Last week the senior technical executives from Chia Network, Gene Hoffman, Bram Cohen and Paul Hainsworth, as well as J. Eckert moderating, hosted an Ask Me Anything about their product roadmap. This presentation was extremely information dense compared to Chia’s usual fare and there is a lot to talk about. I am going to break the AMA down into three or four parts this week in order to cover everything that was of interest to me.
The first thing that was discussed in detail was the Chia Asset Tokens, or CATs, that they are currently in the process of building. This touches on a confidential project they are working on, Project Asteroids, for a “major customer”. They were weirdly cagey about whether they were being paid for, discussing whether they could discuss being paid and deciding on no, they couldn’t. Edit: It appears this might be project Atari, with Asteroids being the overall CAT token standard which will be discussed later when talking about DeFi. Gene expanded a little bit about what they will be using the blockchain for, which seems to be for keeping track of asset databases changes between multiple databases without requiring trust between the database operators.
This is an interesting idea, one that I hope they do discuss in more detail when they can. To speculate for a moment, what I think they are doing here is not using on-chain transactions to fully track assets, but to act as a confirmation layer than an organization claiming ownership over an asset will be doublechecked on chain. So if Organization A owns an asset and sells it to Organization B, Organizations C and D do not have to trust B that it owns the asset, they can check ownership of the CAT on-chain. At that point Organization B will be responsible for all database updates and maintenance of that asset, not on-chain, and no blockchain activity relating to that CAT happens again unless the underlying asset changes hands. This would prevent Organization A from acting maliciously and selling the asset to two organizations at the same time (or making an error in one database somewhere and creating confusion in federated organizations).
I can see some benefits here, as inter-enterprise federation is always a tricky subject and can be difficult to implement without a 3rd party broker. This is an area that I specialize in, and can be a really big deal during Merger and Acquisition deals (M&A), so I am very much awaiting the details here. There is a lot to be gained here, but it is very tricky to do it well.
The other big news about CATs is that Chia Network is developing it for a real customer! This is very good news for the long term viability of the company, and one of my biggest concerns – that they had set their sights too high without an established history of successful execution on enterprise projects, so presuming this goes well for them it will likely open a lot of doors. As will every subsequent successful enterprise project.
Also on the roadmap, and related, is an Enterprise CAT issuing tool. I imagine this will be an open source release that has been de-customized from their specific Project Asteroids customer business requirements and made more universal for a wider array of businesses. . They also mentioned a standalone wallet as a requirement for Project Asteroids, which makes sense. No one is going to use this if they have to maintain a Chia Full node and Wallet sync and the lack of user security around the current basic wallet. Something closer to a Nucle or a Arbor Wallet that supports their CATs will be required in order to make this a workable user experience for enterprise customers. They will also need all the custodial, multi-signature, multi-key wallets they have been talking about so I suspect a lot of that is coming soon.
Check back tomorrow for Part 2, covering the various wallet features coming. Edit: Live now here.