I’ve written about blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin on various occasions; having spent time working for a bank and supporting trading floor technology, I am interested in technologies that drive cost and complexity out of transaction. This article in the Wall Street Journal details how IBM is now the largest company support blockchain and how it has released code to the open-source project Hyerledger. Myself and others have written about “IBM Garages”, physical locations where IBM customers and partners can experience different technology as well as collaboration with experts, both industry and IBM employees. The article states
Additionally, the company plans to set up a network of what it calls “IBM Garages” in London, New York, Singapore and Tokyo, where customers can experiment with its blockchain software.
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To me there are two types of blockchain adopters. The first are startups looking to disrupt the market with a business model leveraging the dramatically lower cost that blockchain will provide. The other, paradoxically, are large established firms whose business models are about to suffer disintermediation due to blockchain. Those companies, think banks, stock brokers, investment firms, credit card processors, need to avoid the Uber/Yellow Cab situation but are highly regulated, cautious and have customers and market share to worry about. In their announcement IBM included this information:
Being able to name these firms as companies who are even considering using blockchain is a great win for both IBM as well as Hyperledger. Obviously examining the technology is very different and a long way from using in production. That being said, stock exchanges are very aware of their image and very protective and wouldn’t have been named if they didn’t think there was value in partnering with IBM. You don’t need to do anything today but think about whether you want to be Uber or the Yellow Cab Company.