Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) Platforms and the Role of Zap Oracles: Game Changers Recipe
The capabilities of Platform-as-a-service (PaaS) providers have expanded and are offered as part of their cloud offerings. The latter as-a-Service offering is now known as Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS). Indeed, Blockchain use is becoming widely spread, but what are the hottest trends in the blockchain ecosystem and what is the role of Zap oracles? The answer is simple, Oracles and Blockchain-as-a- Service (BaaS).
Platform as a service
Large companies such as Microsoft, IBM, Deloitte, Amazon, and such are moving towards extreme agility in the blockchain space by building their own capabilities as well as collaborating with startups and system integrators to make their respective platforms’ infrastructure compatible with the use of blockchain. These capabilities are crucial at the backend for the smooth utilization of blockchain. Since the entire blockchain ecosystem is a flexuous labyrinth, plagued by infrastructure and developmental challenges in integrating functions and components, therefore, building blockchain solutions is not a very easy endeavor to follow. With BaaS, the journey may be smoother, practical, and also more profitable.
Financial institutions not only become more and more interested in blockchain solutions but also have been closely exploring ways to integrate them into their daily transactions. They can cooperate with a PaaS provider by simply subscribing to one or more of their BaaS packages within a few minutes and start testing the value from each offering. The main benefits, which financial institutions would wish to experience with the use of BaaS are agility, reduced risks, higher operational efficiency, and faster payments, loyalty, loans, asset management, and more.
Recently, Microsoft and Bank of America (BofA) have announced a partnership to revolutionize trade finance transactions with the use of Microsoft’s Azure BaaS. Through this, trade finance processes can be digitized and automated, and also have reduced transactional times. This will lead to more predictable working capital requirements, reduced counterparty risk, higher transparency, just to name a few.
The first question that needs our attention is adoption. How big will blockchain get? How many companies are going to incorporate blockchain technology? What’s the role of oracles in blockchain ecosystem? How important is BaaS?
Once we get the answers to the aforementioned questions, the need for Oracles and BaaS becomes clear. The latter will allow a wide range of businesses and industries to adopt blockchain and oracles into their existing platforms.
On the other hand, BaaS has some limitations. Most specifically, BaaS adds a certain level of centralization to blockchain. Conversely, blockchain is supposed to offer decentralized solutions to centralized problems. The latter could be applied both to the banks and any trusted middleman.
Though BaaS does require one to depend on a centralized third party, it is a great stimulus towards expanding the implementation of blockchain technology. But before getting to this point, let’s examine the blockchain and third-party validators’ hype.
How big will blockchain get?
Blockchain is spreading its strong roots throughout different layers of our socio-economic livelihood. According to the Gartner.com statistics: “The word “blockchain” was the second most-searched-for term as of February 2017, furthermore, the search volume has increased 4 times during previous 12 months.” Meaning that people are starting to experience it. A quick search on Google trends will indicate that the interest towards all aspects of blockchain is experiencing exponential growth over the past few months. Furthermore, the public interest goes way beyond simple curiosity. A prime example is the recent growth of ICO’s. The ICO market expanded by over 4 billion US dollars in 2017. And it’s not simply associated with the new startups’ increasing business interest in blockchain.
How many companies are going to incorporate blockchain technology?
According to IBM, “91% of surveyed banks are investing in blockchain solutions for deposit-taking by 2018 to protect against start-up non-banks.” This shows a very comprehensive overview of just how big of an impact blockchain has made on the financial sector. Other estimates state that Google’s entire computing power will amount to only 5% of the total computing power of the bitcoin blockchain. The latter is obviously less than 5% of all blockchain computing power.
It’s not just banking sector, there are numerous other industries that blockchain could disrupt. Most specifically, blockchain can be implemented in Cybersecurity, Academia, Government, Music, and Arts, and even Ride Sharing. This list has several other potential implications, but the important fact is that Blockchain is exponentially penetrating to our everyday lives. The big players such as Microsoft and IBM has been adding BaaS modules to their cloud-computing platforms. Microsoft’s Azure is based on the Ethereum blockchain. IBM’s own BaaS service, Hyperledger Is built on the Bluemix Cloud Platform. The latter are more integrated with private consortium blockchains.
Now that we discussed this exponentially increasing interest and growth of blockchain, we can proceed to the discussions of the role of oracles in blockchain ecosystem and the importance of BaaS.
What’s the role of oracles in blockchain ecosystem?
The Oracle is a third party validator, which finds and verifies real-world events and triggers and submits this information to a blockchain to be used by smart contracts. Oracles supply external data and trigger smart contract executions when predefined conditions are met, i.e. any data associated with weather temperature, successful payment, price fluctuations, etc.
On the Zap oracle marketplace, anyone from an individual to large corporations can create or access oracles on their own terms. Decentralized application developers are able to create a new generation of Dapps capable of integrating “real-world” data. What follows is a short outline of how existing markets (finance, insurance, real estate, shipping, Dapps) can make use of Zap market.
How can the Finance Industry benefit from Oracles?
There are tens of thousands of hedge funds that are filled with quantitative and algorithmic traders (Quants) who use data in order to make their trades. Quants extrapolate metadata in order to analyze trends. With oraclized smart contracts, quants will have another tool that can be used to execute their trades automatically. Through the Zap Store, traders can access numerous data feeds, as well as request specific data that is not available through a bounty.
How can the Insurance Industry benefit from Oracles?
The ZAP store’s data marketplace will provide insurance companies with an opportunity to provide self-actuating insurance, which automatically pays customers eligible for a payout. With smart contracts, insurance payouts can be predetermined, streamlining the process for insurers and consumers alike. In this scenario, doctors in a decentralized insurance network would use their private key to sign the smart contract, releasing the funds in order to pay for their service. This is an example of humans acting as oracles.
How can the Real Estate Industry benefit from Oracles?
In the decentralized Zap marketplace, anyone could go on the streets with a clicker counter and track foot traffic. Apart from heatmaps, real estate transactions can be made much simpler through the use of smart contracts. A smart contract can be linked to a data feed that will show a change in ownership of a specific property. Once this change in ownership is recognized, the oracle will automatically sign the transaction and release the payment to the former owner of said property. This principle can be used for rentals as well.
How can the Shipping Industry benefit from Oracles?
The magnitude of international commerce is enormous. Billions of packages are shipped around the world each year, and yet millions of those packages “disappear” due to factors including inconsistent tracking methods or controls, carelessness, or even outright fraud. Smart contracts can be used to track shipments, inventory and indeed, any economic activity characterized by a process (e.g. construction, assemblage, even large-scale financial reporting). Furthermore, the shipping companies can use Zap as an alternate source of income by publishing their data as an oracle and allowing others to access the data. The data that generated by shipping companies is immense and is already used to determine market trends.
How can Daaps benefit from Oracles?
Daaps (Decentralized applications) are protocols that leverage smart contracts and blockchain technology in order to create ‘unstoppable apps’ that don’t require middlemen such as Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store. In order to make Dapps and smart contracts capable of the feats that are outlined in the Ethereum whitepaper, there needs to be a method of making off-chain information usable by smart contracts. The Zap oracle marketplace is the solution.
How important is BaaS?
Not many people realize the crucial role of HTTPS. Most importantly, without HTTPs, online business would not be possible. Since all passwords and private information would be public to everyone. Therefore, the internet would not be safe. at all. But how many people are really aware of that? Despite using HTTPS almost every day, your average user wouldn’t be able to tell you what HTTPS does for them. That’s what makes HTTPS so amazing.
The path to success is never easy, and the situation here is no exception due to problems of fragmentation and interconnectivity between various BaaS solutions. Nevertheless, these challenges create opportunities, which successfully tackled can make the system more robust. It is said that the only impossible journey is one that you never begin. While in our case the journey has started and promises to bring spectacular results.
[Disclaimer: Nick Spanos, who is a co-founder of Zap.org, is also a co-founder of Cryptos.com]