Speaking to an audience in New York City on Thursday, Digital Asset CEO Blythe Masters and R3 founder and CEO David Rutter worked to cast their projects not as applications but as entire ecosystems for developers to build apps of their own.
Rutter and Masters took the stage during the first session of the Synchronize 2018 event. For Masters and Digital Asset, the fireside chat was an opportunity to showcase a new developer program built around the startup's smart contract scripting language, DAML (which stands for Digital Asset Modeling Language).
"The reality," Masters said, "is that not all smart contracts are created equal, and some are not entirely smart." She added that "simply building guardrails" is a powerful tool to prevent catastrophes arising from poorly coded smart contracts.
Masters was alluding to the hack and subsequent collapse of The DAO, the ethereum-based funding vehicle that fell apart in 2016 following a debilitating code exploit.
Indeed, both chief executives spoke about the need for outside input – and development – for their respective platforms.
Rutter said that "we aspire to be the internet for finance and if you want to do that you're not going to do it with 175 people and $120 million," and Masters, on the question of interoperability, said "we need cooperation" in order to connect the different types of technology platforms being created.
"I don't think it's going to be a winner-takes-all outcome," she went on to say.
In addition to security and reliability, the discussion focused on confidentiality.
"When you're talking about markets where trillions of dollars are traded every day," Rutter said, confidentiality is incredibly important. R3's Corda platform and Digital Asset, he continued, "are going to create innovation in financial services for the first time in our lives."
For both platforms, however, the most important thing is cultivating a community of developers to build on top of the base-level ledger.
"We don't think the proprietary vertical stack is the way to go," said Rutter, adding that firms that pursue that outcome "will pay the price."
Image by David Floyd for CoinDesk
Correction: This article has been updated to reflect that DAML stands for Digital Asset Modeling Language, not Digital Asset Markup Language.