Interoperability has long been touted as a blockchain benefit, but projects don’t always deliver on that promise. Because of this, the U.K.-based bank of Barclays is working with the London-based Clearmatics startup to solve this, reports CoinDesk.
Clearmatics is holding a challenge for companies to take its template and create a “powerful open-source interoperability protocol” known as Ion. Essentially a hackathon, it will be in the Barclays Rise “fintech hub” in London come February 5 and 6.
Judging A Solution
There will be judges from Barclays, UBS, HSBC, and Santander. However, we’re unsure what the prize will be. Regardless, the team to come up with the best solution for interoperability will probably be compensated well. EY, a consulting platform, will report on the event as well.
Speaking to CoinDesk is Dr. Lee Braine, CTO at Barclays:
“We would like to gain a greater understanding of the challenges and potential solutions for interoperability between different distributed ledgers. Such interoperability can be complex, and this hackathon will permit the industry to experiment with the Ion protocol and also provide feedback to the open source project.”
Right now, there are four major blockchain platforms on the enterprise side of things. These are the Ethereum type brands such as Quorum from JP Morgan, Hyperledger, Corda from R3, and Digital Asset platform. However, none of these spaces can interact with one another. That can be an issue for the longterm success of emerging technologies.
“Unless they can be made to talk to each other, these new systems risk recreating the insular silos they were supposed to replace,” reads the post. This is true, as a lack of interaction means, for example, that an asset on the Ethereum platform cannot be traded as a stock or bond on Hyperledger. This is because one cannot verify a transaction on the other – only on their own platform. That said, if they were all on one blockchain, that would be the opposite of decentralization.
Regarding a solution, product strategist at Clearmatics Sara Feenan claims that one system “really creates a single point of failure and a single point of trust.” She continues, “nor do we want something that is a coin or a token and have to exchange it at some point during the journey.”
Taking A New Approach
“We [Clearmatics] are members of the EEA and there is now this narrative of Hyperledger and EEA becoming associate members of one another at the end of last year.”
Barclays will have its own team taking on the challenge, of course, but they are using Ion to make Ethereum and Corda compatible instead.
Fortunately, this hackathon isn’t the first time Ion is being used for interoperability. Last year, Ion helped the Axoni blockchain (a fork of Ethereum) create its own blockchain. Also, the project has been working with Hyperledger Fabric for a while now. Blockchain engineer at Clearmatics Chris Chung comments that the “grand vision for Ion is interoperability with everything.“ He also comments on the USC project, which is looking to build a “risk-free tokenized asset” backed by real cash:
“We want to ensure that USC does reach the broadest kind of possible applications of the target settlement. This puts a lot of weight on Ion as the interoperability framework to widen the gateway to access of USC.”
Also speaking on the importance of blockchain interoperability is John Whelan, head of digital investment banking at Santander:
“There is no doubt we will live in an environment where we will have multiple operating systems, if you want to use that analogy. And those operating systems will need to be interoperable with each other just like they are today, whether it’s Android versus Windows versus MacOS etc.”