The European branch of the International Securities Association for Institutional Trade Communication (ISITC) has proposed 10 blockchain benchmarks it believes will help standardize the increasingly diverse set of blockchain tools currently available on the market.
Created by the ISITC’s Blockchain DLT Working Group at a meeting earlier this month, the benchmarks are the latest step in a series of global efforts aimed at ensuring blockchain can enable a new wave of efficient, decentralized data sharing without recreating today’s siloed centralized database infrastructure.
But creating reliable standards across industries and borders is about more than just helping ensure interoperability, according to co-chair of the ISITC Blockchain DLT Working Group, Gary Wright. Rather, the creation of blockchain standards is a key step towards improving the bottom line for companies that use distributed ledger technology.
Wright, who also sits on the European executive board of ISITC and co-founded London-based Block Asset Technologies, told CoinDesk:
“We won’t be able to sell anything unless people understand what we’re selling and what they want to buy. It’s in our interest to standardize so people will invest.”
The benchmarks introduced at the blockchain working group meeting deal with blockchain resilience, scalability, latency, data structure, auditability, governance, legal jurisdiction, regulation and software version control.
Governance and tech
Going further, Wright breaks the benchmarks into two categories.
The “wholistic” benchmarks take a high level look at how blockchain and distributed ledger tech integrate with the rest of the world. These benchmarks are governance, legal and regulation. The remaining seven benchmarks apply to more technological standards.
The standards were developed by Wright’s fellow ISITC blockchain working group members, Scott Riley, the director of Block Asset Technologies and Hermann Rapp, a data standards researcher at the Lord Ashcroft International Business School in Cambridge.
ISITC Europe has invited participants across industries, including both from the academic and professional sectors, to participate in the development of the benchmarks.
If they are successful, Wright and Rapp say the next step will be to take the benchmarks to the International Organization for Standardization, a global standards organization based in Geneva.
However, this goal could be a long way off.
A similar drive toward standardization is also in its earliest stages at global Internet standards organization, the W3C. Founded by Tim Berners-Lee in 1994, that group was designed to prevent competitive interests from fracturing the World Wide Web during its early days, but is currently seeking member support to potential expand that mission to distributed ledgers
Blockchain industry leaders attended a standards event last month in Cambridge, Massachusetts, hosted by W3C, and while many of the attendees were excited about the business applications of blockchain standards, others expressed concern over potential limitations on early-stage experiments with the technology.
Though W3C hasn’t formally committed to helping create international blockchain standards, event organizer Doug Schepers told CoinDesk that creating standards is bigger than any single standards body.
If the ISITC does end up taking their benchmarks to the ISO, it could take years of working in a collaborative back and forth before they are finally accepted.
“Usually when you go to ISO, you’re trying to say that governments should pay attention,” Schepers said, adding:
“ISO is usually used as a way for industry to signal to governments and other compliance organizations that something is stable and serious.”
For his part, Wright agrees that the work to create blockchain standards requires more input and support.
Eric Benz the COO of UK-based blockchain platform provider Credits has offered to host the ISITC blockchain working group in a wider meeting about standards at the startup’s Level 39 offices in London.
As for what’s next with ISITC’s working group, Rapp said they intend to present their work on the blockchain benchmarks at the ISITC general meeting in October where it will be considered for further support by the standards organization at large.
If all goes well for the working group, which currently includes about 100 members, Rapp said the next logical step might be a more formal arrangement.
“A working group is more an open network and a consortium has a fixed agenda. But it might develop into a consortium.”