But that kind of sounds like an app
store, and that’s the term that third-party observers are using to refer to LedgerConnect, which IBM
announced on July 30.
LedgerConnect is designed to cater to
financial services companies, not individual end users. This is not a handy
solution for crypto enthusiasts to locate DApps that they might wish to install
on their PCs or phones (though such registries do already
LedgerConnect serves instead as a way
for financial institutions to access services that are hosted on a distributed
ledger, with the promise that the solution is designed for “regulated and
security-conscious” organizations, according to the LedgerConnect announcement.
But because the services available
from LedgerConnect are powered by IBM Blockchain Platform and HyperLedger
Fabric, it may be a stretch to call them “apps” in the traditional sense. It
appears that what IBM and its partners intend to offer will be fully hosted
services that interact with IBM’s enterprise blockchain platform, rather than
applications that an organization could download and use on its own infrastructure.
Advancing IBM’s Enterprise Blockchain
Whether LedgerConnect is really a
blockchain app store in the traditional sense or not, its significance for IBM
is clear. The solution will make it easier for financial services companies to
access IBM’s enterprise blockchain platform.
In other words, rather than having to
build their own individual services on top of IBM Blockchain Platform, banks
and other financial institutions will be able to take advantage of ready-made
solutions offered through LedgerConnect.
What’s more, banks will be able to
share and collaborate around blockchain-based services more seamlessly. In that
sense, LedgerConnect could be a significant step in convincing more enterprises
to adopt distributed ledger technology as a way to share information and
process transactions between themselves. That’s a different, more expansive use
of blockchain technology than using a permissioned blockchain for internal
operations, like tracking inventory.
On that note, it’s also significant
that LedgerConnect will operate as “a single shared and highly secured
network,” according to IBM’s press release. It seems, then, that all users of
the solution will be sharing their data on a single distributed ledger, rather
than using private, permissioned blockchains. This is another reflection of the
platform’s potential for increasing inter-enterprise collaboration around
Building Enterprise Blockchain
LedgerConnect is also significant
from a blockchain ecosystem perspective as evidence that more big-name
partnerships surrounding blockchain technology will emerge.
IBM’s major partner in the initiative
is CLS, a financial services company that specializes in settlement
services for the foreign exchange market. However, nine other financial
institutions, including Barclays and Citi, are also part of the endeavor as
early adopters of LedgerConnect, according to IBM.
So far, IBM has been tight-lipped
about what, exactly, the services available from LedgerConnect will look like.
It’s also unclear when the platform will become generally available; for now,
IBM says that it is working on building a successful proof of concept and
gaining regulatory approval.
Still, making it easier for banks to
take advantage of distributed ledgers and use a blockchain to collaborate with
one another can only help spur further adoption of blockchain technology.
Although the details surrounding LedgerConnect remain murky for now, and it may
not be the same kind of app store that you can access on your phone, the
initiative is a sign of positive momentum for distributed ledger technology in
the financial services industry.