The InterWork Alliance (IWA) formally launched operations as a platform-neutral, non-profit organization dedicated to creating the standards frameworks needed to increase innovation across token-enabled ecosystems. Distributed applications have the potential to disrupt global economics, but the wide-scale availability of different platform types has stalled web-scale adoption of tokenized assets. What is required is standardization at the business level, which would allow companies to be able to agree on distributed business models without choosing a platform first. The InterWork Alliance will set the standards for building distribInterworkuted applications, including appropriate frameworks for tokenizing items of value, writing contracts over those tokens, and privacy-preserving analytics of multi-party data.
Launch members include Accenture, Amberdata, Blockchain Technology Partners, Calastone, Chainlink, DEKRA, Digital Asset, DLA Piper, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Envision Blockchain, HACERA, Hedera Hashgraph, IBM, ING, Microsoft, Nasdaq, Neo Global Development, R3, SIX Digital Exchange (SDX), Tokensoft, UBS, Web3 Labs, and others. Launch Associate members joining to support the IWA’s activities include 2Tokens, Blockchain Research Institute, British Blockchain Association (BBA), Cloud Security Alliance, DID Alliance, Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC), Global Digital Finance (GDF), Hyderabad Blockchain District, Hyperledger, International Token Standardization Association (ITSA), Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Cascadia Blockchain Council and others.
“Companies want to be able to create token-based business models without having a platform technology in mind. For this approach to work, standards are urgently needed around defining what a token is and how its contractual behaviors will work,” said InterWork Alliance President Ron Resnick. “The Alliance was created to serve as the organization where this essential work happens. By bringing great technology and innovative business leaders together to deliver the market-driven specifications needed to facilitate interworking, the Alliance can deliver a proven, standard approach that is required to bring consumer trust into this space.”
Tokens enable users to define, exchange and use anything of value – whether that value is digitally-native, such as cryptocurrencies, or other forms of value, such as artwork, properties, loyalty points, etc. For an enterprise to exchange or use tokenized value, business partners first need to universally agree on how that token is defined and how its value will contractually unlock through the various agreements and clauses.
“When our customers want to come together to solve problems in their sectors, they often want a neutral forum where they can work out collaborative frameworks and approaches that let them focus on business outcomes rather than technology implementation details. The IWA will play a critical role in helping business leaders across industries collaborate effectively,” said Marley Gray, principal architect, Microsoft, and the InterWork Alliance Chairman. “It provides a forum where industry participants can take real-world use cases as diverse as improving carbon market efficiency or trade finance efficiency, and use technology-agnostic token and contract definitions to foster interoperability and drive widespread adoption – that’s the big picture of what we need to do in the Alliance.”
The InterWork Alliance will provide the frameworks needed for businesses to create standardized token definitions and contracts in non-technical, business terms, and then turn them over to developers for coding on any platform of choice. The Alliance’s focus areas include:
- The Token Taxonomy Framework: provides a common language and toolset that enables multiple parties to agree on the definition of a token and how its value can be exchanged or used
- The InterWork Framework: allows businesses to compose multi-party contracts from clauses that directly correlate to the token standards, enabling communication protocols to be defined and connected to framework components regardless of the eventual technology deployment
- The Analytics Framework: enables organizations to derive additional business value from a privacy-preserving analysis of multi-party contracts, and shared data schema for value-add AI services and market-driven data reporting
Tokenized assets and the distributed applications that drive changes to those assets are highly composable. By identifying and standardizing the component attributes and behaviors of tokens and the contractual clauses that drive them, the ability for distributed applications to interwork with each other across disparate technology platforms will improve dramatically. It will also make it easier for individuals, businesses, and regulators to clearly understand – and help define – what tokenized systems are actually doing.