The smart contracts are not written in natural language but in computer code, so the big question is: do we have to know how to program to create an intelligent contract? Well, now that this technology is taking its first steps, it is preferable, but not mandatory.In A Lawyer’s Introduction to Smart Contracts, two ‘layers’ are described for smart contracts: the Smart Contracts Platform (SCP), which is the infrastructure that allows them to be created and operated on a blockchain, and the Smart Contracts Management System (SCMS) ), a protocol that would be added to this infrastructure to make it much easier for a user without programming knowledge to handle these contracts. In other words, the friendly graphical interface.There are currently several SCPs, apart from Ethereum, which is probably the most popular. Without leaving the Bitcoin blockchain, in fact, Rootstock and Counterparty are available. Out of it, Codius and Chain’s latest Ivy Playground are also options.
However, to ‘write’ smart contracts on them directly requires programming knowledge.Platforms available with SCMS can be compared to ‘Smart Contracts as a Service’, which implies that, for the moment, they probably come from blockchain startups and the service is given in exchange for a cost. One of them is Smart Contract, where you can create different types of contracts on Bitcoin or Ethereum without programming.
APPLICATIONS- Automation of payments: can be programmed to ensure that the required amount will arrive at the specified time to the indicated persons or organizations. Inheritances could be automated in the future, loans could be secured and, on the other hand, the humanitarian group Start Network plans to use this feature to distribute its funds to the most needy.- Registration and change of ownership: the necessary documents can be registered in the blockchain to establish a property from the beginning, and change ownership through intelligent contracts. Sweden is already testing its own platform to achieve this, while in the Netherlands the ABN Amro bank is designing a real estate system based on this technology.- Energy transactions: it has been considered to create a digital ecosystem for the exchange of energy. In this way, sources of electricity or fuel would be connected to intelligent contracts between only individuals or with involved organizations, which in turn could personalize the consumption of each client.
Wien Energie GmbH, the largest energy company in Germany, and Endesa, the largest in Spain, are testing this utility. On the other hand, Innogy SE -subsidiary of the German energy giant RWE-, is already using smart contracts to allow the recharging of electric cars.- Intellectual property (IP): when the rights of a product or services are shared, the distribution of income can be difficult. Smart contracts can not only facilitate these processes, but automate them. Thus, for example, a new type of intelligent contract specially designed for IP in the videogame industry has already been developed in the United Kingdom.- Insurance: We are going to see a practical application in the insurance industry. A farmer acquires insurance to protect himself from the loss of the crop due to frost.
In a traditional contract model, the farmer and the insurer would sign a contract. If the frost were to occur, the insurer would call the insurance company. The company, would try to check the damages and if they were true, pay compensation.
In the case of an smartt contract, the farmer would make a transaction in the chain of blocks to the address of the insurance contract to pay the insurance premium. If an application sends the temperature information to the intelligent contract, it could pay the farmer compensation automatically if the temperature is below a minimum. In the event that it was in another range, it would send an employee to review the damages.- Bets: trusted third parties would no longer be required for any kind of bets. Two or more parties can use an intelligent contract to ensure that the conditions are met.- Automatic purchases: an intelligent contract could be configured for the purchase of shares, cryptocurrencies or any other product at a fixed price during a certain period of time.- Voting: the results of any survey can be registered and verified in a secure and accurate manner, from a trivial topic to government elections, and even establish an immediate consequence for those votes according to the results.- Smart Property: it is possible to embed an intelligent contract in any object that is controlled by digital means.
Hence the ‘smart property’, which can be assimilated to IoT objects -connected to the network-. These can range from homes to cars. Thus, for example, the rental of these properties could be automated.ARE THEY LEGAL?It depends on the jurisdiction, and even on the interpretation of the same contract on the jurisdiction to which it should be subject, given that these are written on the blockchain, which can be consulted anywhere in the world.
At the moment, they are a rather gray area. In A Lawyer’s Introduction to Smart Contracts, dating from 2014, a conclusion is reached that to date has not changed much in most countries: