Bitcoin has occupied headlines of technology and business publications over the past several years. The concept of digital currency, or cryptocurrency, rocked the financial industry, and public opinion about the applications of Bitcoin continues to ebb and flow.
Today, Bitcoin is being overshadowed by another technology: blockchain. Blockchain is a public ledger for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. This is where the real money is, say payment industry experts. Blockchain is a distributed system, and even better, can never be erased. Here are a few recent headlines:
Explore the Blockchain, Ignore the Bitcoin Maximalists – American Banker
Technology: Banks seek the key to blockchain – Financial Times
Forget Bitcoin — What Is the Blockchain and Why Should You Care? – Re/code
New companies are emerging to capitalize on the increasing interest in blockchain technologies. One such company is Coinalytics. The company has focused its efforts on building a platform that can unlock actionable insights from blockchain. Coinalytics utilizes MemSQL as the foundational database to power these real-time insights. We sat down with co-founder and CEO, Fabio Federici, to learn more about the company and how they fit into the blockchain ecosystem.
What did you see in the finance and payments landscape that motivated you to start Coinalytics?
At the time we started Coinalytics, companies were struggling to access blockchain data, which meant all that data was sitting untouched. We saw a great opportunity to build a platform that allows anyone to access the blockchain and derive meaningful insights. For us, the vision is to help payments companies operationalize data from blockchain. Ultimately, what that does, is enable companies to make better decisions and developers to write smarter applications.
What sets the Coinalytics platform apart?
We offer the ability to query our underlying data with a SQL-like query language, compared to most REST APIs which only allow for key/value lookups and maybe a couple of hard-coded filters. Our first offerings include simple APIs and visual interfaces that reduce the friction in the adoption of digital currencies by providing real-time compliance and risk assessment to leading wallet providers, payment services and exchanges.
Who are some of your customers?
Currently we are focused on companies in the Bitcoin space like exchanges, payment processors or merchants accepting Bitcoin. Compliance officers and risk managers use our platform to conduct enhanced due diligence or perform anti-money laundering investigations on suspicious transactions. As the very traditional financial industry starts opening up to Bitcoin and the blockchain, we will continue to carve out a space for our company and our product. We enable established institutions to engage with this emerging ecosystem in a safe and simple manner.
How do you use MemSQL to propel your platform forward?
MemSQL is a fully relational, SQL database. When you are in the data business, you need a database that gives you the ultimate in performance – the MemSQL in-memory rowstore does just that, allowing us run analytics quickly and efficiently on blockchain data. MemSQL is also distributed, so we can scale out and add nodes as we evolve while keeping our costs low.
Moreover, the database is fault-tolerant, familiar to us because it is wire protocol compatible with MySQL, and offers strong support for Apache Spark.
Oh and one more thing I would add – beyond the in-memory rowstore, MemSQL offers a disk-based columnstore, which is ideal for our historical data.
What does your MemSQL deployment look like?
Currently, we are deployed across two availability zones on Google Compute Engine. We have automated rowstore snapshots every 12 hours with attached SSDs, so we can very quickly (differentially) snapshot and store cheaply. The next step for us is attaching the backup disk features as part of our snapshot workflow which will help us continue to optimize costs.
What opportunities has MemSQL opened up for Coinalytics?
First and foremost, MemSQL has really given us the ability to perform real-time analytics – real-time is the key component here. Companies need real time access to data, especially in the payments industry. Now, we have more fine-tuned control over the queries we perform and cost/performance trade-offs. For example, we can decide if two single column indices is good enough or if we also need a compound index of both columns.
With MemSQL we are able to explore flexible SQL queries, as well as dive into Spark, thanks to the MemSQL Spark connector. Everyone wants to play around with Spark these days, ourselves included.
What is next for you guys?
We are still in the early days of blockchain technology and many use cases are yet to be imagined. That said, we are currently seeing a lot of interest in using blockchain as a settlement layer in the financial industry, be it FX trading or asset exchanges. Beyond those financial use cases, we see companies using the transparency the blockchain provides to verify the provenance of products for the entire supply chain, notary services that proof the ownership of any digital document, or even completely decentralized marketplaces. We also see a lot of potential opportunities around a combination of blockchain with the Internet of Things for machine-to machine transactions.
In our eyes, real-time intelligence and access to actionable insights are critical factors in the success of every application.
Read more about how Coinalytics is powering blockchain insights here: http://memsql.com/releases/coinalytics-taps-memsql-for-blockchain-analytics