Blockchain

Blockchain thought-leaders convene in D.C.

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Last week I began my journey as the IBM Blockchain marketing leader with the opportunity to attend the DC Blockchain Summit, hosted by the Chamber of Digital Commerce at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. It was a tremendous opportunity to get hands-on with some of the thought leaders of this emerging technology.

The attendees were predominantly from financial services, ranging from big banks to financial technology to blockchain consortiums. A series of keynotes and panels focused on its use cases, regulation and the future of the technology. Perhaps not surprising given the locale, regulation and government appeared to be the hottest topics for the attendees and speakers, each looking to see how their specific blockchain projects could be executed given the nature of their highly-regulated industry.

As a showcase sponsor, IBM was omnipresent at the conference. Vice President of Blockchain Technologies Jerry Cuomo participated in a very animated panel discussion on smart contacts that focused on the need for permissions and proof. Senior Vice President and Director of IBM Research Arvind Krishna capped the day’s agenda with a keynote focusing on cross-industry use cases of blockchain and IBM’s very own implementation of the technology with its IBM Global Financing unit. The IBM team spent the majority of the networking reception following the event demoing its IGF use case, specifically showing how its enhanced settlement dispute processes delivered a reduction in capital tie-up.

My crash course in distributed ledger technology revealed that many are in a ‘discovery’ phase of blockchain within financial services, one of the industries at the forefront of implementation. Most accept its game-changing potential and opportunity, and are looking for basic ways to build within their own organizations.

Two specific comments in particular resonated heavily with me. The first, from CEO of Chain Adam Ludwin, was a challenge to think strategically about how blockchain can change market structure instead of being driven by fear or by the optimization of a specific process. The second came from Global Chief Communications Officer Jamie Smith of BitFury, a humorous commentary on how a simple message on blockchain has yet to be created.

The latter is a significant challenge ahead on my role with IBM Blockchain. I’m looking forward to the task as we change the way transactions are processed.

A special thank you to Perianne Boring and Susan Poole of the CDC for hosting IBM, to Arvind Krishna, Jerry Cuomo, Meeta Yadav, Kostas Christidis, Eileen Lowry, Mark O’ Riley, Tim Sheehy and Adam Pratt from IBM for their teamwork on site and to Jim Brill, Louis La Plante and Tammy Kielty for their work behind the scenes in making this event happen.

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