Several tech giants have announced their entry into blockchain, and are currently pursuing multiple projects, proof of concepts (PoCs), and pilot projects utilizing this technology. However, they have typically been silent vis-a-vis cryptocurrencies. This is changing now, with global tech giant IBM announcing their interest in crypto space.
IBM is not new to blockchain. The company is already pursuing key use cases, for e.g. they are working on supply chain, manufacturer finance, retail sales and several other use cases for the automotive industry. They also have a partnership with Stellar.org, utilizing the public Stellar platform and their crypto token Lumen (XLM). However, recent pronouncement from senior IBM executives point to a deeper engagement with cryptocurrencies.
The leadership team of IBM‘s blockchain development team have met with leaders of commodities trading platforms, large corporations and central banks, to ascertain how cryptocurrencies can reduce their costs and improve their revenue. Experts believe the most important of these conversations have been the ones with the executives of the central banks.
IBM has met with 20 central banks, and are working with them to see how it will benefit them if they issue their own fiat cryptocurrencies on blockchain. These cryptocurrencies will represent a claim on fiat deposits in our day-to-day world, will be managed and monitored by the central banks, and hence will certainly include some key guidelines of the respective country’s monetary policy.
While IBM believes that the dialogues with the central banks in Asia and North America were promising, they have found that the Riksbank of Sweden has the most articulated thoughts on this subject. Riksbank is already exploring utilizing a digital platform for Sweden’s cash supply.
In addition to working with the central banks, IBM is also looking at important projects based on crypto tokens, as explained by Jesse Lund, head of IBM‘s blockchain development team. IBM categorizes these as following:
- Securities tokens: These give a stake of the issuing company to the token owners.
- Utility tokens: These give users access to a service, for e.g. Lisk offering blockchain developers access to their DApp (distributed application) platform where they can develop, test, and deploy their DApps.
- Commodities tokens: These represent precious metals and other physical assets.
Apart from working with Stellar, and pursuing central banks and commodities exchanges, IBM has also worked on a transaction model, and applied that to the enterprise blockchain Hyperledger Fabric. This was an experiment comparing transaction through-puts between permissioned blockchain and public ones. The Hyperledger Fabric release last month included improvements conceived as a result of this experiment.
Headquartered in Armonk, NY, USA, the 107-years old tech giant IBM has gone through multiple phases where they have reinvented themselves. In the recent years, their business results have seen a downward trend. Their thrust on blockchain is aligned to their current efforts at reinventing the company.