Provenance, CBDCs and Identity at Hyperledger Global Forum 2021
Last week, BTP sponsored and participated in Hyperledger Global Forum 2021 — the Linux Foundation’s virtual enterprise blockchain event — where presentations and panel discussions reinforced our sense that amid the pandemic and the resulting economic downturn, digital transformation has accelerated across industries, in many cases, out of necessity.
In particular, the need for technologies that help improve transparency and trustworthiness in our interactions, and remove operational inefficiencies from business processes across organizations, came through loud and clear, and distributed ledger technology (DLT) plays a foundational role here.
Key application areas where activity has intensified — those that have turned out to be real proving grounds for DLT — were discussed and showcased at HGF 2021. These included provenance, payments and financial instruments, and identity. Economists at PwC, in a report entitled Time for trust: The trillion-dollar reasons to rethink blockchain published at the end of 2020, identified these areas as top uses that drive DLT adoption and have the potential to yield the most economic value.
The ability to digitally verify the origin and authenticity of assets and track them throughout their lifecycle, helps organizations mitigate the risk of counterfeits and fraud among other types of risk — a need that has been amplified during the pandemic. Distributed ledgers, smart contracts and digital tokens can be devised to boost supply-chain resiliency and fair trade, and enhance efforts to be environmentally, ethically and socially responsible.
One of the highlights of the conference was a keynote panel where British musician Imogen Heap talked about how she is currently using distributed ledgers and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and how these technologies can help transform the whole music industry by making it a fair game where all participants get credited for the value they provide, and by fostering collaboration that is characterized by genuineness and good will.
Payments and Financial Instruments
In the area of payments and financial instruments, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in particular got a boost throughout 2020. In October, the Central Bank of The Bahamas rolled out its state-backed digital currency, the Sand Dollar, making it the first CBDC to go live in the world. One month later, the National Bank of Cambodia followed suit with the launch of the Bakong payment system. The People’s Bank of China has also been working with commercial banks and payment providers, and testing its digital yuan in different regions.
Many other central banks are in some way engaged in a CBDC project. In a keynote panel, highlighting progress in this area, Sopnendu Mohanty, Chief Fintech Officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), talked about Project Dunbar, a joint initiative with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) Innovation Hub, that seeks to enable banks worldwide to use CBDC and DLT for cross-border payments.
There were several panel discussions focusing on self-sovereign identity (SSI), an application area that holds great promise for the adoption of DLT, as well as for generating both economic and social value.
Although the road to true SSI will take some time, I believe that many of us are ready to let antiquated, burdensome and unfair practices go. Identity is not just about your name, age or nationality, but also about what you have and what you know — e.g. skills and credentials. Giving control to individuals over their identity data and attributes while enabling third-parties to verify their authenticity, will be integral to make SSI work.
The DLT Landscape
In the last couple of years, DLT has seen a boost in confidence in the enterprise space, with business leaders recognizing the technology’s relevance and usefulness. However, at the same time the vendor landscape has also changed and become more complex. Stitching technologies together while eliminating implementation islands will be key to maximizing the benefits and further drive confidence in the technology.
To help address this, BTP launched the DLT Landscape in April — an open-source market segmentation initiative that seeks to decipher the complexity of the rapidly evolving enterprise distributed ledger technology market. We were delighted to have the opportunity to present the DLT Landscape at HGF 2021, and show people how to get value out of it.
BTP delivers the fundamental building blocks for multiparty innovation. It enables the development of multiparty applications that are efficient, transparent and trustworthy, by taking care of the underlying technology infrastructure.
In addition to showcasing the DLT Landscape, we also gave two project demos highlighting how we provide these building blocks, in this instance, focusing on Hyperledger Sawtooth — the first for the APAC/Europe segment,
and the second for the Americas segment.
You can find all the recordings from this event on the Hyperledger Global Forum 2021 Playlist.