To be the best, we needed to build the best.
One of the reasons WeOwn is consistently identified as a market innovator is our progressive approach to technology — including the fact that we’ve built our own, native blockchain.
Creating our own blockchain wasn’t always in the masterplan; we looked at utilising an existing network initially, and Ethereum was the best general purpose blockchain at that time.
However, it soon became clear that we couldn’t fulfil our technological ambitions with someone else’s blockchain — and here’s why…
1. We didn’t want to compete with public resources
While existing blockchains are an accessible way to build new software, the downside is that applications from other businesses are running on that network at the same time.
General purpose blockchains like Ethereum often have resource-intensive businesses such as gaming companies and casinos operating on their network, or they are managing busy transactional demands such as ICOs.
We didn’t want this to compromise our performance and scalability, so we decided to create our own blockchain, where we knew quick transactions would always be possible for our customers.
2. We wanted something built specifically for asset trading
As an ambitious company, we wanted to make sure that the infrastructure we chose gave us carte blanche to design innovative new financial services products.
Because Ethereum and its compatriots are multi-purpose, they are not designed to support the particular needs of the finance industry, and therefore we would have had to compromise our application design to make it work on an existing blockchain.
Our blockchain has built-in transactions, action types and operations specifically for the equity market, and it securely stores asset movement transactions, shareholder voting information and private investor data (which is hosted on a private blockchain). This enables businesses and market operators to run their key operations through our ecosystem — including trading, ownership movement, corporate actions, voting, splits and dividend payments.
These features have only been possible because we have a team of outstanding software engineers that power our business. Finding and retaining good engineers is crucial to our success, and we’re very lucky to have a talented workforce that enjoy new challenges and wants to solve complex technical issues.
3. We needed scalability
Another upshot of our ambition is that we need limitless room for growth, but existing blockchain products tend to have the wrong consensus protocol for supporting equity transactions and corporate actions. Ethereum, for example, uses a proof of work protocol which is not scalable in terms of number of transactions per second.
By having our own blockchain, we can extend functionality depending on business needs, adding new features and action types when they are required. We are also open source, which means other development teams can build complimentary products on our blockchain network.
To enable rapid development, we use scrum methodology for all our projects, part of the agile development movement. We work in two-week sprints, which enables us to be flexible and continually reprioritise our roadmap depending on the outcome of each sprint. It also allows us to quickly respond to questions and issues as they arise.
4. We wanted to control the transaction fee
As existing blockchains like Ethereum are general purpose networks, transactions are processed based on the gas given — and the fee is paid in a currency unique to that network, ETH in the case of Ethereum.
However, the public nature of these blockchains means that currency prices can fluctuate based on what activity is being processed. So, for example, if a much-hyped game launches it will not only cause congestion on the blockchain — look at what happened with Cryptokitties last year — the demand will push up the price of gas.
5. We wanted to protect investors’ data
To ensure we can safely store investor and company data without compromising performance, WeOwn created a world-first; a dual blockchain comprising public and private equity data.
Our private blockchain is responsible for storing sensitive data on a separate network to public data, with oracles that enable communication between the networks.
In addition to adding an extra layer of protection, separating the two networks means that transaction performance won’t become compromised as our investor network grows.
These are just a handful of reasons why we quickly realised that building our own blockchain was the best way to turn our vision into industry-leading technology. The development journey hasn’t always been easy, and we’ve been transparent with the blockchain community about the challenges we have faced along the way, but ultimately it has enabled us to create better products for the financial services industry — many of which we will be introducing you to in the near future!