1. A Corda in London
I am just back from a fun yet very busy week in London with the R3 Braintrust. On Monday, I had the pleasure to accompany the tech crew to the Barclays Accelerator Demo Day. Our highlight was the presentation by Dr. Lee Braine for his team's work on Smart Contract Templates:
"They provide an elegant way to connect the text within legal agreements to the corresponding business logic. I emphasise to you that legal documentation processes can be lengthy, cumbersome and manual. Smart Contract Templates could simplify all of that and, because they are templates designed for reuse, they could drive the industry's adoption of standards that are legally enforceable.
"This has huge potential to enable banks to mutualise costs across the industry by using common components – the potential for a paradigm shift in a field where there are billions of pages of legal agreements."
Dr. Braine went on to show a demo of both the smart contract templates and the interest rate swaps being run via the R3 Corda prototype network, remarking that "this is history in the making." High five! Another key input to the demo was the use of ISDA Master Agreements, as another example of how crucial it will be to leverage the expertise of incumbents in the evolution of DLT to financial markets.
The week continued with more events including Tomorrow's Transactions hosted by Dave Birch and Consult Hyperion, which included a presentation and Q+A from our CTO Richard Brown:
Brown said you can think of Corda at a high level as a blockchain platform, but which makes menu selections. "It has a strong focus on interlock between the business logic in code and the data in code and the legal prose. So that in the event of dispute we know what dominates and we know how to resolve it. There's a focus on interoperability. Private by design - it is not appropriate for me to reveal the private details of my client's transactions to some other bank. And we do believe strongly that it's not sufficient just to record the data, we actually have to share execution of business logic."
I finished up the week by attending a brainiac-fueled QuanTech Conference (thanks for the invite Massimo). I had the unenviable task of being sandwiched between Vitalik Buterin and Dr. Braine on the lineup, so I angled my talk as more vaudeville than valedictorian. Which was a strategy I continued to execute for the closing panel...turns out the audience can't ask you tough questions if you are taking panel-selfies.
2. Reports Galore
I usually set a rule for myself that I do not share stories or reports in this (mostly) weekly blog unless I have already read them myself. Yet upon my return to the States, I found a distressingly large virtual stack of papers to wade thru and have decided to suspend the above rule for (hopefully) this week only. A selection:
- As an accompaniment to the Swift Business Forum, Accenture and Swift teamed up on a paper entitled SWIFT on Distributed Ledger Technologies (full pdf here).
- ECB released a report (in the charmingly named Occasional Paper Series...I really should have named this blog The Occasional Read, would make my life easier) called Distributed ledger technologies in securities post-trading: Revolution or evolution?
- Morgan Stanley's Global Insight: Blockchain in Banking: Disruptive Threat or Tool?
- Perhaps not technically a report but anyway: DARPA's request for proposal on a Secure Messaging Platform (but with blockchain!)
3. Blockchain Consortia
Russia's Qiwi this week announced their intention for "a consortium similar to R3" for regional Russian FIs. The Chinese press have announced the formation of ChinaLedger Union, a "distributed ledger based coalition."
We are also proud to announce the addition of Hana Financial, one of the largest bank holding groups in Korea, to the R3 consortium effort. Welcome!