As of 0:00 UTC Saturday, the first block on the VeChain blockchain, whose token supply is valued at $1.46 billion at writing, has been mined, marking a milestone for a project that aims to be among the first to convince enterprise businesses to adopt code tied to a crypto asset traded on a public market.
Seeking to address obstacles with public blockchains like ethereum and bitcoin (namely alleged governance inefficiencies, economic model issues and application design difficulties), the project also hopes to eclipse solutions like Hyperledger that have so far been the go-to platforms for business.
In short, founded by former CIO of Louis Vuitton China, Sunny Lu, VeChain hopes to be the first to put “real business” applications on a public blockchain.
“Right now, if we look at all the existing public blockchains, there is a common economic model which is from bitcoin that tries to motivate more people to join the network,” Lu explained.”The cost to use public blockchains is linked to the token valuation on the blockchain directly.
For the execution of more exotic blockchain features like smart contracts and decentralized applications, Lu argues this is a problem.
He told CoinDesk:
“It kind of generates a typical paradox which is, the more utility, the more use cases, the higher valuation of the token. It also means a higher cost to use the blockchain, and that means no one will use it anymore if the cost is too high.”
To solve this, VeChain uses a twin token system in which its VET asset functions as a store of value, and the VeThor token represents the underlying cost of using the blockchain. (The project is not alone in using such a system. Both Neo and Ontology also support twin tokens that seek to break up user behaviors.)
Still, another means by which VeChain has sought to differentiate is by emphasizing what Lu calls “ready to wear” software that reduces development time and costs.
“All of the public blockchains running in total decentralization mode are like naked blockchains to most enterprises,” Lu said. “Because it’s just open source for the core codes, if you want to build up an application, you’ve got to do everything by yourself starting from scratch.”
But perhaps what distinguishes VeChain from its competitors is the extent to which enterprises are already said to be involved in that process. VeChain boasts partnerships with automobile manufacturers BMW and Groupe Renault, and global quality assurance and risk management company DNV GL.
Some partners, like DNV GL, have even taken on a more technical role in the project’s execution – specifically within its governance system, a key part of VeChain’s pitch to businesses.
Notably, the project uses a system called “proof-of-authority” (PoA) to govern how its blockchain rules can be altered, which Lu says offers enterprises “a balance between decentralization and centralization.”
VeChain is not the first project to attempt to walk this line.
In this way, VeChain’s consensus system has two components. The first, what Lu refers to as the “decentralized part,’ is that token holders have the ability to vote, and that the weight of their vote corresponds to the number of VET tokens they hold and whether or not they complete a KYC process.
Some token holders, like DNV GL, also run nodes, and to do so, must meet certain requirements.
“Every node will have specifications, not only about hardware, but about the security level and process, how to manage your nodes and your contribution to the VeChain community,” Lu told CoinDesk.
All voters use their “voting authority” to have a voice in decisions about technical modifications to the blockchain and to elect VeChain’s “Steering Committee.” This is what Lu calls “the centralized part,” which is the seven seat governing body of the VeChain foundation and its blockchain.
“Those seven seats of the committee, we will execute any decisions coming from the voting process, even including who should be next in the Steering Committee,” Lu said. “By doing that, you maintain the publicity or transparency of a decentralized part and also maintain the efficiency of a centralized part.” […]