IBM Joins Lobby to Promote Blockchain for Financial Services

IBM joined the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a blockchain lobby, to push for government support of blockchain for financial services and other uses.

blockchain support

IBM has joined the Chamber of Digital Commerce, a Washington, D.C.-based digital asset and blockchain trade association, as an executive committee member.

The chamber is a lobby that works with policymakers and regulators to foster innovation, jobs and investment in the blockchain opportunity. Blockchain is a permissionless distributed database based on the Bitcoin protocol that maintains a continuously growing list of data records hardened against tampering and revision, even by its operators. The initial and most widely known application of blockchain technology is the public ledger of transactions for Bitcoin.

IBM has invested heavily in blockchain. Big Blue has launched blockchain services for financial services, government and healthcare. IBM also is an investor in blockchain startup, Digital Asset Holdings, and is a member of the Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Project. As part of that effort, IBM has delivered more than 44,000 lines of code to the project to help developers easily build secure distributed ledgers that can be used to exchange most anything of value.

"By joining the Chamber of Digital Commerce at the highest level as an executive committee member, IBM is demonstrating a strong commitment to supporting thoughtful education and engagement with policy stakeholders," said Perianne Boring, founder and president of the chamber.

Boring said the chamber represents leading innovators, operators and investors in the digital asset and blockchain technology ecosystem, including start-ups, software companies, global IT consultancies, financial institutions and investment firms.

Other members of the chamber's executive committee include Microsoft, USAA, DTCC, Bloq and Symbiont.

"It is critical from a national competitiveness point of view for U.S. companies and government agencies to lead the world in understanding the potential of blockchain and putting it to use,” said Jerry Cuomo, vice president of Blockchain Technologies at IBM, in a statement. "Blockchain will greatly benefit from government participation and we are pleased to join the Chamber of Digital Commerce to support engagement with the policy making community."

In May, IBM's Cuomo testified before the President's Commission on Enhancing National Cyber Security about the potential for blockchain to become the technology foundation for conducting transactions over the Internet.

Cuomo told the commission he believes blockchain could potentially cause a "tectonic shift" in the way financial systems are secured and that government, technology companies and industries should work together to advance blockchain to enhance national security.

"Blockchain has tremendous potential to help transform business and society, but it's so strikingly different from what people are used to that many business and government leaders are adopting a wait-and-see attitude," Cuomo said in his testimony. "We applaud judicious caution, but, at the same time, we believe that organizations and institutions that don't quickly assess the potential of blockchain and begin experimenting with it risk falling behind as the world undergoes what we see as a tectonic shift."

Meanwhile, IBM last week opened a new Bluemix Garage in New York City to focus on blockchain, financial services and fintech innovation. And last month, Mizuho Financial Group and IBM announced they were teaming up to test the potential of blockchain for use in settlements with virtual currency. The pilot project uses the open source code IBM contributed to the Hyperledger Project.

"In an era of technology transformation, Mizuho is testing blockchain, Watson, and other technologies to deliver high quality and more efficient customer services," said Masahiko Katou, senior technical officer at Mizuho Financial Group, in a statement. Katou said Mizuho is working with the IBM Bluemix Garage in Tokyo, which offers IBM Blockchain services, including blockchain application development on the Bluemix cloud platform.

And last week, IBM and Credit Mutuel Arkea, a French bank offering financial and insurance services, announced the completion of a blockchain project to improve the bank's ability to verify customer identity to enable compliance with Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements.

"Blockchain is a transformative agent in our operational application, as proven by this project—the first of its kind in France," said Frederic Laurent, COO for innovation and operations at Credit Mutuel Arkea, in a statement. "This pilot offers a complete view of customers' documents across our distributed network."

Laurent said the project helped them better understand blockchain and that they are now ready to incorporate the technology into its ecosystem.