Switzerland’s state-owned telecoms and postal services have teamed up to create a distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform to help plug mainstream industries into the blockchain.
The digital system, run by Swisscom and Swiss Post, will allow parties to transact directly with each other without needing middlemen, such as banks and accountants, to process and record trades. Counterparties can view and validate digital ledgers that display a history of all transactions. The DLT template can be adapted to the needs of individual companies and projects, including privacy requirements.
Set to be operational in the first half of next year, the platform will be based on the Hyperledger Fabric2 software. Hyperledger is an open source DLT project supported by companies such as Airbus, IBM, Intel, JP Morgan, SAP and Swisscom.
This a further sign that blockchain is not restricted to cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, but is attracting the interest of mainstream industries and companies - from finance to healthcare, logistics, energy and transport.
'Company friendly' option
Blockchain is one form of ledger technology that operates in a decentralised way, giving everyone access to the underlying ledger. But this is not suitable for many businesses that instead opt for restricted DLT platforms that require special permission to access.
It may seem counterintuitive to offer a centrally-run blockchain service, particularly when the operating entities are majority owned by the Swiss state. But Swisscom outlined the advantages to businesses in a statementexternal link.
“In contrast to 'public blockchains' (e.g. Bitcoin and Ethereum), this private blockchain infrastructure requires much less energy, since it can only be used by identified users who have a contractual relationship with the providers of an application,” it read.
“This enables more efficient agreement procedures as well as significantly higher security and performance. This is an important prerequisite for many companies to launch their own applications based on blockchain technology.”
The statement adds that all data will be kept in Switzerland.
First user case
The first company to sign up to the platform is Swiss start-up Dauraexternal link, which already has a partnership with Swisscom’s blockchain division. Daura has come up with a system that allows small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to create “crypto shares”.
Shares will be issued in the form of encrypted digital tokens that denote ownership of a stake in the company. These so-called security tokens are also recorded on a blockchain. Daura says the innovation will let smaller firms, that face cost barriers to listing shares on traditional exchanges, raise capital for expansion.
This is not the first venture into blockchain technology by either Swisscom or Swiss Post. Swisscom Blockchain was launched last year to assist companies getting into DLT. Swiss Post stores temperature measurement data on a blockchain during the transport of pharmaceuticals and is running a pilot project with a Swiss energy company to automatically bill tenants in premises with photovoltaic energy systems
Both Swisscom and Swiss Post also back Lausanne-based Metaco that provides the infrastructure for banks to provide cryptocurrency services for clients.