A modified version of bitcoin's software is now available for enterprise use.
Built over the course of almost four years by venture-backed startup Coin Sciences, the open-source MultiChain 1.0 software is said to inherit much of the security and stability of its predecessor, but with differences designed to make it more suitable for corporate users.
Launched today, MultiChain is claimed to enable networks of users to conduct 1,000 transactions per second - a volume the startup argues is required by prospective clients.
As part of the 1.0 launch, Coin Sciences has also unveiled 14 new members of its partner program, including multinational consulting firm Cognizant and Medici Ventures, the Overstock.com subsidiary behind the tØ blockchain stock exchange.
The latest among a string of private blockchain offerings seeking to entice open-source developers, MultiChain 1.0 is designed to let corporations more easily leverage tools originally designed for bitcoin.
Coin Sciences co-founder and CEO Gideon Greenspan told CoinDesk:
"The whole ecosystem of applications and libraries and explorers built for bitcoin are very highly compatible with MultiChain, or sometimes they can be used immediately without modification."
Crucial among a series of upgrades in this version of MultiChain is a new feature called "Streams" that is aimed to make it easier for developers to store and retrieve information about when data was written to the blockchain, who wrote the data, and more.
Other top line features highlighted by Greenspan include a simplified process for spinning up a new blockchain and nodes; permissioned credentials for using addresses on the blockchain to represent identities; support for assets being issued, transferred and traded; and, perhaps most importantly, bitcoin compatibility with protocol transaction APIs.
Originally launched into alpha in 2015, earlier versions of MultiChain have already been downloaded 60,000 times, the firm says. MultiChain 1.0 is available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS, as well as Microsoft Azure.
Bitcoin fork compatible
Overall, the launch can be seen as a continuing of efforts that began years ago, when the startup sought to launch a "bitcoin 2.0" protocol designed for the creation of alternative assets on a public blockchain.
For example, Coin Sciences pioneered an attempt to use colored coins that were customized to represent assets. Called CoinSpark, the product had difficulty gaining traction among a pool of competing protocols that were based on bitcoin and that weren't designed for businesses.
Seeking better traction among potential customers, this offering was evolved into a permissioned blockchain built with the help of Coin Sciences' partner program, a group that after today's announcement now includes 43 members.
As of today, the MultiChain partner program consists of two tracks: one for platform developers who are building applications for third parties on the MultiChain platform, and another for those using it in their own proprietary solutions.
Based on feedback from early partners, Coin Sciences said it responded to requests for new features and was able to observe user behavior to build solutions that weren't specifically requested, but simplified tasks.
Due in part to the customizable design, Greenspan said of yesterday's bitcoin split into two competing cryptocurrencies: "MultiChain is completely compatible with both."
"When you create a blockchain on MultiChain, you can customize that and about 45 other parameters so that the protocol-level limitations are removed based on reconfiguring each blockchain separately," he explained.
Currently, most of Coin Sciences' revenue comes from consulting fees, but, with the launch of MultiChain 1.0, Greenspan hopes that will change.
With VC backing from Mosaic Ventures and investor Zohar Gilon, the Israel-based team of four expects to deploy a number of service-level agreements, though Greenspan wouldn't reveal possible partners.
Going forward, MultiChain 2.0, which is already in development, is expected to include a second set of platform tools that are not included in the open-source "community" version, but will be part of a paid software license.
For the time being, Greenspan is keeping details of the future product close to his chest.
"We've got a very clear idea of what those features are going to be, although we're not talking about them with anyone but our partners at this point."
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