Enterprise blockchain could be making a surprise comeback, according to a feature published in Coindesk. Danish project Concordium will be launching an ambitious platform that’s aiming to address some key challenges facing those wanting to leverage public blockchains to solve business problems.
The project’s CEO, Lone Fønss Schrøder, asserts that Concordium offers businesses “something totally new.”
To date, enterprise blockchain adoption has been something of a misnomer. Most enterprises have opted for private or permissioned platforms such as Hyperledger. Initiatives like IBM’s Food Trust, pioneered by Walmart, attracted much hype within the blockchain community.
However, they’ve also come in for criticism for being closed clubs with their own rules, losing many of the security and privacy benefits of open networks.
As Fønss Schrøder put it to Coindesk, permissioned blockchains “[aren’t] really providing something new. It’s not decentralized. Companies are seeing it as just another way to do their mainframe applications.”
Innovations with Enterprise Appeal
Concordium is developing several innovations on its public blockchain stack that are designed to overcome some of the critical challenges with existing platforms. Perhaps the most intriguing is the identity layer. This meets the legal requirement that a user can be identified in case of any legitimate order from the authorities.
When registering for the platform, a user provides their legal ID to an identity provider, who stores a copy of it offline. The identity provider will put an encrypted identity object on the blockchain, serving as a zero-knowledge proof that the individual or entity has identified themselves.
If a legal authority issues an order to identify the user behind any given transaction, then another party known as an anonymity revoker steps in. The anonymity revoker is a trusted party appointed by the Concordium Foundation, who has the authority to decrypt the identity object. This authorizes the identity provider to hand over the user ID to the authority that ordered it.
Neither party can identify the user when acting alone, and under normal, everyday circumstances, users can transact with total privacy on the platform.
In overcoming the challenges of using public blockchains, the Concordium team believes that there will be space for enterprise blockchain to fulfill its original promise of revolutionizing entire industries. Fønss Schrøder points to supply chain and logistics, which already provide some of the most prominent use cases for distributed ledgers. She explains:
“It could be smart contracts, which actually will function as marketplaces for you and your whole procurement sector.” She also points to the automotive industry as another that’s ripe for disruption, particularly in secondary markets such as leasing contracts.
None of this should be considered as mere speculation, given the credentials of the Concordium team. Fønss Schrøder herself has an impressive CV, with 22 years of experience at Maersk behind her, and currently serving as a Vice-chair at Volvo and a board director at IKEA, along with her duties as CEO at Concordium.
The technology is being developed by some of the finest names in cryptography. Leading the science team is Professor Ivan Damgård, co-inventor of the Merkle-Damgård hash function that’s used in many blockchain hashing algorithms.
Former Prime Minister of Denmark, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is one of the leading names on the advisory board, joined by executives from NASDAQ, Skype, and Mastercard.
The project is the brainchild of Lars Seier Christensen, the founder of trading and investment firm Saxo Bank, which has been in operation since 1992. Under his leadership, the bank grew to 1500 employees serving customers in 170 countries. Seier Christensen now heads up the Swiss-based Concordium Foundation.
With these kinds of industry and academic heavyweights behind the project, it seems Concordium could be the first in a long time to stand a chance of revitalizing the once-promising enterprise blockchain space.