How a blockchain distributed ledger can build trust and value exchange

Blockchain technology—which creates a permanent and transparent record of transactions—has the potential to alleviate inefficiencies across industries.

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Human progress has been a steady march against friction. From the introduction of money to replace barter and the gradual replacement of wax seals by digital signatures, we have seen steady progress facilitated by digital innovations.

Since the internet, some frictions fell while others rose. The friction of imperfect information, for example, took on added importance in an era that promotes transparency by business partners and consumers alike. New frictions like cybercrime threaten to cripple even the most successful organizations.

Today, three types of frictions predominate: information, interaction, and innovation. In varying degrees to different industries, they’re a drag on efficiency. A distributed ledger for business networks based on blockchain technology has the potential to eliminate these frictions.

Distributed ledgers can become the foundation of a robust system of trust, a decentralized platform for massive collaboration. With that, intermediaries will be shuttered. Assets that were once dormant can be exploited. Profit pools can shift and be redistributed. New services delivered on blockchain networks can accelerate access and liberate those that were once locked out of efficient value creation to fully participate in an all-in economy.

Distributed ledgers like blockchains are shared and write business transactions to an unbreakable chain that is a permanent record, viewable by the parties in a transaction. Blockchains shift the lens from information held by an individual owner to the cross-entity history of an asset or transaction.

Our research shows that once that happens, five attributes fundamental to blockchains have the potential to vaporize the frictions that hold us back today. In this paper, we explore those attributes and how blockchain can facilitate a new economic equation for organizations, trust, and value exchange.

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Meet the authors

Veena Pureswaran

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, Global Blockchain Research Leader, IBM Institute for Business Value

Peter J. Korsten

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, Partner and Vice President, Global Leader Thought Leadership and Eminence, IBM Global Business Services

Sarah Diamond

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, Global Managing Director, Banking and Financial Markets

Brigid McDermott

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, Vice President, Blockchain Business Development

Jim Brill

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, Director, Marketing and Communications, Financial Services Sector

Jerry Cuomo

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, VP, Blockchain Technology, IBM Industry Platform

Ramesh Gopinath

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, Vice President, Blockchain Solutions and Research

John McLean

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, CTO Europe and Vice President, Blockchain Technologies

Shanker Ramamurthy, General Manager, Strategy and Market Development for Global Industries, Blockchain, and Industry Platforms

James Wallis

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, Vice President, Global Payments Industry and Blockchain

Arvind Krishna, Senior Vice President, Cloud and Cognitive Software, IBM

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