Holochain Use Cases
A synopsis of Holochain applied in various technical environments
In this article I am going to explore some use for Holochain, some of them will seem obvious and are already are known and others are just using sense of imagination.
What I will say though is that I have a very good understanding of how Holochain operates, despite not being a developer myself I know the technology well and what it is designed for. So if you see anything listed below that doesn’t seem possible, trust me it is, the technology is mind blowing and its use cases are unlimited.
Before I add my various scenarios if you haven't already please take a few moments to read this article by one of the Holochain founders, it will make some things clear to you.
First off its important to note that even though HoloFuel is a Mutual Credit cryptocurrency and is the main application used to pay for Holo hosting and it can be directly integrated with other applications built on Holochain, that doesn’t mean that new digital currencies built on Holochain also need to be mutual credit.
Whilst it would be pointless (but possible) to build Proof of Work or Proof of Stake currencies on Holochain obviously they are only used by blockchain because they are its only ways of verifying transactions and mining new blocks.
A publisher could create a currency as detailed and advanced as their imagination or their application is.
For example, a “Brand” or application could have a currency that is both tradeable online and or able to used as credit to purchase their goods. They could reward their app users in their currency for calling into one of their stores and scanning a bar-code.
Retailers whilst happy to ship on-line will always want foot traffic. Add a simple promo to your app where the first 500 people between the hours of 10am and 12pm visit their store and scan any product they are given xxx amount of their currency to spend online or in-store.
A Holochain version of Twitter or Medium where you are reading this article now with a currency could also be used to tip people for good content within the application. Similar to a “like” on Facebook or a “heart” on Twitter, you could have the option to monetize that with a Holochain currency running on top of the Holochain application.
This is a peer to peer method of payments, unlike blockchain where the transaction needs to be A. paid for and B. verified and C. added to a global ledger, a Holochain transaction of a currency is the same as adding text or an image to an application interface, its free and you do so knowing that it has been peer validated, gossiped and it is cryptographically signed, no need to worry about wasting money to pay for your digital tip or purchase.
Roblox is a game for kids but produces some serious money and they themselves have an internal currency called Robux.
Of course the way it works is that the company Roblox provides the architecture for the games hosting and for developers to create and they take a massive cut from and leave the developers with a payment of what is remaining.
For example you can see the prices above for Robux it would cost you around $399.95 USD to purchase 75,000 Robux. The big difference with a Holochain currency for a game is that it if the game is an application hosted on Holo hosting the only cost the developers pay is hosting and their internal game currency is entirely peer to peer and can find its own price on markets.
There is a big market and argument for independent retailers to also use their own currencies. Sure anyone can just swipe their watch, smartphone, ring or other device to pay for services using their credit card or Fitbit pay or whatever, but all of these services add a cost to the retailer for doing so.
The world is changing, that’s always a truism but its changing faster now because of the impact of Coronavirus. More and more businesses are going to find ways to save money on their bottom line whilst also provider a bigger digital presence to the customers.
If a large companies start to implement their own currencies they need to do it right and make it work the first time. This is where Holochain is the perfect solution, each currency is in itself an application, so there is no issue with the application interacting with their established IT infrastructure.
Blockchain is not only unsuitable for this because of its consensus constraints but its also a cost to send to/from anyone for anything.
Holochain currencies have no cost to send or receive, the only thing the creator pays for is the hosting of the application itself.
Currency in the future
I think like many do that retail and national digital currencies are inevitable but just like when a country mints new dollars it needs to maintain control.
That's why Holochain is ideal, it doesn’t need to share with the world that I just purchased a new pair of sneakers and have the world verify that fact, random peer to peer validation, gossip and cryptographic signatures ensure that the transaction was legitimate.
I also think that in the future there will be some creative developers who when creating applications built on Holochain will also incorporate a way for any transactions that take place to take a small percentage out and auto-use this to pay for their hosting costs in HoloFuel.
For example for every purchase I made using say A Walmart application using their dollars, their currency, the hApp could be designed to auto convert some of those dollars into HoloFuel and be set aside in a payment fund to be auto-deducted when its time to pay invoices.
HoloFuel is designed to operate millions of transactions per second so it won’t matter how fast things are moving online, the faster it goes or the harder it is pushed the more powerful it becomes.
I also think that eventually there will be “World Exchanges” and by this I mean you might have say 30 different countries that have their own digital currency, then you might have 100,000 plus different retailers with their own currencies because every retailer is going to be online if they aren’t already and I see it as being a way to offer discounts to people if they pay in the retailers particular currency.
I might be able to buy a pair of runners for $140.00 using my credit card, debit card or other like Google pay etc but if I used my “Nike Dollars” I can get the same pair of runners for $130.00 or less.
This gives the currency creating retailer a direct line to revenue removing payment processors altogether. Retail peer-to-peer sales would also form a close brand association. The customer is issued a regular receipt also recorded on the Nike DHT.
A stablecoin is a class of cryptocurrencies that attempt to offer price stability and are backed by a reserve asset the most common being the U.S Dollar.
A stablecoin built on Holochain offers many things that its blockchain competitors could not. The first and most obvious being the cost of sending from one person to another. Every blockchain has inbuilt fees due to their need to have inbuilt mining or proof of stake fees to authenticate a transaction.
Holochain currencies are applications themselves this means there is zero cost to send or receive a currency, the only cost is the hosting cost of the application itself.
A creator of a Holochain stablecoin could add a nominal fee based on the amount sent or other metrics that suits their business model. It could be that a person only pays a small percentage for one in five transactions or if they are a constant big spender they may be offered a one off payment, there is no limitations when it comes to creativity because the app publisher of a stablecoin can create it to suite their needs and business model.
This would also apply to CBDC’s (A central bank digital currency), the government would wear the small cost of hosting whilst having their currency out there protected from theft by a high security environment.
Holochain as a payment provider
I won’t go too deep into this as I have already written an extensive article about using Holochain for regular payments and also highlighted how fantastic it could be for retail allowing offline payments.
This is one of the most underhyped features of Holochain is that its capable of off-line trust.
Blockchain certainly comes no where near being able to do this but the same applies for regular payment credit cards or debit cards.
Gone are the days where a manual swipe using carbon copies of your card to be later balanced and deducted will happen.
Holochain applications have the ability to operate via many different carriers, HF radio, UHF radio, Bluetooth, WIFI (Device to device WIFI without regular internet), Cellular, RFID and basically any means of digital communications you can think of, Holochain can communicate over.
If you want to read a scenario for offline payment in a retail setting please take a few minutes (12 mins according to this website ) to have a read of the article below.
A Holochain Dating App
Before we look at what type of features a Holochain dating application could/would have first its important to help people understand just how vulnerable they are digitally, especially when it comes to their personal information and where it is held, who holds it and what can happen to your personal data if a traditional dating application were to be compromised.
In 2021 a Japanese dating application was hacked and among the data exposed were photos of ID used to confirm the age of users, including drivers’ licenses, insurance cards and passports.
Another popular dating app OkCupid with over 50 Million uses had a near miss when an audit showed the following:
“With OkCupid, Check Point says that its hack enabled access to everything within an account — private information and messages, photos, a user’s real contact details and identity, even answers to the private and awkward questions that enable the site’s AI engine to filter potential matches.
So, how did it work? Check Point identified a vulnerability in OkCupid’s link scheme, one that could be spoofed by links disguised as belonging to the platform itself, but which were malicious. These links would provide a route to exfiltrate data, an opportunity to trigger actions within the platform.
“An attacker can send a custom link,” the team explains in its disclosure. The mobile application will open a WebView (browser) window — OkCupid mobile application. Any request will be sent with the users’ cookies.” This means that a user clicking the link on their phone or computer would “credentialize” themselves, providing an attacker with full access to their account.”
The potential for the theft of data that can lead to extreme embarrassment, loss of employment, loss of friends or partners or anything else you thought was private about your love life and sexual orientation all of a sudden is for sale on the dark web, or worse published openly on the public internet.
Most of these dating sites all use centralized servers and therefore provide single attack point vectors to hackers, and more than likely a direct line to Governments who may want to snoop into your affairs for whatever reasons.
As you can see from the image below, the worlds biggest, Tinder is almost entirely reliant on AWS for their hosting.
If you were to google search “AWS Hacked” you will have pages upon pages of reading, it literally happens all of the time. They were also part of the SolarWinds hack recently.
So this is where your data, your personal information your hopes your dreams, your secret desires are waiting to be taken by someone for financial gain.
The good news though is with a Holochain dating application you won’t see an image like the above, because your data is encrypted, sharded into little pieces and is in a shared hosting state.
Meaning no one has the entire information in one large honeypot, its held by hundreds or thousands of users across the globe and encrypted at rest.
The other beauty of a Holochain dating application, or any Holochain application is that even though your data may be hosted and sharded across multiple devices, unlike these big dating application companies you have control of your data.
You can revoke access to it, you can remove every trace that you were ever a part of or had an account with this application, because with Holochain you decide who you give access to your data.
Unlike these multinational companies that own your data forever, you have no way of removing your photographs, your history or your preferences with them, once its on a Tinder or OkCupid or any other server, they own your data.
Even if you close or deactivate your account, they still have everything you ever shared with them and they own it not you.
This is why a Holochain based dating application will provide a higher level of comfort for people, they know that at anytime they can revoke access and choose to be forgotten.
Unique features of a Holochain dating application
Apart from what I just mentioned above about ownership of data, a dating application published on Holochain could also include features that none of these dating applications offer, I will go through a few of them here.
You can add and remove your data at any time.
You can choose people who you match with & deny or allow them access at any time.
You can match with people whilst offline via Bluetooth in an aircraft or remote areas without signal.
You could add specific match criteria and match with others automatically when at a concert, event or public gathering without having to “search” and know that they are geographically close to you and talk about meeting.
You can verify the authenticity of someone you matched with using NFC.
You can take a break from being available and withdraw your data with the option to re-add it later.
Your messages and history are your own and you control them along with video, images etc.
All of the actions on the account are peer-to-peer, similar to meeting people its people power that introduces yourself to them.
There are many more features for a Holochain dating application but this article is getting long winded as it is so the rest is up to your imagination.
Ransomware is a type of malicious software cybercriminals use to block you from accessing your own data. The digital extortionists encrypt the files on your system and add extensions to the attacked data and hold it “hostage” until the demanded ransom is paid. During the initial infection, the ransomware may attempt to spread throughout your network to shared drives, servers, attached computers and other accessible systems.
This is where Holochain’s DNA can also prove very effective. You see each Holochain application has its own DNA, that of Holochain and also any rules or permissions written into the application by the publisher.
At its core a Holochain hApp is highly secure and tamperproof. As I mentioned earlier it uses peer validation, cryptographic signatures and gossip to maintain security, and this “circle of trust” for want of a better word is anyone using said application.
So for example if the Holochain hApp I am using is a stable currency hApp, I can’t as a user introduce new code into the hApp because each hApp is forced by the Holochain DNA to maintain data integrity.
The “biological constraints” of a hApp are encoded in its validation rules — the DNA of the application. These rules are the only things nodes in a hApp need to maintain global consensus. With these rules as the foundation, each user keeps an immutable record of their own actions on a local hash-chain, DNA being the first entry on the chain. Each tweet, vote on a poll, or currency transaction (depending on the hApp) would be an additional entry on the agent’s chain for that application.
So the moment someone tries to introduce (maybe through a phishing link via email) some bad infections code like Malware Holochain’s DNA will instantly recognize this and if the node is found to be propagating or validating bad data, that node is blocked and a warning is sent to others via gossip. This effectively blacklists bad actors from participating in the app.
Additional measures to defend against flooding the network with fake validators are customizable for each application. A messaging app may only need basic protections, such as using email verification, whereas a supply chain handling million-dollar transactions may require vouching from industry peers, an invitation code, and government ID verification to join the network.
This unique in-built security ensures that all Holochain hApps are secure and operate with an effect threat deterrence and it also is a reason multinational companies that are spending billions per year trying to defend from ransoms or even worse paying the ransoms should consider shifting some of their important data to Holochain.
As far as this author knows there just currently isn’t anything like Holochain to offer such protection.
Holochain is patented technology so its going to be the go-to tech for defense against ransomware.
This is another area where Holochain is going to excel, I’m not going to go too hard on details here as I have already covered Holochain an IoT extensively in this article below.
What I will quickly highlight here though is that independent computer scientists from the UK and the Middle East have conducted extensive tests using Holochain (it was actually the older version which was not as fast or lite-weight as the current version) and both studies outlined that Holochain is more than ideal for IoT, because of its small footprint and more importantly its ability to maintain data integrity and also operate groups of nodes within an hApp autonomously.
One study where Holochain was tested using it for IoT in healthcare actually said that it provides something that no other technology can at this time.
That’s a pretty big deal when you think about it, people get excited by new technology but to hear about a tech that has capabilities that no other technology on earth has it really is impressive.
I suggest you have a read of the article if you want to learn some more.
Most people know what DocuSign does and how it works, its a really great system of digital information sharing and providing necessary services to those unable to be face to face.
You can sign your car loan, the papers for a new house, anything that requires your signature DocuSign can handle. But a Holochain version of DocuSign will provide more freedom, more security and much more, take a few moments to read the Holochain blog about it.
Holochain based Email client
Everyone knows and uses email. And most of us know who the big players in the market are, Gmail (Google), 1 billion active monthly users worldwide. Outlook (Microsoft), more than 400 million active users worldwide. Yahoo Mail (recently acquired by Verizon), 225 million active monthly users.
iCloud also has around 850 Million users while some of the smaller or up and coming email clients like Protonmail with around 5 Million users and they pride themselves on security and Swiss privacy.
Having an email client on Holochain would mean that none of your data sits or lives in centralized cloud providers servers.
Your emails would be sent encrypted, sharded, peer validated and gossiped amongst other users of the same application.
And unlike these supposedly non-cloud users like Protonmail you really are using a highly secure peer to peer form of communicating.
One of the features of Holochain is its offline capabilities, if you don’t have internet access you still might be able to go to a public place and receive it via Bluetooth or any other transport protocol.
With a Holochain messaging email client you know your data isn’t sitting on a server where the government can get a warrant to obtain your emails because your data lives sharded across thousands of peers.
The only way the authorities or hackers could access your emails is if they had admin rights to your device.
Protonmail says its servers are in Swiss bunkers underground, this may be the case but as you can see from the image below they use a lot of centralized cloud based servers including AWS.
Holochain is perfect for secure messaging and can perform the same functions as all of the other messaging apps out there but with added security and added features like ability to work offline, ability to be forgotten and your right to own your data and withdraw access.
I won’t go into detail as I have already done so previously in a lengthy article about it, please see below for link.
Twitter and Facebook and all other social media
Without sounding like a broken record by now if you have read the above messages you would know that Holochain offers unique security, privacy, speed and other features.
These also apply to regular social media, there is already a site similar to Facebook which is Holochain based named Junto.
You can learn more about Junot in the link below.
For Twitter I'll be brief, imagine Twitter as you know it now but with the ability to maintain your content, by that I mean everything you’ve ever created or posted right now sits on Twitters servers, you don’t own your information or creations they can close your account at anytime and deny you access to it.
With a Holochain based Twitter you own the data you have created and are able to store a copy on your local source chain, this applies to any Holochain application, you own what you create, even if you share it no one can take it away from you.
You are also less likely to see hacks, remember 2 years ago when some prominent (and not so prominent) people had their accounts hacked?
What happens if someone hacks a world leaders account and they use it to try and start a war, crash the stock market, or cause other untold damage.
Twitter is a ticking time-bomb IMO because its a perfect target to send a message and cause confusion and chaos and instant reactions that can and will affect many people across the world.
Medium, the website you are reading this on
As you can see from the image above, this website Medium is a great place for people to write, create, share and learn from.
They spend 8 Million dollars per month to keep this data at your fingertips, but like most of these companies they own your data.
These words I am writing now came out of my head, its my information, my thoughts, my consciousness and in applying my cognition here I’m doing so with the knowledge that everything I have created or spoken about or of can be removed, deleted and my access to it denied.
Because I don’t own my data, Medium dot com owns my data.
I hope this is a clear way for people to start to see the importance in not only owning your data for security or intellectual property reasons but its you, its your thoughts, why should I have an axe hanging over my head?
Granted you would need to breach the terms and conditions for anyone to delete, pause or otherwise deny access to your account but it can happen very easily.
People spend thousands of hours collectively sharing their information on websites like this, wouldn’t you think that they would prefer to be safe in the knowledge that they own what they produce?
That’s a good business model to me, sure anyone can copy and paste what they create into a word doc but that’s still not quite the same as owning an article, its a body of work not just text on a screen.
I think the person or persons who create a Holochain based Medium style application will do very well knowing its hosted peer to peer and without having to pay for backups and storage as all of these other sites need to do.
If your data is sharded across thousands of devices you don’t need to spend the billions of dollars per year big data does on having redundancy plans as with peer to peer hosting there is always people online.
There was one startup looking at creating a medium style hApp but AFAIK they are no longer active.
Intelligence agencies use cases for Holochain
Some of you may have heard about a recent number of arrests of criminals that were tricked into using an application named ANOM. This was a brilliant move and no doubt those who fell for it are feeling like they spread a virus.
But one way intelligence agencies can and maybe will use Holochain is because it is open source they have the abilities to just create their own messaging applications.
Of course they would already have these types of applications already created and operational but with Holochain it can give them an extra layer of security.
Holochain hApps don’t need to be hosted by Holo so an intelligence agency (or anyone else in the world) can build their own self hosted application and have it operational and unless you are aware of its existence then there is no way of ever knowing it exists.
An agency might create a hApp that simply sends messages or does welfare checks on their operatives, and because each hApp is its own DHT, its own universe if you like, only valid holders of the app would be able to use it and it would be peer validated by others but without having any disclosing information.
It could help ensure their agents safety because they know that this message or passphrase was sent from an authorized source code.
You could play devils advocate and say well criminals can also create secret messaging applications and not use Holo hosting and there would be no knowledge of its existence and you would be correct. The only way they would likely be caught out would be through their centralized hosting providers if they used any.
Human Rights and Journalists safety
Everyone knows there are oppressive governments around the globe and human rights is a big issue and one of the first things these oppressive governments do is deny access to the internet and or communications.
A Holochain based human rights or journalistic application could be used in areas where there is difficulty in getting factual information in or out of the country.
Remember Holochain is transport protocol agnostic so a hApp could be built that uses HF radio, UHF, or its own version of WIFI to send messages out, they can piggyback from peer to peer until they reach the outside world.
This again can be created with or without using Holo hosting services.
To explain for those whom maybe unsure, Holochain the technology is free and open source. You don’t need to use Holo hosting you can use any hosting but what Holo the company does is provides a bridge from the application to web interfaces, something no other hosting providers can do.
You can certainly run your communications or social media or any other hApp you like without using Holo hosting but to have it available to web users like when you sign into Twitter the app or Twitter from the browser you need Holo hosting.
Its also a better idea to have Holo hosting for any hApps anyway because its cheaper, doesn’t have down time, doesn’t incur redundancy costs and is entirely peer to peer.
One of the best things about Holochain and Holo hosting is that you don’t need to buy a Holoport to become a Holo host.
Once its stable Holo will release the Holo Operating System (OS) which means you can download the software to your devices and take part in shared hosting.
You can choose to host applications or websites that resonate with you personally or you can do so to try and make as much money as you can by earning HoloFuel.
Unlike Bitcoin or Cryptocurrency mining (which is mostly associated with malware) Holo hosting is safe and will use the idle processing power of your device to host one or several hApps.
You can host one or several at a time and one way many people will volunteer to help is with charities.
If you know or are associated with anyone in registered charitable organization have a talk to them about their IT costs, Holo hosting will allow thousands or even millions to host these websites for free removing huge overheads that can be diverted to those who need financial help rather than paying large multinational cloud providers.
As you can see in the image below, the Red Cross alone spends over $5 Million per year on their hosting costs.
We can change that, not only for the Red Cross but any charities or animal welfare groups, Holo hosting is a way for people to help who may not be able to reach into their pockets.
Where else can Holochain be used?
The list is endless so I’m going to wrap this article up now.
I haven't gone into supply chains, payment applications, gaming, betting, logistics, sports, health, finance and many other industries but they are all out there and Holochain is able to provide solutions.
Remember its an application hosting framework with inbuilt protection for end users, the use cases are limitless and I think once we start seeing a trickle of users then the bigger companies will pay attention.
In particular those who have pivoted to many of their staff working online because of the Coronavirus.
Hackers are never going to go away, hosting costs are never going to stop rising, demand for hosting is at extreme levels and people are becoming more and more aware of their vulnerabilities when it comes to their online presence and footprint.
There is also a growing trend of companies to be in-touch with their users and I can foresee that once Holochain’s name is out there and being used a question people will be asking about new products is “Who owns the data, they do or I do?”
This will lead to many others having to follow suit of those whom have switched to Holochain, peer pressure due to peer to peer tech, its glorious.
Holochain can’t solve all problems but it really can improve many of the legacy IT systems we use today and do so for the betterment of the people who use them.
If you made it this far thanks for taking the time to read this and if you have any discussions or want to talk about Holo hosting or Holochain the technology please visit www.forum.holochain.org or www.holo.host, my handle on Twitter is @holo_of if you have any hApp ideas I can offer you some advice and connect you to the right people.
Thanks again for reading.