Owen Vaughan on CG conversations

Owen Vaughan: Economics is now part of blockchain research

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As nChain’s Director of Research, Owen Vaughan’s background is in the fields of high energy physics, cryptography and differential geometry. Now at the London research and development company for enterprise blockchain, Vaughan’s team provides foundational research in scalable blockchain technology

As he tells Charles Miller in this episode of CoinGeek Conversations, he is witnessing an uptick in individuals who have become experts in Bitcoin technology within the last four years. “We’re seeing lots of different groups within the BSV ecosystem engaging in really serious research and understanding at a very fundamental level,” he says. 

He notes that developers are now capable of maximizing the use of blockchain technology by building applications that require large transactions and scripts—which was not seen several years ago. 

Vaughan describes nChain as “a wonderfully rich environment in which to research because there’s so much to do and so much potential.” He points to a recent nChain discovery around miners validating transactions, saying this opens a new paradigm in the field of cryptography and zero knowledge proofs. He also mentions the invention of a threshold signature scheme—a potential new product area that could be the best in the market.

nChain began as a research-led organization but over time has evolved into a more product-oriented company. It has led Vaughan to believe that understanding the challenges in the market will help them solve issues that lie ahead. 

One recent company initiative is to deliver digital cash solutions for central banks around the globe. As Vaughan explains, understanding economics is now integral to the work. He says inflation and monetary supply are some of the issues that needs to be properly examined and understood. 

“We believe we’re more than just a tech company, but we are capable of modelling the cash flow in a particular country and explaining what the benefits may be and the challenges involved in moving that to a blockchain based solution,” Vaughan says.

On the question of nChain’s large patent portfolio, Vaughan says patenting is not the goal of the work that they do. But being able to acquire patents demonstrates the justification for the investment in research and helps defend the company and the BSV ecosystem against other operators who have their own patent portfolios.

To learn more about central bank digital currencies and some of the design decisions that need to be considered when creating and launching it, read nChain’s CBDC playbook.

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