Blockchain has become a bit cliché: it’s everywhere to the point of oversaturation. This is the case despite the youth of the technology and its transformative potential. Will it revolutionise money, payments, data storage, trade finance, or any of the multitude of sectors, both inside and out, of finance? At this point in time, we don’t know, but no matter where it proves useful, companies will need to integrate the technology into their existing IT systems in a simple, secure, and scalable manner. This is where unchain.io comes in.
unchain.io officially launched in March this year, while the company started in 2016. The official launch in 2018 was deliberate. “We wanted to have a product when we launched”, says Marcel Makken, the organisation’s CCO, with Berit Fuss, unchain.io’s director of ecosystem development, adding, “When we launched, we wanted to have a solution that worked in enterprise settings.”
The organisation’s launch was a limited release of their Blockchain Gateway solution through its Early Access Program, and this, too, was done strategically. In a limited release, Marcel says it is easier to establish the trustful relationships that produce insight than in wider releases, “ensuring we can deliver the most value in the shortest term”.
unchain.io plans to broaden the early access program for The Blockchain Gateway by the end of the summer.
It’s a Gateway Thing: The universal adapter for all Blockchains
unchain.io’s crown jewel is its Blockchain Gateway, which functions like a stopcontact, or a power outlet, for companies to connect any application to any blockchain network. Berit explains the current enterprise blockchain landscape by saying that companies complete proofs of concept where they try and test a certain functionality on a blockchain, for example smart contracts. Then they want to offer this to their customers, “but they discover that there are already systems in place that have relevant triggers (events) for the blockchain”. This means the two very different systems need to be able to “talk” to each other, which is very complex to implement. Moreover, tests often involve multiple parties or are done in consortia, such as the Food Trust or we.trade, and are run in a separate IT environment, necessitating a reusable solution.
unchain.io’s Gateway enables a secure and scalable connection between blockchain networks and the diverse IT environments of their members. “So, we’re like an enterprise Stopcontact,” says Marcel.
“There are a lot of blockchain technologies out there,” says Marcel, “so we’re blockchain agnostic.” Because unchain.io’s Gateway works with any blockchain platform, this positions it as an enabler for the adoption of blockchain technology.
The Gateway’s platform flexibility “gives companies confidence for the future because even when technology changes, for example when a blockchain protocol evolves, they can still use the gateway and reuse the modular components for new integrations,” says Berit. Companies will most likely operate using multiple blockchain platforms, necessitating a single solution that allows them to manage and control a multitude of integrations both internal and external,” says Marcel, “this is how our product that takes away complexity”.
First to Surf: Catching the Right Wave at the Right Time
“When we began two years ago, no one realised this type of service was needed,” says Marcel, “now, the challenge of integration is becoming very clear.” Currently, unchain.io is one of a few organisations that offer a blockchain integration solution; however, as the need for blockchain integrations grows, more companies will appear.
“It’s kind of like surfing,” Marcel says, “we paddled out and caught the right wave at the right time, and now we’re surfing it.”
The Future: Blockchain Ecosystem
The company currently targets organizations that participate in blockchain networks, helping them manage complexity and secure integration, and consortia, assisting them in reducing barriers for growth. Looking forward, unchain.io wants to create an ecosystem around its product to enable faster growth through collaboration and building on the strengths of their various partners. Here, unchain.io aims to partner with cloud vendors for easy deployment, system integrators and application vendors to build specific integration components for their clients, and with a variety of consulting and implementation partners. This highlights the fact that unchain.io views blockchain as a collaborative endeavour.
Putting their views into practice, the company announced a partnership with KPN and Microsoft on Tuesday, July 10th . The collaboration offers a cloud-based service allowing companies to easily build a trusted blockchain network. In this arrangement, KPN provides blockchain as a service from their cloud, built on Microsoft’s Azure Stack and leveraging The Blockchain Gateway by unchain.io that provides the connectivity to existing applications.
If you’re interested in hearing more about unchain.io, they’re presenting at Holland FinTech’s July Meetup this Friday, July 13th. You can register for the event here.
By Elliot Lyons, Research Analyst