At this point in time, it is clear that blockchain technology has several benefits over traditional centralized solutions, and has the potential to drastically disrupt a wide range of industries, probably changing the shape of the world as we know it today. Blockchain and smart contracts provide a new level of trust, eliminating the need for intermediaries and generating a much more secure and transparent system overall. The blockchain and its decentralized nature make smart contracts tamper-proof, and the ability to execute business logic in this way (with no party altering the inputs, code, and results) is extremely useful in a variety of scenarios such as legal agreements and automated payment systems.
But this security and reliability in the technology also comes at a cost. Performing relatively simple tasks such as retrieving a data value from an external application to perform some logic, sending a message to an external system, and scheduling a periodic/recurrent transaction are quite difficult to implement in the context of a blockchain application. Since smart-contract execution must be deterministic, on-chain smart contracts present a drawback compared to traditional applications, because they cannot easily access data that is not already in the blockchain.
In RIF Gateways we tackle this challenge and truly think outside the blockchain. The main goal of this service is to develop easy-to-use tools and technologies that allow developers and companies to design blockchain-based applications that can seamlessly interact with the external world, enabling a wide range of new use cases. Additional information can be found in our RIF Gateways Whitepaper which is available on the RIF website.
RIF Gateways leverages the latest advances in research and integrates the most widely-recognized industry solutions, providing at the same time a unified and common interface layer which reduces the complexity of implementing these technologies. It allows consumers and providers to easily set up secure and reliable data transfers supporting a wide range of data consumption, subscription, and payments models.
RIF Gateways is structured into three main services which cover all the scenarios in which decentralized blockchain-based applications need to interact with the external world. These are data services, triggers, and schedulers. Each of these services presents its own difficulties and challenges, and requires specific tools and technologies in order to achieve the desired results. We will explore each individual service in more detail in the next section.
RIF Data Services manages the information coming from the external world into the Blockchain (Inbound transactions). These are also commonly known as “Oracles” and allow smart contracts to run business logic based on external information. Some examples of applications that typically require external data are insurance contracts (which may need information about external events and pay whenever a specific chain of events takes place) or finance applications (which usually involve contracts that need access to price feeds and exchange rates such as USD/EUR), among others.
With RIF Data Services, consumers can choose among different types of Oracle services and then interact with the corresponding provider to get the required information. In order to comply with the Data Services protocol, providers need to implement a specific interface in their smart contracts, defining a clear and specific set of data consumption, subscription, and payment models.
RIF Triggers deals with information flowing from the blockchain into external applications and systems (Outbound transactions). Traditional applications also need to access data generated within the blockchain in order to perform their logic and operations. Some examples are gaming applications, which have to process smart contract events in order to show specific updates to the participants, and payment applications, which require alerts and notifications anytime funds are received/withdrawn from certain accounts.
RIF Triggers defines a standardized way to consume blockchain events and data without the risks and costs of implementing a new solution for each use case. It allows any user to configure the event processing service, specifying what they want to listen, what actions to take once that event happens, and even subscribe to pre-defined templates.
RIF Schedulers takes care of periodic and recurring transactions, allowing users to run time-based logic and smart contracts on the blockchain. There is a need for most applications to be able to execute transactions based on certain time conditions and this feature is not natively-supported in any blockchain. An example of this could be an investment application, which requires a smart contract to payout earnings and rewards to contributors at the end of a certain period.
RIF Schedulers provides an implementation-agnostic protocol for transaction scheduling, allowing new scheduling service providers to join, and providing customers with an efficient and reliable way to program future executions of on-chain transactions.
To sum up, RIF Gateways defines a simple and common interface for users to interact with Data Services (Oracles), Trigger Services, and Transaction Schedulers. It significantly reduces the complexity of dealing with diverse technologies and providers and ensures secure, tamper-proof interactions with external applications and systems, supporting multiple payments, consumption, and subscription models. It is an extremely valuable tool that allows seamless integration between blockchain applications and traditional solutions, and one of the core building blocks for a more decentralized and transparent world.