Ethereum’s First Production Scaling Project Is Here – But With a Catch

A TechStars-incubated startup has launched what looks like the first production-ready platform designed to increase the capacity of ethereum.

Called Loom Network, the little-known company is today releasing a developer toolkit that makes it possible to deploy scalable ethereum apps on the second-largest cryptocurrency network, effectively leapfrogging ongoing efforts such as Raiden Network and Plasma.

For network users, the timing of the release couldn’t be more welcome. Scaling has long been top of mind for stakeholders of major cryptocurrencies, and on ethereum ever since CryptoKitties congested the network late last year.

But while other developers have been tinkering away on several off-chain solutions, which are in the testing phase right now, Loom Network’s platform uses so-called “dappchains,” which can be thought of as mini blockchains, that they say are ready today.

Loom Network head of business development Michael Cullinan told CoinDesk:

“Basically, the Loom platform is a developer platform to make it simple to make highly-scalable apps on the blockchain.”

Creating chains

To do that, Loom Network – which raised $25 million in a private token sale -takes a bit of a different approach than other scaling projects.

When a developer creates a new program, Loom Network spins up a new blockchain – a “sidechain” of sorts – that’s made specifically for the app and then connects to the ethereum blockchain.

The process has noticeable parallels to several other cryptocurrency projects out there – sidechains have been touted as a way to tie different features to bitcoin’s main network, and researchers speculate that a new type of fork, called a velvet fork, might one day enable similar functionality.

However, Loom Network’s sidechains are different in that they’re specifically made for scaling, lifting capacity from the main ethereum network.

Yet, there’s a catch, one that Cullinan admitted. “It’s not going to have the same level of security that the main ethereum network will have,” he said.

And that’s because while these sidechains work, they’re centralized under Loom Network’s control (for the time being). As such, not every action needs to be sent over the ethereum blockchain and Loom will keep track of those actions that aren’t.

“Commenting or changing a profile picture doesn’t necessarily require the security of the ethereum mainchain,” Cullinan said. “That’s what would happen on the sidechain.” […]

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