IBM to open blockchain innovation centre in S'pore

IBM plans to open a blockchain innovation centre in Singapore in collaboration with the Government, as the nation strives to become Asia's main financial technology hub.

The US tech giant will be working with the main economic planning agency, the Economic Development Board (EDB), and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to accelerate blockchain adoption for finance and trade, Reuters reported.

IBM researchers will work with the 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 centre is expected to deliver a number of new technologies across the finance and trade industries.

The blockchain technology works by creating permanent, public "ledgers" of all transactions that could potentially replace complicated systems such as clearing and settlement with one simple database.

Mr 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 centre, creating roles for a deep talent pool in Singapore to advance emerging technologies," he said.

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

Dr Robert Morris, vice-president, global labs, IBM Research, said: "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 different industries."

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.

The company will also work with PSA Corp, 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 IBM.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 13, 2016, with the headline 'IBM to open blockchain innovation centre in S'pore'. Print Edition | Subscribe