Google is known not just for being the number 1 search behemoth in the world. They also like to discover the newest technological heights where no human being has ever set foot. Just think of their self-driving car project Waymo or Loon, an initiative to send tennis-court size balloons into the stratosphere to provide an Internet connection.
No wonder that they have long been exploring the opportunities that blockchains might bring. Turns out, Google has its fingers in many blockchain pies as of 2021. Naturally, they have a vast infrastructure distributed all around the world, and many blockchains could benefit from it without the pain of maintaining their own backend.
Below you’ll find a few projects that Google has been involved in. Some projects they prefer to fund with the help of the corresponding investment rounds, while other projects enjoy technical assistance from the Google team.
The issue of combining the DeFi and fiat world is still an issue in many jurisdictions. Businesses experience increasing demand for seamless integration of crypto and fiat payment methods. People want to use the one-stop-shop both to purchase Zilliqa (ZIL) for dollars and to exchange cryptocurrencies.
Paxful, a peer-to-peer online BTC exchange, came to Google for the possibility of Google Pay transactions. And they made it! Right now, users can buy Bitcoin by using their regular Google Pay app on their phones. Coinbase went further and even introduced their own Visa payment cards. To process instant transactions with any vendors Coinbase combined Google Pay and their pool of crypto funds. As a result, a user has an experience of paying for products and services with crypto from their Coinbase balance using a plastic debit card. In actuality, a lot more is happening behind the scenes. Nevertheless, this is a pioneering use case that basically makes cryptocurrency “normal” money in the real world.
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One of the crypto exchanges that also provides a digital wallet functionality, migrated their database layer to Google Cloud Spanner. The latter also powers their blockchain explorer online instrument. Certainly, they’ve come to an unparalleled for today combination of using AI algorithms and big data in a fast-paced crypto environment, which is naturally difficult to embrace altogether and further analyze.
The management of this blockchain admits that this strategic move had saved them 30% maintenance costs. Also, during one of the investment rounds, Google has funded this enterprise. As a result, they collected $120 million total.
In May 2020 Google Cloud also partnered up with a blockchain company called Theta Labs. Thanks to the search giant’s infrastructure and Theta’s blockchain, users will be able to deploy nodes on the network. Google will also act as a validator for the European area. By the way, Google is only the twelfth validator of Theta Labs. Among others are Samsung, Binance, Blockchain Ventures.
It seems like Google integrated into what’s being regarded as new and revolutionary technology (blockchain) very easily. So, what’s their secret?
Just think about it. Since its inception, Google has actually functioned like a blockchain. We used the Internet as a distributed network where we “voted” on search queries and they were ranked in accordance with the voting results. Online advertising in Google uses this algorithm, too.
Experts assume that partnering with a blockchain will bring Google’s decentralization to a brand-new level. Interestingly, it appears to be a double-edged sword so that Google will increase Theta’s decentralization because the network will less depend on its founder.
Theta Labs also has big plans for creating a next-level video streaming platform. It will be like YouTube, only decentralized and faster. Put simply, users will share tiny bits of information that they already downloaded (watched) with each other. That’s why videos won’t be streaming from a single server. Instead, they will be streaming from everywhere. Difficult to imagine this but developers of the platform are confident that this is a giant leap in video streaming services.
Serving BigQuery for developers
BigQuery is Google’s first step towards the world of blockchain. After developing this one, they moved further in this field.
When you go to their SQL workspace, it shows that BigQuery works with API requests. That’s why you need to be at least tech-savvy to access that data. You need to obtain confirmation of your project from the Google team by sending an email. Once you’re all set, you can begin to do exciting things. Raw data streaming live is not the only advantage. You can also visualize it in many ways, creating not only classical histograms but also 3D models.
However, there are so many interesting things that you can do with Google BigQuery.
- Obtain datasets for cryptocurrencies that automatically update every 24h.
- Request not just transactional data but also more complex things like smart contract analyzer.
- Create double-entry accounting ledgers (e.g., Bitcoin + Ethereum dataset).
- Mining datasets – allows seeing the full picture of mining activity including fees they charge, whether they use transaction accelerators, which addresses they use and how often, etc.
- Build various histograms, for example, the one that shows the connection between Bitcoin addresses and transacting partners.
- View multi-chain crypto econometrics.
- Build blockchain applications with Google Cloud.
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How to launch a blockchain on Google Cloud?
Blockchains are not living on the fairy tale rainbow as Buterin would have imagined in his sweet 16. They need scaling solutions, they need backup, security, interoperability, and light-speed sharing of changes in real-time. So, if you think about it, Google, as arguably the world’s largest cloud data center that’s present everywhere (even talking about unbanked territories) could be of much help indeed.
Did you know that Polygon (former Matic) and Ethereum have already integrated with Google Cloud platform? So, what did they get in return?
- Easy-breezy analysis of on-chain data.
- Datasets listed in Google Cloud Marketplace (wow, after the total crypto ban in Google Ads).
- Able to monitor gas fees, smart contracts, as well as most popular tokens and apps on the network.
- Data analysis of other blockchains and what happens in between the interoperable networks.
- Forecast demands using self-training machine learning models.
- And so much more.
So how exactly do you connect any blockchain with Google? It’s simple. Google’s BigQuery is a business-level cloud data warehouse. It needs an intermediary, which is often called oracle software. For example, this could be Chainlink. And voila, now you can do so much more, even on the blockchain that’s nearly 10 years old.
The whole thing works on the basis of smart contracts. Essentially, you create a smart contract that extracts information from on-chain queries and delegates it to the internet-hosted Google’s data warehouse that performs complex operations on behalf of that blockchain.
In the example case, Ethereum Dapps interacts with Chainlink. Smart contract executes in exchange for some payment. In turn, Chainlink extracts data from BigQuery with the help of a web service called Google App Engine and then returns it to Ethereum. The request and return of information are supposedly two different smart contracts that should be instantly processed through Chainlink nodes for some amount of gas fees. Google offers the single one standard environment with serverless deployment and infinite scalability which definitely sounds juicy for any blockchain.
What’s interesting, Chainlink interacts with one entity – Google App Engine. But on the other side, there are connections with other blockchains, authenticated APIs, payment gateways, etc. If you’re a tech-savvy person, you can now imagine how many possibilities this interaction holds for the future. Cryptocurrencies can be (legally) seamlessly integrated practically into any other service or enterprise. Also, they can retrieve any data which sounds kind of tricky. On one hand, it’s an open market, but on the other hand, it’s about surveillance – everyone knows everything that happens. And no one has yet set the privacy limits for such types of data and their routes and protocols of exchange. Perhaps, the so-called canned queries are the only exception but they need to be more thoroughly studied before making any conclusions about their effectiveness.
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Creating another blockchain on the list of many existing ones and facilitating its operation with a native token has gone mainstream. Even the smallest ventures can do that and Google is not like that. There are many more assets that they already have. And what is even more exciting, they have brilliant minds in technology, business, marketing, and science.
So, it is no surprise that we should expect some more advanced moves from Google than simply creating a blockchain. This search whale is an ideal representation of what a good blockchain could grow into, if working on a decentralized ledger, of course. So, let’s wait and see how Google is going to put down roots into the emerging blockchain industry without monopolizing it all. Or maybe they will become number 1 again? We’ll see. Anyway, what we know is that Google’s domination is what we’re used to and it feels just fine for billions of people across the world.
This article is written by Mary Ann Callahan. As an expert on Bitcoin-related topics, she found herself as a Journalist at CEX.IO, a cryptocurrency exchange. She is working on articles related to blockchain security, bitcoin purchase guides, or bitcoin regulations in different countries.