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Could this new distributed ledger replace the blockchain?

A new distributed ledger technology, the Hedera Hashgraph Platform has launched, citing faster transaction speeds and more capability of ensuring ongoing decentralisation than the existing blockchain platform.

The announcement was made by the algorithm's governing body, the Hedera Hashgraph Council (Hedera) today.

The platform aims to enable anyone to easily develop lightning fast, secure, fair, globally distributed applications.

Over the last 20 years, as the internet has evolved, trust has been eroded and control centralised in the hands of a few.

Identity theft, cybercrime, spam, hacking, election manipulations, and digital spying have become the costs of living our lives online.

Hedera aims to change that with the release of a simple, powerful platform with robust API support to make it easy for developers to build global, distributed applications.

“We need a more trusted, secure and equitable online world,” says Dr Leemon Baird, inventor of the hashgraph algorithm.

“You should be able to carve out a piece of cyberspace to create a shared world, be confident when interacting with others, feel safe online, control how you collaborate, and share only the information you want.

“We're lay out the roadmap for how Hedera will make that happen.”

With the unveiling of the Hedera hashgraph platform, the Council today also released speed test results, conducted on multiple Amazon Web Services (AWS) instances.

The tests focused on achieving consensus on transaction order and timestamps for instances distributed across five continents.

The Hedera network handled hundreds of thousands of transactions per second, with time to finality within a few seconds.

Hedera uses verification software that runs on the computer's graphics card GPU to verify one million signatures per second.

This speed is crucial to enable use cases such as distributed gaming, stock and other markets, and micropayments.

MZ (formerly Machine Zone), a multi-billion dollar application and game developer, today also announced that it will build distributed applications on top of the hashgraph.

“Our mission is to enable the next generation of many-to-many applications,” says, MZ CEO Gabe Leydon.

“By building on top of Hedera hashgraph, our applications will be able to be deployed in a peer-to-peer environment, with complete fairness, transparency and visibility. 

“We believe Hedera is revolutionary and will change everyone's expectations of how fair and fast applications and gaming can be.

Stability and decentralisation ensured through the HHC

Public distributed ledgers aim to provide decentralised systems, which anyone can participate in.

But a recent peer-reviewed study, entitled Decentralization in Bitcoin and Ethereum studying some of the largest networks between 2015- 2017 found the opposite has become true.

The top four Bitcoin mining operations and top three Ethereum operations control more than 50% of the world's hash rate, and the entire blockchain of both systems “is determined by fewer than 20 mining entities”, due to both the Proof-of-Work requirements, but also to the lack of a governance model that ensures continued decentralisation over time.

Hedera aims to address both of these concerns by separating governance from consensus. 

The Consensus Model ensures that the Hedera network will expand to many millions of nodes voting on the order of transactions in a highly distributed network. 

The cryptoeconomics of the platform help to ensure the continued decentralisation of consensus voting. 

Hedera expects to enable anyone to run a node without having to pay for a mining rig or large amounts of electricity. 

Hedera will be governed by a council of leading corporations and organisations across multiple industries, bringing needed experience in process and business expertise.

Membership criteria are designed to reflect a range of industries and geographies with respected, trusted brands and market positions.

The proposed governance model will ensure that no single entity has complete control and that no group of members has undue influence over the body as a whole.

Hedera will use a combination of technical and legal controls to give the governing council mechanisms to promote stability and ensure the network will never fork.

Regulatory compliance

The Hedera technical framework includes an Opt-In Escrow Identity mechanism that gives users a means to bind verified identities to otherwise anonymous cryptocurrency wallets, with the aim of providing governments with the necessary oversight to ensure regulatory compliance. 

This is completely optional, and each user can decide what kinds of credentials, if any, to reveal. 

Hedera intends to work with governments to bring the same level of security to public ledgers as is currently present in the financial system.

Distributed Ledger Foundation

In conjunction with the announcement, today the Distributed Ledger Foundation was also launched.

The Distributed Ledger Foundation will sponsor projects on behalf of its members, with an initial project focused on a free and fair voting initiative.

The DLF aims to be a global resource for its members and policymakers and to provide awareness, information and education on business, legal, and technology issues surrounding decentralized networks.

One of the first initiatives the DLF will focus on is a Free and Fair Voting Initiative, funded by a $500,000 challenge grant from the Hedera Hashgraph Council (Hedera).

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