This week I had the absolute pleasure of speaking to Unibright CTO Stefan Schmidt about the future of cryptocurrencies, the impact smart contracts will have in the near future, and the role Unibright plays in the crypto ecosystem.
You can watch the full interview below.
From the past into the future
Stefan is a really relaxed guy. He agreed to do the interview on the request of some Unibright community members, such as @sjaaaakster, and was kind enough to give me a hand with some tips and mental exercises on how I could best develop a project I’m working on with the University of Huddersfield.
One of the key topics I wanted to discuss was how the crypto space has been developing and the major roadblocks the Unibright team is facing.
I was astonished by the way Stefan looks at the field and how it has been evolving. Not in a bad way, of course, but because he has that business-savviness and understands what factors are important for broader adoption. He said:
“Just for making the world better, many companies won’t adopt the [blockchain] technology, but if it comes from clients or governments […], as soon as the external factors kick-in we’ll start to see increasing adoption, even though we’re not in that position yet.”
From my personal experience with big businesses, implementing ERP systems and supporting them, they work. Yes, they break a lot and there are enormous financial bottlenecks in order to scale, but the truth is that legacy systems integrate almost perfectly with Web 3.0 at the time of writing.
SAP, Unit4 Business World, Microsoft, IBM – all of the major players have cloud-based versions of business software, which makes it easy to integrate with most business, regardless of the size.
So what solution does Stefan propose?
The framework for the business integration of smart contracts
The concept behind Unibright is quite simple: it’s the unified framework for blockchain-based business integration. The idea is that anyone who understands how business processes are designed, managed, and deployed could in essence drag and drop boxes in order to create connections between business agents in order to create a workflow process tree of every step.
Stefan explained it as follows:
“Our idea is to learn from former technologies, and transfer this knowledge into Unibright. As soon as they [clients] want to use this technology, due to its benefits, they need to find resources – developers, infrastructure, frameworks, and so on. We offer a visual interface to create those business processes. We are replacing guys like ourselves [developers] so that anyone can deploy processes by reducing complexity. It’s a competition with ERP systems, but rather cooperation and integration.”
Seems logical, right? Looking at the core components, Unibright’s product is composed of three different parts:
- The Unibright Visual Workflow Designer gives anyone the ability to craft powerful blockchain-based solutions with no coding skills or expensive developers required.
- The Unibright Contract Life-cycle Manager transforms visually designed workflows into platform-dependent code at the push of a button. It generates smart contracts for the most appropriate blockchain automatically.
- The Unibright Explorer monitors the ongoing business process across all smart contracts and related systems. It presents on- and off-chain data in an easy-to-understand dashboard.
Stefan claimed that we should look at Unibright as a framework that integrates with other vendors and not a platform developed specifically for a vendor:
“While Microsoft and IBM are developing great learning content on blockchain, their product offerings entail that it’s connected to their systems.”
The UBT token
UBT, the Unibright token, is an ERC-20 token built on Ethereum and serves a simple purpose within the ecosystem: it is used to build things and deploy contracts.
The idea is that any company that wishes to use the product can do so by purchasing tokens and using them to deploy whatever project they’re undertaking on the Unibright framework.
In essence, UBT is a voucher token:
“The Unibright token, UBT, serves as a voucher mechanism. Clients need to use the token to access the framework – as in write to and read from the Unibright explorer. It is very important to state in our case that regulators have stated this is not e-money and is a proper utility token.”
Although the concept is interesting, I hope further functionality can be added in the future, like direct voting rights, access to future revenues (paid in UBT), or the ability to purchase other Unibright.solution services.
The more utility we endow a token with, the more use cases we can explore. Hopefully, regulators will get the message and back off cryptocurrency companies – after all, if there is no link between a token and a fiat-pair, and said token can only be purchased with cryptocurrency, how can that endow a token with any asset-like characteristics? I argue regulation usually delays innovation rather than promote it.
Still, Unibright reached out to German regulators and was assigned a utility purpose.
As mentioned by Stefan during the interview, one of the key aspects of Unibright’s partnerships is that they’ve been done with traditional businesses, which matters a lot for increased medium to long-term adoption:
“You have to distinguish between crypto-related partnerships and traditional business partnerships. SAP has been our partner since the 90s. Other vendors may need to pay thousands to access those platforms, but we don’t have that issue. For us it is just a great advantage since we joined so early.”
I expect more companies to approach Unibright in the future to explore the possibilities of adding smart-contract technology into their business processes. However, another bottleneck I see coming is the lack of understanding between private-ledger technology and blockchain. Any customer coming into the field should understand most of the real benefits of adding a degree of transparency to their businesses, as blockchain technology can be slower and more expensive to implement than traditional DLT systems.
With that in mind, because so many important players like SAP, IBM, and Microsoft are exploring ways of incorporating blockchain within their businesses, I sense many new businesses coming into the field in the near future. If Unibright becomes an open source bridge that connects with all of them… Oh boy, do I see adoption mooning!
Stay tuned for more. Follow me on Twitter @febrocas