Building Bridges to Blockchain

“We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.” — Bill Gates

As a blockchain true believer, I understand the excitement we all feel about how much this technology can change the world. For the first time as humans we have a shared, immutable record of the truth — a record that can fight corruption, defeat censorship, and break down barriers. I can feel it coming, and, in my world, it feels like change is coming soon.

But as a product guy, I know there’s a long road ahead of us to get there. Even in the digital era, real change takes years. And those deceptively long years are when new ideas are most vulnerable. There are a thousand structures of power that have good reason to hate blockchain, and the vast majority of people who might benefit from these new economic systems probably haven’t noticed it at all.

It’s wildly unreasonable to expect most people or even most engineers to learn the intricacies of smart contracts and decentralized apps. For our industry to survive, we need to build a bridge from the world we live in today to the world we want. (Or really, we need many bridges)

To make Blockchain work for the default world, we’re bridging four major gaps: Different Tech Stacks, Different Identities, Different Currencies, and Different Payment systems.

Different Tech Stacks

The world of dApps is very different from the Default (centralized) Internet we all know and love, and has the potential to dramatically improve our lives. It will take decades for that change to fully materialize, which means these two worlds need to find ways to play together nicely. Fortunately, different tech stacks have been a feature of the Internet for years now — and engineers created APIs to make it easy to work across these different systems.

Our protocol, our platform and our marketplace are all focused on APIs, because they’re the natural fit for bridging technical divides.

Different Identities

If all these APIs are going to play well together, we need to unify how they identify users. Today, most of the Default Internet relies on usernames and passwords and the blockchain world relies on Public Key / Private Key encryption. Many blockchain true believers think we can train the world to adopt our way of thinking, and our approach to identity management.

Personally, I don’t think that’s very likely. People want an easy, standardized system for accessing many different blockchain services. An open-source blockchain-based system for managing API access rights is the only fair, non-monopolistic, and non-rent seeking approach to creating a standardized global solution to that problem.

So, we’ve developed ORE ID on top of our ORE Blockchain that links standard logins like Google or Github to public keys (often referred to as wallets). We store a user’s private keys in encrypted form, which is encrypted with a password only they have, so we can’t access their wallet. However, we can offer password resets, multi-tiered access rights for enterprises, and the ease of use most people expect when buying products online.

Different Currencies

Just as API.market hides the complexity of different identity systems from users, our CPU Token is designed to hide the complexity of different currencies.

Most cryptocurrency is still too volatile for everyday business applications, making it difficult for corporations, institutions, and government agencies to use blockchain-based services.

CPU is a stable cryptocurrency designed to be exchanged between API consumers and API providers to access their services. It is the default clearing currency for transactions under the Open Rights Exchange Protocol and works anywhere on the globe. Each API provider in API.market prices their API in CPU, to make it easy for buyers to buy their services and allowing us to send invoices and receipts to their business customers.

For a real world example of how important this is, check out our case study with Hadron and STScI.

Different Payment Systems

The ORE Protocol bridges the world of software with blockchain and cryptocurrency. Developers can easily turn their APIs into blockchain-enabled “dServices”, usable across enterprise tech stacks and decentralized applications. The ORE protocol uses Smart Contracts and cryptocurrency for payments and rights management of APIs, which in turn can be used to provide access to any Internet service.

By using cryptocurrency and a blockchain with no transaction fees, we’re efficiently able to handle micropayments and instantly pay any number of API providers who are monetizing interconnected services.

The entire industry has a long way to go to make this dream a reality, but I’m happy to say that our team has been working tirelessly for over a year to make this happen. We’ve made huge headway on all four of these problems, and we’re going to be continuously launching updates to our product over the rest of the year, and for years to come.

If you believe in what we’re doing here, please reach out and let us know! We’ve got a ton of bounties we’re going to be releasing in for specific features and dServices — we’d love to have your help.

And of course, we’re also hiring!

Other Bridges

One last thing… we’re not the only team working on bridging the gap between today and tomorrow! I’d like to give a shout out to a few of my favorite efforts that are underway:

Mattereum, which bridges smart contracts with the default legal system.

General Bytes & Genesis Coin, who make crypto ATMs.

Coinbase, which literally made buying crypto easy enough for my parents to do it.

If you have other good ones to add — let me know and I’ll update this post!

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