly attempting to address a major problem with the whole Bitcoin scheme- namely the verification latency it introduces for transactions. This is only one of the hurdles facing Bitcoins acceptance into the world of commerce, but it is a considerable one.
Let me explain. The Lightning Network allows for the creation of “micropayment channels” across which multiple Bitcoin transactions can be securely performed without interacting with the blockchain, except for the initial transaction that initiates the channel. There is no counterparty risk: if any party ceases to cooperate, and/or does not respond within an agreed-on time limit, the channel can be closed and all its outstanding transactions kicked up to the blockchain to be settled there.
Sidechains as an idea have existed and had been floating around for quite some time now, the bases is to extend the decentralization of trust into other sectors and to other digital assets. However, while this all sounds great it's a perfect example of good in theory but not so much in practice. Nevertheless, this hasn't stopped people from trying with groups such as Blockstream exploring the idea and our friends over at Rootstock co-creating a Sidechain which is allowing Litecoin and Bitcoin to execute smart contracts and all without changing the core software of the original currency.

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You cannot be a crypto investor or entrepreneur without having a real understanding of the differences between these types of blockchains as well as their implications. Even if they are based on similar principles, their operation is, in fact, different to all levels. So the tokens issued by these blockchains will not be assessed in the same manner.
Cohen said Walmart also has a patent on drone delivery systems that facilitate orders in a cleaner way, track package contents, environmental conditions and location. Walmart supplier Coca-Cola is starting a pilot to use blockchain to identify inhumane labor conditions in its sugar supply chains. Coca-Cola plans to create a secure decentralized registry for workers and their contracts to help securely record their workers’ identities while providing a trail in case employers abuse their power.
Thus Tradle set out to build a meta-protocol that saves the data in the overlay network, and only puts minimal referencing data on the blockchain. There is a general grumpy consensus among bitcoin core devs and mining pool operators on allowing one small data chunk, a hash, per transaction. Many devs say it is not possible to secure this second overlay network. I agree, unless we use the blockchain to help with the task. We have a partial solution working, and are preparing a new design to improve it (partial, as it can not yet handle all known attacks). We are actively sharing the designs at various meetups (and on the github) and are inviting devs to find attack vectors and propose solutions. Tradle’s protocol not only relieves the pressure on bitcoin’s blockchain but is also able to handle larger transaction sizes than Counterparty and Mastercoin, so it can be used for complex identity, supply chain management and many other applications. It is also capable of handling attachment files, needed in the healthcare and financial industries.
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Another promise of sidechains is the ability to have a stronger and faster mainchain, as transactions can happen on one of the sidechains. If users or developers are dissatisfied with the costs of sending a transaction and the transaction speed of the mainchain, they can use and or deploy their dapp on one of the sidechains. This leads to a more diversified network and a stronger, faster and more robust mainchain.
^ Jump up to: a b c d e f g h i j k l "Blockchains: The great chain of being sure about things". The Economist. 31 October 2015. Archived from the original on 3 July 2016. Retrieved 18 June 2016. The technology behind bitcoin lets people who do not know or trust each other build a dependable ledger. This has implications far beyond the crypto currency.
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Contrary to popular belief, aided by deceptive blockchain marketing, blockchains are not a good solution for storing data. Each piece of information that you store in the blockchain sits in hundreds or more nodes (more than 100,000 in the case of Bitcoin) making it an extremely costly solution. This is why the Iryo Network doesn’t store data on blockchain but instead, uses blockchain to ensure the transparency of transactions. As a disclaimer, competitors also don’t save medical data on the chain itself (even those who use private chains). Instead, only the fingerprint aspect of a medical record file or a hash is stored on the blockchain.


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The second option will be to use sidechains. Blockstream first announced side chain in 2014 and published its whitepaper (https://blockstream.com/sidechai...). I believe in the future, bitcoin will have its desired flexibility with its sidechains. The idea of the sidechain is you can innovate and design your solution freely in the sidechains. These sidechains are independent, if they are failed or hacked, they won't damage other chains. So damage will be limited within that chain, for that reason you can be less conservative. Otherwise you would be more risk averse, if you had 42.5 billion dollar market cap like Bitcoin.
Frankly, secure implementation of Bitcoin is already a pain in the ass .. adding more complexity just seems like the wrong move at this point. It’s already trying to be a currency, a networking protocol and a client in the same codebase. Adding turing complete (or not) scripts with arbitrary outcomes, multiple versions of the official client cooperating, multiple clients, and now multiple blockchains is basically the nail in the coffin in terms of widespread implementation.
If you’ve been keeping track of developments in the bitcoin industry, you’d know that the blockchain refers to the public ledger of transactions associated with the cryptocurrency. As the bitcoin ecosystem has grown in size and scale throughout the years, the blockchain has also increased considerably in length and storage size, prompting debates on whether or not to increase its block size limit.
New organizational structures will emerge that will make inside/outside much less clear. These clear boundaries started to erode with the extranets in the 90s, then with the multi-tenant cloud platforms, and lately with the smartphones and the IoT. As we move forward we will see value chains where participants have multiple roles and affiliations. We will be designing token based systems that produce gains for any participants, internal or external.
“Such a move could allow retailers to lower prices and incentivize consumers to shop at one retailer over a competitor,” Cohen noted. “This idea is not as ludicrous as it might seem. Amazon recently registered three cryptocurrency-related domain names, suggesting a potential move into the cryptocurrency space. If large companies like Amazon, Walmart or Starbucks issued digital coins that inspired public trust, blockchain-based cryptocurrencies might gain acceptance by the public and other retail giants.”

Transparency does not, however, mean that public blockchains are completely unhackable. Any time data enters a digital network, it is subject to security breaches and unethical uses. Although public blockchains looks to be highly secure right now, there are always going to be bad actors interested in exploiting weaknesses in the system. This is often through hacking methods that are difficult to predict and account for — so claims of one-hundred-percent security in any technology should always be read with a critical eye
Unlike the other two-way peg mechanisms discussed in this article, SPV sidechains do not give direct control of real bitcoins on the main chain to a custodian; however, the ability for a majority of miners to produce and build upon fraudulent SPV proofs gives them indirect control over the funds, including the ability to send to themselves. Having said that, there are ways to mitigate this issue.
My chief concern is not with the concept of side chains per se (yet). I have still much to learn about how they are being considered. I am only concerned with the way the concept is being presented here. However, I am sure that much of this was due to space restrictions as much as anything. The concept of side chains is an intriguing one. It is also clearly attempting to address a major problem with the whole Bitcoin scheme- namely the verification latency it introduces for transactions. This is only one of the hurdles facing Bitcoins acceptance into the world of commerce, but it is a considerable one.
Sidechains, just like any other Blockchain, need their own miners to help protect them from nefarious actors and attacks which people would like to leverage against the network. However, since wealth isn't actually created on the Sidechain there is far less incentive for miners to actually work on it and help protect it. Because of this, transaction fees are the basic reward that is offered to miners. However, these often equate to mere pennies.
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Public blockchains provide a way to protect the users of an application from the developers, establishing that there are certain things that even the developers of an application have no authority to do. From a naive standpoint, it may be hard to understand why an application developer would want to voluntarily give up power and hamstring themselves. However, more advanced economic analysis provides two reasons why, in Thomas Schelling's words, weakness can be a strength. First, if you explicitly make it harder or impossible for yourself to do certain things, then others will be more likely to trust you and engage in interactions with you, as they are confident that those things are less likely to happen to them. Second, if you personally are being coerced or pressured by another entity, then saying "I have no power to do this even if I wanted to" is an important bargaining chip, as it discourages that entity from trying to compel you to do it. A major category of pressure or coercion that application developers are at risk of is that by governments, so "censorship resistance" ties strongly into this kind of argument.
In general, so far there has been little emphasis on the distinction between consortium blockchains and fully private blockchains, although it is important: the former provides a hybrid between the “low-trust” provided by public blockchains and the “single highly-trusted entity” model of private blockchains, whereas the latter can be more accurately described as a traditional centralized system with a degree of cryptographic auditability attached. However, to some degree there is good reason for the focus on consortium over private: the fundamental value of blockchains in a fully private context, aside from the replicated state machine functionality, is cryptographic authentication, and there is no reason to believe that the optimal format of such authentication provision should consist of a series of hash-linked data packets containing Merkle tree roots; generalized zero knowledge proof technology provides a much broader array of exciting possibilities about the kinds of cryptographic assurances that applications can provide their users. In general, I would even argue that generalized zero-knowledge-proofs are, in the corporate financial world, greatly underhyped compared to private blockchains.

The consortium or company running a private blockchain can easily, if desired, change the rules of a blockchain, revert transactions, modify balances, etc. In some cases, eg. national land registries, this functionality is necessary; there is no way a system would be allowed to exist where Dread Pirate Roberts can have legal ownership rights over a plainly visible piece of land, and so an attempt to create a government-uncontrollable land registry would in practice quickly devolve into one that is not recognized by the government itself. Of course, one can argue that one can do this on a public blockchain by giving the government a backdoor key to a contract; the counter-argument to that is that such an approach is essentially a Rube Goldbergian alternative to the more efficient route of having a private blockchain, although there is in turn a partial counter-argument to that that I will describe later.
@Tradle. Thanks for elaborating. I’m also thinking about these things – and hear lots of other people talk about them – but I *really* struggle with the concept. It all comes down to the table I drew in this post: https://gendal.me/2014/12/19/a-simple-model-to-make-sense-of-the-proliferation-of-distributed-ledger-smart-contract-and-cryptocurrency-projects/

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A private blockchain on the other hand provides only the owner to have the rights on any changes that have to be done. This could be seen as a similar version to the existing infrastructure wherein the owner (a centralized authority) would have the power to change the rules, revert transactions, etc. based on the need. This could be a concept with huge interest from FI’s and large companies. It could find use cases to build proprietary systems and reduce the costs, while at the same time increase their efficiency. Some of the examples could be:
Sidechains solve a lot of problems, but at what cost? The introduction of sidechains makes things even more complex and much harder to understand for those who are not actively involved in the blockchain space. This also divides assets, no more “one chain, one asset” adage, which further complicates things. And on a network level there are multiple independent unsynchronised blockchains interacting with each other.
Governance: Every enterprise needs to design standards, processes, methods, and tools to develop and operate a private blockchain. To achieve this they will need tools and frameworks such as IDE, testing framework, security auditing tool etc. For long-term successful operation, they also need to develop high-quality documentation. This requires proactive governance. Read more about the importance of the “Fundamental challenges with public blockchains” here.
Miners are needed to ensure the safety of the sidechains. This makes the formation of new sidechains a costly venture. Hefty amounts of investments have to be made before any new sidechain can be created. Another downside to sidechains is the requirement of a federation. The extra layer formed by the federation could prove to be a weak point for attackers.
Alpha functions as a sidechain to Bitcoins testnet. The peg mechanism currently works through a centralized protocol adapter, as stated in the sidechains whitepaper. An auditable federation of signers manages Testnet coins transferred to the sidechain. The federation is also relied upon to produce blocks through the signed blocks element. This creates the possibility of exploring the possibilities of the new chain using different security trade-offs.
Write permissions are kept centralized to one organization. Read permissions may be public or restricted to an arbitrary extent. Example applications include database management, auditing, etc. which are internal to a single company, and so public readability may in many cases not be necessary at all. In other cases public audit ability is desired. Private blockchains are a way of taking advantage of blockchain technology by setting up groups and participants who can verify transactions internally. This puts you at the risk of security breaches just like in a centralized system, as opposed to public blockchain secured by game theoretic incentive mechanisms. However, private blockchains have their use case, especially when it comes to scalability and state compliance of data privacy rules and other regulatory issues. They have certain security advantages, and other security disadvantages (as stated before).
"Proof of Work" used by Bitcoin is a competitive consensus algorithm. Each node races to solve a difficult puzzle first. Doing so earns the right to produce a block and you are rewarded in Bitcoin. The block is where the transaction (value of data) is written and confirmed. However, this race is a waste of time and money for those that don’t win. You get nothing unless you are the first to solve the puzzle. Since no one wants to lose, nodes started working together to solve the puzzle and share the reward based on your computational power (the hash rate).
Sidechain is a chain of blocks based on the main parental blockchain. Sidechains realize the new financial ecosystems via integration into Bitcoin. Relatively new to Bitcoin, the sidechain is an extension that enables the ability both to build a link between BTC and an altcoin and to create new independent services that work via the main Bitcoin blockchain. Using sidechains allows for the creation of various types of smart contracts, stocks, derivatives, etc. It is possible to develop a limitless number of Bitcoin or Ethereum-based sidechains with different tasks and features, assets of which will depend on the main blockchain’s volatility. It allows traditional blockchains to support several kinds of assets, payments, smart contracts and also to increase the level of security and anonymity of transactions.
A side-chain is a separate block-chain that runs parallel to the main chain, for example the Bitcoin network, and is attached to the main chain through a simple two-way peg, or special 'address'. A user sends coins to this special address and this amount is effectively 'locked' out from use on the main chain and available on the side chain. This currency is released back to the main chain once its been proven that the side chain is no longer using it.
A federation is a group that serves as the intermediary between a parent chain and its corresponding sidechain. It is an additional layer in the protocol but serves a key function and is what Blockstream’s Liquid sidechain uses. Due to the lack of expressiveness of Bitcoin’s scripting language, an externally implemented and mutually distrusting set of members form a federated peg.

When blockchain technology was introduced to the public in 2008 (via Satoshi Nakamoto’s famous white paper), it would have been hard to predict that private or consortium blockchains would become popular. But recently, there’s been a lot of buzz about this in the digital currency community. Many companies are beginning to experiment with blockchain by implementing private and consortium chains, although some people are critical of this. This discussion not only centers on use cases and benefits, but whether non-public blockchains are an appropriate application of the protocol to begin with.