Last year, I was reading up on Bitcoin, blockchain and beyond. Since then, there have been several interesting developments in distributed ledger technology (DLT).
If you’re new to the technology, I highly recommend this introductory, plain English guide to blockchain.
I also came cross this great article defining criteria to avoid pointless blockchain projects and its follow-up on four genuine blockchain use cases.
For one, R3, which I thought then and still think today shows a lot of promise, has released the code for Corda, its distributed ledger project. They also published a non-technical whitepaper as an introduction and two webinar videos: Introduction to Corda and Corda Developers’ Tutorial. There is alos this excellent non-technical 18 second definition of DLT by Richard Gendal Brown, CTO of R3.
R3 also offered its code to the Hyperledger project.
Hyperledger isn’t a distributed ledger, per se, but contains multiple DLT projects, e.g. Fabric, which is backed by IBM. While you can run Hyperledger Fabric on your own machines, IBM also gives developers an opportunity to play with the technology in their cloud Bluemix.
Unlike Corda, which was built from the ground up for the financial services industry, finance is only one of the industries Hyperledger is targeting. There are, however, a number of projects underway in the financial services that use Hyperledger, as their proof of concept tracker shows.
One of those projects was undertaken by Germany’s central bank Deutsche Bundesbank and the country’s largest exchange operator Deutsche Börse. A November 2016 speech by Carl-Ludwig Thiele, member of the executive board of Deutsche Bundesbank contained mostly questions about the new technology. His speech from January 2017 already presented a prototype to handle simple settlement, payment and corporate actions.
There are a number of interesting projects underway to apply distributed ledger technology to finance.
Still, a lot of questions to be addressed regarding distributed ledger technology, as this position paper by SWIFT and Accenture from last year points out.
The Germany IT industry association Bitkom looks at some of these, e.g. legal ramifications of distributed ledger technology in banking (in German).
It is interesting to see though that regulators and central banks are already actively involved even though distributed ledger technology is still in its infancy in the financial services industry.