IBM brings Blockchain HyperLedger FABRIC to the MENA region
IBM is one of the only technology companies that have become synonymous with blockchain. IBM has embarked on a journey to take blockchain into the enterprise and government arena with its permission based Blockchain. Saqr Ereiqat blockchain Evangelist and Senior Managing Consultant for Global Business Services at IBM Middle East and Pakistan “Today, IBM is much more than a ‘hardware, software and services company’. IBM today is about cognitive, cloud and blockchain. Our platform spans the entire business architecture from and this is what is needed to build blockchain in a harmonious way.”
He adds, “blockchain requires a change in business model for companies and it might not necessary be applicable to your business. First, businesses need to understand what they want and what the blockchain can do and not do before embarking into anything, a business use case needs to be defined. We have end to end solutions for blockchain, including, IBM Blockchain, which is delivered via IBM Bluemix Cloud as a service and offerings for developers.”
IBM is a premier member of Hyperledger, a project of the Linux Foundation. Hyperledger currently consists of more than 140 organizations, making it the biggest industry consortium. Ereiqat, “Consortiums are very important today as they will be the building blocks for creating standards, interoperability between different Blockchain ecosystems as well as helping to develop the real value of Blockchain through industry adoption.”
For example, IBM itself has benefited from being part of Hyperledger. It has contributed to the recently-launched Hyperledger Fabric v1.0 beta blockchain framework on Bluemix. According to Ereiqat, “With Hyperledger Fabric, we can better cater to enterprises, government and regulated companies.”
As for blockchain in the MENA region, it seems to be picking up. According to Ereiqat, “the MENA region is buzzing about blockchain wherever you go.” as According to Gartner report in 2016 stated, blockchain has hit the peak of its hype which means users and the public are suffering from inflated expectations about its benefits but also adds in its report that blockchain will come to be transformational across a variety of industries and this is only 5-10 years away.
Ereiqat believes that the initial use cases for blockchain will be digital Identity on blockchain because digital identity is critical and it enables interaction between users in the digital world, yet traditional identity systems are costly, disjointed and hindering innovation, the distributed trust model is a new way to manage these identities. “So first let’s have all identities on Blockchain and then everything will follow,”Ereiqat says.
Other cases studies Ereiqat believes are successful is dispute resolution on blockchain which was implemented by IBM internally to save 75% of time tied up in dispute resolution (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DSNdLDOZ5w) . Santander Bank is estimating a saving of$20 billion in infrastructure cost a year. In essence Ereiqat is adamant, “ Blockchain solutions are about reimagining the business network. For example, Mercedes Benz might create their own blockchain for parts and mandate that all partners and suppliers have to use the platform. “The benefit factor rises when you have a complex business network,” Ereiqat says.”
This brings the question of what IBM will be doing for Smart Dubai and Ereiqat replies, “We are essentially their strategic partner and will work to enable them to achieve their vision of making Dubai the first city to be fully blockchain powered by 2020. Dubai again and again has exemplified strong leadership quick action; they implement quickly and decisively.”
Although blockchain is still in its early stages and the technology has its issues of scalability, energy consumption, all these are being addressed by the Linux Foundation. As he states, “you could choose to sit it out and wait till the technology matures but then you will have to be pulled into whatever business network is out there already and it is for this reason that companies, governments, banks are scrambling to build and innovate today.”
As for the future, Ereiqat sees that next year more and more businesses and governments will be adopting blockchain as a service. He adds, “blockchain is ushering in the internet of transactions and provides a traceable, immutable and secure platform. It’s 1996 and blockchain is the Internet.”