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The Weekend Read: Oct 23

Corda Open Source: Coming Soon

We were pleased to announce this week our intention to open source our distributed ledger technology Corda by the end of November:

R3 says it hopes its platform will become the industry standard, although its intention is indeed for firms to build products on top of it.
"We want other banks and other parties to innovate with products that sit on top of the platform, but we don't want everyone to create their own platform ... because we'll end up with lots of islands that can't talk to each other," R3's chief engineer, James Carlyle, told Reuters. "If we have one platform with lots of products on top, then we get something that's more like the internet, where we still get innovation but we can still communicate with each other."
Corda's code will be contributed on Nov. 30 to the Hyperledger project - a cross-industry project led by the non-profit Linux Foundation to advance blockchain technology by coming up with common standards.

Our technology team has been hard at work on Corda for many months and we are excited to see the reaction and feedback of the wider community, both for financial and non-financial applications. You can also expect to hear more publicly from Richard Gendal Brown, James Carlyle, Mike Hearn and the whole R3 tech team. To celebrate, I have included a gallery of our tech leadership team as rendered by Cointelegraph's slightly creepy animation:

We and our partner institutions are committed to an open technology strategy, but this strategy is a means to achieve commercial benefits for both our customers and the end clients of financial institutions. Our CEO David Rutter laid out parts of this vision in this post on Tabb Forum:

By enabling the industry to move from duplicated and inconsistent isolated systems of record held at each firm and to cloud-based systems with shared data, business logic and processing, blockchain-inspired technology will facilitate mutualized and consistent middle- and back-office systems that assure that one firm’s view is identical to its counterparts’ view. Moving to the cloud will allow firms to start decommissioning expensive elements of their bespoke infrastructure, break down silos and significantly reduce costs.
Distributed and shared ledger technology protects privacy, replacing many human processes with software; enhances security due to its distributed nature and the use of advanced cryptography; and allows the industry to reduce the costs caused by redundant and non-proprietary processes and shared services.  
The application of this technology to finance holds the key to releasing banks and other financial institutions from the technological binds in which they find themselves after years of unstructured investment in multiple generations of expensive legacy middle- and back-office technology.

Announcements

We were also happy to publicly announce our recent collaboration with Ripple via our Lab and Research Center. The team at Ripple was a pleasure to work with during the trial that included 12 of our member banks:

"The exercise we did with R3 is to show to a group of banks in a controlled environment how XRP can be used by financial institutions to rebalance their liquidity positions all over the world," said Nilesh Dusane, vice president for client relations at Ripple in an interview with Reuters.
In the cross-border test, banks used the XRP currency to form part of the liquidity needed in nostro accounts, instead of the actual currencies needed for the payment. Ripple's XRP can be converted into traditional currencies.
The trial demonstrated that Ripple's technology could enable banks to make markets for fiat currencies such as dollars and euros using XRP and then complete authenticated payments in real time without multiple "nostro" accounts.

The pace of work, and collaboration, continues across the industry. Axoni and eight other firms announced a successful trial of post-trade processing of equity swaps. And Visa and Chain announced Visa B2B Connect, a blockchain powered payments network.

Links

Quick hits of interesting reads:

I asked Tim Swanson for a run down on this week's "Internet of Toasters" DDoS attack:

Imagine you're a hacker. And imagine you want to wreak havoc on telecommunications infrastructure. And then imagine you have access to thousands, nay millions, of insecure internet-connected devices that can be zombified into a massive, coordinated army of bandwidth consuming drones. That's basically what happened this past week when the Mirai botnet was unleashed on Dyn DNS, a company that maintains important network infrastructure in the US. Everyday equipment such as DVRs and surveillance cameras that are becoming commonplace in homes across the country, were hacked and turned into a cog that snowballed into one of the largest distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks ever recorded. In its path were many information portals including Reddit, Twitter and Amazon.

While the series of tubes has (momentarily) recovered, this illustrates the risks and vulnerabilities that the "internet of things" exposes to not just individusssal homes and businesses but to the public at large.