PRACTICAL BLOCKCHAIN WITH SAM CHADWICK & THOMSON REUTERS

2017-09-01

Blockchain Regulation, Data and Information

Straddling both corporate development and emerging tech, Sam Chadwick and his team at Thomson Reuters are responsible for a plethora of pioneering initiatives, all designed to explore new business opportunities, as well as uncover potential risks for their clients. From big data and cognitive computing to the latest innovations for mortgage backed securities, Sam and his team are continually embedded in the state-of-the-art. We were excited to have the opportunity to sit down with Sam to discuss where blockchain sits in this medley of innovation as well as garner in his opinion where we can expect to see growth in the future.

Sam’s specific focus covers peer to peer finance, blockchain technology and identity management. Complex arenas in themselves, they also often intermingle, producing a myriad of interesting concepts, products and business models. Sam told us of how he first encountered blockchain during his work at Oxford University, where his dissertation looked at the implications of blockchain on the financial industry and some of the early organizations with whom he worked, such as Funderbeam, an investment and trade platform for growth companies who secure transactions on the blockchain. Founded in 2013, the Estonian based company is well recognised as a pioneer in the use of this fast-evolving technology.

The blockchain market has moved on apace since 2013, from the evolution of alt-coins, to the rise of consortia and now the craze of initial coin offerings and token sales, blockchain is becoming ubiquitous. Global hubs are already developing in amongst over locations, Singapore, London and in Switzerland’s Crypto Valley, where Sam has spent the past two years building BlockOneIQ, Thomson Reuters blockchain Oracle.

What exactly is a blockchain Oracle? We were curious. Sam explained that blockchain offers a combination of guarantees such as openness, tamper-free computation and immutable data, but that the majority of smart contracts, or conditional transactions, rely on information that is not available on the chain. Operating on Corda or Ethereum, the Blockone IQ Oracle connects smart contracts and blockchain platforms with real world data to deliver results for real world situations. In effect BlockOne IQ elevates blockchain to a level where businesses can quickly and seamlessly integrate this novel technology with current data flows.

This was a logical step for Thomson Reuters, who provide trusted information which is used for trillions of dollars’ worth of investment decisions every day. For Sam, the blockchain Oracle leverages the best of Thomson Reuters capabilities to power smart contracts beyond current performance levels. Sam and his team have initially delivered a number of specific content sets, including share prices, exchange rates, corporate actions and financial benchmarks. However, the scope for application is huge. The important take away is that as it is highly inefficient to attempt to store all data on blockchains, there will always be the need for Oracles to make off-chain data accessible to smart contracts and that role must be played by a third party whom transaction participants trust to remain independent and unbiased.

In being the globe’s favoured provider of financial, legal, political and technical insight, Thomson Reuters is a driver of both blockchain adoption and education, and we did not want to miss out on the chance on understanding in Sam’s opinion, where all of this activity was heading. For Sam, the ‘use of tokens to digitise assets is going to be probably the biggest changer going forward, and Thomson Reuters aims to play a key role in the ecosystem as a trusted source of data for executing conditional transactions,’ opening brand new markets and strengthening anti-counterfeiting activities.

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