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The choice of consensus over a Merkle tree is the main difference to recently upcoming alternative approaches based on the concept of a proof-of-work a.k.a. blockchain. First consensus proofs the same relevant property, the "correct state", to all relevant parties (the assigned notaries). However it avoids the overhead and delay due to the proof-of-work beeing just that: a lot of work to win in the lottery of minting new coins.

Second: per definition a contract is an agreement, why not model it as such instead of a lottery?

Furthermore some agent state may be private. Those agents are easily confined to the notaries owned by the contractors. However it is no good idea to store even encrypted state in a public, widely distributed blockchain.