A patent for a system that would allow for modifications of a Blockchain protocol without a consensus from all participants of the network, originally filed by the CME Group in December 2017, has been published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) last Thursday, Feb. 8.
In most Blockchain-based networks, such as Bitcoin’s, modifying the protocol currently requires a network consensus that can be hard to achieve, making the system more resilient, but also harder to upgrade when needed.
The Segregated Witness (SegWit) upgrade, originally designed to add transaction malleability but now focused on Bitcoin scalability, required a 95 percent consensus in order to be activated, which took several months to form.
CME uses the example of an airline frequent flyer program to demonstrate the potential problems with using a Blockchain that cannot be easily modified.
If an airline needs to increase transactions fees for transferring airline miles or add a KYC/AML identity program, it would need every node and miner on the network to approve the change by updating their software. If the majority doesn’t go along with the change, a fork in the Blockchain would occur, potentially leading to unpredictable results.
CME proposes in their patent a “method for synchronizing rule changes in a system which implements a blockchain for transactions.” When a processor determines that a data message with a change to how blocks are “processed for addition” to the Blockchain is valid, it generates a transaction in a new block which contains the information about the change to the Blockchain’s operation.
This data will then be communicated to other systems in the Blockchain, and all subsequent transactions after the block containing the data for the operation change will operate under the new rules.
CME Group has already shown they are open to innovative ways to work with the Blockchain and cryptocurrency space, becoming second to CBOE in launching Bitcoin futures in Dec. 2017.
Author: Molly Jane Zuckerman