EY has announced its commitment to the blockchain industry with additional investment, expanded solution portfolio and prototype contributions to the public domain. There will be EY investment of more than US$100m in research, engineering and services of blockchain and crypto asset technology. This follows the EY NextWave strategy announced in September 2020 that includes US$1.5b of investment in EY people, technology and audits in FY21. In addition, market adoption of blockchain continues with the go-live of Birra Peroni using EY OpsChain Traceability.
As a new era of multi-party business-to-business transactions is enabled by tokenization and smart contracts, the investment will accelerate the development of new products, improve user experience and increase market adoption.
Carmine Di Sibio, EY Global Chairman and CEO, stated, “Over the past five years, we have been investing in blockchain and have developed innovative solutions, establishing EY as a leader in this emerging industry. As blockchain adoption continues to grow and we see more demand from EY clients, we are excited about further EY investment to respond to their challenges and needs.”
EY also announced the availability of a new Testing Studio as part of the second generation of the Smart Contract & Token Review tool through the EY Blockchain Analyzer suite of tools on blockchain.ey.com. The new iteration supports multiple new capabilities that are expected to be used in complex DeFi contract ecosystems. It offers a blend of compliance testing with traditional code review, and it supports customized smart contract tests and simulation of mainnet transactions.
This release builds on the earlier version, announced in 2019, which supported over 100 tests applicable to the ERC-20 standard, the technical standard for many smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain. Yael Tamar, Co-CEO and Co-Founder at SolidBlock, a pioneer in the asset tokenization space, explained, “We’ve had a very positive experience with the Testing Studio in the Smart Contract & Token Review tool from the EY organization. We used it to review smart contracts for a property-backed security token. It was very beneficial to simulate how our contracts could perform on the network prior to deployment and test the contracts against widely known attacks in this market. It was an element of our process to get our financial product market-ready and fulfill our design requirements for a standardized smart contract. We look forward to using it for many new offerings to come.”
EY teams are also contributing the source code to a zero-knowledge proof (ZKP) prototype compiler, into the public domain. The prototype, named Starlight,1 supports the needs of complex business agreements where business logic must be shared between parties at the network level but privacy from competitors also remains critical. EY professionals previously contributed a ZKP protocol to the public domain in April 2019 (named Nightfall), which allows organizations to conduct private and secure transactions on public blockchains.
Concerns around data sovereignty and privacy have risen sharply as firms learn how difficult it is to preserve commercial confidentiality on a shared network.2 Nightfall and Starlight were both developed to address these concerns. Since the EY contribution of Nightfall to the public domain, EY teams have been working on ways to add business logic to the mix and has implemented regulatory compliance rules, such as allow- and deny-lists, and volume discounts with privacy. The code can be found at https://github.com/EYBlockchain/starlight.
Tas Dienes, Ecosystem Support, Ethereum Foundation and Co-Chair of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA) Mainnet Interest Group, says, “ZKP technology is becoming a very important part of the public blockchain ecosystem but has been a bit challenging for new developers. Tools, such as this, will help grow the ecosystem of privacy enabled blockchain applications.”
In addition, Birra Peroni, the Italian beer company part of Asahi Group, is the first industrial client to use EY OpsChain Traceability on blockchain.ey.com to notarize information and tokenize goods creating non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Ethereum public blockchain. Leveraging EY OpsChain Traceability as-a-service on blockchain.ey.com, Birra Peroni is creating a unique NFT for each new batch of beer.
Paul Brody, EY Global Blockchain Leader, commented, “Birra Peroni is an exciting example of how EY clients are moving from proof of concepts to live production environments – building supply chains and partner networks on the public Ethereum blockchain. Now is the time for expanded investments to advance these blockchain-enabled capabilities and continue to drive value for EY clients as they transform their business ecosystems.”