Blockchain and Smart Contracts, IBM Research - India - overview
The Blockchain and Smart Contracts team at IBM Research - India is focussed on reimagining a future world powered by the security, transparency and efficiency provided by blockchain technology. Our efforts are focussed on developing enterprise-grade solution prototypes for various use cases, developing core platform capabilities to meet the requirements of such enterprise use cases, and certain value added services.
What is Blockchain? What are Smart Contracts?
The media is abuzz with blockchain. Blockchain is an emerging platform for executing transactional services that has the potential to fundamentally transform the way business is conducted in several industries. It is an append-only, shared ledger of digitally signed and encrypted transactions that is replicated across a peer network of nodes. Cryptographic security is used to ensure that participants can only view information on the ledger that they are authorised to see. The shared ledger across the peer network is maintained in sync by running a coordination protocol called a consensus algorithm. Transactions are committed onto the ledger only after consensus is reached, and once committed it can never be changed by any of the nodes unilaterally, i.e., participants cannot rewrite history or deny past transactions.
Another fascinating capability of the blockchain is the ability to attach business logic called smart contracts to the transactions. This enables automation of business processes that transcend organisational boundaries in a secure and decentralized manner.
Blockchain for Supply Chain and Trade
The main industries that our team focuses on are international trade and supply chain. Goods, information, and finance are three important entities that flow through a supply chain. Operations research and internet technologies have greatly optimized the flow of goods and information in the supply chain, but are not sufficient enough to form B2B collaborative networks. We are using Blockchain as the enabling technology to create B2B networks by specifically tackling the following challenges of the current supply chains:
- Multiple stake-holders participating in multitude of interactions requiring several layers of privacy and security
- A stake-holder can belong to multiple supply chains
- Same set of businesses can work in competing and collaborative modes in different interactions
- Disparate ERP, WMS, IoT systems owned by different businesses limits real time coordination and compliance
- Financial and governing institutions with legacy compliance processes
Linux Foundation's Hyperledger Platform
IBM has contributed several tens of thousands of lines of code to the Linux Foundation led Hyperledger platform. Our team has made key contributions to the platform in the areas of ledger maintenance and in building early versions of the chaincode service. We are exploring new research directions for contribution to the platform.
- "Towards a Shared Ledger Business Collaboration Language based on Data-Aware Processes", Richard Hull, Vishal Batra, Yi-Min Chen, Alin Deutsch, Terry Heath, and Victor Vianu. (accepted to ICSOC 2016)
In the Press
- "Blockchain: A Better Way to Track Pork Chops, Bonds, Bad Peanut Butter?", NYTimes
- "Dubai government, companies team up with IBM on blockchain project", Reuters
- "Bank consortia look to distributed ledgers and smart contracts to rewire trade finance", Finextra
- "Blockchain: The underlying Bitcoin technology that’s worth so much more", Firstpost