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R3: Blockchain tech could make its enterprise debut this year

Technical development
The blockchain is seen as a transformational technology by many business executives and industry leaders. The concept of an immutable open ledger providing incontestable accountability has applications inside many enterprises which handle sensitive data. Once entered onto the blockchain, data is universally available and independently verifiable.
Throughout 2017, there were several examples of how this concept might actually be applied to businesses. Blockchain is being explored inside a broad range of industries, including healthcare, logistics and financial services. So far, the technology hasn’t been used in any large-scale deployments though.
After facing regulatory hurdles and software issues throughout the past year, companies have been left with little opportunity to implement their blockchain-based ideas. Charley Cooper, managing director of R3, told CoinDesk that this is now changing.

IBM and Maersk have formed a joint venture for blockchain shipping

IBM and Maersk have formed a joint venture for blockchain shipping

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Moreover, businesses are starting to take what they’ve learnt from their initial blockchain pilot projects and apply them to real deployments. R3 has developed its own internal systems which showcase the potential applications of enterprise blockchain tech.
“All these experiments and proofs-of-concept were not done in a vacuum and they were not done for fun,” said Cooper. “They were done to bear out what could and could not be done effectively on the technology, and what we felt would be meaningful commercial opportunities.”
Interoperability and support
Even though the software and plans are progressing, challenges persist. A major concern is the lack of interoperability between the different competing platforms. Generally, enterprise blockchain networks do not yet interlink.
This could present issues for businesses which develop a solution on one network but then wish to do business with firms on another platform. Developing transferable “smart contracts” will be a priority for the blockchain industry this year.
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Banks also need to recognise and support blockchain providers before enterprises can rely on them for their services. Work is already ongoing here and some major banks are beginning to support blockchain initiatives. As momentum and demand grows, it can be expected that more major financial services firms will start to offer blockchain solutions.
The adoption by banks will spur the industry forward as the tech starts to transform commercial operations in industries. With technology, compatibility and support all growing, 2018 may prove to be the year where blockchain starts to go live inside businesses. Several providers have already launched or are preparing to launch blockchain platforms, including IBM’s Blockchain and R3’s upcoming Corda Enterprise.

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