The Blockchain seems to be turning into a magnet. The technology underlying the concept of cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, is on everyone’s list of ‘favorites’ - be it financial or technology firms. Blockchain is a revolution, set to change the way many things are done, beginning with how payments are made across borders to trade settlements. Use of blockchain offers reduction in transaction time, high speed and accuracy, meddle-proof records, all at reduced costs and supervision.
This time around, we have a new consortium with some of the most prestigious names from the financial and technology world. IBM (IBM), Wells Fargo (WFC), London Stock Exchange Group Plc., Accenture (ACN), ANZ Bank, Cisco (CSCO), CLS, Credits, Digital Asset, Fujitsu, Initiative for CryptoCurrencies and Contracts, Intel (INTC), Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, State Street, SWIFT and VMware (VMW) have joined together to create the Open Ledger Project, which will be overseen by the not-for-profit Linux Foundation.
News reports by Fortune and Wired indicate that IBM has been the main force behind the Open Ledger Project. In fact, IBM and a start-up led by former JP Morgan exec Blythe Masters called Digital Asset Holdings (or DAH) have worked partly on the technology and will be taking the project forward along with others. This is on the wings of their research on the subject so far. While IBM will be “contributing thousands of lines of existing code” based on its earlier research, Digital Asset is contributing the name “Hyperledger” to the project, which can potentially be used for future branding efforts as well as for developer and code resources.
While the Open Ledger Project will be the along the lines of the best-known blockchain technology supporting bitcoins, it would be developed as a solution for businesses. The idea here is to create tools that cater to businesses, which further can use the distributed ledger technology according to customized needs. In order to provide for the customized needs and maintain business privacy at the same time, the project will work on the technology with the aim to limit the participants within that particular network.
Jerry Cuomo, an IBM Fellow working with the Open Ledger Project, as quoted by Fortune, says, “He wants to help create a distributed ledger to offer businesses privacy, confidentiality and accountability. In many cases when customers came to IBM considering something like Ethereum or Bitcoin, they are worried about their data being stored in the larger community.”
Thus the Open Ledger Project will provide a way to limit the participation to a particular ledger, so that businesses can set their own rules on who can generate as well as authenticate transactions, thereby addressing the issue of privacy, which is a concern for businesses looking to use it.
Jerry Cuomo added, “I don’t have a strong opinion on cryptocurrencies, but I have a strong opinion on the blockchain as a solution for contracts and supply chains, and the internet of things. I think Bitcoin is an interesting application for blockchain but there are thousands of applications and wider use cases beyond that.”
Jerry Cuomo sees blockchain being used for multiple things; say a separate one for payment transfers and one for loan transfers. While he believes that such systems would overlap, he imagines a network of different systems to exist in future. “These systems could eventually form a web. It sounds complicated, but so is the current world of moving money and global trade. I don’t believe there will be one blockchain to rule them all,” according to Jerry Cuomo.
The Open Ledger Project has big names on its list of members and is can be considered the second big cohort after R3 CEV, which came into existence in September this year. Led by Wall Street veteran David Rutter, R3CEV is an innovation firm focused on building and empowering the next generation of global financial services technology. Since September 2015, R3CEV’s distributive ledger initiative has attracted 30 of the biggest banks to join the venture.
While the Open Ledger Project already has some of the best names in the financial and technology space backing it, as of now the real contribution is being made by IBM and Digital Asset. With great scope packed in blockchain technology, the Open Ledger Project is sure to come up with some great innovations in the times to come. The cohort is power-backed and is well-equipped to deliver equally powerful business solutions by working on the blockchain technology.