Some of the projects that use Plasma are OmiseGo and Loom Network. The first public deployment of Plasma Network was conducted in February.
Plasma was created in order to help the scalability of the Ethereum blockchain. It is a solution to register transactions and smart contracts on one or several side chains of Ethereum, to alleviate the demand on it.
This network provides a framework for building applications off the main chain that are safe, scalable and quick to execute. It serves to improve the operation of various applications for games, databases and payment networks. Plasma can be applied to other blockchains besides Ethereum’s.
It was officially presented as a project in 2017 by Vitalik Buterin, founder of Ethereum, and Joseph Poon, developer of the Lightning Network project, under the name “Plasma: smart, scalable and secure contracts.”
The scalability of a network lies in its capacity to handle an increasing amount of work and its readiness to expand until adapting to this growing demand. In the case of blockchains, the focus is mostly on the performance of transactions. Thus, Plasma was presented as a project aimed to reduce the data load on the main chain, reducing costs and increasing the speed of transactions, but without sacrificing security.
How does it work?
Plasma allows the existence of crypto assets on a root chain and on a side chain to be safe. The fundamental principle of Plasma is that all crypto assets can return to the root chain in case of a security failure on the side chain. Thus, this solution allows taking advantage of some utilities of the side chain (such as low-cost transactions) while keeping crypto assets secure.
Applications developed with Plasma tend to use common building blocks. In this way, applications require a smart contract implemented on another blockchain that serves as the root (such as Ethereum). The smart contract is configured with special rules that guarantee that user funds are always secure.
Plasma MVP is a design for a simple blockchain, based on UTXO. This implementation allows high-performing payment transactions, but it does not allow more complex constructs on the blockchain, such as scripts or smart contracts.
Plasma Cash, for its part, is an implementation using non-fungible tokens to represent fixed amounts of crypto assets. It provides greater security against hacking and is intended for collectible games, as well as for supply chain management and logistics. This implementation reduces the amount of data that users must process, since depositing a certain amount on the Plasma Cash chain allows the user to receive a single token for that amount, which cannot be divided or merged.
Plasma Debit is a combination of Plasma Cash and Lightning Network. Consequently, each token in this implementation is a payment channel between the user and the operator of the chain. Users send crypto assets to the chain’s smart contract and a single token is created, as in Plasma Cash. However, this token is also a payment channel, ideal for individual operations, especially micropayments.
Plasma has also been examined for other uses. Plasma Snapp, for example, aims to reduce the complexity of Plasma, thus paving the way for more complex protocols than just token transfer. Plasma Bridge, for its part, would allow two different blockchains to interact with each other through a shared plasma chain, thus allowing atomic exchanges.
By Willmen Blanco