Easing blockchain adoption
IBM has partnered with nine financial institutions and CLS, a foreign exchange settlement provider, to trial a new platform for blockchain based apps called LedgerConnect. This new store acts as a central resource for blockchain-related applications, and should make it simpler and cheaper for financial firms to adopt blockchain technology. CLS is currently trialing the platform with the assistance of nine banks including Barclays Plc and Citigroup Inc
Blockchain advocates have long argued that the technology can help make financial transactions faster, cheaper, more secure, and more transparent. By creating one centralized ‘store’, LedgerConnect is aiming to do exactly this by reducing the cost for banks to implement DLT-based solutions. It also aims to streamline the development process so that different financial institutions have access to compatible DLT-based technologies.
Hosted on a single network, LedgerConnect offers solutions to a number of areas including market data, collateral management, sanctions screening, and know-your-customer (KYC) procedures. The latter is especially intriguing use case for blockchain. Many companies would like to ease the pain of negotiating KYC / AML regulations, if not cast them off altogether. Such a service may be LedgerConnect’s killer app down the road.
Big Blue, big blockchain
LedgerConnect is just one of many IBM blockchain projects in the works. The venerable tech giant has over 1,500 employees working on more than 500 projects worldwide, according to CNNTech. Platforms in development include logistics, healthcare and finance services, with generous helpings of cash flowing into each. IBM is also forging agreements with national governments who want to license its blockchain tech. Australia has signed a $1 billion deal to supply blockchain and AI technology for five years.
According to a recent press release, IBM’s blockchain-based platform TradeLens is already working “with dozens of ecosystem partners” to improve logistics across the globe. One production line in the U.S. was able to reduce the transit time of packing materials by “40 percent”, the company stated. Over 230 logistics gateways have begun adopting TradeLens to help them streamline transportation times, reduce delays and make other improvements to their systems.
As IBM’s blockchain projects push past the 500 mark for the first time, the firm has growing confidence that it can translate research and development into business gains. Projects such as LedgerConnect and TradeLens show that Big Blue is successfully attracting interest from financial and logistics companies in its services. While US-based competitors like Microsoft and Amazon are making their own inroads into the nascent blockchain industry, IBM has clearly anticipated the technology like no other enterprise. It’s taken a clear lead in the futuristic foot race and it shows no signs of relinquishing its position of privilege.
As recently as ten years ago, few would have pictured IBM as a company on the vanguard of innovation. How quickly things change.