IBM Launches Affordable Blockchain Start-up Platform

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IBM released a new blockchain product, targeted to start-ups that are not quite ready for their enterprise application development solution. In addition, IBM will offer new services that are designed to commercialize blockchain applications.

Unlike the trustless public blockchains that underpin cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum, IBM’s permissioned blockchain network limits the number of trusted parties that have access to it. Currently in beta testing mode, the blockchain starter product is free for developer testing until it is released as a commercial product. Currently, over 250 projects have been developed on IBM’s blockchain networks. Although this private network does not conform to the open source culture of Bitcoin and other distributed ledger technologies, it has advantages that some product developers might find appealing, particularly with regard to keeping transaction data private and tamper-proof.

IBM: Blockchain ‘creates a lot of value’ from CNBC.

One of the more common applications for this technology is in supply chain, especially when it comes to food companies where tracing contaminants back to their source is helpful to making business decisions.

Of note, IBM is not looking to focus their energy on cryptocurrencies. This blockchain project is designed to enable developers to maximize its utility as a distributed ledger. That said, it is fully capable of powering multi-party transactions.7

Similar to Ripple, IBM technology was used by blockchain start-up Stellar, and currency exchange KlickEx to develop a platform that enables banks to clear and settle payments much faster than the standard systems. The Stellar Lumens token, XLM is used as a bridge to speed up the real-time clearing of transactions and settlements.

The release of this project was timed well with the IBM Think 2018 conference. As part of the event, IBM hosted a 72-hour live stream, AMA (Ask Me Anything). The hosts brought different guests on camera to answer questions submitted through Twitter as a way to educate people about blockchain, IoT and technology in general, while subtly inserting plugs for their new technology where appropriate.

As part of their educational package, IBM offers a white paper on blockchain as a free download. This is tied to some information about IBM Blockchain and Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger. Both of these platforms let users create permissioned networks.

Visit the blockchain section of IBM’s website if you would like to learn more about developing on their platform. The website outlines all of the product solutions, including Blockchain platform, workshop and support. Content covers all major industries, including financial services, identity, and supply chain.

It’s easy to join the IBM blockchain partner ecosystem. All of the tools to get started are available on the website and one way to get involved is through their partner program. This service is designed to help people accelerate product development without costing much more out of pocket. Most of what’s needed is available on the website, and to date, over 13 million API calls have been made.

IBM has two audiences for this product: developers and business solutions. Before writing IBM off completely because it’s promoting a private blockchain, have a look at the pros and cons of this methodology, and then make your decision.

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