Ethereum’s co-founder doesn’t seem impressed with the IBM blockchain.
The company has been among the firms investing both money and mind power into blockchain, evidenced by a string of announcements over the last several months — in a drive to file scores of blockchain-related patents. In fact, IBM is tied with Mastercard for the second-highest tally of blockchain patents in 2017. The company said its blockchain platform has more than 400 clients, using Hyperledger Composer and Hyperledger Fabric. Among recent announcements, the company had a patent accepted to use blockchain for database management.
However, Co-founder Vitalik Buterin, who spoke with Quartz on the sidelines of Devcon4, isn't thrilled with IBM's moves.
"I don’t understand this deeply, but the detail that jumped out at me is they’re saying, 'Hey, we own all the IP and this is basically our platform, and you’re getting on it.' And like, that’s … totally not the point."
IBM has also revealed it is working with Walmart to improve the latter’s food business supply chain.
"The potential value of tracking food on a blockchain is that you’d get QR codes stamped on the [food] at every step [along] the way, and you as a consumer can scan the code and get confirmation about 'here is where the stuff came from.' Like I can check if it complies with my own moral values or standards for quality and so forth," explained Buterin. "There’s definitely something there, but whether or not any of the actors there are doing it remotely correctly, I’m much less sure," he added.
As for which industries Buterin believes blockchain is most viable for, he said, "Cryptocurrencies and making international payments easier. All of the other ideas (whether we’re talking about products or the self-sovereign identity stuff), that’s clearly something that still needs much more time to be worked out before we can see [whether it] makes sense at scale."
"Going beyond money, I think the value is that you create a token and you immediately have access to wallets, multi-signature wallets, decentralized exchanges and just using it as collateral — all of this infrastructure that you wouldn’t have access to if you just created a currency and tried launching it off your own server," he said. "I feel like actual utilities in the space are going to start getting closer to things that are more purely digital."