By Adam Krellenstein and Ben Spiegelman
Symbiont Assembly™ is a blockchain platform designed for enterprise finance. Today it is being used by some of the world’s largest financial institutions to not only create efficiencies in their existing workflows but also to help them completely reimagine their business models. In particular, Symbiont has partnered with large institutions within Index Data (Vanguard), Mortgages (Ranieri Solutions), and Syndicated Loans (Ipreo) to name a few.
Although each of our clients across different verticals have unique business logic and workflows, they all are using the same underlying blockchain software, Symbiont Assembly. Assembly is a proprietary blockchain platform that has been designed and developed by expert engineers in cryptography, distributed systems, financial engineering, and programming language design with direction from experienced leaders in capital markets and enterprise finance.
Assembly was built to solve problems within enterprise finance that arise when you have multiple institutions who need to:
Confidentially share data and logic
With a single source of truth and no central authority
Assembly is a blockchain and smart contracts platform (Blog - Smart Contracts and Institutional Finance) designed to model and automate complex multi-party workflows while maintaining a single source of truth in a decentralized environment and respecting the strictest privacy rules.
There are two primary types of blockchain platforms: public and permissioned. Assembly is a permissioned blockchain, which just means that it doesn’t allow for anonymous participation — you need to get permission before you can join a given network. A public blockchain, by contrast, allows anyone on the Internet to participate. Public blockchains (such as Bitcoin and Ethereum) need to have:
An integrated cryptocurrency, to incentivize honest behavior and
A proof-of-work mechanism (or something very similar), to protect against identity spoofing
Permissioned blockchains work the same way public blockchains do, except that instead of PoW they use a consensus protocol like PBFT (http://pmg.csail.mit.edu/papers/osdi99.pdf) or Mod-SMaRt (http://www.di.fc.ul.pt/~bessani/publications/edcc12-modsmart.pdf), which is much faster, more energy efficient, and offers stronger transaction finality (https://en.bitcoinwiki.org/wiki/Chain_Reorganization).
Assembly has a number of innovations which make it especially appropriate for use in financial markets. First, transactions on the network are encrypted so that only specifically authorized participants in the network are able to view the contents of the messages. Assembly never reveals private transaction data to any central authority; all encryption is fully peer-to-peer. Users are able to employ the Assembly blockchain network for all of their private communications, with the network maintaining a perfect audit trail of everything that happens on it, rather than have to relegate private communication to being “off-ledger”. Even better, this privacy scheme comes with strong consistency guarantees, which are necessary to avoid recreating the very reconciliation problems that the blockchain platform was meant to solve.
Second, unlike many other “DLT” platforms, Assembly is truly decentralized even as it provides for strict transaction confidentiality. Other DLT platforms aren’t blockchains, and they aren’t decentralized. They rely on trusted third parties to maintain consistency (e.g. prevent double-spends) in the network. These central authorities serve as single points of failure and generally compromise the core value proposition of blockchain technology, which is to provide a security model that cannot be achieved with traditional, centralized systems. With Assembly, every node executes each transaction independently (for those transactions it can decrypt), and every node signs each transaction it creates.
Finally, with Assembly, powerful smart contracts — decentralized applications — automate complex multi-party workflows with fine-grained authorization logic. They prevent both unintentional and malicious behavior of anyone on the network from disrupting the correct operation of the system. This is something only a blockchain can do: prevent errors from ever occurring, instead of attempting to detect and fix them after the fact. A system which does any less is a centralized system under a new name, and its users would be better served by sticking with existing technology.
Within finance, institutions are generally unwilling to trust a central entity to completely control market infrastructure and to be relied upon as the primary source of truth for all information on the instruments that they create and trade. Assembly enables the participants in the network to maintain the peer-to-peer nature of their transactions with no central authority, while also receiving the benefits of a shared database with end-to-end privacy. Our partners and clients are using Assembly to build the next wave of financial infrastructure without having to surrender control of their data or their direct relationships with their clients. Together we hope to build a more efficient, transparent and safe infrastructure for the financial services industry and the end user.