On Monday, IBM announced a partnership with CLS to develop a project called LedgerConnect, which is intended to allow financial and software developer companies to share blockchain-related applications.
According to the announcement, nine financial institutions have agreed to participate, though only Barclays and Citi are mentioned by name. Besides IBM, the tech companies Baton Systems, Calypso, Copp Clark, Mphasis, OpenRisk, Synswap, and Persistent Systems are all participating in the project.
Ram Komarraju, head of innovation at CLS, described the project as an "app store-like ecosystem."
He claims that in the past, the financial organizations with the best systems have had an edge over their competitors, but this created "siloed" systems that do not interact well with each other.
With LedgerConnect, he says IBM and CLS hope to "create this network or ecosystem where multiple providers can provide their applications … and some of the largest banks, some of the largest buy-side firms can come in and consume those applications."
IBM and CLS previously partnered on a project called CLSNet, which was touted as a success in today's announcement. However, Financial News recently described the project as a disappointment, with only half the original partner banks expected to join in the project's final stages. That project was intended to streamline exchanges of relatively obscure currencies, but banks became concerned that connecting their systems to the blockchain could compromise their security.
As in that earlier collaboration, IBM and CLS seem to again be asking banks to put aside their individual concerns for the sake of a collective benefit from LedgerConnect.
Marie Wieck, General Manager of blockchain at IBM says, "to be viable and a vibrant ecosystem" the participating companies need to "share their own services and to engage for the benefit of the entire industry."
IBM and CLS intend to make the platform widely available if the proof of concept is a success – meaning, presumably, if these financial institutions prove willing to give up an "edge" for the sake of the greater good.