Technology firm Quant Network has announced what it calls a “network of networks” to solve for the problem of interoperability across distributed technologies such as blockchains for trade and trade finance.
Launched today, Overledger Network uses the company’s Overledger operating system, a virtual blockchain that links existing blockchains and allows developers to build multi-chain applications. First commercialised in December last year, Quant Overledger creates a common language between blockchain networks and existing systems such as financial services networks.
This latest development sees the company taking its idea one step further, expanding the Overledger system into a connectivity backbone for blockchain consortia such as Marco Polo, Voltron or we.trade.
Through Overledger Network, enterprises will be able to host their own secure dedicated gateways, which can then connect securely to distributed systems, permissioned networks, permissionless networks, ecosystems, consortia and other distributed technologies.
Speaking to GTR at the sidelines of Sibos in London, Quant Network CEO Gilbert Verdian explains: “People have realised that they have to work together, so what is required is interoperability at scale.” He adds that Overledger has already gained acceptance within financial services, following a partnership agreement signed in June with SIAchain, a private infrastructure leveraging on 570 European network nodes within SIAnet, a 186,000km fibre optic network that supports financial institutions, corporates and public administration bodies.
“Now we’re opening up this global network to others,” says Verdian. “We’ve had discussions with participant banks who are part of the trade networks and who want to be able to operate across and between these networks. In our view, people want to have flexibility and choice. They love blockchain but don’t know which one to back.”
Industry players from banks to corporates have long expressed concern about backing the wrong horse in trade digitisation, going down a potentially costly development and implementation route, only to discover that it is not the industry standard.
“This is where Overledger Network comes in. We are the underlying infrastructure to connect the trade networks. We have solved the technology underlying interoperability between 11 blockchains, including the Corda and Hyperledger networks; it’s a simple interconnectivity between one network and another,” says Verdian.
Quant is far from being the first to come up with a way of connecting these platforms. Indeed, at last year’s Sibos in Sydney, tech giant Accenture introduced a similar initiative, in the shape of its trusted “interoperability node” that sits between disparate blockchain systems.
Whether these top-level connectors will reach scale or whether they will serve solely to shift the interoperability issue up a level by introducing yet more options for industry players remains to be seen. For now, though, the consensus view in the industry remains that different platforms will succeed in different business ecosystems and that over time those ecosystems will see value in – somehow – connecting with each other.
Breaking down walls between digitisation initiatives was a hot topic at Sibos this week, with an announcement that the ICC would take over the leadership of the Universal Trade Network (UTN) in order to drive the creation of standards to foster interoperability between networks run on rival blockchain frameworks. This is a major step for the industry, as it sees the management of digital standards handed over to a neutral third party, meaning that it is no longer weighted to any one part of the industry.