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Bosch, Cisco, Foxconn and Gemalto form IoT blockchain consortium

Steve Rogerson
February 2, 2017
 
Bosch, Cisco, Foxconn and Gemalto along with start-ups and other have joined forces to create an IoT blockchain consortium.
 
The idea for the initiative came from a meeting in December in California to discuss the challenges facing blockchain and IoT innovation and the potential for a collective effort to address them.
 
The meeting was the first step towards a collaborative effort to explore and build a shared blockchain-based IoT protocol. Participants in the discussions included blockchain companies Ambisafe, BitSE, Chronicled, ConsenSys, Distributed, Filament, Hashed Health, Ledger, Skuchain and Slock.it, along with Fortune 500 corporations BNY Mellon, Bosch, Cisco, Gemalto and Foxconn.
 
"We are seeing tremendous potential for the application of blockchain in industrial use cases,” said Dirk Slama, chief alliance officer at Bosch Software Innovations. “Being able to create a tamper-proof history of how products are manufactured, moved and maintained in complex value networks with many stakeholders is a critical capability, for example for quality assurance and prevention of counterfeits. This must be supported by a shared blockchain infrastructure and an integrated internet of things protocol."
 
The initiative was motivated by the leaps made by start-ups and large, blue-chip IT firms in deploying blockchain-registered tamper-proof hardware for various use cases and making new blockchain-based software systems available to enterprises. The meeting included presentations from blockchain and IoT focused start-ups on their established use cases, industry findings and identification of common needs.
 
"We are excited to see leaders in the blockchain and IoT space coming together from America, China, France and Germany to develop a standard blockchain IoT protocol,” said Jack Lee, managing partner at HCM Capital, an investment arm of Taiwan-based Foxconn Technology Group. “This is a positive step towards industry confidence, momentum, and interoperability. We're looking forward to collaborations in this space in the near future."
 
The group agreed that security, trust, identity, registration and verification would be the cornerstones of any common protocol, while also acknowledging the need for integration and interoperability across multiple chip types, communications protocols, proprietary platforms, cloud service providers and blockchain systems.
 
The blockchain technology industry consortium emerging from the meeting will move forward in defining the scope and implementation of a smart contracts protocol layer across several major blockchain systems with elective steer from the attending Fortune 500 companies. The functioning of the group is voluntary at this stage with intent to emphasise nimble and fast-moving open source collaboration with any formal membership or governance structures emerging if and when necessary.
 
"We called together leaders in blockchain, hardware, software, venture capital, technology and finance to discuss the barriers to interoperability and security within IoT and how we can complement existing IoT platforms with a blockchain back-end,” said Skuchain co-founder Zaki Manian. “We believe there is a real value proposition here for IoT, supply chain and trade finance."
 
Joe Pindar, in the CTO's office at Gemalto, added: "Securing identity for physical property and packaging is going to be a big business opportunity over the next decade. High value parts of logistics supply chains and regulated industries like energy, pharmaceuticals and cold chain could all see a blockchain component over the next decade."