Companies, here’s how to participate in the blockchain

To check or validate transactions or vote on protocol updates, you need a little budget, a lot of support, and absolutely no bias.

Does blockchain chicken talk to you? In early 2018, Carrefour announced with great fanfare the launch of a blockchain-based chicken supply chain tracking tool. The blockchain is private, i.e. controlled by Carrefour itself, unlike Bitcoin or Ethereum, public blockchains which are decentralized protocols. Over the past three years, examples of companies that have experimented with public blockchains have multiplied, such as Société Générale, which has twice issued bonds on Ethereum. Some go even further by participating in the protocol, by being a “node”. Either to store blockchain information, to validate transactions or to vote on updates. It is often possible to pay for node maintenance. But before embarking on the adventure, you need some basic requirements.

little budget

To become a knot, you have to take out the checkbook but you don’t need to arrange a lot of zeros either. You will need a computer, an internet connection, and a server that is available 24 hours a day. “A computer with 8GB of RAM with 300GB of storage is enough. Many run it on a Rasperry pi,” explains Gilles Cadignan, CEO of Woleet, a company that specializes in electronic signature across the Bitcoin blockchain. For $300, you can have a full knot (A node that checks all the rules of the Bitcoin blockchain, editor’s note). Count a few dozen dollars a month to run your full bitcoin node in the cloud,” the manager continues. The more complex the blockchain (Bitcoin is the simpler), the higher the costs of running a node. To implement your own node, it is necessary to download the software. In the Bitcoin world, the reference is Bitcoin. Core, and updated regularly.” “Make sure the software is reliable because everything you record on the blockchain will be proven,” warns Gilles Cadignan.

To participate in a protocol, at one time or another you will have tokens (or tokens) in your hands. For the Tezos blockchain, for example, you must have at least 8000 tokens (at about $6 each) to have a chance of being selected as a network validator. “The more blocks you have, the more likely you are to choose a protocol, and the more blocks you produce, the more you pay for the protocol. For example, you earn 40 tesoo for every block produced,” explains Hadrian Zira, director of Adoption, at Nomadic Labs, the dedicated research and development laboratory for Tezos.

To buy a token, you have to go through a cryptocurrency exchange, which takes a commission for each transaction. Choose an organized player. In France, there is a list of players registered with the Autorité des marchés Financiers (AMF).

accompanies a lot

With Blockchain technology being very small and very complex, it is best to go through a service provider who will guide you from the ground up. If you go through Ethereum you can turn to the company Consensys, for Tezos you can go into Nomadic Labs, or simply go to the respective blockchain website where you will find the technical documentation. Some providers even offer to accompany you in installing your own node, such as Nomadic Labs. Others offer daily support. The Polymath blockchain specialized in security tokens (digital financial assets) provides its users with Microsoft Teams. We answer you within a few minutes,” says Oltan Miller, managing partner at Saxon Advisors, a Polymath user.

There are also multiblockchain service providers, who can point you to the blockchain that best suits your needs and guide you in installation. In France, Exaion, a subsidiary of EDF, is marketing the blockchain as a service offering, which covers fifteen protocols, with the exception of Bitcoin, which is considered energy-intensive. This entity, which was launched at the beginning of the year, handles the development of the protocol layer up to the front end. Fatih Bailiyi, CEO of Exaion asserts, “It is easier to get access to us through various providers. In addition, we are not too extreme on Bitcoin or Ethereum.” To date, Exaion manages hundreds of nodes on behalf of its 20 clients. “We are the most stable contract manager. Our contracts never fall out,” confirms the manager who defines having two dedicated datacenters.

Learning with passion

Even if your service provider takes care of everything, our experts come together: You need in-house IT skills. “Cloud infrastructure operators can do the job very well,” says Thomas Borrel, CPO at Polymath. “An engineer will easily be able to run the Tezos software because it is well documented,” says Henri Lieutaud, blockchain manager at insurance company Wakam. To enhance his skills, you have to add a little passion. Henri Lieutaud adds: “No one has obviously done 10 years of study on blockchain. We all learned online. So you have to give your team time to immerse themselves in it.” Fatih Baileli asserts that “the best blockchain profilers are the ninja developers. They learn on the job.” Some structures such as Nomadic Labs also offer user training.

From safety to madness

When you participate in the blockchain, you are using its cryptocurrency. So it needs to be stored somewhere so you don’t lose it, get hacked, or someone in the company leaves with the cash register. It is highly recommended to use an offline wallet such as the Ledger nano S (usually used by individuals) or the Pro version, Ledger Vault. Take a good look if the wallet integrates a multi-signature solution that allows two or more users to validate transactions (CEO and CFO for example). “The more cryptocurrencies you have, the better it is to look for customized solutions for businesses,” Hadrian Zira asserts. “The solutions for professionals are great, but if the cost of setting them up is more than the amount you need to insure, it is not worth it. For example, we have 40 thousand euros in Tezos, we do not have a professional solution. But when we scale up, we will,” explains Henry Lloyd.

Prejudice, not at all

Our experts have one password: fear not. “Blockchain is often misunderstood because it is so complex. We often think that you have to be an engineer to understand and share. Before that was the case, but now there are a lot of projects that are being built to reach a broader scale,” says Thomas Borrell. “You shouldn’t be afraid to try. And you shouldn’t look for the perfect solution because it doesn’t exist. You have to take a risk, but a calculated risk of course,” said Henry Lloyd.

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