ICP Blockchain Introduces HTTPS Outcalls To Advance Web3’s Growth
The DFINITY Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Zürich leading the development of the Internet Computer (IC) blockchain, has today announced the advent of HTTPS outcall functionality to the IC in the form of a functional beta feature. For the first time, this will allow smart contracts to securely make HTTP calls from within the secure blockchain sandbox, to external centralized Web 2.0 services, and process a result securely decided by network consensus.
This feature will make it far easier to extend blockchain-resident services with external functionality and data. It also promises to be highly disruptive: for example, since smart contracts gain direct and secure access to the outside world, DeFi developers will be freed from the need to use oracle services to obtain outside financial data, which are run by centralized trusted intermediaries (e.g. companies) that can levy charges and get hacked.
Dominic Williams, Founder and Chief Scientist of the DFINITY Foundation said, “Decentralized Finance (DeFi) has grown from being a niche market to a billion-dollar industry. Oracles are trusted to copy external data onto the blockchain, where it can be processed by smart contracts, and play an important role in DeFi. However, the money lost to hacks in DeFi is now measured in the billions of dollars each year. Oracle services are run by trusted intermediaries, such as companies, and present a serious security risk to DeFi services that rely on them because they can be hacked, act maliciously or simply stop working. HTTPS outcalls will now allow smart contracts to directly and securely retrieve data from the outside world, such as price feeds from exchanges, in a trustless manner. The functionality will also be used to integrate services built with smart contracts on the Internet Computer with external services in the Web 2.0 and web3 worlds, realizing exciting opportunities in the ecosystem.”
The introduction of HTTPS outcalls enables a wide range of previously unachievable use cases for any blockchain network. IC users will now have access to real-time Web2 based information like exchange rates for cryptocurrencies, weather data, sports scores, voting results and stock prices. This will enable the creation of more secure and sophisticated blockchain-based service offerings built on the IC. Further to this, HTTPS outcalls allow for the sending of push notifications and emails via traditional communications channels, and integration with other blockchains by communicating with multiple corresponding HTTP-based cloud nodes.
Jan Camenisch, Chief Technology Officer at the DFINITY Foundation said, “Direct HTTPS calls to the outside world are made possible through the IC’s unique subnet architecture and novel chain key cryptography created through years of research. These provide the ability for canister smart contracts on the Internet Computer to talk directly to any server on the Internet, removing the third party trust conflict, granting industries like DeFi the ability to flourish risk-free as we approach the next bull run.”
The HTTPS Outcalls feature is rolling out on the Internet Computer this week as a fully functional beta version. According to Electric Capital, in 2021, IC became one of the fastest growing developer ecosystems in Web3. A recent hackathon, titled ‘Supernova’, attracted a record-breaking 3,700 developers, who made more than 400 submissions. The IC is also the number one blockchain with regard to GitHub commits.
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