Blockchain immutably records information, but ventures such as ARPA are committed to protecting business and people’s privacy. The first-ever privacy-computation network and the world’s first China–South Korea joint initial exchange offering (IEO) project is building a secure computation network that’s compatible with blockchain. (It’s compatible with existing chains such as Ethereum and EOS.) bank
ARPA’s platform gives developers secure analysis and utilization, but also protects data from getting exposed to third parties.
Why is that important?
Because studies show that most users are concerned about the collection of personal information, and that more laws should be passed to defend privacy. Whether or not that happens remains to be seen, given that regulatory guidance worldwide have not kept pace with the speed of crypto and public-ledger innovation. Europe’s GDPR law which took effect last year is being closely followed by companies, regulators, and watchdogs around the world.
In North America, between two-thirds and three-fourths of people are concerned about data protection, depending on the study. A 2018 survey by Akamai found that 71% of respondents actively use software that blocks ads, protects privacy, and similar features. And 66% said more governments should pass privacy-protection laws. If these sentiments hold at scale, then lawmakers have a clear mandate from voters to safeguard personal details.
Protecting Privacy in Computing
“Blockchain privacy and scalability are the two biggest problems faced by public chains,” says Yemu Xu, ARPA co-founder and Chief Growth Officer. “Our technology is based on multi-party security computing (MPC) and we are building what’s called ‘smart contract 2.0’.”
In layman’s terms, MPC allows several parties to perform joint computations in private. For example, financial institutions can search shared blacklists or perform joint risk analysis for borrowers without disclosing each party’s private information. Or in digital marketing, MPC allows advertisers to display ads based on massive user behavior tags, without violating user privacy.
Nearly four-fifths (83%) of security professionals believe that employees have accidentally exposed customer or business sensitive data at their organization, according to a Feb. 2019 survey by Egress.
Architecting Privacy Smart Contracts
ARPA is also developing private smart contracts. Smart contracts (programmable contracts) are expected to become a US$300 million market by 2023. It’s not currently huge, but the innovation is expected to significantly reduce costs for companies and individuals by eliminating middleman fees. Privacy smart contracts protect sensitive data from access by nefarious actors.
When it comes to making blockchains sustainable, ARPA’s founders have plans to develop computational sharding. It’s an ambitious goal because sharding involves the partitioning of chunks of data to make chains sustainable, but a few projects (including Ethereum) have found the solution difficult to implement. Sharding is a proposed solution to blockchain bloat, where networks can get bogged down or become unreliable because of too much data recorded on-chain.
Applications Across Industries
There are some key benefits, but mainly around security and global info sharing.
Data is a new asset class, and computational privacy is key to preventing hacks or unauthorized access. One of the problems in the decentralization movement is that when it comes to cryptocurrency exchanges, private keys are controlled by central entities. Therefore, when sensitive data are safeguarded and distributed across multiple parties, hackers have trouble accessing digital funds or proprietary info.
“Exciting to-B and to-C applications can be implemented on ARPA secure computing network,” says Yemu Xu. “These include enterprise-level credit checking, accurate marketing, medical diagnosis, consumer-level personal data security wallets, distributed key management, among others.”
The need for secure data transcends industries, but it’s especially useful in financial services, healthcare, and related fields. When organizations can secure computations between other collaborating entities anywhere in the world, that can unleash a new flow of information processing that wasn’t possible before.
“The entry point of ARPA is enterprise-level privacy data sharing and secure data monetization,” says ARPA’s CEO Felix Xu. “This includes multi-party joint credit information; data renting; secure data analysis and other scenarios in the financial industry.” The platform also has use cases in insurance, big data marketing, healthcare, and artificial intelligence.
ARPA was founded in April 2018, and has backing from over a dozen institutional investors, including TechCrunch’s founder’s Arrington XRP, GBIC, Genesis Capital and Metropolis VC. It plans a mainnet release later this year. Currently, ARPA token is being traded on gate.io, KuCoin, and soon on Binance DEX.