2018 has been a huge year for blockchain companies and blockchain-based technologies. While the cryptocurrency markets have floundered during one of the most significant crashes of the past few years, blockchain tech continues to garner the support of key institutional investors, many of whom believe that the innovations are the key to the changing future of financial technology, a sector current experiencing unprecedented and massive growth.
Vitalik Buterin has been continually at the forefront of many news items describing the newest innovations and technologies to hit the blockchain and cryptocurrency communities. The tech professional made his name as a key developer in the creation of Ethereum, the second most popular cryptocurrency and the top decentralized application platform.
While Buterin was credited for creating the massive currency, his reach extends far beyond Ethereum. Just four months ago, Buterin publicly announced the introduction of Plasma and Plasma Cash, two potential solutions to a variety of blockchain-related technical issues.
The first mention of the technology came in 2017, when a document was introduced by a document written by Vitalik and his partner for the project, Joseph Poon. Poon is an executive behind Lightning Network, a startup working on solving the scalability problem on the original Bitcoin blockchain. But now, the theories outlined in the old document are in the works to be executed at an alarmingly fast rate.
Plasma works as a secondary blockchain, or as a set of secondary blockchains. Working on top of the original blockchain upon which it is built, this system works to respond to fraudulent incidents and maintain the immutability of the entire system. It is worth noting that, on the surface, Plasma seems to follow the same topside logic as the lightning network. Namely, both theories hold that a blockchain can be built atop the existing infrastructure, so that if the newer chain is compromised nothing happens to the original data on the original blockchain.
When work is able to be delegated to this new blockchain system, this makes the process of transacting incredibly faster. Instead of having just one blockchain to verify transactions, such as Bitcoin, some transaction data can be simply kicked up to Plasma, meaning that two transactions can theoretically occur at basically the same time.
The platform would have “plasma operators,” who would function as miners or referees, monitoring for fraud while verifying the legitimacy of transactions on the much smaller blockchain built atop a larger system like Bitcoin or Ethereum.
The system still has much to do and several topics to discuss before it is officially integrated in any major existing blockchain. For one, the structure of the plasma operator position needs to be further considered. It is unclear at this point how the position will be filled, and to what extent the spot will be up to the will of the community associated with the root blockchain.
But even with the still-developing questions, the Plasma theory is another step in the direction of scalability, a key concern for all cryptocurrencies.