Factom: A Data Layer for the Blockchain

Trust is a rare commodity in today’s global economy. Yet we must trust various parties to participate in this increasingly computerized marketplace. Until recently, electronic records have been particularly hard to protect, challenging to synchronize and difficult to verify, largely because computer records are so easy to change. We use heavy regulation to try and minimize failures, and massive insurance systems to pave over the failures that none the less occur.

Then Bitcoin introduced the blockchain. A blockchain is a distributed mechanism to lock in data, making it immutable, verifiable and independently auditable. The Bitcoin blockchain was used to create a secure digital currency and payment system.    

But think of the benefits if you could also use the blockchain to secure and verify general purpose data!

Using Factom, you can.

Application Layer

“Bitcoin is used to transfer value between parties. With Factom we can use this powerful ledger to secure general purpose data.”

Factom is most easily understood as a protocol that provides unlimited books of blank paper. Users of the protocol can take a book, label it with the title of their choice, open the book, and write on a page. When that page is submitted to Factom it cannot be altered or deleted. Nobody can back-date a page. All the data written into the book is preserved in the order it was presented to the Factom protocol.

Does Practically Nothing

“Factom does practically nothing. But by limiting itself to simply recording and securing data, Factom enables practically anything.”

Factom was designed to scale. Just like you can go into a library and select only the books that interest you, Factom allows users of the protocol to select only the books of interest to their application. Users do not have to download and process the whole library.

And again, Factom is like a library. A library can support the documentation of any information at all, from fiction and romance novels, to scientific journals and history books. Factom can also support any application at all that needs to document the past.


All decisions are made based on data. To defend a decision, proof is needed of the data on which a decision is based.

Factom becomes the technology applications can use to validate and verify the creative process of producing art, music, and literature. It becomes the technology that allows tracking of licensing of creative works. Factom can even be used to track their use.

Factom becomes the technology to secure land titles. And it does so in a way that ensures the records belong to the people. The records cannot be changed or altered without in fact adding such changes to the book. This ensures a permanent record if fraud occurs.

Book Ancient

It is said that the winners write the history books. But Factom provides the seed for a technology that does not allow for the selective recording of the past, editing of the past, or inventing the past. Factom provides the means of creating records honestly and securely.

The Factom Alpha API is available today, and many developers are beginning to work with it. Open source, cryptocurrencies, and distributed applications are changing the world. This is just the beginning of their ultimate applications.

The most exciting days are still ahead!

About the Author

Paul Snow

Paul Snow


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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