September 7, 2016
True to its values, decentralized ledger technology has recently indeed decentralized the power of R3 CEV consortium, bringing together institutional players across industries and regions. Until recently, the R3 CEV blockchain consortium comprised of the world’s largest tech companies and financial institutions and was one of the largest alliances of interested parties around blockchain. In fact, the consortium is far beyond discussions and has already filed a patent application for software within a new platform it calls Concord. As the WSJ explains, Concord is a platform that takes its cues from bitcoin, Ethereum, and other blockchain-based networks, but changes up key features and concepts to create a platform that takes the best of those other networks and makes it something with which banks will feel comfortable.
But R3 CEV is not all there is to the Ivy League of blockchain. The ‘Big Four’ accounting firms PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Deloitte, Ernst & Young (EY) and KPMG have joined hands in exploring the opportunities with blockchain technology in a form of their own consortium. At the beginning of August, companies held a meeting in New York, hosted by Consensys, an Ethereum-based startup, consisted of series of presentations on the potential applications of the distributed ledger technology and on building a consortium.
As Griffin Anderson, Head of Blockchain Accounting at Consensys, shared with Coindesk, We are bringing together accounting blockchain industry experts to explore and to determine the value of a joint accounting and blockchain industry consortium.
The ‘Big Four’ consortium is admittedly smaller than R3 CEV, and as a unity, will probably take the time to move from discussions to patenting. However, it is a great diversification of efforts put to wide adoption of blockchain technology in use cases targeted for different types of players – the ‘Big Four’ consortium will be looking at various blockchain solutions for the accounting sector just as the R3 consortium, which has over 50 members, has been doing for the financial sector.
While the ‘Big Four’ is a cross-industry equivalent, there is a regional diversification with Russian financial institutions forming their own blockchain consortium. At the end of August, Sberbank, one of Russia's largest financial institutions, was reported to be in discussions to join a domestic bank consortium that would study blockchain technology.
As Herman Gref, CEO, Chairman of the Executive Board of Sberbank of Russia, commented, We are now discussing this with the Central Bank. If the Central Bank [and] all participants agree, then we are definitely going to participate, but we are in active negotiations."
According to TASS, Russian banks, payments system Qiwi and Accenture will form a Saint-Petersburg-based consortium for collaborative research of distributed ledger technology. Among the banks that are intended to join the consortium are Binbank, MDM Bank, Otkritie Bank and Tinkoff Bank.
At the end of June, Credit Union National Association (CUNA), in partnership with the Mountain West Credit Union Association (MWCUA), were reported to be looking for a few good credit unions – 125 to be exact – to participate in the industry’s first ever development of a blockchain technology platform.
According to CU Times, During the final general session Wednesday at America’s Credit Union Conference at the Washington State Convention Center, CUNA’s Chief Operating Officer Rich Meade introduced the CULedger Initiative, a proof-of-concept project.
CULedger is a research-to-action initiative that is investigating the viability of a private, permissioned distributed ledger (DLT) that can be used by credit unions. It is an effort to do for the credit union industry what R3 is doing for the banks: assemble a consortium of credit unions and CUSOs to build a ledger network dedicated the needs of credit unions.
The initiatives are believed to have great chances to be the first to push technology through to commercial production due to the cooperative nature of credit unions. "The two basic [blockchain] concepts are scale and security, and we have credit unions representing enough members so that when we get this going, we should be able to scale quickly," said Rich Meade, Chief of Staff and Chief Operating Officer at CUNA.
Not only are Russian banks encapsulating blockchain-related research and developments within national ecosystem – at the end of August, a consortium of Japanese banks in cooperation with Ripple Asia have announced that a new network that will use Ripple’s technology for payments and settlement. Japanese banks plan to build a system that offers cheap, round-the-clock fund transfer services by taking advantage of Ripple’s capabilities.
The alliance is expected to initially draw about 15 members, including Bank of Yokohama and SBI Sumishin Net Bank. Participants will share transaction histories and other data via the system, which will adopt blockchain technology. The partners will employ a payment settlement system developed by Ripple Labs, which has formed a tie-up with SBI Holdings, which owns part of the SBI Sumishin Net Bank. The service is expected to be operational as early as next spring, as reported by the Nikkei Asian Review.