IBM invests in blockchain startup Digital Asset

IBM has joined the list of finance-based companies that have contributed to the $60 million raised so far this year by blockchain startup Digital Asset.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Computer giant IBM and investment bankers Goldman Sachs Group are amongst the latest companies to get behind Digital Asset, contributing to the $60 million the fintech startup has already raised this year.

According to IBM fellow and blockchain vice president Jerry Cuomo, blockchain technology, the underlying system that facilitates bitcoin trading, holds real potential to transform a wide range of industries.

"We are excited to jointly develop distributed ledger technologies that will allow our clients to transform their business, and further strengthen our partnership with Digital Asset," he said. "IBM is committed to making it ready for business."

Blythe Masters, CEO of Digital Asset and former executive with JPMorgan Chase, said the addition of Goldman Sachs and IBM as investors will help drive the global adoption of what she called a transformative technology.

So far this year the New York-based startup has secured investment from the likes of Accenture, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), Citi, CME Ventures, Deutsche Börse Group, ICAP, JP Morgan, Santander InnoVentures, The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), and The PNC Financial Services Group, Inc.

The ASX injected AU$14.9 million into Digital Asset, giving them a 5 percent equity interest in the startup, as well as the right to purchase further equity and appoint a director to the board.

"ASX believes that Australia can be a world leader in the development of innovative post-trade solutions," Elmer Funke Kupper, ASX managing director and CEO, said.

"Our investment in Digital Asset represents a commitment to sizing the potential of Distributed Ledger Technology to reduce cost, risk, and complexity for ASX's broad stakeholder base, including issuers, investors, intermediaries, and regulators."

In December, Digital Asset along with the likes of ANZ Bank, IBM, Cisco, Intel, and VMware partnered with the Linux Foundation in a bid to advance blockchain technology.

According to The Linux Foundation, the open ledger partnership is expected to help identify and address important features and requirements that are missing when it comes to having a cross-industry open standard for distributed ledgers. The foundation believes such a standard can transform the way business transactions are conducted around the world.

"Distributed ledgers are poised to transform a wide range of industries from banking and shipping to the Internet of Things, among others," executive director at The Linux Foundation Jim Zemlin said at the time.

"As with any early-stage, highly-complex technology that demonstrates the ability to change the way we live our lives and conduct business, blockchain demands a cross-industry, open source collaboration to advance the technology for all."

Adam Ryan, CEO of Australian e-procurement service provider Think, said earlier this year that blockchain is one of the most sound and secure transaction avenues, and is more than just a payment method for buying illicit goods via online marketplaces.

"What you're really doing with blockchain technology is enabling two parties to complete a transaction almost as efficiently as you possibly can because it's automated, processed by someone who doesn't really factor in overheads at the transaction cost, and it's almost infinitely scaled," he said.

"The transaction is like a lolly wrapper, it's used once then you throw it away."

Similarly, David Whiteing, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia's CIO, said that blockchain could change the way we view not just payments, but business processes.

"We also believe it will help and develop innovations we can't yet even think of," he said.

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