IBM, the CSIRO’s Data61, and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills have teamed up to develop the Australian National Blockchain (ANB), a large-scale, publicly available blockchain solution designed for Australian legal compliance.
The ANB will enable organisations to digitally manage the lifecycle of a contract, from negotiation to signing and onwards over the term of the agreement, with transparency and permissioned-based access for parties in the network.
The three organisations will test the solution as a pilot project using IBM Blockchain. With the pilot set to kick off later this year, the group will also be inviting regulators, banks, law firms, and other businesses to take part.
Natasha Blycha, blockchain and smart legal contract lead from Herbert Smith Freehills, said technologies such as blockchain will transform the legal industry and the wider business landscape.
“This presents a huge opportunity for agile and forward-thinking firms and has potential to deliver significant benefits to our clients and the business community as a whole,” Blycha said.
“Our clients are enthusiastic about process automation, and how it can support a move away from paper-based systems, simplify supply chains and quickly and securely share information with customers and regulators.”
Paul Hutchison, vice president and partner, cognitive process transformation, IBM Global Business Services, added, “Blockchain will be to transactions what the internet was to communication – what starts as a tool for sharing information becomes transformational once adoption is widespread. The ANB could be that inflection point for commercial blockchain, spurring innovation and economic development throughout Australia.”
As well as helping organisations manage the lifecycle of a contract, the ANB will enable organisations to use blockchain-based smart contracts to trigger business processes and events.
These smart contracts will contain smart clauses with the ability to record information from external data sources, such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices. These clauses can then self-execute if the conditions specified are met.
For example, the ANB explained, sensors on a construction site could record the time and date of a delivery on the blockchain and in turn trigger a smart contract between the construction company and the bank that would automatically notify the bank that terms have been met to provide payment on that delivery.
IBM, Data61, and Herbert Smith Freehills will look to roll out the technology behind the ANB beyond Australia if the pilot is successful.