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IBM upbeat on blockchain potential for businesses

Nagarajan: Pilot project in Canada

Private blockchain technology will enable the government to improve services and bring new business models to the business sector, says IBM.

"With its decentralised features and secure network, blockchain can be the technological foundation of many businesses and government services," said Shyam Nagarajan, director for blockchain client success at IBM.

Private blockchain is generally a permissioned network. It restricts who is allowed to participate in the network. It can be applied for data exchange and transmission among state agencies for smart government, he said.

Last year IBM and SecureKey unveiled a digital identity and attribute-sharing network based on IBM Blockchain, which is being piloted in Canada. The network makes it easier for consumers to control what identifying information they share from trusted credentials to the organisations of their choice, and for those organisations to quickly and efficiently validate the consumer's identity and arrange new services.

For example, if a consumer has proven their identity with their bank and a credit agency, they can grant permission to share their data with a utility to create a new account. As the bank and the credit agency have already gone through extensive verification of the consumer's identity, the utility can choose to trust the information is verified, approving the consumer for new services.

Canadian consumers will be able to opt-in to the new blockchain-based service using a mobile app, and will use the network to instantly verify their identity for services such as new bank accounts, driver's licences or utilities.

Mr Nagarajan said to deploy blockchain on a large scale, the regulator needs to create a framework compliance and network policy that requires data privacy law, liability and access control.

Private blockchain can be used with the Internet of Things for a variety of applications such as asset management to track authentication diamonds and the validation and tracking of intellectual property rights in the media and entertainment business to verify how much content is being consumed for accurate billing.

Citing a Wintergreen Research report, he said IBM controlled 32% of the US$700 million blockchain market in 2017.

Global research firm IDC Asia-Pacific forecast Asia-Pacific excluding Japan (APEJ) spending on blockchain solutions will reach $282 million in 2018, up from $149 million spent in 2017.

The IDC Worldwide semiannual blockchain spending guide projects APEJ's blockchain spending to grow at a robust pace from 2016-2021, with a five-year compound annual growth rate of 90.7%, faster than projected global growth of 81.2%.

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