CLS, a major foreign exchange settlement group, is collaborating with IBM on a new blockchain platform that will make it easier and more affordable for banks to deploy distributed ledger technology (DLT). The service, LedgerConnect, will essentially serve as an “app store” full of blockchain services.
The proof of concept that was recently published by CLS explains that there is a multitude of systems that are active in the financial industry. The blockchain can unify those systems by sharing data and can eliminate redundancy through consensus or a “single version of truth.”
Much has been made of the potential savings that the financial industry can achieve by adopting the blockchain. Unfortunately, it is currently costly for individual banks to create their own blockchains independently. CLS is proposing that their “app store” can provide a solution by quickly deploying blockchain services. This should reduce computation and storage costs, licensing fees, and network costs.
To achieve this, LedgerConnect will rely on four groups of participants:
- Service users: financial institutions such as banks, regulators, and hedge fund managers which will use the “app store”
- Service providers who will develop and distribute their services as apps
- Operators: CLS and IBM, who will provide security and certification
- Oracles that will provide market data and report on corporate actions
The blockchain is increasingly moving into the realm of banks and financial institutions. Some are going it alone: Hong Kong’s Central Bank and Germany’s SolarisBank have introduced their own blockchain projects. But many banks are taking advantage of blockchain services that cater to them, such as those of IBM, making this collaboration between CLS and IBM potentially significant.
But it should be noted that the extent of IBM’s involvement in LedgerConnect isn’t clear. The IBM Blockchain Platform is software-as-a-service, meaning that it is widely available. For example, IBM’s blockchain performed Russia’s first bank transfer on the blockchain, and is the basis of we.trade, a European trade site and bank partnership.
IBM sometimes promotes these projects, but has not yet made an announcement or added LedgerConnect to its featured use cases. In other words, CLS itself is largely responsible for the initial publicity, but that may change as LedgerConnect moves closer to becoming a reality.
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