Novatrace enables client accounts to run on a BigchainDB based blockchain platform. Our application layer features batch-level production data entree, certification management and cross-account material traceability.
Blockchain provides a high level of trust by disabling tempering with stored data. The permissioned chain we use has no crypto coins, transaction costs and mining. An immutable history log displays the previous versions of anything updated.
Public blockchain technology is in the transitory phase of an emerging technology hype cycle. Novatrace uses a private chain without crypto coins and provides centralized user management and data oversight.
The blockchain market consists of thousands of projects aiming to provide solutions with crypto coins. Developers can profit from coin shares, regardless if their actual project succeeds or not. This results in scams, applications with inadequate business sense and projects with short life spans.
We could create a limited supply “Novatrace Coin” for consumers to pay for blockchain verified food supplements in a webshop app and for brands to pay suppliers in a traceability app. Its price however would heavily fluctuate and there is no added value in paying for each service with a unique project specific coin.
Blockchain applications are often presented as cut out the middle man solutions, suggesting that any data stored on a blockchain is inevitably true. While blockchain excels in data tampering prevention, only with centralized management and data oversight can it be verified that system users enter factual information.
Public blockchains can be used by anyone and are the right choice for decentral digital asset transactions. Private blockchains require permission to use and are a good choice for business services that don’t store large values of user assets.
Public chains enable anyone to run nodes and to add and explore data. They implement cryptographic (crypto) coins for several functions. The first is project funding, resembling company shares. The second is spam prevention, imposing transaction fees to prevent the system from flooding with data. The third is public node compensation for electricity bills, server costs and locked assets.
Private (permissioned) chains require centralized permission to run nodes and access data. Nodes are run by consortium members who have an incentive to keep the system operational. System users can be added and removed. There is no need for crypto coins as spam prevention and node rewards are not applicable.
Public vs private chains
Public chains are the right choice for digital asset transactions, as trust is distributed over a large number of nodes. However, it’s expensive to store data on, application development requires rigorous security testing and the technology has not fully matured yet. Private chains don’t have these issues, making them a good choice for business services. However, their centralized control and lower number of nodes is less suited for storing large values of user assets on.
Blockchains are special databases operated by networks of nodes which verify that stored information stays immutable. When some data on a node is edited its signature changes, causing other nodes on the network to reject the edited data.
A ledger is a database made up of blocks connected by hashes. Hashes are “cryptographic” signatures with a value corresponding to a specific set of data. When a block is full of data its hash value is calculated and inserted into the next block. The inserted value influences that blocks’ own hash, which get inserted into the next block again. This connects all block together and is called a blockchain.
If some data in a ledger is edited, the hash of the block it is in changes. This causes a mismatch with the original hash stored in the next block. The hash in the next block needs to be updated to reconnect the blocks. Doing so changes the hash of that block and creates another mismatch with the next block in line. Conclusion: editing any data in a ledger changes the hashes all the way up to the last block.
The final element of a blockchain is a network of synced servers called nodes. Nodes run the same ledger and vote which new blocks get added. If some data on a node is edited, the hash of its last block changes. The other nodes which form a majority, democratically reject the minority node with its data edit and different hash. The more nodes a blockchain network contains, the more trustworthy it is.