News by Forbes: Hank Tucker
The blockchain software company formerly run by Blythe Masters, Digital Asset, is integrating its smart contract programming language Digital Asset Modeling Language (DAML) with Hyperledger Fabric, R3 Corda and Amazon’s traditional database service, AWS Aurora.
After already adding compatibility with Hyperledger Sawtooth in April, Digital Asset’s announcement at the Synchronize Europe conference in London provides even more flexibility to developers of financial services applications. DAML also transitioned from being a proprietary language to an open-source language earlier this year.
While Digital Asset’s co-founder and new CEO Yuval Rooz positions the integration as a way to streamline workflows around some of the more widely-used ledgers, the integration also shows an increased willingness of once fierce blockchain competitors to work together, or through Amazon, to not use blockchain at all.
“A lot of players in the space of blockchain are worried that by adopting a specific blockchain today, they’re effectively betting on a horse, and not a lot of people like to advance their business by betting on horses,” Rooz says. “They like to have their independence of making the right technology choice at the right time.”
This is one of the first projects under-taken by Digital Asset since Masters — JP Morgan’s former head of global commodities, known for helping create credit default swaps — resigned earlier this year. Digital Asset bought the little-known Hyperledger startup in 2015 and donated the code and brand name to the Linux Foundation, leading to the creation of the non-profit Hyperledger. Since then, Hyperledger has hosted Hypyerledger Sawtooth, originally created by Intel, and the more popular Hyperledger Fabric, created by IBM.
Of the companies on Forbes’ inaugural Blockchain 50 list in April that profiled 50 billion-dollar companies that have adopted blockchain for some operational needs, 21 use the Fabric platform.
Rooz says the abstraction of DAML is the biggest feature that separates it from other smart-contract languages like ethereum’s Solidity and Viper or bitcoin’s Script. Instead of memorizing the complexities of the language’s execution, Rooz says developers using DAML can put more focus on the product itself. With the additional integration of Fabric and R3 Corda, developers also do not need to know all the technical features that distinguish each blockchain since applications using DAML will still run properly, decreasing expensive migration costs as well.
“Traditionally, you have to pick a blockchain platform that you think is the best for your use case, although you may not be sure and it’s a rapidly evolving space,” says Dan O’Prey, who co-founded the Hyperledger company and is now Digital Asset’s chief marketing officer. “You would have to pick one and then write your application sort of specific to that blockchain.”
DAML is already being used by several companies and institutions, most notably the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX). ASX is replacing its centralized Chess system for managing stocks with a blockchain-based application built on DAML that will be unrolled in late 2020 or early 2021.
“We’re building an application that is effectively going to manage the entire life cycle of every stock in Australia,” Rooz says. “We’re effectively replacing their core infrastructure with this language, so how every stock is managed, how every participant is modeled in the Australian stock market, we built with this language.”
Rooz declined to share details of new projects in the works now that Digital Asset is expanding DAML’s compatibility, but said he is regularly asked by developers to integrate DAML on new ledgers.