Interledger: Beyond Blockchain

 

On last week’s episode of Epicenter Bitcoin, a show dedicated to the latest developments in the world of cryptocurrency, the co-creators of the Interledger Protocol (ILP) gave an extensive interview.

The conversation covered topics from the importance of distributed ledger technology to the patterns set by the early days of the internet.

The central problem, according to Stefan Thomas (Ripple CTO and ILP co-creator) and Evan Schwartz (Ripple Software Architect and ILP co-creator) is that there is currently no simple way to move money between ledgers. This is a problem most people have encountered in their daily lives: splitting the cost of lunch with a friend is followed by a flurry of questions on how money can be digitally transferred between them. “Do you have PayPal? Venmo? Bitcoin? Do any of us share a bank in common?” That search for a shared ledger often ends in disappointment and inconvenience.

All cryptocurrencies have protocols for communication, according to Schwartz. But the key problem is that in order to use the protocol for that currency, you must be plugged into the one network for that, with specific validators.

#Interledger is a network of networks. Tweet This

The solution to these problems is ILP. ILP has no ledgers of its own; it’s a protocol suite for interoperability between ledgers.

A “network of networks,” as Schwartz puts it, could be put to work for micropayments as well as billion-dollar distribution. One network could not easily serve both of those use cases, but a shared protocol could connect networks to one another, making it possible to transact at any level without ever considering the difference in ledgers, any more than than users of the internet today worry about sending emails from Gmail to Yahoo.

Continually comparing ILP to the early internet, Thomas made an example of AOL users who clamored for more open web access despite the value of the network’s native services.

“Once the internet became a single global market, the most successful companies were the ones that stopped worrying about the size of their network, and stopped worrying about the added value they could provide. They started worrying about how they could be as efficient as possible and provide the best customer access to the internet.”

For a quicker experience of the video, choose from these key highlights:

  • Interledger’s work with W3C to create a neutral, open payments standard

This video provides an excellent primer for anyone who is interested in how ILP works, or wants to know how they can get involved.

For more information and resources, visit interledger.org.