A rising tide lifts all ships. A step forward for one is a step forward for all. Because blockchain is a team sport, any advancement, whether from collaborator or competitor, brings the world closer to realizing the true interoperable potential of blockchain. It’s a great day to blockchain and each announcement around Consensus 2018 is a new reason to celebrate. Let’s take a look at different aspects of blockchain to see how these companies’ achievements are making positive contributions to the industry as a whole.
Open source technologies are developed collaboratively and published transparently in the open by hundreds of passionate users. Because a single entity does not make, own or sell them, they can be used, modified and shared freely. In making blockchain open source, the code that builds the decentralized network is itself decentralized and this inspires greater trust among participants.
As a founding member of Hyperledger, an open source collaborative effort hosted by The Linux Foundation and created to advance cross-industry blockchain, IBM is one of many that believe blockchain technology must remain open to ensure its transparency, longevity, interoperability and support. It enables future proofing of technology in emerging areas because open source technologies will ultimately outpace those that are closed or proprietary. As long as an expert class of users remains interested and invested in them, open source blockchains will continue to be updated and brought to mainstream adoption.
Streamr, an open source, blockchain-powered platform backed by Ethereum, will launch its data Marketplace. The Marketplace is designed to enable the trading of real-time information by connecting data buyers and sellers. Ahead of Consensus, the startup announced an ongoing partnership with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). The partnership was formed for the purpose of integrating vehicle technology, HPE’s interfacing software, and Streamr’s data processing engine so that data collected from cars can be made available on the publicly available Marketplace.
Permissioned blockchain for business
One of the first rules of business is to know who you’re doing business with. With a permissioned blockchain framework, all participants in the network are known to one another.
Many companies are building blockchain implementations for business that demonstrate the strength of permissioned platforms and frameworks. It’s always exciting to see new use cases and research on permissioned blockchains, because the more people learn about the technology, the more we can improve our use of it.
ASX Limited, the operator of the Australian Securities Exchange, published a new consultation paper detailing the scope and implementation plan for replacing the Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS). Digital Asset Holdings, one of the original members of Hyperledger and a developer of blockchain-inspired distributed ledger technology (DLT), has been working on a permissioned system to replace CHESS. Though CHESS remains stable, it has been determined that replacing it with a blockchain-style system will offer a range of benefits, including “more efficient clearing, settlement and other post-trade services through improved record keeping, reduced reconciliation, more timely transactions, and better-quality data.”
Veridium, a company incubated by EnVision Corporation, announced it will use IBM Blockchain technology to issue and manage carbon credit tokens on the Stellar.org blockchain. Veridium’s approach captures the entire carbon accounting and offsetting process into digital tokens, which can move swiftly across networks. Putting these tokens on a public, permissioned blockchain network will make measuring environmental impact, transferring ownership rights, and redeeming the underlying carbon offset more efficient. Tokenization also has the added benefit of helping to make cross-border trade easier while removing geographic barriers.
SAP announced an initiative integrating blockchain capabilities into its existing Global Track and Trace technology to improve transparency in the food and agriculture supply chain. Companies including Johnsonville, Naturipe Farms and Maple Leaf are collaborating on the “Farm to Consumer” project, which showcases cross-company collaboration along complex value chains. As IBM has demonstrated with more than 220,000 blockchain transactions to date on IBM Food Trust, blockchain is already playing a major role in ensuring food safety for the world.
HSBC announced it has performed a trade finance transaction using Corda, the permissioned blockchain platform developed by R3. The bank issued a letter of credit to Dutch lender ING for U.S. food and agriculture firm Cargill. By enabling quick turnarounds, blockchain has the potential to disrupt financial services by helping to unlock business liquidity. Like the we.trade solution where IBM helped nine different European banks build together, this is more proof that blockchain will pave the way for a new era in international trade and trade finance.
Many companies have begun to release tools and provide support that can make it easier to get started using the technology and get more people invested in it. The more support there is for starting and developing blockchains, the more we’ll see it move toward mainstream commercial use.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced its new AWS Blockchain Templates for creating and deploying blockchain networks using open source frameworks Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum. The templates allow you to launch the network you’ve chosen along with the appropriate AWS resources and basic network components. This lets you focus on building your blockchain applications instead of the manual setup of your blockchain network.
ConsenSys announced the Kaleido Blockchain Business Cloud Platform, a new permissioned blockchain as a service. It offers tools and protocol options that leverage Quorum to enable consortiums to launch and operate Ethereum networks on AWS providing further validation that enterprises require the ability to work in a permissioned environment.
Microsoft launched Azure Blockchain Workbench, a new offering for blockchain application development. The tool helps customers gets started quickly by automating infrastructure setup and integrating the blockchain network with the Azure services needed to build a functioning application. This lets developers focus on application logic while business owners focus on defining and validating use cases.
Ripple announced an initiative, called Xpring, aimed at providing entrepreneurs and their businesses with support for developing XRP-related projects. Xpring will invest in, incubate, acquire and provide grants to use XRP and the XRP ledger. It’s another way that companies are encouraging entrepreneurs to create solutions that haven’t been considered before, setting the stage for networks and ecosystems to work together in revolutionary ways.
Clovyr, a new startup from J.P. Morgan’s former head of blockchain, Amber Baldet, was announced. It’s designed to be similar to an app store, but for “decentralized applications” that exist on a blockchain. The development framework and hosting service aims to offer a unified way to create, deploy, manage and extend applications through a hybrid approach.
Blockchain for good
Beyond the commercial arena, social innovation organizations such as non-profits and non-governmental organizations are embracing blockchain for humanitarian and philanthropic efforts.
Global Citizen is working together with IBM on a challenge that gets developers working on a blockchain application for donation tracking that will provide the transparency donors desire. They will construct the first step within a large donation tracking network: validating pledges and fund transfers made by governments for humanitarian causes such as global health and extreme poverty. Those that participate will learn how a blockchain platform works and how to build on it in a practical way. The challenge not only gives developers the opportunity to grow their skills but to participate in a great cause. Plus, promoting the development of blockchain for good helps bring it to a whole new audience and creates new avenues for adoption.
Great day to blockchain
Thanks to all these positive contributions, we’re seeing the industry move forward — and that can only be a good thing. It’s a unique moment in blockchain history: everyone is on the cusp of a major breakthrough, yet miles away from claiming victory on their own. It’s a great day to blockchain, but it’s also a great day to recommit to collaboration: working together so that everyone can reap the benefits of blockchain.
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