Daml 2.0: Open networks for open business

Editor's note: Craig Blitz is Digital Asset’s Chief Product Officer

Since I joined Digital Asset in June 2020, I have been eagerly awaiting the day we could announce a major technology release that we have been working on for several years. Today is that day, and it marks a milestone for Digital Asset, our capabilities, and our customers. I am proud to announce the official launch of Daml 2.0, the next generation of our core technology that removes key barriers to blockchain adoption with industry-leading capabilities for privacy and cross-domain interoperability. This release introduces a new layer of sophistication with Canton, our privacy-enabled distributed ledger that is enhanced when deployed with complementary blockchains.

We have released many critical updates to Daml over the past year, and Daml 2.0 is the culmination of that momentum. We strengthened our smart contract framework with direct integrations to Postgres-compliant databases, as well as to several blockchains—paving the way for a future open network in which systems built on disparate blockchain and distributed ledger technologies can interact at the smart-contract level. Daml will continue to lead financial services and other globally diverse industries into a future where the systems underpinning the way we transact are no longer constrained by organizational boundaries.

Today's systems that are tied together via messaging between organizations result in business slowdowns and expensive reconciliation, due to inconsistencies in data. Smart Contracts provide the schema and semantics to eliminate these inconsistencies, allowing companies to build workflows that codify how parties interact while preserving data privacy. Daml 2.0 builds on the core components that have made Daml the multi-party application platform for forward-looking businesses around the world, with the added benefits of Canton.

Enhanced privacy with Canton

At the heart of the Daml 2.0 release is privacy, the key to creating trusted, secure, multi-party applications. Daml provides for explicit roles and permissions to govern any interaction, and these rules can be set at a granular level to enforce sub-transaction privacy. This assures that network participants can only see data that is relevant and permissioned to their role in a particular transaction—not everything that has come before or happens later. Without this, customers are faced with a choice between losing  atomicity by breaking apart transactions to preserve privacy, and sacrificing privacy to preserve atomicity.

Daml’s built-in privacy protocols have successfully passed stringent scrutiny by regulators and market infrastructure, and are a primary reason that Digital Asset has been chosen by regulated, high-performance, systemically important infrastructures, including the Australian Securities Exchange and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Canton's privacy capabilities remove a key barrier to adoption by preserving the privacy-centralized solutions they use today, particularly as they look to modernize their architecture and capabilities in order to participate in the open business environment of the future. 

Connecting disparate silos of value 

Canton will enable any Daml-based ledger to be distributed via participation nodes. Advanced synchronization protocols ensure that the participant’s ledger remains in a valid state and that a corrupted state never occurs. Canton enables data to be shipped around to different/discrete nodes. It sits across different ledger providers, providing data availability while protecting and applying privacy permissions regardless of the individual privacy profiles of those ledgers. Unique among blockchains, this is the key to creating a future of interconnected networks. With privacy managed at a sub-transaction level, only parties to the transaction can see all the steps. 

This makes Daml ideal for any organization looking to solve a specific business problem today, while also preparing for the future. You gain ultimate flexibility: You can build your application secure in the knowledge that your code is fully portable and built on a framework that allows you to keep it as a standalone solution or expand, extend, and connect when and how you choose. Portability not only ensures you’ll never be locked into a particular provider, but also automatically enables any existing Daml applications to function in Daml 2.0. 

Taking composability to a new level

Daml 2.0 exposes Early Access functionality to compose smart contracts across two or more Daml applications. This creates additional benefits as organizations put Daml to work to solve deep business challenges and build on their progress with new applications that address internal workflow challenges, or extend workflows to external partners. Daml 2.0’s advanced composability allows third-parties to provide innovative solutions that extend or compose existing solutions and applications.

Many of our customers have already tested the capabilities of Canton and plan to implement Canton across production builds in 2022. Among the use cases I’ve been most excited about is Project Genesis, a green bond prototype we built in partnership with GFT for the Bank for International Settlements and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. This prototype was created to show how exchanges can bring greater efficiency and transparency across the end-to-end bond issuance and lifecycle workflow. Since the prototype used Canton to provide ledger optionality and cross-domain interoperability, applications running Project Genesis were able to run and communicate across Hyperledger Fabric and Hyperledger Besu. This not only connected formerly disparate networks for the participating banks, but it also enabled cross-ledger atomicity. In other sectors, Goldman Sachs is using Daml to develop an end-to-end tokenized asset infrastructure, Deutsche Börse is building a  post-trade platform, and Xpansiv is building and supporting an Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG) commodities exchange. 

As our ecosystem of clients and users continues to grow and implement the new features available in this new release, they are increasingly looking to unlock the control of value from legacy silos into an open business environment, in which information and value are shared efficiently and transactions occur seamlessly. Our journey is just beginning, and I am excited to see Daml adoption grow across industries, providing the bedrock for an increasingly interconnected future.