最有看点的互联网金融门户

最有看点的互联网金融门户
全新的互联网金融模式区块链国际资讯

放下偏见,不要以比特币的视角看区块链

比特币的高明之处散发着魔法一般的吸引力。中本聪设计的这种加密数字货币系统将很多巧妙的创新杂糅杂一起。它引发了外界对于区块链技术可以怎样应用到其他领域的热议。

我经常听到有人宣称,和比特币一样,其他一切区块链技术应用都必须去中心化、匿名、端对端,完全不受央行发行的货币束缚,也不受政府监管约束,其设计目的只是为了削弱功成名就的商业、技术和政治机构。

事实上,这种思维是非常有局限性的,可是它却很普遍,即便今年人们陷入狂热,热衷于对几乎所有可以想象到的计算与商业问题应用区块链、加密数字货币,以及结合诸如智能合约和代币这类更新的开发方向。

当然,我的确也发现,这类技术可能以新的方式赋予个人和中小企业一些创新能力,它们在这方面有掀起革命的潜力。可要是把区块链看作不是全盘接受就该彻底否定的主张,那就走上了歧途。比特币给人们带来的财富是多样的选择,不论是业内的既有企业,还是颠覆行业的新锐,很多组织都可以用这些可选方法改变很多应用,既可以中心化,也可以去中心化。

所以,赶快走出比特币误区吧,因为运用区块链技术并不是自古华山一条道。以下是一些加密数字货币技术的重要特性,任何探索这类技术的人都应考虑在其中做出选择。

中心化 VS 去中心化

为了保证在没有权威中心机构管控的多部电脑中共享可靠的数据库,比特币开发者走了一招秒棋,引进了区块链技术。以太坊则是拓展了比特币的创意,以便让云计算应用能以类似的去中心化方式得到应用。这些都是令人激动不已的巧思,可也别迷恋这种不走寻常路的套路。在执行多任务的时候,传统的云计算服务器不但有效,而且效率很高。而碰到交易量大的情况,目前很多基于区块链的加密货币都还难以跟上需求。

高明的企业会将去中心化和中心化的处理结合使用,视不同的应用选择不同的处理方法。比如比特币的一项前卫应用——数字现金。区块链能实现任何地方的端对端交易,而且无需中介。但数字货币可能被盗或者遗失。那么不妨想象下用一种混合型的支付系统,用区块链账簿验证小规模的交易(实质上就是把你钱包里那些可能丢失的数字现金),但验证规模大的交易就用中心的数据库。

匿名的 VS 可识别的

交易匿名、不可追溯是比特币最有威力的一个特点,它也引起了外界最为两极分化的评价。对于政府监督货币交易有什么合法性,大家各有各的看法,这么说一点不为过。还有很多应用可能既受益于区块链技术,又能识别参与者,记录交易。

假设有一家航空公司开发了一种用加密数字货币记录常客飞行里程的方式。用区块链系统的好处是,客户能更灵活地赚取和消费自己的里程,能和他人任意交易里程。但航空公司还不想放弃那些通过会员制获得的客户信息,所以可能设计一种代币,让它习惯性地向公司报告客户如何使用它。可以想见,客户会得知自己的隐私被侵犯,航空公司会通过给他们量身定制的奖励措施给予补偿。当然,另一家航空公司可能设计一种彻底匿名的虚拟奖励制度。不管是不是匿名,都可以应用这类技术,市场会决定孰优孰劣。

固定值 VS 浮动值

许多建立在以太坊基础上的新应用都和一种特别的货币、或者说代币有关。这类代币可以用来交换某种服务,服务支持其存在。代币的价值会随着这种服务的需求而波动。这种方式有一定吸引力,特别是对那些希望通过向投机者出售货币而融资的公司。投机者认为,那些公司的服务最终会得到热捧。

但其他公司可能希望更直接地控制其服务的价格,于是选择比竞争对手高或者低的价格出售,对客户的收费更有预见性。如果指定用一种全国通用的法定货币付款,很多强大的比特币和加密数字货币技术应用也都能运行良好。还有一些混合的方式,允许代币币值在一定幅度内波动。

自由交易 VS 受限交易

从奖励客户的积分到买咖啡的预付费卡,加密数字货币技术可能让一切我们用来储值的封闭系统与我们喜欢持有的任意货币互换和交易,从而发挥更大的作用,它们有这种潜力。可即便是旨在持有可自由交易货币的应用里,也有些代币自身有交易限制。

比如有一种音乐应用可能寻求发行代币。最终,该应用的用户可以通过写评论获得一些代币。他们用现金购买代币,然后为了奖励他们喜爱的音乐家和购买音乐而消费代币。但最开始,开发者可能要给所有用户发行一定量的代币,使用这种代币受到限制,只能用来买音乐,不能用它兑现。

重点是要懂得,比特币引爆的革命波及范围远远超过单一的延伸产品——数字现金。它甚至超过了有关如何经商的一套意识形态——匿名、去中心化计算。这种创新的观念就是,企业不单单向客户出售产品,还在资助富有的经济体。那些经济体的参与者有多种方式做出贡献及消费。

在货币政策、监管和中心控制方面,政府扶持的经济体采用方式各不相同。同样地,在代币基础上发展起来的新兴私有经济体也会有多种规则和特色,它们会从中本聪高明的创造发明中汲取经验,但不会局限于此。

本文作者Jason Goldberg是消费应用代币化协议Simple Token的创始人兼首席执行官。在投身Simple Token之前,他曾成立消费类互联网公司Pepo, Hem.com、 Fab.com、Social Median和Jobster,曾分别领导电信公司T-Mobile和在线信息服务公司AOL的战略与产品团队。经商以前,他参与了美国前总统克林顿1992年的总统竞选活动。事实上,这是他步入职场的第一份工作,为此他曾在白宫工作六年。目前,他的工作范围覆盖德国柏林、印度浦那和中国香港三地。

The brilliance of Bitcoin is also its curse. The cryptocurrency system devised by Satoshi Nakamoto intricately interweaves so many artful innovations that it has muddied the very active discussion of how blockchain technologies can be applied to other areas.

Far too often I hear people arguing that any use of blockchain technology must, like Bitcoin, be decentralized, anonymous, peer-to-peer, untethered to central bank currencies, unfettered by government regulation, and designed to undercut the business, technological, and political establishments.

That limited mindset is prevalent even amid this year’s frenzy to apply blockchains and cryptocurrencies, along with newer developments like smart contracts and tokens, to nearly every computing and business problem imaginable.

I certainly see the revolutionary potential of these technologies to empower individuals and small businesses in new ways. But it is a mistake to see blockchain as an all or nothing proposition. The legacy of Bitcoin, rather, is a range of options that can transform many applications, both centralized and decentralized, by many organizations, both insurgent and incumbent.

Here is a menu of some of the most significant choices available to anyone exploring cryptocurrency technology:

Centralized vs. decentralized

Bitcoin introduced the blockchain as a brilliant way to maintain a reliable database spread across many computers with no central authority. Ethereum extended this idea to enable cloud computing applications to be deployed in a similarly decentralized way. These are exciting ideas, but don’t fall in love with the ingenuity. Traditional cloud computing servers are very efficient and effective at many tasks. Meanwhile, many of the current crop of blockchain-based cryptocurrencies have had trouble keeping up with high transaction volumes.

Smart companies will blend decentralized and centralized processing depending on the application. Consider, for example, the application pioneered by Bitcoin — digital cash. Blockchain allows peer-to-peer transactions anywhere without an intermediary. But digital coins can be stolen or lost. You could imagine a hybrid payment system that uses a blockchain ledger to validate small transactions (essentially digital cash in your wallet that you might lose) but verifies large amounts with a central database (like money in the bank).

Anonymous vs. identified

The fact that transactions are anonymous and untraceable is one of the most powerful and polarizing facets of Bitcoin. It is an understatement to say that opinions vary about the legitimate role of government in supervising the exchange of money. Many other applications could benefit from blockchain technology while also identifying participants and recording transactions.

Consider an airline that creates a cryptocurrency version of frequent flier miles. The advantage of using a blockchain system would be added flexibility in earning and spending miles and the ability to exchange them freely with other people. Still, airlines would not want to give up the information that loyalty programs give them about their customers, so they might design a token that “phones home” to report on how it is used. Customers, presumably, would be notified about this invasion of their privacy and compensated through customized offers and other incentives. To be sure, another airline might create a fully anonymous crypto rewards program. The technology allows both ways, and the marketplace will decide.

Fixed vs. floating value

A lot of the new applications being built with Ethereum involve a specialized coin or token, whose value is meant to fluctuate with demand for the underlying service for which the coin can be exchanged. This approach has some appeal, especially for companies that want to raise money by selling coins to speculators that believe their services will eventually be highly sought after.

Other companies, however, may want more direct control over their prices, choosing whether to sell at a premium or discount relative to their competitors and offering more predictable expenses to their customers. Many powerful applications for blockchain and cryptocurrency technology work very well if the underlying payments are set in a national fiat currency. There are also hybrid approaches that allow some fluctuations within limited bands.

Freely exchangeable vs. restricted

Cryptocurrency technology has the potential to make all the closed systems we use to store value — from loyalty reward points to prepaid coffee cards — more useful by making them interchangeable and exchangeable into whatever currency we like to hold. But even in applications that intend to have freely exchangeable currencies, there is also a place for some coins to carry restrictions.

A music application, for example, may be looking for a way to jump-start a token. Ultimately, users will earn some coins for writing reviews; they will buy coins for cash; and they will spend coins to reward artists they like and buy music. At first, however, the developer may give a sum of restricted tokens to all its users that can be used to buy music but not converted into cash.

What’s important here is to understand that the revolution Bitcoin has spawned is far bigger than a single product — digital cash. It is bigger even than a single ideology of how to do business — anonymous, decentralized computing. The transformative idea is that companies are not simply selling products to customers, they are sponsoring rich economies in which participants contribute and consume in multiple ways.

Just as government-sponsored economies vary in their approaches to monetary policy, regulation, and central control, the new private token-based economies will also have a range of rules and features, drawing from, but not limited to, the brilliant inventions of Satoshi Nakamoto.

Jason Goldberg is founder and CEO of Simple Token. He previously founded consumer Internet companies Pepo, Hem.com, Fab.com, Social Median, and Jobster and led strategy and product teams for T-Mobile and AOL. Before his career in business, his first startup was Bill Clinton’s campaign for President of the U.S.A. in 1992, which carried Jason to a six-year stint in the White House. He currently splits his time between Berlin, Germany; Pune, India; and Hong Kong.


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