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Multi-Party Systems in Blockchain Explained

Since this post was written, Hyperledger FireFly has reached 1.0. Learn more here!

In every industry, companies have to work together to share information, transact business, resolve disputes, and solve a whole host of problems. However, many of the processes used to accomplish these activities are products of another era. Outdated systems are the rule rather than the exception. 

For example, healthcare providers still rely on fax machines to share medical documents. Many international shipping and supply chain companies are still flying physical documents around the world to get signatures. Reps at car insurance companies still often need to call each other after every single crash. 

In example after example, the level of digitization that most of us have come to expect is simply not there. The reason for this is that it’s very difficult to build multi-party systems that can be used and trusted by multiple companies within the same industry ecosystem. 

For one, these companies are often competitors, so cooperation is already hard. Not only that, even if they did want to work together, their systems and databases are rarely compatible. Most importantly, how can a shared system be trusted when anyone can make edits (or deletions!) at any time?

Multi-Party Systems and Blockchain

This is where blockchain comes in. Blockchain provides an immutable, shared ledger, that can only be modified by group consensus. Trust isn’t an issue because smart contracts and consensus algorithms automate how data on the blockchain is added, deleted, or modified. Not only that, but blockchains are fully auditable. All transactions and data involved in the systems can be easily tracked, verified, stored, and secured. 

Most importantly of all, blockchains make it possible to create digital twins of real world assets, using both coins (fungible tokens) and NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Think of things like car deeds, house titles, marriage certificates, death certificates, or even diplomas.

Tokenization makes it possible to create a digital representation of these things on the blockchain, moving them off paper and into the digital realm. Once there, it becomes much easier to instrument and automate processes around them, eliminating paperwork, lawyers, and notaries and greatly improving efficiency.

These unique characteristics of blockchain make it possible to create multi-party systems in which different companies can work together and collaborate to share data and information in a standardized way.  

Benefits of Blockchain-Based Multi-Party Systems

Multi-party systems based on blockchain technology solve many problems that are currently preventing companies from digitizing their back office processes, including:

  • Creating a single source of truth that every party can trust
  • Making it possible to standardize data across companies 
  • Introducing token capabilities that make it possible to create digital twins of real world assets, transfer value, create tokenized incentives, or fractionalize ownership of assets
  • Automating business processes in response to blockchain transactions
  • Processing events from multiple sources in the correct order that is honored through the system
  • Allowing companies to share private data with each other where they need to, without other parties being able to view the data. 

In other words, multi-party systems make it easy for different parties to collect, store, and safely transmit data throughout the system securely and efficiently. For companies who regularly have to share data with one another or who need an effective, standardized data infrastructure to work together effectively, multi-party systems are ideal. 

Diagram showing how business processes are consolidated and streamline with blockchain-based multi-party systems

Examples of Multi-Party Systems Using Blockchain

There are many multi-party systems that are already being used to great effect throughout the world. Here are some examples of multi-party systems that are thriving currently: 

The Institutes RiskStream Collaborative - a large multi-party system operating in the risk management and insurance industry that runs on Canopy, a custom blockchain architecture. This multi-party system helps across a number of use cases in the Property and Casualty and Life and Annuities spaces. For example, it’s Mortality Monitor solution helps to provide a single source of truth for processing death benefits and claims, reducing the burden on beneficiaries by decreasing the number of claims they have to submit to individual insurance providers.

Covantis - a multi-party system operating in the international shipping industry. This multi-party system is designed to digitize the core processes of bulk international shipping, including vessel nominations, string management, documentary instructions, document issuance, and more. The goal of the Covantis multi-party system is to provide a single source of truth in the shipping industry while speeding up communications, reducing errors, and increasing data security across supply chains.

TradeGo - a global commodities trading consortium with a multi-party system called Digital Presentation. Digital Presentation uses a custom blockchain architecture that helps facilitate international commodities trading activity by verifying and recording transactions. It enables the sharing of highly confidential, original trading documents in a digital format, which dramatically improves efficiency for parties involved in this market. 

How to Build a Multi-Party System on Blockchain

Building a multi-party system with blockchain technology can be incredibly beneficial for companies that need single points of truth, increased security, increased efficiency, and reduced human error. The best way for organizations to build a multi-party system on blockchain is with Hyperledger FireFly, one of Hyperledger Foundation’s newest and fastest growing projects.

Hyperledger FireFly makes it easy for blockchain consortia to build:

  1. A single source of truth coordination system across parties 
  2. Per-member plumbing software to enable reliable, private integration to and from the coordination system
  3. Cross-org plumbing software that provides robust cross-connectivity among members alongside the single source of truth coordination system for use when the coordination system is not suitable or not preferred as the data flow mechanism. Examples include sensitive data, low latency messaging, and large data flows
  4. A control plane to manage all of these runtime and configuration details

All of these things are necessary to run a multi-party system on a blockchain that serves all members of the consortium. 

Multi-party system technical architecture diagram

However, many consortia that set out to build multi-party systems end up getting stuck on the plumbing layers, where they struggle to get into production with mounting expenses and time delays. Hyperledger FireFly simplifies these aspects of development, making it possible to get into production much quicker and more cheaply.

Save thousands of hours and lines of code by leveraging Hyperledger FireFly to build a multi-party system on blockchain

All of this is provided on a powerful, flexible platform with a full suite of APIs that make it easy for developers to build applications on public or private blockchains using their existing development skill-set.

Not only that, but FireFly is fully pluggable, allowing the underlying infrastructure components like the database, blob store, messaging technology, and the blockchain itself to be swapped out. All of this adds up to a platform that enables developers to build blockchain apps up to 100x faster by allowing them to focus on business logic instead of infrastructure.

Ready to build your own multi-party system on blockchain? Hyperledger FireFly is included in Kaleido’s free starter plan, so sign up for a free trial today or reach out to our team for a free consultation!

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