IBM plans to open its first blockchain innovation centre in Singapore, with one of its first projects to focus on developing trade solutions using blockchain technology to improve the efficiency of multi-party trade finance processes and transactions.
According to IBM, the centre -- to be staffed by Singaporean-based talent and researchers from IBM Research Labs worldwide -- together with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will work with government, industries, and academia to develop applications and solutions based on blockchain, cybersecurity, and cognitive computing technologies.
The centre will also engage with small to medium enterprises to create new applications and grow new markets in finance and trade.
IBM Research global labs vice president Robert Morris said this is IBM's first collaboration with the private sector and multiple government agencies within the same country.
"Now with new cloud services that make these technologies more accessible, leaders from all industries are beginning to take note of the resulting profound and disruptive implications in a range of settings including finance, banking, IoT, healthcare, supply chains, manufacturing, technology, government, the legal system, and more," he said.
In addition to developing trade solutions using blockchain technology, IBM said the centre will also work the PSA Singapore Terminals and others to create a trade ecosystem to bring emerging financial technologies to the trade and logistics sector.
Big Blue said it expects the innovation centre will deliver a number of technology pilots for the finance and trade industries over the next three years.
"As we build Singapore into a Smart Nation, innovation in the financial sector is key to help increase Singapore's competitiveness as a global trading hub," said Khoong Hock Yun, development group assistant chief executive of the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore.
"The industry's move is a clear sign that Singapore is capitalising on opportunities to be market leaders in emerging technologies such as the blockchain. This can translate to strong benefits throughout our entire finance ecosystem including the boosting of local tech capabilities."
The opening of the new centre will build on IBM's work with the Linux Foundation Hyperledger platform. At the end of last year, IBM was among a handful of major tech companies to partner with the Linux Foundation to develop an enterprise grade, open-source distributed ledger framework.
The Linux Foundation at the time said the 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.
In May, Data 61, along with government agencies including Treasury, announced they will examine what blockchain technology could mean if it were adopted by both government and industry in Australia.
According to Data61, the study, which is expected to take nine months, will examine the potential benefits or productivity gains for the Australian economy; the skills Australia might require to become a global leader as blockchain technology becomes more prevalent; and potential legislative and regulatory implications such as privacy consideration.
Meanwhile, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) is currently in the midst of building a new post-trade solution using blockchain technology.
At the start of the year, the ASX enlisted US-based firm Digital Asset to help it develop the solution, as part of the organisation's move to replace or upgrade all of its main trading and post-trade platforms.