As explained in the first part in this series of articles about NEO’s vision of a Smart Economy, to create a smart economy we need to have pretty much everything within it automated, fully secured and built on trust. NEO is working together with Ontology to realize this goal. The founders of NEO and Ontology are both coming from the private company Onchain, which gives technical support to both. In this article we will explain more about Ontology Network.
Blockchain adoption by businesses
At the moment blockchain technology is something that has piqued the interest of a lot of real world businesses, institutions and governments but it is still far away from being fully adopted by them. The main reasons for this are:
1. There are no easy ways for them to start using the technology right away
2. The lack of trust
3. The fact that most cryptocurrencies are all open source and not every company is willing to put all of their data on these open-source blockchains/public ledgers for everyone to see
This is where Ontology Network comes in. Ontology will take trust to the next level and together with NEO they will play a huge part in bringing blockchain to businesses and institutions all around us. NEO will be in the center of the Smart Economy, and Ontology will be the bridge between different blockchains like NEO, real world businesses and individuals.
This is the description from the official Ontology website and white paper:
Ontology Network is a blockchain/distributed ledger network which combines distributed identity verification, data exchange, data collaboration, procedure protocols, communities, attestation, and various industry-specific modules. Together this builds the infrastructure for a peer-to-peer trust network which is cross-chain, cross-system, cross-industry, cross-application, and cross-device.
That’s a mouthful and it sounds very ambitious. But what does it all mean? In the above explanation there are a few interesting keywords and by explaining them we can get a better idea of what Ontology is and what it aims to do.
- Attestation (data exchange/authorization)
Ontology is all about solving the trust issues between businesses and our society as a whole. As explained in the previous article about NEO’s Smart Economy we need a new way of using trust to change the way our society works. By using blockchain technology we can replace the manual way of trust, increase efficiency and security and give way to the smart economy. As described in the whitepaper Ontology is devoted to creating a trust ecosystem and is building an infrastructure of trust for businesses to use.
By high-speed, multi-source verification of identity and data the need for manual verification of data by intermediaries is taken away, and a system of trust is built. If we have a 100% safe and trustable identity and data verification system, obviously the cost and time that would otherwise be necessary for manual checks can be saved, and at the same time it enhances the user experience for customers greatly. So building a complete trust ecosystem is going to make a huge impact and will be at the base of the Ontology Network.
One of the most important parts of the Ontology Network is digital identity. To be able to use customer data, this data has to be connected to an identity. Now Ontology is not focusing on creating a new digital identity service by itself. We have NEO ID and services like TheKEY for that (more to be explained about this in future articles).
Ontology is more of a mapping system for identity by connecting different identity services. It uses a multi-source identity verification by collecting the digital identity stored on NEO’s blockchain (NEO ID), the identity/profiles on their customers’ private blockchains and for example biometric and other data from TheKEY and then lets you manage this data. So Ontology creates one big identity system, and it gives you the option to share this data with certain external chains so you can connect it to your user accounts at certain businesses or for example banks or local governments.
At the same time, it is creating a digital identity system for objects. Similar to the identity for people like you and me, an object will have a digital identity on the blockchain so it can interact with other objects and individuals. For example your house could have a digital identity in which data is stored on who owns it, who is living there, the price, the location, what it is made of, how old it is, and a lot of other data. For example this will make selling your house or renting it out a lot more efficient and easy in the future!
Attestation (data exchange/authorization)
With the digital identity service of Ontology you can authorize individuals, businesses or institutions to have access or use certain parts of your data. This is all done with signatures which cannot be forged and require the multi-source identity verification described above so completely safe.
So now you have full control over who can see which part of your identity and the data connected to it. By giving a business more information about yourself this could improve their service to you but at the same time you can restrict the amount of data given to companies that you do not feel comfortable with or don’t need a lot of your info anyway.
Another example: you could share/exchange your data on-chain with for example your wife/husband when you get married for legal or financial reasons. Or you could give your medical data to your doctor or hospital to help you with medical issues, similar to how it is done now but of course more secure and useable worldwide. The great thing about Ontology is that you and only you are in full control of the data connected to your ID. As we come closer to the launch of Ontology I’m positive we will hear more about how this data management works exactly.
Plug and play solution – Blockchain for Businesses
So with all of the above Ontology is building an ecosystem of trust and will significantly change the way data is being handled and used. But this is just the beginning and it is not just for us individuals. As explained earlier there is still a lot of hesitation from businesses to use blockchain technology or it is simply too difficult for them.
Ontology will solve this problem by providing a plug and play blockchain solution for every type of business you can think of. It builds the infrastructure for these businesses and gives them a blockchain on which all of their and their customers data is safely stored, and allows them to use smart contracts and distributed services without any knowledge of blockchain technology whatsoever. By allowing any business to just plug in and using Ontology’s services the hurdles for them to start using the technology is gone. And when the bigger companies and governments start using Ontology it will start to change the world around us for individuals too.
Now with just a blockchain used by only one business not a lot can be done with the data to be useful for the business itself and t’s customers. But through cross-chain protocols Ontology’s blockchains built for those businesses can be connected to other blockchains and the NEO ecosystem’s public ledger. When plugged into the NEO ecosystem businesses can connect certain data to other data or dApps on the NEO public ledger, and still have all of their sensitive data safely stored in a private environment. Simply said, Ontology connects conventional businesses to NEO. Now we can store pretty much all data from any business securely on the blockchain with Ontology and connect it to NEO we are getting pretty close to this Smart Economy, don’t you think?
Ontology & NEO
There has been some confusion about whether Ontology is not a competitor to NEO. As explained above and in an earlier article this is not the case, they are complimentary and the difference between NEO and Ontology lies in the use case. Ontology Network and NEO are separate projects and are both public chains, but share a similar goal. Onchain is a private company that provides technical support for both. At the distributed ledger/smart contract level, ONT and NEO have similar architecture with different implementation (ONT in Go and NEO in C#). At protocol and application level, NEO focuses on digital assets and smart economy, whereas ONT focuses on trust identity, distributed data exchange, and other trust cooperation scenarios. Both ONT and NEO are infrastructure platforms that support different dApp development for different scenarios. So all in all, together they form a great team and they are definitely not competitors!
Example use cases
The private company behind Ontology and NEO (Onchain) has been creating chains for businesses already before Ontology existed, and this same business model will now be continued through Ontology.
Here are a few examples of chains already created by Onchain for businesses/governments in China:
Guiyang Government: Identity Chain
China Clearing: Equity Crowd-funding Platform
Everbright Securities: Enterprise Digital Asset Platform
Legal Chain: Electronic Data Attestation
Though there are not a lot of details available you can see that these examples are matching exactly with what Ontology is trying to do, and I think it is great that there are already actual use cases and examples available. It shows that there is a demand for Ontology’s services and that they can actually do it and have experience with providing these services. Ontology is already working on creating more separate chains for their customers and I’m sure we will see more info coming up on what kind of businesses they are in the coming months. In their whitepaper Ontology notes the following sectors and I think they are great examples of where Ontology could possibly be used:
-Internet of Things
The above is just a selection of what we think are the most important things that Ontology has to offer, but there is much much more and if you are interested I suggest you to read their whitepapers.
All in all I think Ontology is THE most important part of the Smart Economy besides NEO itself. Ontology’s distributed trust system is cross-chain, cross-industry, cross-system, cross-application, and cross-device. Ontology is a VERY ambitious project, but looking at the team and experience they have, I’m sure they will make this into a big success. Later in 2018, probably after the main net launch in Q2, we will see the huge changes that Ontology brings to our society together with NEO.