End of Year Reflections and New Year Ambitions

By Paul Snow – CEO

It has been a very busy year at Factom and customer interest in our solutions has been intense. We wanted to take a bit of the time afforded by the slowdown in customer demands created by the end of the year to give an update on what has been going on at Factom and where we see 2018 going. 

It has been a very busy quarter with tremendous interest in our solutions coming from the financial services industry.  One thing about working with financial services firms is they take confidentiality very seriously and this concern shows up in their contracts and agreements.  In most cases, any substantive conversation with a financial services firm requires non-disclosure agreements with strict limits on what can we can talk about, what we can announce and when.  A lack of announcements and posts does not always correlate to a lack of activity, and in some cases, the correlation can be inverse.  We are very excited by the prospects we see for 2018.  

We want to do some things to work with and support the community in the coming year.  While we are still working out some of the details, I would like to break with the past to some extent, and think out loud about some of our plans.

Factom will be working with the community to set up a test net of Factom servers to work through some of the practical issues of running a distributed network of Factom servers.  In support of the community effort, Factom will provide:
  • Instructions on setting up identities in Factom.
  • Instructions and, where practical, scripts for the deployment of docker containers with Factom Federated Servers.
  • Instructions for defining and building a custom Factom network.
  • Instructions for how to join a custom Factom network.

Creating this test net is going to do quite a number of things for us.  It's going to help us understand how we deploy updates to servers run by lots of parties.  It is going to provide a place people can record data that isn't really in Factom.  It will run the servers in many places under a range of network conditions.  So we will get information about what works and doesn't work in the real world.

We will be accelerating work on the completion and deployment the full Factom Protocol (M3).  As with most businesses, we review and adjust our business plans, our objectives, and our priorities at the end of the year. Our team took a look at all the possibilities for 2018 and we've decided to double down on the protocol, and more importantly, we have decided to double down on our community, and prepare them for M3.

In the coming year we will detail how to setup and register the identities required to be a Federated Server as well as how to set up a Federated Server Candidate.  

It has been a while since I posted my thoughts about why Factom is such a game changer.  

While Factom has been live since September 2015, Factom remains unique in the blockchain space.  The amazing thing is just how powerful, yet how simple Factom really is.  Factom was designed to do things that one just couldn't do on a traditional Blockchain without something like Factom.

Factom is the only token/credit Blockchain in the market.

Factom not only implemented Segregated Witness before any other chain, Factom did so before the technology had a name.

In fact, Factom implemented Segregated Witness in spades:
  • Signatures are hashed separately from Factoid transactions.
  • Factoid transactions are used to create Entry Credits (which act like prepaid fees).
  • Entry Credits are spent by creating commit transactions, which are recorded separately from Factoid Transactions.
  • Commits pay for the recording of data.
  • Data is recorded separately from Commit transactions and Factoid Transactions.

This model means applications that need data don't have to download or process every Factoid transaction or Commit Transaction.  They can just download the data they need.  Every user chain of data is segregated from any other chain.

The focus on Segregation of proofs and data has made Factom the only pure data play in the Blockchain space. Data is valid because it matches a set of hashes, which tie every data entry to the Bitcoin Blockchain.  The only thing Factom validates is data integrity, i.e. its hash matches the hash in a Merkle Tree that links the data to a directory block, and to a hash in Bitcoin.  Proving validity of an entry written to Factom only requires matching hashes.  

So what good is data, organized into ordered sets (chains) and validated as immutable by a system of hashes that link it to the Bitcoin Blockchain?  Well, quite a bit.  Use cases include:
  • Lightweight digital identities
  • Version verification of software
  • Timelines for loan processing for banks
  • Timelines for claim processing for insurance companies
  • The development and approval of legal documents
  • Digitized assets
  • Custody chains for goods
  • Audit trails for copyrighted assets
  • Client side smart contracts to manage real world assets

We are thankful for our community and we intend to stay connected in the next year as we grow. The future will be a continual focus (as we always do) on the utility of the protocol. To that end, we have some big dreams for next year, including: releasing more open source examples of what can be done with Factom, anchoring into more chains, hosting Factom events, and helping companies use Factom for their use cases.

We wish you a happy holiday season and a happy new year. It is going to be a glorious 2018!

Paul Snow

About the Author

Paul Snow

Paul Snow

CEO

A leader in the open-source technology arena, Paul brings more than three decades of software development experience to his position at the helm of Factom. A true open-source evangelist, Paul also acts as Chief Architect for DTRules, a open source project he founded in 2004 to make Decision Table based Rules Engines available to all sorts of projects.

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