IBM to open first blockchain innovation centre in Singapore, to create applications and grow new markets in finance and trade

 A pedestrian walks past the IBM building in midtown Manhattan.
A pedestrian walks past the IBM building in midtown Manhattan.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

SINGAPORE - US tech giant IBM said on Tuesday (July 12) it will set up its first blockchain innovation centre in Singapore.

In the first collaboration of its kind with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), IBM researchers will work with government, industries and academia to develop applications and solutions which are based on enterprise blockchain, cyber-security, and cognitive computing technologies.

It will be staffed with technical talent from Singapore as well as researchers from IBM Research Labs worldwide.

Over the next three years, the Innovation Center is expected to deliver a number of technology pilots across the finance and trade industries.

The Center will also engage with small- and medium-sized enterprises to create new applications and grow new markets in finance and trade.

Said Robert Morris, vice president, global labs, IBM Research: "This is IBM's first collaboration with the private sector and multiple government agencies within the same country to explore the use of blockchain and cognitive technologies to improve business transactions across several different industries.

"Now with new cloud services that make these technologies more accessible, leaders from all industries are beginning to take note of the resulting profound and disruptive implications in a range of settings including finance, banking, Internet of Things, healthcare, supply chains, manufacturing, technology, government, the legal system, and more,"

Kiren Kumar, EDB executive director for infocomms and media, said the centre will allow companies across industries to partner with IBM in co-creating cutting edge digital solutions for global markets from Singapore.

"We are also pleased that IBM continues to engage actively with institutes of higher learning through the Center, creating roles for a deep talent pool in Singapore to advance emerging technologies," he said.

The first projects for the Center will focus on trade solutions using blockchain to improve efficiency of multi-party trade finance processes and transactions. The solutions and associated blockchain platform will be designed and developed in Singapore.

These projects, which could also involve global banks and emerging financial technology companies known as "FinTechs", are aligned with the vision of MAS to further develop Singapore as a smart financial centre, said IBM.

IBM will also work with PSA Singapore Terminals, the world's largest container transhipment operator, and others to create a trade ecosystem which connects emerging financial technologies with the physical world of global trade and logistics. This will lead to new business models and attract more global trade and finance to Singapore, said the US company.

Said Tan Chong Meng, PSA International group CEO: "We will work with IBM and other partners, as well as through our new incubator program PSA unboXed, to explore the development and use of blockchain technology for trade, finance, and logistics."