Blockchain is touted to be the next big thing after the internet and artificial intelligence. It is a decentralized technology used to store records. The primary reason behind the hype is the trust, security, and transparency it brings in through decentralization.
Any record stored on the blockchain network is added to the decentralized chain. To add, modify, or delete data, at least 50% of the chain participants (nodes) should approve the request, making it immutable. The idea of Web3 lies in this blockchain technology. It is a concept of modifying the current World Wide Web by introducing blockchain’s decentralization and tokenomics.
Blockchain is primarily known for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Tether, etc. But it also has several other enterprise applications. For instance, blockchain can help build decentralized applications (dApps) and smart contracts. The need for Application Programming Interface (API) comes into the picture here.
APIs are interfaces that facilitate communication between software. They enable data sharing among different software applications for a better experience. A typical everyday example of an API is weather data. When you search for the weather in your city, a rich snippet with the current weather and forecast comes as the first result in the search engine. All this data transmission happens with the help of APIs.
The Need for APIs in Web3
APIs are ubiquitous as they drive most functionalities in today’s modern applications. The reason behind this is the ability to collect and share data from third parties. Data is the new oil that fuels today’s economy. Hence, it makes perfect sense that APIs will also help share third-party data in blockchain applications. Here’s an example to understand this.
Suppose a developer has created a dApp that uses smart contracts to facilitate a transparent supply chain and payment system for a mining company. He includes a clause in the smart contract that if there’s a delay in mining, the payment will be automatically deducted based on the hours wasted.
Mining is an industry that relies on weather conditions to make decisions. What if the reason behind the delay was extreme weather conditions? No one’s at fault for the delay in this scenario. How will the dApp get this weather information to stop the payment deduction? An API can be the answer.
Using a reliable and current weather API with the dApp can solve the problem. It will fetch weather data and feed the information to the smart contract. The developer can now include another clause in the smart contract: if the API data shows terrible weather conditions, don’t deduct any payments. Similarly, there are several other scenarios where APIs can enhance dApps and smart contracts’ performances.
The Obstacle in the API-Web3 Collaboration
The primary reason for holding back API’s use with Web3 and dApps is third-party API’s architecture. To facilitate third-party information, developers have to build a central middleware node. While this is not difficult or impossible, it will ultimately turn the blockchain’s decentralized architecture upside down.
Moreover, this approach brings in all the problems associated with third-party APIs, like vulnerability, middleman tax, and lack of transparency. Hence, incorporating third-party APIs in Web3 becomes challenging.
Bringing in the APIs
The solution to this third-party problem is the “first-party oracle approach.” It refers to the oracles and data operated by the API owners themselves. Since some other party manages third-party APIs, they become the middleman. When the middleman goes out, maintaining the decentralized state of blockchain becomes possible. That’s the significant difference between first-party and third-party approaches.
API providers can create and operate a single layer in the first-party approach. It will foster a request and response mechanism between the APIs and the blockchain network. With this mechanism, dApps can request data from APIs and incorporate it directly into the smart contracts.
The first-party oracle approach will also maintain trustworthiness. Although the API operators won’t be staking themselves, their reputation and historical data will be critical for reliability. Additionally, the provider’s revenue will help make better decisions for whether to collaborate with the company or not.
Blockchain and Web3 can revolutionize how businesses operate at a global level. They can change the operations, finance, and supply-chain models. However, sharing information across blockchain networks will always remain a challenge without API.
Adopting the first-party oracle approach will enable seamless data transmission to make dApps as ubiquitous as current software applications. Blockchain’s security capabilities will also make data sharing across dApps and smart contracts seamless and transparent.