Universa 101

Well, today you are going to get acquainted with Universa. Maybe you know some other blockchain technologies, like Bitcoin; maybe you are proficient with other “smart contract” technologies like Ethereum.

Anyway, Universa is very different from them. And at the same time, some of the differences may make it easier to use than others.

What is Universa? What it is not?

Universa is a platform for smart contracts, running as a distributed ledger (DLT; sometimes it is called “blockchain” for simplicity) over multiple nodes. This distributed ledger usually stores some records; e.g., in Bitcoin, it stores the currency (BTC) transfers between various owners; in Universa, it stores the validity records of some smart contracts.

Many of the Universa nodes are not owned by Universa Foundation, but by some third parties instead; so besides the real smart contract owner, there is no single entity that could override/falsify the records – Universa is decentralized.

Universa is not:

  • A new cryptocoin or cryptocurrency (though you may issue your own tokens, easily; and there are some tokens already preconfigured in Universa);
  • A financial organisation providing any investments/private banking activities or even consulting/recommendation;
  • A virtual machine for Dapps running in blockchain;
  • A yet another Bitcoin fork, or even anything resembling its architecture any closely.

Stores validity of smart contracts, not the smart contract themselves

Interestingly, the Distributed Ledger of Universa does not store the actual smart contracts themselves. It gives: extra anonymity – to the users, extra performance – to the Universa network; extra flexibility – to the integration architects. For example:

  • Looking at transaction a3690c363d35c3dab70031239d4738fcb34602686379eec6f9284dfb2c5876f9 in Bitcoin, you can easily notice that the owner of address 1GgiRR3Knh7E273kBFFLutAezk1NB7DVe9 (having 4 BTC) transferred 2.385 BTC to address 1LYNxn19tyDyL1k5wNxWQ2a82JiKRZVgQo and 1.61492747 BTC to address 11a8Z8yNs8PXNfbunyNWkqWq4kba4cQQL. And also paid 0.00007253 BTC in fees (about $0.61 at the moment of this article writing, May 2018). Everyone can learn this, just watching at the Bitcoin ledger.
  • In Universa, the people may look at Universa ledger, and the only what they know is that “the contract with some ID is now valid”. If they don’t have the contract itself (and usually, only the sides of the contract have the contract itself) – they don’t know what does it mean. Maybe some company paid the salary to its worker. Maybe a person rented a summer house for 1 year. Maybe a gym given some visitor a right to use Locker #23 for the next week. And by the way, the transaction fee is targeted to be around $0.01 for typical scenarios.

Smart contracts are some smart documents

But what are the smart contracts we are speaking about?

The people accustomed to platforms like Ethereum, often think that “the smart contracts are some mini-applications/distributed applications/Dapps running on Blockchain”. Well, that’s how it usually happens in Ethereum (and the platforms which use its approach). Because Ethereum is actually, mostly a “Dapp running platform”, a virtual machine for some apps written on specially limited programming language; so when they write some Dapp in some special way, they call it “a smart contract”. When you have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

In the world outside of these blockchain practices, the contract is usually a document. A legally significant document; often containing some details about the contract parties; probably their signatures or other confirmations that these parties enter some mutual agreement. So, a loan agreement is some kind of a contract; a cheque is a contract; the shares or stock options are some contracts too.

For the Dapp-running platforms (like Ethereum), it is more usual that the Dapp acts as a bookkeeper/accountant/central registry of multiple unique “documents”/records, or even coin/currency balances. In Ethereum, you say “The Smart Contract/Token at address 0x9e3319636e2126e3c0bc9e3134AEC5e1508A46c7 is the UTNP Token”; but actually at this address, it is not a single Token being stored, and not even a single balance of someone, but the whole bookkeeping infrastructure for all UTNP tokens in the world.

In Universa, smart contracts are not Dapps. Smart contracts are documents, just like for the rest of the world. Just they are smart.

Each smart contract registered by Universa is a unique independent document; or maybe a new version of an existing one; or maybe a revocation request of one.

To be continued...