Recently, R3, an enterprise blockchain firm, launched a test of an app on its Corda blockchain network meant to show off the potential for blockchains to securely run programs on a massive scale.
Involving 39 separate banks, with branches in 19 different countries worldwide, this test demonstrated the resilience and elasticity that a blockchain such as Corda can have, while still keeping the security benefits inherent to all blockchain transactions.
The app in question, Know Your Customer (KYC), was able to facilitate transactions between these banks over four days without any mishaps or issues, an impressive feat of logistics that shows how well blockchain infrastructure could disrupt entrenched industries like banking. R3’s Charley Cooper, the managing director of this project, answered some questions from Distributed.com about what trajectory this bold new initiative could take.
New Platforms for Transaction
When asked about the project’s goals, Cooper first stated that KYC’s “requirements present a significant challenge to financial institutions and the process is often complex, slow and time-consuming.”
He acknowledged the reluctance that some firms originally had toward the idea of participating in a test such as this, as much of the preparation had to be done from the ground up.
Nevertheless, Cooper believes that this test “demonstrated that blockchain [technology] can allow institutions to retain control of and manage their own identity.” The goal for the project seems to be making transactions over blockchains the new industry standard, “to rework the KYC utilities of the past — from centralized to decentralized, from trusted to trustless, from third-party data stores to controlling your own data.”
An International Project
Key to the credibility of this test was its sheer scale, as a blockchain platform that wishes to disrupt the global banking industry must itself have global reach. The success of this test has given Cooper the claim to call R3 “a global company with over 180 professionals in 11 countries, supported by over 2,000 technology, financial and legal experts in our wider network, [which] gives us access to markets all over the world.”
Cooper recognizes that at R3, “technology alone isn’t enough to achieve our aim of re-engineering the infrastructure for global business,” and that is why their focus has been not only on building a formidable blockchain infrastructure but also on building the sorts of working relationships that stem from tests such as this. He called Corda “the most collaborative blockchain platform available, designed by and for businesses, with input from over 200 institutions across a diverse range of industries and regions in almost every market globally.”
As for the backing that allowed him to make these claims, Cooper said that cooperation was critical.
Immediate Targets for Expansion
“[R3 has] just launched Corda Enterprise, a commercial version of Corda specifically optimized to meet the demands of modern day businesses, especially complex institutions which will expand usage of Corda even further,” Cooper said. “Companies can now select a version of Corda that fits their unique needs — regardless of their industry, size and stage of development.”
The ultimate goal of this commercialized version of the blockchain platform is more widespread use of distributed ledgers in general, with the added benefit for R3 that legacy companies may adopt their offering to adapt the way they do business.
“This means a wider range of institutions can realize the full potential of blockchain [technology] — executing complex logic and exchange of assets directly, simply and in strict privacy, without the need for costly reconciliation or a trusted intermediary,” Cooper said.
Corda Enterprise emphasizes interoperability, the ability for businesses to “transact openly and flawlessly with all their business partners, without trapped assets or islands of information,” Cooper added. “Corda and Corda Enterprise are fully interoperable, meaning companies using either can trade with each other and that one organization can run both platforms seamlessly across different divisions.”
This approach will hopefully emphasize convenience and efficiency for all users of these services.
Looking forward, R3’s model for innovating within existing industries may be well worth following. It has displayed an emphasis on the practical sides of business relationships and customer usability independent of its technological innovations, but nevertheless its blockchain technology itself has also performed significant feats without noticeable strain. It has yet to promise more than it can deliver, and this levelheadedness gives it an edge in the chaotic world of the tech industry, particularly where blockchains are concerned. The prowess R3 has shown thus far could reflect a real potential for expansion in the future.
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