A Panel Addresses the State of Hyperledger and What Needs Improvement

by Carlo GutierrezFebruary 6, 2017
The Hyperledger Projects needs to be the global entity to represent the distributed ledger technology community but with certain discipline, says the panel.

What is slowing down adoption?

This issue has been brought up in previous Hyperledger meetups, so it’s no surprise that another panel was in consensus (pun intended) when it comes to what the barriers to blockchain adoption are:

  • regulation and legal constraints
  • privacy and security
  • standardization
  • knowledge proliferation
  • technical debt
  • the lack of collaboration

Hyperledger London Anthony O'Dowd Mike Hearn John McLean Barry Childe Sofus Mortensen Mark Simpson James Carlyle 3

To get into more detail, Anthony O’Dowd of IBM explained that financial services which is commonly brought up when talking about distributed ledger technology is a heavily regulated industry. He explains that regulators “whilst they’re optimistic and progressive, they’ll be cautious. They’re not saying no. They’re just being cautious.”

“(Adoption) takes time because there are necessary regulatory concerns.” —Anthony O’Dowd, IBM

John McLean of IBM added some of the concerns regulators had with some of the legal constraints. “Is a smart contract really a smart contract? What are the legal constructs?” he asked.

As far as privacy and security is concerned, it will boil down to how each incubation achieves this. It also comes down to standardization and how individual incubations should be able to work with one another in a modular fashion.

“It’s a case of evolving the base capability of Hyperledger, driving that standardization forward, and executing over the next couple of years.” —John McLean, IBM

When it comes to knowledge proliferation, Barry Childe of HSBC acknowledged the work that R3 and the Hyperledger Project has done to spread education, but he noted “that level of knowledge hasn’t proliferated across the business. A lot of this is just sitting there and we really don’t understand the implications of this technology.”

Hyperledger London Anthony O'Dowd Mike Hearn John McLean Barry Childe Sofus Mortensen Mark Simpson James Carlyle 1

“You need to make things very demonstrable and very real, not just doing it inside the labs.”
—Barry Childe, HSBC

Sofus Mortensen of Nordea Markets explained that for many banks that have existed for a very long time, the biggest issue is technical debt.

“We have so many systems that can be so hard to implement this (distributed ledger) technology into it.” —Sofus Mortensen, Nordea Markets

Banks and other financial services are naturally competing with one another, so getting them to talk and actually collaborate is another challenge. Collaboration already isn’t perfect within large organizations, having to do that with a completely different entity adds a whole new level of problems.

“If you work in a big organization, collaboration inside the organization is quite difficult.”
Mark Simpson, RBS


What needs to happen?

It’s been more than a year since the inception of the Hyperledger Project. Moving forward, the panel agreed that these are the things that have to be focused and improved on:

  • interoperability
  • consensus
  • transparency
  • modularity
  • standardization
  • community

It was stated that pretty much everyone in the London Hyperledger meetup wants the Hyperledger Project to bring everyone together under one community and governance model. With everyone talking to one another, duplication can be minimized if not avoided outright.

Hyperledger London Anthony O'Dowd Mike Hearn John McLean Barry Childe Sofus Mortensen Mark Simpson James Carlyle 4

“(Hyperledger) should allow people to reuse existing modules that exist within the project, so that different codebases are not constantly reinventing everything from scratch.” —James Carlyle, R3 CEV

The Hyperledger Project should become a hub for innovation, transparency, and modularity. “It’s all about operating in all industries and doing that with discipline and solving real-world problems that provide benefit,” said Barry Childe.

Hyperledger London Anthony O'Dowd Mike Hearn John McLean Barry Childe Sofus Mortensen Mark Simpson James Carlyle 2

“Its goal is to be this global entity to represent the distributed ledger technology community but with discipline.” —Barry Childe, HSBC

As John McLean noted, the long-term goal is that with Hyperledger as an open community, eventually a single standard codebase for the distributed ledger technology can be developed much like how TCP/IP became the standard for network communications.


Want details? Watch the video!

Table of contents

  1. What are the technical challenges distributed ledger technologies need to overcome to get widespread adoption? (2’15”)
  2. What can be done on the customer side to help with adoption? (6’25”)
  3. Where does collaboration come into play in overall adoption? (9’50”)
  4. What should the role of the Hyperledger Project be in the future? (11’20”)
  5. Is R3 Corda looking to be part of the Hyperledger Project? (15’20”)
  6. What is the long-term goal for the Hyperledger Project? (19’10”)



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About the speakers

Barry Childe, HSBC bio
Barry Childe is Head of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology at HSBC. He is a technology scientist, a blockchain and HPC specialist, an expert in financial services IT and distributed computing, and a member of Thomson Reuters and Microsoft customer advisory boards. His specialties also include cloud, big data, trading, databases, management, e-commerce, and market data analysis.


Sofus Mortensen, Nordea Markets bio
Sofus Mortensen currently works as Chief Quantitative Analyst in Model Development at Nordea Markets, the international markets operation of Nordea—the leading bank in the Nordic and Baltic regions. Sofus has a day job working on FX models for risk and pricing, and a night job working on blockchain/distributed ledger technology representing Nordea in the Distributed Ledger Group. Sofus is also an active developer on R3 Corda.


Mark Simpson, Royal Bank of Scotland bio
Mark Simpson currently works in the Innovation Engineering team at RBS. He has over 20 years of development experience in both retail and wholesale banking, and has designed and built portfolio for trading, algorithmic trading, trade processing, and reference data systems. He has also worked on risk, cash management, clearing, and data distribution systems in RBS. Mark has been working with blockchain technologies since the beginning of 2016 and using them to build prototypes for use cases across the bank.


John McLean, VP Global Blockchain Labs Engagement, IBM bio
John McLean is VP Global Blockchain Labs Engagement and Federal Europe Cloud at IBM. He is a software development executive with 30 years of industry experience, having a proven track record of project delivery and execution, with leadership knowledge of large technology organizations, technology trends, and innovation agendas. At IBM, John is responsible for customer engagement for blockchain worldwide, helping clients define use cases and solutions across all industries with the blockchain technology.


Anthony O'Dowd, Solution Architect, Blockchain Technologies, IBM bio
Anthony O’Dowd is a Solution Architect, Blockchain Technologies, at IBM. He is helping clients with solution architecture and application design for decentralized ledger systems. Anthony has hands-on design experience with the Linux Foundation Open Ledger project and other open-source blockchain technologies. Anthony has a strong background in middle and back office technologies, playing key roles in the development of IBM MQ and Integration Bus software offerings on mainframe and distributed platforms.


James Carlyle, R3 CEV bio
James Carlyle is Chief Engineer, MD, at R3 CEV. James has a detailed knowledge of financial services, gained through the implementation of architecture and design of large and complex projects. His focus has been on application architectures associated with core banking, operations, servicing, channels, and integration domains. James has 25 years of in-depth IT experience as a software engineer, data architect, entrepreneur, innovator, and designer.


Mike Hearn, R3 CEV bio
Mike Hearn is Lead Platform Engineer at R3 CEV. Prior to this, Mike was a Senior Software Engineer at Google, where he worked for over seven years on Google Maps, Google Earth, and Gmail.