Blockchain development is in its infancy but it has the potential to create a new internet of value; even though solid foundations are also needed there can be dangers in setting standards too early for emerging technologies.
The International Standards Organisation (ISO) is one group developing standards for blockchain and distributed ledgers. This ISO blockchain standards committee, chaired by Australia, has members from 50 countries.
The United States, Germany and Russia will also be closely monitoring Australia’s ISO work. China is also very interested in the work of this ISO “technical committee 307”, given the potential to create a new “internet of value”. And companies including IBM, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services, Google, and Facebook have announced they are working on blockchain technology.
The Internet of Value
So what is the internet of value (IoV)? Well since the introduction of the blockchain, people have attributed it to the beginning of the internet of value. In the way, the internet of things (IoT) connect everyday objects to the internet (or to each other) to make our lives easier e.g. think a connected fridge ordering milk. In comparison, the internet of value will enable the exchange of any asset of value with another person from stocks to votes, to intellectual property or frequent flyer points.
So Blockchain & Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) can help create an internet of value by its very nature using its secure open source ledger which removes the need for a 3rd party intermediary like a bank, broker, or platform service like Uber. Blockchain allows people to transact directly and securely.
Australia in the driver seat
The Australian National Blockchain was created to run smart contracts governed by local rules and its first use case was the development of a digital driver’s license. So Australia is punching above its weight chairing the ISO committee.
The Commonwealth Bank has developed the world’s first bond on a blockchain launched by The World Bank. The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is also preparing to use the technology in order to settle and clear the Australian equities market.
Setting the standard
It’s ironic that bitcoin was created as a system resistant to central control and censorship and now a standards organisation is setting regulations and standards on the blockchain.
However, some standards are needed, think of cell phone standards which allows people to call each other regardless of location or operator. Or internet standards – like “TCP packet switching” – this enables networks to scale, operating across borders.
As global blockchain standards take shape they can help reduce a myriad of problems with the technology including performance, scalability, speed, privacy and limited interoperability.
According to Bronwyn Evans, CEO of Standards Australia:
“Blockchain has the potential to completely transform the services we interact with every day. What started as a matter of public priority in Australia in 2016, has since evolved into global collaboration to unlock the significant benefits of this progressive technology.”
So as blockchain technology is developed and more widely adopted the internet of value is set to increase.