It has turn out to be a longtime joke that blockchain (opens in new tab) is a technology in search of an issue to resolve. Although this quip is intentionally provocative, designed to needle a thin-skinned neighborhood of fanatics, there is a measure of fact to it too.
Since the emergence of cryptocurrency, the primary blockchain use case, entrepreneurs have provide you with tens of alternative purposes for the technology, which can be regarded as a time-stamped database (opens in new tab) of transactions distributed among the many members of a network.
With various levels of success, blockchain has been utilized to fields starting from supply chain administration and enterprise data protection to id verification (opens in new tab) and more. The emergence of (DeFi (opens in new tab)), meanwhile, has seen blockchain used to facilitate peer-to-peer lending, borrowing and the like.
Now, an organization referred to as Pingala Software believes it has provide you with the most recent killer use case. Earlier this year, the firm launched LedgerMail, a product billed as “the world’s first decentralized e-mail solution”. The service promises to liberate customers from invasions of privateness, insecure message switch protocols, and abuses of centralized power.
However, LedgerMail additionally relieves users of a variety of features of conventional email they could quite prefer to keep. In truth, so elementary are the differences, it could be thought-about misleading to characterize LedgerMail as an e-mail service (opens in new tab) at all.
The case in favor
Speaking to TechRadar Pro over Zoom (opens in new tab), Suraj Malla, VP Marketing and Sales at Pingala, methodically set out the case in favor of blockchain-based e mail.
To perceive the benefits, although, it’s first important to understand the attributes that outline a public blockchain community:
* Decentralization: No single entity is liable for greenlighting, verifying and processing transactions (in this context, an exchange of knowledge in the type of an email message).
* Immutability: Once a transaction has been verified by a consensus vote and recorded on-chain, it cannot be altered, deleted or in any other case tampered with.
* Auditability: While network participants can stay nameless, all transactions are open to public scrutiny.
According to Malla, this mix of qualities means blockchain is uniquely geared up to neutralize one-by-one the significant problems with the normal e-mail systems we rely on at present.
For instance, the harvesting of email information en masse by the likes of Google and Microsoft is made attainable by the centralization of energy and control. “But with LedgerMail, there isn’t a centralized authority managing and controlling your knowledge,” Malla defined. “And this also means there isn’t a central level of failure.”
(Image credit score: Shutterstock / 1494)Likewise, a large proportion of email-based cyberattacks are made possible by the continued use of archaic switch protocols (like IMAP and SMTP). But LedgerMail replaces e mail switch protocols with blockchain, which Malla described as “one of probably the most safe technologies within the fashionable world”.
Although LedgerMail users can nonetheless feasibly ship malicious content material to a minimal of one another, id spoofing and phishing assaults (a major downside with traditional email) are made rather more troublesome by a whitelist-style mechanism, at the facet of the natural transparency of a blockchain-based system.
And, lastly, LedgerMail encrypts all message content and attachments, which implies solely the sender and recipient can presumably achieve access to the fabric.
To its credit, Pingala has enjoyed a measure of early success with LedgerMail, attracting four hundred,000 users within the first two months, together with a quantity of enterprise prospects. And there is clearly a large marketplace for merchandise that champion data privateness on this means; simply have a look at the growth of the VPN (opens in new tab) business.
However, the corporate is all too joyful to gloss over the issues with its proposition, that are as various and important as the issues it is making an attempt to remedy.
The much bigger case against
When we spoke, Malla was proud to inform us that 24,000 emails had been exchanged using LedgerMail up to now 24 hours; the implication was that the platform is fast gaining traction. Inadvertently, though, this boast drew attention to the primary of the main issues with the LedgerMail system: scalability.
LedgerMail sits atop a little-known blockchain known as XinFin, a proof-of-stake network that pulls from the traditions of both non-public and public blockchain. Courtesy of a variety of intelligent design features, XinFin boasts a far larger throughput than both Bitcoin or Ethereum, achieving upwards of two,000 transactions per second.
However, regardless of these improvements, the community still caps out at roughly 173 million transactions per day, circa zero.06% of the 319.6 billion emails (opens in new tab) that presently pass forwards and backwards in the identical time period. And keep in mind, LedgerMail has to share XinFin with other blockchain-based companies too.
The problem of scalability is tied intently to a second drawback: cost. Although it’s free to join a LedgerMail account, it’s not free to ship an email. Like all public blockchain networks, each exchange of value or info incurs a transaction fee. This fee incentivizes participation in the community, which in flip ensures a excessive degree of security and redundancy is maintained.
In the case of the XinFin network, transaction fees are remarkably low; Pingala says it costs roughly 1/800th of a dollar to send a LedgerMail e mail. However, the worth of transaction fees is tied directly with the amount of traffic on a network. So, in a hypothetical scenario wherein LedgerMail turns into immensely in style and users flood the XinFin network, emails will become considerably dearer (even if the ceiling is one million times decrease than on the Ethereum network). Given only a tiny fraction of people currently pay for the privilege of sending emails, it’s tough to imagine the idea taking place all that well.
The single largest drawback with LedgerMail, however, is that it’s a closed-loop system. That is to say, customers can solely deliver messages to other folks that own a LedgerMail account – and even then, provided that they function on the recipient’s accredited record of contacts.
Email has lasted greater than 50 years (opens in new tab) largely because of its universality; anybody with a web connection can have an email account, and anybody with an email account can talk with anyone else.
While Pingala has made dispensations to allow customers to join LedgerMail utilizing an existing e-mail account, a easy sign-up course of doesn’t offset the reality that the platform doesn’t allow at no cost and open communication. In this regard, can LedgerMail even be considered an email service at all?
The non-email service
After greater than a little back-and-forth over the shortcomings of the mannequin, Pingala founder Vinay Krishna (who was also on the call) finally conceded that LedgerMail isn’t a service that may substitute conventional e mail in any case. Rather, it’s a product individuals may use once in a while, when exchanging information that’s particularly sensitive.
“For all regular emails that don’t contain delicate information, individuals could still use common email,” he proposed. “But when individuals wish to make sure data stays confidential, that’s when they’ll use LedgerMail.”
In this sense, LedgerMail shares extra DNA with encrypted messaging providers (opens in new tab) like Signal or Telegram (neither of which require a blockchain, by the way) than it does with Gmail (opens in new tab) or Yahoo!.
Ultimately, the problems Pingala is aiming to resolve are real ones. All internet users should be shielded from the intrusions of Big Tech, and they additionally need to be shielded from the military of cybercriminals of their inboxes.
However, the size at which the company is proposing to resolve these issues is microscopic; with the varied caveats and limitations, LedgerMail won’t even make a dent. It’s one of the best unhealthy thought I’ve heard this year.