In February, Bitcoin Magazine reported that The Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project, a collaborative effort started in December to establish, build and sustain an open, distributed ledger platform that will satisfy a variety of use cases across multiple industries, was announcing new members from across the industry, technical updates and a formal open governance structure.
Now, with a press release published on its main website and the Hyperledger website, The Linux Foundation is announcing that the Hyperledger Project has filled key leadership positions and 10 new companies are joining the project and investing in the future of an open blockchain ledger: Blockstream, Bloq, eVue Digital Labs, Gem, itBit, Milligan Partners, Montran Labs, Ribbit.me, Tequa Creek Holdings and Thomson Reuters.
“The Hyperledger Project is gaining traction on a daily basis, displaying how vital this effort is in advancing distributed ledger technology,” said Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset Holdings, who was appointed board chair for the Hyperledger Project. “Uniting the industry to drive this initiative forward is paramount to the success of distributed ledger technology. The Linux Foundation and its members are collaborating on an open source infrastructure that will increase privacy and scalability, among many other benefits.”
The project’s governing board, which manages business direction, including governance, marketing and operational decisions, has been expanded with new elected members from SWIFT and itBit.
“SWIFT is delighted to support this industry wide effort to advance distributed ledger technology,” said new governing board member Craig Young, SWIFT’s chief technology officer, in December. “Cooperation and collaboration ‒ hallmarks of the SWIFT cooperative ‒ will be key to ensuring the scalability and adoption of this technology.”
“As a financial services company that provides blockchain-based solutions, we understand the technology gaps that need to be filled to ensure enterprise demands are met,” added new governing board member Charles Cascarilla, itBit’s co-founder and CEO. “Open source projects like the Hyperledger Project unite the world’s leading companies to address critical needs and advance a technology for greater adoption.”
Chris Ferris, distinguished engineer and CTO of open technology at IBM, has been appointed chair of the technical steering committee, which drives technical direction of the Hyperledger Project and includes recognized experts from Digital Asset Holdings, Intel, R3 and Accenture.
“These member investments demonstrate that blockchain technology continues to grow in importance as the alternative approach to multinational business transactions,” said Ferris. “By providing a community for members to collaborate and contribute to an open source blockchain solution, we’re able to advance the technology collectively and ultimately drive quicker adoption and higher value across industries.”
The Linux Foundation’s announcement notes that Hyperledger wants to be a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers, able to securely and cost-effectively trade and track any digital exchange with value, such as real estate contracts and energy trades. Besides finance, The Linux Foundation envisages applications to manufacturing, banking, insurance and the Internet of Things (IoT).
“There is no other effort advancing an open blockchain with this level of broad industry representation and level of leadership,” said Jim Zemlin, executive director at The Linux Foundation. “The Hyperledger Project is among our fastest growing projects at The Linux Foundation. The opportunity is great. This leadership team and the community investments among members across industries put the project in the best position possible to accomplish its mission.”
The growth of the Hyperledger project seems unstoppable and prompts speculation on the future of the distributed ledger ecosystem. In particular, and apparently in contrast with the project’s open-source nature and oversight by The Linux Foundation, Hyperledger seems a radical alternative to the Bitcoin blockchain built by the banks, for the banks, which wants to retain the practical advantages of distributed ledger technology ‒ fast and cheap transactions permanently recorded in a tamper-proof ledger ‒ without the troublesome P2P openness and grassroots, anarchic nature of the the open, public Bitcoin blockchain.
Masters, among others, expressed support for private, “permissioned” non-Bitcoin blockchains.
“To be used by financial institutions, including capital markets firms and insurers, blockchains must supplant the costly methods introduced by Bitcoin with a mechanism that guarantees security, privacy and speed without paying for anonymous consensus,” said two Accenture executives in July.
In Bitcoin Magazine’s interview with Zemlin published in February, he was asked, “Is the Hyperledger Project a replacement for Bitcoin and/or other existing cryptocurrencies?” Zemlin gave a diplomatic answer and emphasized that “there is ample room in the market for cryptocurrencies and even multiple implementations of the blockchain, but everyone stands to lose if these don’t interoperate and work together.”