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Blockchain: Standards Wanted

As blockchain technology gains a following in the financial industry, there is a growing consensus that standardization will be essential to achieving anticipated efficiencies in banking and capital market operations.

Blockchain: Standards Wanted

Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP)
By Katherine Heires

New York (April 8, 2016)

As blockchain technology gains a following in the financial industry, there is a growing consensus that standardization will be essential to achieving anticipated efficiencies in banking and capital market operations.

That was a common theme — and was reflected in the title — of an April 4 conference at Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business in New York: “Smart Contracts, Blockchain and Data Standards.” The meeting was sponsored by XBRL US, a not-for-profit consortium that supports the XBRL financial reporting standards, along with the CFA Institute and Baruch’s Robert Zicklin Center for Corporate Integrity.

Firms will ultimately need access to standardized data and platforms to realize the full benefits of automation, John Turner, CEO of XBRL International, said in opening the conference. “Creating agreed-upon semantics is an essential part of this brave new world,” he asserted. “Standards need to be in place to build a collaborative environment.”

The week before, Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. attracted nearly 500 people to a Grand Hyatt Hotel ballroom in Manhattan for the first of what president and CEO Michael Bodson said will likely be an annual Blockchain Symposium. Bodson stressed the need for collaboration and advocated standardization — historically crucial aspects of the DTCC infrastructures — in his prepared remarks.

Bodson called it ironic that blockchain, a “consensus technology,” has spawned a proliferation of “labs, sandboxes and funding experiments across multiple asset classes” — a “seemingly chaotic whirlwind of multiple and competing bets.”

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