Developer Showcase Series: Todd Cooper & James Sloan, NuArca

By February 15, 2018 Blog, Hyperledger Fabric

Jumping back to our Developer Showcase blog series, which serves to highlight the work and motivations of developers, users and researchers collaborating on Hyperledger’s incubated projects. Next up is Todd Cooper and James Sloan from NuArca. Let’s see what they have to say!

What advice would you offer other technologists or developers interested in getting started working on blockchain?

Dive right in.  The pace of change is so fast in this space that getting caught up can be a relatively quick process.  I think the term ‘blockchain’ still covers a lot of ground so it makes sense to narrow your focus a bit.  If you are interested in cryptocurrencies then dive into Bitcoin, Ethereum and token sales in that order. Go out and set up a wallet and buy a small amount of bitcoin just for the experience.  Then look it up on a bitcoin explorer to see the history of the transactions.

To start to get familiar with the underlying code the open source community is great in terms of being open to participation and providing resources for learning.  Start by downloading Hyperledger Fabric, writing your own Smart Contract and setting up a network of Docker nodes or develop your own token on Ethereum’s test network in Solidity. If you are looking to familiarize yourself with the innovation in this space, every ICO is publishing a new whitepaper exploring new concepts in blockchain and while the quality may vary, you can get a sense of what is happening.

Finally, there are lots of networks out there on Slack, Twitter, Telegram and Meetups that are occurring all around the world. Start talking to other people to find out what they are doing.

James Sloan, EVP Product Management, NuArca

Todd Cooper, CEO and Co-founder, NuArca

Give a bit of background on what you’re working on, and let us know what was it that made you want to get into blockchain?

NuArca is working with AST (American Stock and Transfer) to deliver a blockchain and machine learning enabled proxy voting solution. AST is one of the largest proxy voting solutions in the market, and the NuArca built system will be used by thousands of corporations and funds to define, manage, and record their proxy vote issuances and annual shareholder voting. This solution will facilitate greater transparency and confidence in data handling, allowing issuers to make more informed decisions and strategy adjustments.  It will also allow AST’s proxy solicitation experts to access advanced predictive analytics to guide complex proxy solicitations.

What project in Hyperledger are you working on? Any new developments to share? Can you sum up your experience with Hyperledger?

Our primary focus at this time is on deploying the Proxy voting solution using Hyperledger Fabric. We will be live by end of September with more than 2 million unique voters representing over 1 trillion shares. This first project stage is focused on parallel record keeping with existing proxy systems. When all goes well, the Fabric based system NuArca built will become the system of record for proxy voting. By Q2 2019, ~40% of all fund proxy voting will be using this system.

To date, Hyperledger has been great, but does require full time tracking of changes in both technology incorporation as well as deployment. It is new enough that this is completely understandable, but anyone getting involved should know that they are working in a fast moving and dynamic system in which time must be invested to understand and leverage.

What do you think is most important for Hyperledger to focus on in the next year?

Scalability and effectively getting the news out on the good enterprise class solutions that are starting to come out using Hyperledger. Much of the tech industry press and financial services press are focused on coins and tokens. Meanwhile, Hyperledger solutions are proving themselves scalable and practical. The Hyperledger community can do a better job of helping to make that knowledge resonate in the market.

From a specific technology gap standpoint, we are particularly looking to have support of Hyperledger on Red Hat rather than Debian as that is the OS of choice for much of the financial services industry. We anticipate needing ongoing improvements to performance and scalability as we grow the solution.  

As Hyperledger’s incubated projects start maturing and hit 1.0s and beyond, what are the most interesting technologies, apps, or use cases coming out as a result from your perspective?

In general, it is the practical use of the technology available today that is most interesting. Hyperledger is not a pie in the sky visage that may come into its own 5 – 10 years down the road. It is here today and can better solve specific types of problems better than yesterday’s technology base.

What’s the one issue or problem you hope blockchain can solve?

Confidence and accuracy in electoral voting.

Where do you hope to see Hyperledger and/or blockchain in 5 years?

Providing a backbone for strong, private blockchains to various industries that are being used to solve various business challenges. An accepted standard similar to Linux.

What is the best piece of developer advice you’ve ever received?

At some point in every project, it is time to shoot the developer and ship the software. Knowing where that point of time is requires decades of experience, and makes all the difference in the world.

What technology could you not live without?

Cloud service models. The convenience and cross platform synchronization is making a truly mobile life possible. One reason blockchain is needed is to ensure the ongoing security, privacy, and resiliency of these models that are increasingly pulling us towards full reliance on external and potentially vulnerable information management models.