Blockchain tech startup Tierion officially launched this week revealing that, unlike many blockchain tech projects, its platform is hitting the ground running.
The company has developed an engine for collecting data and generating a receipt on the Bitcoin blockchain for every data record.
The blockchain receipt generating engine provides proof that some data existed at a specific time and information on data content. Thus it could be used as evidence of transactions or the existence of customer data, medical, financial or legal records, corporate governance and inventory management.
Tierion revealed in August 2015 that had used its platform for a Connecticut government survey of top 200 technology companies to help determine methods for the state to retain talent and grow its workforce.
With a platform that is live and an established pricing model, Tierion appears to be more commercially ready than most of the other Blockchain 2.0 startups, who are in the proof of concept, usage case or development stages.
Tierion is also not issuing a proprietary token to raise funds or to access its technology, which makes adoption more complicated for potential customers.
Over the weekend, AllCoinsNews got an opportunity to chat with Tierion’s CEO, Wayne Vaughan.
ACN: How did Tierion get started?
Vaughan: In early 2014, it became clear to me that the technology behind Bitcoin was more important than the currency. I was running a digital agency called Fuscient. We helped launch several bitcoin startups including Coindera and Factom. My team was working on a major update to our in-house marketing automation platform. We decided to re-architect the engine we had built for collecting data to record data in the blockchain.
ACN: Who is the team or partnership behind Tierion?
Vaughan: Jason Bukowski is my co-Founder and Lead Developer of Tierion. He and I have been working together since 1997, and we’ve been business partners since 2006.
In late 2014 I met Shawn Wilkinson, founder of Storj. Both our projects needed to record data in the blockchain. Shawn was working on a project called Hashserv that used Merkle trees to prove that data had been recorded in the blockchain. I approached Shawn with the idea to create a standard for creating blockchain receipts called Chainpoint. Storj and Tierion run separate implementations of software that adheres to our Chainpoint protocol for recording data in the blockchain.
ACN: What are the advantages to using the Bitcoin blockchain as a datastore?
Vaughan: The Bitcoin blockchain is a terrible datastore. The bitcoin network currently handles about five transactions per second, each transaction costs $0.03, and you can only store 80 bytes of data in each transaction.
Tierion does not store data in the blockchain. We’ve built a cloud datastore that creates a blockchain receipt for each record. Anyone with this receipt can verify the timestamp and contents of each record.
ACN: With the Bitcoin block size debate, the major issue has been the small block size of 1 MB. Why then use the Bitcoin blockchain to store data?
Vaughan: There are many services that allow you to notarize a document in the blockchain. These services hash a document and publish the hash in a Bitcoin transaction. All notary services are limited by Bitcoin’s scalability. With Tierion, we’re able to overcome this limitation and record millions of records in the blockchain.
Here’s how the underlying magic works. Let’s imagine that 100,000 records are sent to Tierion. We hash each record and place those hashes in a queue. Every ten minutes we create a Merkle tree of these hashes and publish the root in a bitcoin transaction. We then trace a path from the root up to the hash of each individual record and use this data to generate a blockchain receipt. Using this method, Tierion is able to generate blockchain receipts for 100,000 records by publishing a single $0.03 transaction.
By comparison, recording 100,000 individual records with a traditional bitcoin notary service would take 27.6 hours, cost $3,000 in transaction fees.
ACN: Why not build a proprietary Blockchain or use Ethereum, Nxt or another blockchain?
Vaughan: Immutability. Availability. Security. A transaction in the Bitcoin blockchain, it can’t be modified or erased. Altcoins and other blockchains don’t even come close to matching Bitcoin’s security. With private blockchains or permissioned ledgers, administrators can modify records, censor access, delete records, etc.
ACN: How do developers get data in and out of Tierion?
Vaughan: Developers can access Tierion via a REST API and HTML forms. We have a user experience that is familiar. It takes less than ten minutes to sign up for an account and start recording data in Tierion. Our documentation is available at Tierion.com/docs.
ACN: What is your relationship with Zapier? What is Zapier?
Vaughan: Zapier allows Tierion to integrate with over 400 apps such as Salesforce, Mailchimp, Gmail, Slack, and Google Sheets. You can use Tierion to collect data and then use Zapier to send that data along with a blockchain receipt to any app in their system. For example, you could use Tierion to create a web app that collects purchase orders. Zapier will automatically send the data to Quickbooks Online. This would allow you verify the content and timestamp of every purchase order by checking the blockchain receipt.
ACN: What range of applications or utilities do you foresee Tierion serving?
Vaughan: We want to help the world collect and share verifiable data. We see a future where blockchain receipts are used to verify everything from ecommerce transactions to insurance claims.
Tierion gives developers an easy-to-use platform for collecting data and generating blockchain receipts. We think Tierion will be adopted by companies that make software that manages medical records, financial records, compliance data. IT Consulting firms can use Tierion to introduce blockchain technology to their clients. We can’t wait to see what people build now that we’ve launched.
ACN: You have just launched and seem well beyond proof of concept stage. How do you gauge your progress against other blockchain-based data storage or data application layer projects like Factom, Ethereum, Filament, Eris Industries, others?
Vaughan: Tierion is ready for prime time. In testing, we’ve recorded tens of millions of records in the blockchain. We’re a little old-fashioned. We wanted have a product ready when we launched.
Tierion is often most compared to Factom. We provide the same core utility as Factom without the need for an altcoin. It’s not really a fair comparison. Factom is in a very early stage of development. The Factom install guide is 65 paragraphs. You have to install the Go programming language and then install three separate pieces of software. Next you have to acquire Factoids, convert them to entry credits, and use a command-line interface tool to publish data into Factom. Factom is today where Bitcoin was in 2009. It won’t be ready for commercial use for a long time.
With Tierion, you can sign up for an account and within ten minutes you can be collecting data and recording it in the blockchain.