IBM is committed to making a positive and meaningful impact on the countries and communities in which we do business. Building on a rich history of advanced computing, IBM has been researching, developing and investing in leading-edge technologies for more than 70 years and uses this expertise as a basis to contribute to public policy issues.

IBM and blockchain

A major area of focus in 2016 stemmed from work initiated two years ago. In 2014, following the introduction of Bitcoin, IBM Research began work in the underlying blockchain technology network which offers a means to develop “trust in transactions” in the growing digital world. Working with policy makers, public officials, educators, regulators and civic leaders around the world, we seek to gain an understanding of the possibilities and considerations offered by blockchain technology.

As our society and economy move toward a world where transactions are primarily shared digitally among people, institutions and “things,” our current methods for securely managing personal and proprietary information are proving inadequate. Fraud, identity theft and data breaches are all too common, and many people only have the most basic security tools to protect their personal information.

Blockchain technology enables the creation of trusted networks where personal information — identification, health records and prescriptions, finances and other data — is safe, secure and accessible to only those authorized with a need to know. These trusted transactions can unlock significant societal benefits. IBM is building and offering a complete blockchain platform that is open, scalable and highly secure, along with solution building blocks and expertise to accelerate adoption.

The benefits of blockchain technology include almost everything — from more secure financial transactions, to improved access to personal healthcare information, as well as more efficient and effective government and private-sector services.

While innovative technologies can help to change the face of business, IBM recognizes the need to educate elected officials, policy makers and regulators on the strengths and capabilities of blockchain technologies. An understanding of the potential of the technology and the mechanics is critical before statutes and regulatory frameworks should be developed. IBM strongly supports the creation of a robust blockchain ecosystem of solutions centered on the required business needs of the industries served.

Some examples of IBM’s related work in 2016:

  • Introduced a global blockchain educational strategy to discuss the potential capabilities of blockchain technology and its policy considerations.
  • Participated in the President’s Commission on Enhancing National Cybersecurity sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which resulted in the “Report on Securing and Growing the Digital Economy.”
  • Globally identified and briefed legislative members and staff, as well as elected executive leaders who express interest and responsibility for blockchain and distributed-ledger technology.
  • Became a founding member of the Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, an open source, global collaborative effort to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies.

Download the 2016 report