AIKON is committed to building a decentralized digital economy. Components of this new infrastructure — blockchain, Ethereum, smart contracts, decentralized storage and digital currencies — are already emerging. But fundamental links are still missing that convert this infrastructure into a unified, equal access platform for individuals, teams or small businesses to compete on the same playing field as multinational corporations.
Our first stage in creating this economic model is establishing a protocol and payment system for developers. These tools will enable developers anywhere — to collaborate, innovate and get fairly compensated for their work. (More on the benefits below.)
API Rights Management on the Blockchain
Our central thesis is that all economic activity can be represented in the virtual world as operations on rights. We represent these rights in our protocol as “Instruments.” These Instruments are a special type of smart contract designed for API rights management.
We therefore propose to augment the existing suite of decentralized technologies with our Open Rights Exchange platform, architected to allow Rights Instruments to be created, managed, exchanged and redeemed in a standardized way. In our protocol, these rights are most commonly enforced as access rights to API endpoints. Unlike traditional access control list (ACL) security approaches, Rights Instruments are secured by the Ethereum blockchain allowing API servers to run statelessly and have fewer attack surfaces for hacking.
By creating this standard system for securing and monetizing API access, we enable a whole new model of product development where APIs call APIs that in turn call other APIs — and each party is paid instantly for their share of the work. This will allow all stakeholders in the decentralized economy to interact more efficiently, securely and reliably.
The Open Rights Exchange (ORE) protocol has a notion of
instrument that is general enough to describe the rights associated with any given economic transaction. Every instrument has a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain that represents its ownership and associated rights. We wish to build a prototype implementation of this protocol to demonstrate its applicability to facilitating transactions in an API economy. This prototype implementation will have two types of instruments, the API voucher and the API offer. The API voucher concerns the right to call the HTTP endpoints it describes and has a unique
holder that is recorded on the blockchain. The API offer concerns the right to purchase its attached voucher.
instrument is a description and a set of rights. If known, an instrument has two attached identities for who issued the instrument and who currently holds the instrument.
right is a description and a capability that can be performed, subject to a set of attached conditions all being satisfied.
condition can be proven which yields a proof to convince a
verifier the requisite task has been performed. If the proof convinces the
verifier then the condition is satisfied.
We say we
exercise an instrument when we perform the conditions attached to the rights. As the exerciser, we generate cryptographic proofs that the respective action satisfying the condition has been performed. These proofs are supplied to the capability we then ‘unlock’ and are sent along to any verifier who is arbitrating access to the resource represented by the capability. The verifier can use this library along the proof data to make sure the claimed actions have taken place. The verifier can then provide some token of access for the client to present to the ultimate destination.
Benefits for Users of the Protocol
Benefits to API Providers:
- Access to the Global market — cryptocurrency payments work in any country
- Out of the Box Smart Contracts — Protocol handles the Solidity, so devs don’t have to
- Ease of adoption — many users will already have ETH wallets
- Built in Testing — the platform includes automated testing and will be expanded to include manual testing as well
- Interoperability — protocol allows APIs to call other APIs making products easier to launch than ever before
- Ease of Launch — protocol gives APIs instant blockchain based security, payments and accounting
- Instant Payment: revenue is captured instantly, funding the growth of API businesses
API Consumers have the least commitment to the platform and plenty of other options for paying for high quality technology, so it’s critical that the system is incredibly easy for them to adopt and use. To that end the Open Rights Exchange Marketplace allows developers to login with their existing Github and provide a simple Amazon-like UI for browsing and discovery of APIs. We’re providing this service for discoverability and ease of use, but the protocol allows anyone to build their own front end and we would welcome other developers creating new and different marketplaces with different approaches.
Benefits for API Consumers:
- Standardization: a single standard makes implementation much easier
- Discoverability: a single marketplace to visit, with user reviews, instead of searching the web for each piece of technology they need
- Access: Global marketplace allows developers everywhere to use high-end technology with low fees
- Quality: APIs have been tested and verified
- Cost: since APIs are built more easily end cost to the consumer will be much lower
- No Credit Card Required: not all countries commonly use credit cards, cryptocurrency is available to anyone
The ORE Node.js library can be used by an API seller to create an API offer (an instrument) and used by an API buyer to accept that offer. Once each party has negotiated this setup phase, the buyer will receive an HTTP client to make requests against the purchased API.
One of my goals for AIKON is building everything with a “developer first” mindset. We want our protocol to be easy to adopt, and we want our services to be easy to use, which means we want to hear from you!