IBM is perhaps the most well-known & recognized name in the tech world with its multinational presence of consultants, engineers & sales personnel. International Business Machines (or “Big Blue”) has impressive laurels to show apart from its global presence, with prestigious awards and the distinction of generating the most patents every single year for the past 25 years. In 2017 alone IBM got 9043 patents — 3300 more than the company in second place (Samsung).
Hard to imagine the century-old company whose losses exceeded $8 billion in 1993 & on the brink of diminishing would go on to become a leading blockchain applications provider in such a short period of time. The restructuring, reorganizations & the move away from the hardware side of things to more services-oriented technology applications has served IBM very well in the past decade or so. The company has embraced the disrupting blockchain technology with promising partnerships in the Fintech industry to come up with innovative solutions to assist the public & private sector.
Looking at the chart above it is evident that companies around the world are still in very early stages of deploying or implementing blockchain strategies. Considering the potential of blockchain in the increasingly digitized global financial system, IBM has set foot early and in the right direction. Let’s look at some of the blockchain-based projects that IBM has gotten involved in, which would give it the edge over its competitors with the experience gained & skills acquired going forward.
Currently, IBM has dedicated about 1,600 employees to the blockchain projects alone, which comes to a spending of about $150 million/year with an average salary of $93,000 as per the Payscale thus leading other competitors. Let’s review some of the blockchain projects that IBM has been involved in recently.
Cross border payment partnership with Stellar
IBM was perhaps one of the first technology companies to take a leap of faith with Blockchain platforms & associated Cryptocurrencies, when it entered into a partnership with Stellar (XLM) network & KlickEx to deploy and test a new cross border payment system using the native Lumens tokens back in October 2017.
Before this trial, IBM was involved with developing its own blockchain. The system provides the clearing & settlement of financial transactions in real-time. With IBM’s involvement in the project, banks, financial institutes & clearinghouses are much more comfortable incorporating the Digital Ledger Technology (DLT) to their current systems using the services of a reputable name.
Stable coin Stronghold USD
Building on the previous relationship with Stellar & taking it a step further IBM has launched a stable coin called Stronghold USD named after the fintech startup Stronghold which has helped create the digital coin. Although there are other stable coins existing in the market with Tether (USDT) being one of the most popular ones, Stronghold is gathering a lot of attention since it is backed by a big name in the industry and is pegged 1:1 to USD reducing volatility, not to forget the fact that it can easily be tested on the current cross border payment system that IBM is using with a multitude of banks & financial institutions.
LedgerConnect Blockchain Appstore
This ambitious project is a joint venture between IBM & Forex giant CLS which aims to build an App store for the banks. This partnership of two giants in foreign exchange settlement & technology respectively provides just the right solution for the banks and financial institutions which wanted to adopt DLT but were skeptical of the players out there.
The project is in a trial phase and would be rolled out in the coming months with big names like Citigroup & Barclays participating among others. Possible vendors on the platform include Copp Clark, IBM, MPhasis, OpenRisk, SynSwap and Persistent Systems, Baton Systems, and Calypso. LedgerConnect would function on the Proof-of-Concept (PoC) protocol enabling the participating to deploy applications & share services.
Digitizing Australian government services
Last month Australian government entered into a five-year, $1 billion AUD ($740 million USD) agreement, with the tech giant IBM to be its technology partner for different federal government departments.
The agreement will see IBM bring automation with re-engineered platforms for added security against cyber threats apart from planning to implement blockchain, AI & quantum computing solutions to the different departments in the long run.
Australia’s Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) has already put aside $530,000 for blockchain research with the intention of staying in the top cadre of the digital governments in the world.
Maersk blockchain Shipping solution
A couple of weeks ago, TradeLens — a blockchain-based shipping solution that IBM & the shipping giant Maersk had been working on for almost a year came out of beta with limited availability. The collaborative effort between the two companies has already garnered the support of 94 participants & 20 ports and terminals around the globe with 154 million shipping transactions already recorded on its blockchain.
The project involves three components: Blockchain for tracking goods from start to finish, APIs to build applications on top of the platform & data standards for all the entities involved. Supply chain management has just gotten a blockchain upgrade.
The tech giant applied for a blockchain patent last week to ensure the compliance of the transaction from the data gathered from the individual nodes in a DLT network. Apart from this IBM was also awarded 6 Blockchain patents last month. No wonder the interest of the company is gearing towards DLT.
With all the ongoing & prospective blockchain projects that IBM has gotten involved in 2018 alone gives you a sense of its pioneering spirit & its dominant presence in the DLT industry. IBM is no doubt positioning itself to lead the bunch.
Originally published at www.datadriveninvestor.com on August 22, 2018.