TOKJYO -- Some of the world's leading businesses have launched a cross-industry project to take blockchain technology, the trail that bitcoin transactions leave behind, mainstream.
There are high expectations for blockchains' low-cost ability to record and verify transactions. The project is aimed at developing a common blockchain framework among members as soon as possible.
The group hopes to take a leading role in further developing the open-source technology.
Founding members of the project include tech companies such as IBM, Intel and Fujitsu, financial businesses including J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, and fintech startup R3. The London Stock Exchange Group, Deutsche Borse and Swift, a global inter-bank transaction service, have also joined the effort.
Discussions will begin next year. The Linux Foundation, an international promoter of the free, open-source Linux operating system, is coordinating the project.
The undertaking is the first large-scale, cross-industry attempt to push blockchain technology into widespread acceptance.
Some financial research institutes have also begun studying the technology's potential.
Financial and property transactions require verification and records of the parties involved and of ownership of the assets being exchanged. A blockchain is a ledger of all transactions made using bitcoins. Every time a new transaction is made, a "block" is added to the chain.
Essentially, the blockchain does the verification work that credit card companies and other financial service companies now do when transactions are made over the Internet or internationally. This drastically cuts transaction costs and reduces processing time to almost nothing.
The project's participants hope to apply the technology to real-time clearing of securities transactions and to other purposes.