A Big Lesson from the Delaware Blockchain Amendments
Andrea Tinianow, the founding director of the Delaware Blockchain Initiative (and ‘Blockchain Czarina’), recently published a very insightful article on the significant gap in the mainstream protocols for security tokens. The gap is in the way the Delaware Blockchain Amendments are interpreted by the mainstream security token platforms.
The Delaware Blockchain Amendments were an outcome of the Delaware Blockchain Initiative. The Amendments were introduced in the Delaware Senate Bill 69 and signed by the Governor on July 21, 2017. This landmark legislation allows Delaware corporations to maintain their stock ledgers on a blockchain. In making this provision, what the Delaware Bill meant was that all of the stock ledger data should be maintained on the chain, rather than only a portion of the data.
The more accurate interpretation of the provision bumps up against one limitation that public blockchains face. As the number of nodes in the chain grows dramatically—as it should in a truly decentralized system—the performance of the chain suffers. Validation, consensus, and finality take longer and longer. The problem becomes significant when security tokens are involved, since the data payload of securities transactions is much larger than the normal token payment data within Bitcoin and other payment-oriented cryptocurrencies and tokens. More importantly, contract execution is much more complicated than technical (or cryptographic) validation of transactions. Even simple contracts can generate a multitude of mini-transactions that need to follow a labyrinth of complex processes in the securities world. All this activity generates more data, exacerbating a problem that currently has no clean solution in fully decentralized public blockchains.
One way around this problem is to put securities data off-chain and store the keys on-chain. This can provide some relief on storage but probably not as much impact on performance. Even with the limited payload, the Bitcoin blockchain has grown from around 1 MB in 2010 to more than 170 GB eight years later! Transactions speeds are even less impressive. Hardcore fans of Bitcoin deem it unfair to compare its 7 transactions per second with that of Visa (which conducts around 20,000-30,000 or even more transactions per second), since Visa had over 60 years to improve its technology. Presumably, Bitcoin fans predict that Bitcoin’s transaction speed would match that of Visa if the Bitcoin network too had a couple of decades of improvements. But these arguments miss the point: by the time Bitcoin achieves Visa’s throughput, Visa itself could double or treble its own performance. Ethereum too is facing similar issues and currently experimenting with various approaches, including sharding and proof-of-stake.
In any case, putting securities data off-chain violates the provisions of the Amendments. “Thus, although the ERC-884 is designed to transfer shares of stock, the share ownership information is captured in an off-chain database,” says Andrea Tinianow, alluding to a derivative of the ERC-20 protocol. “This arrangement is in stark contrast to what was contemplated by the Delaware Blockchain Amendments….”
In contrast, the KoreChain maintains all information on the chain. Scalability and performance are not issues precisely because this is a permissioned chain with functional sharding (a topic for another blog) but no mining, proof-of-work, or proof-of-stake. The KoreToken protocol also addresses the full ecosystem of participants in securities transactions. The implementation of services is too important to leave it to interpretations and all the subsequent hassle of reconciling varied interpretations. For example, even the most basic partial sale of security tokens on a secondary market exchange requires a minimum of twenty-five separate sub-transactions involving upto five participants. In order to be robust, real-life implementations have many more steps. Currently, all these steps do take place, but the majority of them happen after the primary sale transaction occurs. These tasks fall into various groups of activities such as clearance, settlement, reporting, disclosure, and corporate record-keeping.
There is no debate that the whole process is inefficient, costly, and error-prone. This makes the process an excellent candidate for true smart contracts on the blockchain. But this does not imply that the blockchain makes these tasks unnecessary. From the context of a naive security token protocol, Andrea Tinianow points out in her article, “Tokenized shares do not eliminate many of the types of errors that are symptomatic of a system that relies on third-party intermediaries to manage and control shareholder databases.” KoreChain, engineered carefully to be fully compliant with all the complexities of securities regulation and corporate law, mitigates errors and creates efficient end-to-end securities transactions without ignoring the risks. The KoreChain implements all tasks that are mandated by securities regulation and corporate law.
Kiran Garimella, Ph.D., is the chief scientist and chief technology officer at KoreConX, leading the strategy and development of blockchain and machine learning solutions. A sought after speaker and author, Kiran has more than 25 years experience in information technology, consulting and financial services.