IBM develops private and permissioned blockchains, which stand in contrast to public blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. IBM notably utilizes Hyperledger Fabric, an open-source blockchain protocol developed by the Linux Foundation-hosted Hyperledger consortium, as the base layer of its blockchains. Some of IBM’s projects include logistics solution Food Trust, cross-border payment World Wire and identity management solution Trusted Identity.
IBM was a founding member of the Hyperledger consortium, which was created in 2015. The project offers a development library to allow businesses to create customizable distributed ledger solutions without using a public blockchain like Bitcoin or Ethereum. While IBM contributed many lines of code to this project, it was built through a consortium-wide effort that included companies such as Digital Asset, Accenture, Fujitsu, SWIFT, VMware, Wells Fargo, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group and Wells Fargo. In 2019, the consortium’s membership exceeded 250 companies across 14 developing projects.
Created in 2016, IBM Food Trust is a blockchain solution that makes food items traceable as they move through the supply chain. The system aims to help eliminate food fraud, accurately judge shelf life, ensure the quality of food and minimize food waste. In 2019, the digital tracking system for retailers and suppliers had grown to over 80 brands. Some of the project’s major participants include Walmart, Albertsons, Dole, Nestle and Carrefour.
IBM’s Blockchain World Wire facilitates cross-border payments between financial institutions via the stellar blockchain protocol. Essentially, two financial institutions agree on a stable currency, central bank digital currency or other digital asset as a bridge to connect fiat currencies. World Wire then converts the digital asset into the second fiat currency, facilitates the transaction, and records the details on the blockchain. The project aims to allow international transactions to take place faster than they would through traditional processes while maintaining transparency. As of 2019, World Wire has facilitated transactions across 72 countries.
IBM’s Trusted Identity project is intended to give individuals more control of their digital identity, allowing a choice of when, where, and with whom they share their information. As of 2019, this project remains in its alpha version, but nonetheless hopes to decentralize identity management. The project is based around three “self-sovereign identity concepts,” which include decentralized identifiers (DIDs) under the control of a user, verifiable credentials as cryptographically backed statements of truth, and decentralized key management as a way for users to verify interactions through DIDs.
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