Libra marks a milestone in the history of cryptocurrencies: never before has such a project been conceived and supported, not by one, but by 28 companies, many of them world-renowned. In a world full of fraud, bugs, and cyber robberies, some may see Libra as the first “legitimate” cryptocurrency. It is indeed built around stability as a mantra, even if it means sacrificing on decentralization that made the eyes of the blockchain militants shine.
The Libra’s smart contracts are reusable
Finally, like Ethereum, the Libra blockchain allows the integration of intelligent contracts. Libra has developed its Move programming language to enable their implementation, which it praises as “safe” compared to the languages of other blockchains such as Ethereum’s Solidity, which are known to have flaws.
Libra’s intelligent contracts are called “modules.” While on Ethereum, only predetermined wallet are compatible the same piece of code, any asset in the blockchain can reuse the Libra modules. It is also noted that the Libra will, at least initially, restrict what programmers can code on the blockchain for stability reasons.
Decentralization on the go?
All this would be for the first years of Libra’s operation. One of the roles of the Libra Association will be to “work with the community” to start the transition to a “without permission” system within 5 years of the launch of the Libra, by 2025. In principle, large investors in regular Libra would gradually be allowed to operate their validator nodes, as on most crypto money systems.
In 2025, the Libra Association hopes that at least 20% of the voting rights of the board will be in the hands of such persons. These would not be affected by the 1% voting cap – it is assumed that votes will be diluted between enough actors so that no one can reasonably capture too much power in the system.
Speed, size, consensus, and contracts
Bitcoin and its traditional blockchain are easily clogged. First, because blocks are only created every 10 minutes, and then because their size is limited to 1 megabyte. In 2017, researchers noted that Bitcoin could hardly handle more than 7 transactions per second. In the same period, Visa credit cards handle an average of 2,000 transactions, with peaks at 56,000.
The search for speed can explain the first particularity of the Libra blockchain, which is not a chain of blocks. “The concept of a block of transactions in the history of the registry doesn’t exist,” explains the whitepaper. A group does not transmit transactions to the validator nodes, but one by one and sequentially. 1,000 transactions per second could thus be managed for 100 validator nodes. With its “unified structure,” Libra is not the first cryptocurrency to try alternatives. The controversial IOTA, intended for the Internet of Things and therefore requiring speed, had already developed its system called “Tangle.”