FAQs

How does your “mutual distributed ledger technology” differ from Bitcoin’s blockchain?

Bitcoin blockchains are a complicated form of MDL (“mutual distributed ledger”) which are necessary in an environment of minimal trust and non-existent law; this, however, is not the environment of typical business. Unlike the complex cryptographic algorithms of Bitcoin which require intensive, expensive and power-hungry computation, the Z/Yen approach is transparent, easily understood and requires only modest computer power. MetroGnomo is an example of Z/Yen’s quest to build and demonstrate simple, practical MDLs in business environments in which reasonable trust is a given. This contrast demonstrates the flexibility of MDL technology to face the challenges of different environments.

ChainZy, provides the basic architecture for wide variety of MDL services. One of these services is a persistent, distributed immutable table of timestamps of data, called MetroGnomo. Z/Yen's MDLs are equivalent to blockchains, but do not rely upon an expensive mining approach, but uses what we call “agnostic broadcasting”. Agnostic broadcasting provides persistence and resiliency at low-cost and high speed (over two hundred transactions per second have been demonstrated).

Who is currently using MetroGnomo?

Several commercial clients - within both the insurance and clinical trials spaces - are already employing versions of the ChainZy mutual distributed ledger. SafeShare Global - an insurance firm specialising in the Sharing Economy - is using ChainZy to provide a trusted record of insured parties, and are actively exploring opportunities to "coordinate the provision of products between counter-parties in near real-time and to radically cut the cost of this coordination". Blem Information Management Ltd's XLRAS reinsurance administration system uses the ChainZy timestamping and document retrieval system to "increase trust in reinsurance records".

ChainZy is also handling over 60,000 clinical interactions each working day. These are derived from several different clinical trials from a variety of research areas across the globe.

How does the original creator of the file provide others with proof-of-existence?

ChainZy can be used to prove the existence of a piece of information at the time the timestamp was issued. The timestamp contains 3 elements – a timestamp, a UUID (unique universal identifier), and a 500 character tag. By including a hash of the file or idea in the tag a user can prove that the file or idea was in existence at time of stamping. ChainZy provides an online utility that enables another user to find the times at which a document was previously timestamped if he has either the file or the ChainZy generated file hash. A previous timestamp can also be located using its UUID or timestamp.

What are the potential real-world use cases for this technology?

  • Book, music and patent registration
  • Insurance contracts
  • Settlement
  • Medical and clinical trials recording
  • Patient prescriptions
  • Time sensitive submissions, imagery, and CCTV
  • Compulsory employee e-learning certification
  • Proof of attendance (e.g. visits by security guards or care workers)

ChainZy can be employed for any application where it would be useful to have third party proof that a given piece of information was in existence at a point in time and to give it a unique identity code.

For example, in the same way that scientists, such as Newton, concealed their theorems in anagrams, an author can use MetroGnomo to prove that he had possession of a book’s contents at a given time while concealing the content itself and the identity of the author. To achieve this, a user simply timestamps the hash of the book using his private MetroID (which ultimately is linked to his email address).

Are there any plans for an app?

A prototype application has been developed to provide proof of physical visits to locations (for care workers, security guards etc.). This will be available shortly with ChainZy at its core.

How does ChainZy help coordinate information from different MDLs or blockchains?

ChainZy timestamps are the time ChainZy issued the timestamp, not the time the timestamp was requested. The timestamp is guaranteed to be unique and greater than the preceding timestamp, so it can also act as a unique identifier. In a world where there are multitudes of MDLs in existence, ChainZy’s third party validated time and unique identifiers can provide trusted connections between entries on different ledgers. For example, MetroGnomo could be used to link an identity ledger to a transaction ledger.

Is ChainZy open-source?

ChainZy currently provides open-source distributed timestamps. At this point, users can obtain as many timestamps as they wish at no cost. If Z/Yen decide to charge or to charge too much, users can create and operate their own versions.

What is the likelihood that a ChainZy timestamp would be legally admissible?

At the moment we don’t know. We are discussing with lawyers how this might be admissible. We expect it is likely to be, but first we have to experiment with a variety of applications to ensure robustness.

What is to stop someone timestamping a file that is not theirs? Is there a conflict resolution system?

ChainZy timestamps prove that a given requester had the information provided in the tag at the time the timestamp was requested. It is practically impossible for anyone, including Z/Yen, to alter or corrupt the entry once it has left ChainZy.

What happens if a server goes down?

We run multiple receivers in different locations that collect ledger entries. If one server goes down for a period any ledger entries can be collected from the other receivers. ChainZy guarantees that MetroTimes and UUID will not collide. Independent receivers add to robustness.

What is a hash?

A hash function takes any arbitrary binary data (text, image, audio, video file or anything else stored on a computer) and maps it to a value of a certain length (called a hash value or hash). Whilst the same file should always generate the same hash, a file cannot be regenerated from its hash.

ChainZy uses SHA256 hashes, as defined in FIPS 180-4.

What is the type of Unique Universal Identifier (UUID) does MetroGnomo employ?

ChainZy utilises standard version 4 UUIDs based on RFC 4122. A version 4 UUID is a 128 bit value comprising of blocks of hexadecimal digits separated by hyphens.