Response to Robert’s “Building a Decentralized Marketplace using Hyperledger Fabric”
The continuing advancement in technology is creating a need for companies, especially those in the technological industries, to collaborate at a deeper level. For instance, companies dealing with things that complement each other, such as telecom operators and cloud services providers, need to create a marketplace. A decentralized marketplace seems like a great idea going forward. Nevertheless, in his article, “Building a decentralized marketplace using Hyperledger Fabric,” Rémi Robert warns about blindly implementing such a marketplace by exploring the challenges that the move poses for the concerned stakeholders.
For a decentralized system to work, all concerned organizations agree on various rules to govern the transactions. It means that power is evenly distributed among the organizations, thereby making the system transparent. However, Robert observes that trust is necessary to maintain such a relationship because many things might arise. For example, smart contract failure is a possibility, and without trust, organizations may be suspicious of each other, which would compromise the system’s effectiveness. I agree with Robert that trust is necessary for the decentralized marketplace to work. The system brings into play various actors, among them orderers who read and influence all the transactions. Orderers can also cancel some transactions. If this is not done in good faith, the arrangement might hurt some players. Consequently, before an organization joins a marketplace, it should consider the honesty of the other players in the relationship, which is a challenge in today’s capitalistic society.
Another challenge that Robert investigates is the cost of building and maintaining a decentralized marketplace. Small organizations cannot manage to be part of such an arrangement because it is a costly affair. Every organization in the arrangement needs to host a peer, run an orderer, and have the requisite infrastructure for the implementation of such a system. This is expensive, which means that only large organizations can benefit from the invention. Even for such organizations, the cost is high. Nevertheless, I agree with Robert that a decentralized marketplace is still the most viable alternative. It is both effective and cheaper compared to a centralized marketplace that requires contracting a third party. Consequently, concerned stakeholders have no option but to use a decentralized marketplace. However, as time goes by, they can invent ways to make the system’s implementation less expensive.
Furthermore, as Robert observes, maintaining a decentralized system is tricky. For instance, before a transaction is made, all organizations participating have to agree about the expected ledger mutations as they have to happen per predefined rules. A transaction without the endorsement of all organizations is invalid and cannot be recorded in the ledger. The problem comes when a bug affects the system, which is a possibility. Robert is right to state that a decentralized system is tricky to maintain because, in case of a virus, multiple invalid transactions may be recorded. It is almost impossible to identify such transactions later on. When this happens, distrust may result as some organizations may feel that others wanted it to happen for selfish gains. The players need to develop a secure system to ensure the smooth running of things, which is a major challenge.
Concisely, having a decentralized marketplace is the most reasonable thing to do for organizations craving collaboration in the modern-day world. However, before widespread acceptance of such a move happens, there is a need to ensure that the barriers are dealt with accordingly.