R3: ‘Literally Nothing Has Changed’

  • Diana Asatryan
  • March 1, 2017
  • 1

If you follow blockchain news, you probably saw the news of R3CEV consortium “moving away” and “giving up” on blockchain technology circulating around in the past week.

R3 has now decided to set the record straight: Corda – the technology developed by R3 – is not, and was never meant to be, a blockchain, Tim Swanson, R3’s director of market research, told Bank Innovation.

Fundamentally, people that are tweeting about that don’t pay attention to what we do and don’t look at how the space is evolving. We were never building blockchain, but it’s also not like we have abandoned it altogether. All of our members work on different aspects of the distributed ledger technology. We are agnostic and are endorsing what are members are trying to do. Corda is a distributed ledger platform; it was never designed to be a traditional blockchain platform.

“Literally nothing has changed in the past week” in terms of R3’s operations or its focus, Swanson said. R3’s members are still heavily involved in continuing the research into potential use cases of distributed ledger technology (DLT).

Corda’s platform is unique, according to Swanson, in that it restricts access to data within an agreement to a specific group, instead of opening it up to the entire network. This feature fits well with the overall structure of financial institutions and the underlying regulatory framework.

While some blockchain enthusiasts were quick to call R3 “defeated” (just check out the comments on this reddit thread), others were wondering why the conversation was even taking place.

“R3 never said it was going to be blockchain, Corda was never supposed to be blockchain,” said David Birch, director of innovation at Consult Hyperion, a secure electronic transactions consultancy. “There is a lot of different kinds of shared ledgers, and blockchains may well lead to amazing breakthroughs in some projects, but for most of the projects, other ledgers are more a fit,” he told Bank Innovation.

That is not to say that any of the technologies are superior for use in financial services.

“To a large extent, people have been using this tech as they always do with new technologies: we first try to make it do things we already do, so it’s unsurprising that it hasn’t generated any major breakthroughs, yet,” Birch said. “If there is going to be a breakthrough, it will not come from emulating existing markets — the technology will create its own market.”

To do that, it is important that the industry players recognize (and respect?) both similarities and differences of different DLT.

To put it simply:

To hear more about blockchain from R3’s Tim Swanson, join us in San Jose on March 6-7 for Bank Innovation 2017, where the best conversations in fintech take place. Click here to register.

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