nChain’s Jack Davies tackles challenges of blockchain payments at Future of Money and Digital Payments

How can businesses maximize the opportunities in this changing financial landscape? That is one of the questions that will be discussed at the upcoming Future of Money and Digital Payments event in London on November 7.

The event, which is gearing up to be one of the most informative gathering related to digital payments, is hosted by Acuity Law and will include some prominent speakers with significant experience in the digital asset world: Principal speaker Nigel Dean of My PinPad will address future payment systems and payment services regulation, while Paul Harwood of Wallet Systems will discuss privacy and the challenges involved in ensuring that proper identity is established in a digital economy.

Another member of the panel that will provide a great deal of insight on digital payments is Jack Davies of nChain. Davies is a research and development scientist in blockchain technology at nChain, and has written several articles about the use of blockchain technology, and how it will play a significant role within the digital payment systems. In fact, Davies is considered one of the leading experts when it comes to Bitcoin SV (BSV).

Most of his recent work has been focused on technologies built using Bitcoin, and Davies has been looking to add utility and increase on-chain transaction volume and has been a leading developer in the Metanet project. At The Future of Money and Digital Payments, Davies will discuss the challenges presented by new blockchain payment systems—and whether BSV, Ethereum 2.0 and other cryptos can scale up to financial services.

The event will tackle the ongoing revolution in the financial industry, and how the sector is working to change how money transfers are handled. There will be a detailed discussion on digital platforms and how updated regulations are creating a number of great opportunities for new entrants to get into the market, offering them the opportunity to challenge those who have been the established authorities.

It is expected that these changes will have a dramatic impact on the banking industry and payment services, as electronic money and digital currencies are becoming increasingly popular. Those who are informed about these kinds of assets will have a clear advantage over others, as the financial markets seem to be moving towards these crypto assets.

Register to attend The Future of Money and Digital Payments, hosted by Acuity Law, at Home House in London on November 7.

The Metanet Blog: How domain naming and locating enable data ownership

In his latest blog post on the Metanet blog series, nChain researcher Jack Davies looked at the establishment of domain-like on-chain structures and how to assign real-world identity to them. Picking up from his last post which focused on the facilitation of a P2P value network on the Bitcoin SV network, Davies also discussed how, in combination with identity management platforms, the Metanet can enable ownership of data.

In previous blog post, Davies explained that nodes are transactions and edges are created by signatures, two of the concepts that allow a rich domain structure to emerge from Metanet graphs.

Davies also noted that it’s possible for a transaction to be Bitcoin-valid, but not Metanet-valid. Metanet validity requires a transaction to have the correct input signature, that is, a child node must have its input signed by the parent node.

However, should a bad actor intervene and attempt to create a child without the permission of the parent node, both the child node and the edge created will be deemed Metanet-invalid, despite being Bitcoin-valid.

This validity process is how the Metanet’s permissioning structure, which was covered in the previous blog post, manifests itself. Applying this simple rule set to each transaction enables us to “interpret and enforce the desired write-access controls for any node in a Metanet tree.”

Davies noted, “Herein lies the key innovation of the Metanet protocol. That the ability to create a Metanet-valid child of a node rests with the burden of being able to produce a signature on that child is precisely how the Metanet protocol achieves its permissioning hierarchy and, indeed, domain structure.”

It is important to note that the Metanet protocol doesn’t solve the identity problem. Its primary function is to merely allow structure and permissioning for on-chain data and utility. Combining this structured on-chain data with proper identity management is one of the fundamental pillars required “to realize the aims of users reclaiming sovereignty over their data.”

Already, a number of solutions have sprung up to solve the identity problem and more will launch in the near future. Some include Legally Chained and Money Button’s Paymail.

Having established domain-like on-chain structures and mapped real-world identity to them, we can then assign names to the Metanet nodes. A MetanetURL (MURL), though purely conceptual, can be used as a resource locator to find Metanet nodes. MURL is closely related to how the uniform resource locator (URL) is used to ‘traverse content resources on the existing web.’ And just like the URL, the MURL is made up of a protocol identifier, a domain, a path and a name. Davies concludes:

The key concept to take away from here is that we can construct resource locators for the Metanet that allow us to leverage the intrinsically efficient searchability of traversing DAG structures.

The Metanet protocol further allows a user to delegate write access to a particular branch or sub-tree which is part of the user’s Metanet graph structure. Simple as it sounds, its uses are many, including affording a user the ability to run a website where each page is outsourced to a particular content creator. This delegation also makes it possible to implement a social media Metanet graph for blockchain-based applications such as Twetch.

How Metanet can facilitate a P2P value network on Bitcoin SV

In the continuing series “Edge Cases: The Metanet Blog,” nChain researcher Jack Davies broke down the nodes an edges that make up the Metanet DAG and how the Metanet protocol can be used to create on-chain DAG structures that can facilitate a peer-to-peer value network on Bitcoin SV.

Having previously explained what a directed acyclic graph (DAG) is and why the Metanet is a form of DAG, Davies delved into the Metanet nodes and their unique structure, as well as their unique identifiers. A Metanet node is a transaction that follows the rule set of the Metanet protocol.

For a transaction to qualify as a Metanet node, it must have at least one OP_RETURN output and an input signed by a parent node, denoted by SigP (parent). The node contains six elements, four of which are crucial. These are the address of the node, the version of a node, the address of the parent of the node and the version of the parent. The first two elements — denoted as P(node) and TxID(node) — are used to uniquely identify a node while the latter two — denoted as P(parent) and TxID(parent) are used to identify the parent of the node, if it has one.

The Metanet edges, on the other hand, are created by signatures. This means that to create an edge from a parent node to a child node, the latter must be signed using the key pair associated with its parent. In simpler terms, SigP (parent) must appear in the input of the child node.

The nodes and edges are crucial in the Metanet protocol, Davies explained.

The crucial aspect here is that the Metanet protocol leverages the input signatures and requires that they include signatures from the parent node to enforce permissioning structure on the Metanet graph. In other words, the ‘write access’ to write a new Metanet node to a tree requires creating a node edge, which in turn requires a signature.

Each node has a unique node identifier, derived from the address defining the node — denoted P(node) — and the unique transaction ID of the node — denoted TxID (node).

The Metanet’s permissioned structure extends to any graph structure that can be created with the Metanet protocol.

“In other words, what the rules of the protocol allow us to do is describe a consistent on-chain genealogy — the ability to describe, trace, and extend the flow of permissions throughout the graph as a kind of on-chain lineage.”

Davies also looked at the core properties of the Metanet DAG, the first of which is generality. The Metanet protocol doesn’t restrict a developer from building any specific type of structure. This gives it the ability to accommodate all the existing use cases as well as any unforeseen future applications.

The Metanet protocol also has a permissioning structure which leverages on the input signatures. Lastly, the Metanet protocol is designed to ensure high levels of efficiency. It distils everything into four core elements in each transaction, a minimalist approach that requires little overhead to implement without sacrificing any important functionality such as domain structure and version control.

As celebrated Bitcoin developer Unwriter noted on a blog post, “Bitcoin is the most efficient data storage protocol, and Metanet is the most efficient data structure protocol which sits on top of it.”

Jack Davies blog series delves into finer details of Metanet

The Metanet concept was first introduced by nChain Chief Scientist Dr. Craig Wright less than a year ago. Speaking at the CoinGeek Week Conference, Dr. Wright unveiled the concept as a vision for new paradigms for the Internet and data sharing.

The Metanet protocol is defined by inventor Dr. Craig Wright in concept as a ‘value network,’ which would relegate the Internet to a sidechain of a more comprehensive Bitcoin blockchain.

“The Internet becomes a sidechain to the Bitcoin blockchain. The Metanet is a value network — the entire global system of online activity and data connected commercially.”

Now, nChain researcher Jack Davies has taken this a step further, in a new blog series designed specifically to raise awareness and understanding of the Metanet in concept, and the Metanet protocol which supports its development.

In part one of the Metanet blog series, published on Medium, Davies wrote: “The Metanet represents a complete and utter redefinition of the paradigms that pervade the existing Internet infrastructure — particularly with respect to human interactions and the value we ascribe to them.”

Davies said that the Metanet helps address a fundamental problem with the Internet — that high quality data cannot be available free of charge.

He argues that information comes at a cost, and that these costs cannot be accurately met by the current structures of the Internet and data sharing, and that information quality benefits when true value is ascribed to the information.

“The broad solution, therefore, is an internet-like platform that puts the value of data at the centre of everything,” Davies wrote. “When it is expensive to deploy thousands of bots to spread falsehoods, when the mere act of reading an article requires a cost barrier, we are forced to think: how much do I value this data as information?”

He added, “It is here where the issues we face with the current Internet begin to fall away. By incorporating financial costs — however small — into our online behaviour, we are asked to express how much we truly value information with our wallets. Here lies one of the central goals that the Metanet, running natively on top of Bitcoin SV, can achieve.”

The series of blog posts is expected to cover the concept in overview, as well as specifics in relation to the Metanet protocol, with a view to raising awareness amongst BSV developers towards the end goal of a more valuable global data sharing infrastructure, powered by the technological superiority, and particularly the mass scalability, of BSV.

CoinGeek Toronto Conference 2019: The Metanet, as told by Jack Davies

CoinGeek Toronto Conference 2019: The Metanet, as told by Jack Davies

The Bitcoin SV (BSV) powered Metanet has been described as a sidechain for the internet. To lay out in more detail exactly what it is, and how it works, Jack Davies took the stage at CoinGeek Toronto conference 2019 to give us our best look yet.

He began by taking a look at the projects already using the Metanet, like Weather SV and Agora, and breaking down exactly how they are using the BSV blockchain that makes them Metanet projects. “All these projects are effectively using the blockchain as a universal server. Sounds like a contradiction in terms if you think about serverless apps, but really, the blockchain is acting as a server for data. It’s where we’re actually hosting all the data for our apps, on chain.” (1:31)

Davies then goes on to explain how each application built so far acts as nodes referencing the blockchain, and the trustless system that then develops, as individual users can check the blockchain for themselves. Where the Metanet plans to go, is to create a protocol that brings everything together.

He then explains the underlying code of transactions that help to create Metanet edges, which allow for data to be transmitted without direct spending being a mandatory part of the transaction, but could if the application calls for it.

The Node and edge structure, with transaction parents and children, are important to the structure of the Metanet, forming a collection of trees of data and transactions, and Davies explains them at length. If you’re interested in understanding how it works, we recommend starting at 5:43 in the video.

Davies then explains the outputs of a Metanet-valid transaction, included in the OP_RETURN, beginning with the Metanet flag. It is a 4-byte protocol flag, which indicate a transaction is part of the Metanet subset of the BSV blockchain.

Attributes are the next output he covers. “These are metadata related to that node, describing things and helping to implement subprotocols within the Metanet umbrella. These are the ways you get the application specific things coming in,” he explains (15:25). This includes protocol identifiers, keywords, file types and more.

The final output of a Metanet transaction is the content data, which is the thing to be stored on the BSV blockchain.

The Metanet umbrella can then be used with multiple subprotocols, like B://, D:// or B://cat, to create an application from. Davies notes that this flexibility is perhaps the greatest takeaway from his presentation.

The graph is the next important aspect of the Metanet, which Davies explains how we can interpret. It works very much like a tree, with a top level domain, stored in a root transaction, with child transactions then acting as the sub-domain pages. This can all be navigated like websites typically have been, with MURL replacing URLs, and mnp:// replacing http://.

Davies then breaks down how Schools or Financial Institutions, or social media sites, could use the Metanet to build their use cases on. They can control the permissions structures of their sites, and turn individual security over to their end users, and work across each other, both accessing the same BSV blockchain, to prove the validity of data.

Finally, Davies referenced the Metanet flag vote held by nChain, and release of the full technical summary, which we covered previously.

All of this can seem a bit complicated for those without a technical background, but the important thing is that, as covered by Davies’ use cases, the end result once more businesses join BSV will be a seamless, more powerful, more secure experience for end users, only possible with Bitcoin SV.