PwC launches Vulcan Digital Asset Services with Libra, Bloq and Netki

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AUSTRALIA – November 15, 2016 – PwC has today launched a new fintech capability called Vulcan Digital Asset Services to enable digital assets to be used for everyday banking, commerce and other personal currency and asset related services.

 

Vulcan’s services include digital asset wallets, international payment processing, and investment and trading services, and will soon offer point-of-sale and merchant services and the ability to create and support native digital currencies and rewards based systems. Vulcan has had a lot of pre-launch attention. The platform is currently being piloted by an international banking group and a Central Bank, and being assessed by an airline and another three multinational banks.

 

Robert Allen, PwC Director and Vulcan Lead, said of the new PwC capability: “Vulcan is a cloud-based platform that enables banks and corporates to offer a suite of new digital currency related products and services to individual, retail and institutional customers within a trusted, transparent and compliant ecosystem. It is the first of its kind globally and has been created to bring digital assets and currency to the mainstream.

 

“We’ve created Vulcan because at PwC we believe new technology supported by advances in cryptography and network computing – particularly blockchain – will transform the consumer, government and financial market industries and shape the next generation of money.”

 

John Shipman, PwC’s Fintech Asia Leader said: “Traditional financial services companies have taken a cautious approach to digital currencies because of the perceived issues with trust and transparency. Vulcan came about because we were looking at these issues in relation to Bitcoin – the poster child of digital money – and in particular, how we can solve challenges relating to the issues of anonymity, and existing regulatory requirements, and recourse given its cross-border nature, function as a store of value and lack of central control.

 

“Vulcan is a secure, transparent and regulatory compliant platform that takes care of these risks and technical challenges so banks and corporates can safely transition to this new market structure supported by distributed ledger technology.

 

“We’re already running several pilots within multiple industries looking at capturing digitised assets within our trusted wallets as well as issuing customer reward points as digital money. We’re also working with governments to see how these services can enhance transparency around humanitarian aid programs through the use of Smart (programmable) money,” Mr Shipman said.

 

Vulcan has been built by PwC in conjunction with enterprise blockchain solutions provider Bloq, blockchain integration, reporting, compliance and analytics provider Libra, and digital identity start-up Netki. In this regard, the Vulcan platform enables Fintech start-ups and existing innovative technology companies to gain access to PwC’s global client base and co-develop new product offerings.

 

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“Blockchain-enabled business will be multi-network, multi-chain and multi-token,” said Jeff Garzik, CEO and co-founder of Bloq. “Companies exploring blockchain technology need flexible, tailored systems. By partnering with Vulcan, we’re providing an avenue for even the largest of enterprises to be agile during this next wave of innovation.”

 

Jake Benson, CEO at Libra, said: “All large enterprises adopting blockchain technology will require an integration layer, reporting and compliance solutions, and an exceptional user experience to drive digital asset adoption. By partnering with Libra, Vulcan addresses these needs enabling true end-to-end enterprise offerings.”

 

Justin Newton, CEO at Netki, said: “ Vulcan’s platform provides institutions with the ability to use Netki’s identity standard, to immediately comply with existing regulatory requirements. Netki provides the only open standards way to meet sanctions list and other risk and compliance needs around knowing your customer’s counterparty. By bringing together best of breed solutions around identity, reporting and security services, Vulcan enables the effective deployment of complete blockchain-based applications and services.”

 

Visit PwC’s website www.vulcandas.com for more information on Vulcan services.

 

Using Libra’s Platform – Keyrus announces industry-leading blockchain connectors for Qlik Sense and Alteryx

Keyrus, an international consultancy in Data Intelligence, Digital Transformation and Enterprise Management, is excited to release the industry- leading blockchain connectors for the popular self-service data tools: Qlik Sense and Alteryx.

 

Watch the Video

 

These connectors make blockchain data as simple to connect to as standard data sources. This allows business users to immediately start joining, analyzing, and visualizing data alongside non-blockchain sources such as customer information, financial performance, and sales/marketing activity. This connection will be crucial for blockchain projects to successfully integrate with enterprise-scale requirements.

 

Underlying these connectors is Libra, the management information layer for blockchain technology. Libra connects to any blockchain protocol, and transforms the raw data into a useable format to suit business needs.

 

Blockchain technology offers cryptographically secured, decentralized, immutable records of transactions. This can potentially reduce complexity, increase transparency, and improve the speed of transactions between parties. Governments, financial institutions, and private companies are beginning to explore use cases including cross-border money transfer, digital identity, Internet of Things, patient records, election voting, and many others.

 

“Blockchain technology is not a new black box where data is lost in encryption. With industrial scale projects, data management – including visualization, reporting, and analytics – is a core part of the design. With Keyrus, and its 20+ years of Data Intelligence Expertise, we placed Blockchain Data Management with a leading position in our Blockchain value proposal. I am proud to offer our customers a fully self-service suite based on leading business intelligence solutions.” explains Hannah Curtis, Principal Consultant at Keyrus US.

 

“We’re thrilled to reveal the work that we have done with our trusted partner, Keyrus. Enabling popular business intelligence software to consume data from blockchains is a major step forward for the industry.  As distributed ledger technology proliferates in the enterprise world, this solution will be an essential supplement to any implementation”, declares Jake Benson, Founder & CEO of Libra.

 

To download the connectors please visit:

 

Alteryx Gallery: https://gallery.alteryx.com/#!app/Keyrus-Blockchain-Connector/581a14fcf499c704688b4c13

 

Qlik Branch: http://branch.qlik.com/#!/project/581cbfd8f42638543aeba262

 

For more information see our blog post at http://blog.keyrus.co.uk/blockchain_connectors_for_qlik_sense_and_alteryx.html, contact [email protected], and check out our YouTube video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0kw81Wt1T4

Is Blockchain Tech Enabling Next-Gen ERP?

Earlier this year I posted a note regarding why we believe Libra, or something like it,will be a required architectural component as the blockchain tech industry matures. I also futured on our thoughts as to how we will compete against existing infrastructure. This follow-up note frames up some of our thinking on that topic as well as offers some additional perspectives.

 

At Libra we are focused on accelerating the adoption of blockchain tech. As part of that effort, we have spent considerable time thinking through how to tell the story of the technology to non-technologists. We believe this is an important endeavor because almost all of the literature in the “What is Blockchain?” canon, some of which I wrote while leading the practice at PwC, describes the technology but doesn’t contextualize it in a way that draws on the experiences of non-technical business users. We think this is a gap that needs more focus, otherwise we are going to face challenges in persuading executives to pull the trigger on pilot/production budgets.

 

With that said, we would ask that you consider our thesis, which I first discussed publicly at a great IMN event last week, that blockchain tech is the enabling technology of next-gen ERP, or as we prefer Ecosystem Resource Planning, or ecoRP for short. The rest of this note will talk to this idea and then conclude with thoughts on how Libra uses this idea to drive our positioning.

 

If one looks back across business process redesign history, what’s clear is that we have been subsuming the efficiencies of lower-level less complex process flows and applying the gains to higher-level more complex flows. What started out as the desire to optimize processes at the base manufacturing department level, remember MRP and MRP2, has scaled up and across entire enterprises to become Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP. 

 

The sales story that drove the ERP industry, and made many a multi-million dollar ERP sales person, was pretty straight-forward..

 

..buy Larry’s relational database, centralize all your data there..

 

..buy Hasso’s integrated applications for all your functions, then..

 

..share trusted data between and across silos within your enterprise.

 

Boom!!

 

Once that’s in place you can improve your enterprise’s operating leverage. You don’t have all those redundancies and reconciliations or have to carry all the interface costs – both human and technical. Executives went wild for the stuff, and SAP and Oracle rode that wave to become some of the most important companies in the world.

 

Now, if you step back and think about it, what are we doing in blockchain tech?

  1. For many (not all) use cases, we are again focused on business process flows, except this time we’re focusing between and across multiple enterprises.
  2. From a database perspective, we are focused on offering a single version of trustful data that multiple enterprises can share.
  3. From an application perspective, we’re creating new software co’s that integrate and optimize the process flows of multiple enterprises.

 

Yup. Essentially, we are back to eliminating silos and removing interfaces all by facilitating the sharing of trusted data. Except now, we have moved up an organizational level from focusing on optimizing the flows of a single enterprise to that of multiple enterprises, or as we prefer, focusing at the ecosystem level.

 

Note: We call software companies that specialize in building enterprise ecosystem applications, ecoApp co’s for short.

 

To further this idea, consider what “central authorities/CA’s” are….in most cases, they are interfaces between producers and consumers. For which, if you redesigned the process flows, you can potentially reduce/eliminate their cost. Now, that is not to say central authorities don’t play critical roles. What it does say is that a CA’s value is going to be tested versus better/faster/cheaper alternatives process flows and if they don’t match up, well, they’re disrupted. Simply stated, if peer-to-peer has a better value proposition we don’t think any level of intervention is going to stop the drive for optimization.

 

In using this mental model, and looking back at what happened as enterprises evaluated and adopted ERP, there are critical lessons learned that we want to exploit in order to grow our business. For example, what has been helpful to us is categorizing processes as follows: old/new – processes that get altered but for which you are still doing the same thing; and, new/new – emergent processes that only become apparent and possible as the system unpacks.

 

For Libra, we think about each of these process types differently. To support old/new processes (and infrastructure) we decided to make our flagship product, Libra Enterprise, protocol and legacy data agnostic. In doing so, an enterprise can import anyblockchain/smart contract and/or third-party data into the application, synchronize all data into a consolidated data model, then export/render out any data element via our API/GUI.

 

Libra has taken this approach as enterprises will always want to find ways to get value out of already deployed and operational technology and workflows. An example of using Libra Enterprise to support an old/new process might be using our integration layer as an ETL bus so a company can grab protocol data, synchronize it with non-blockchain data (i.e. risk rating, customer ID data etc.) and then push the synchronized data into something like Tableau or Qlik Sense for analysis.

 

However, as you can imagine, supporting old/new processes is not going to be revolutionary or disruptive, so we focus most of our time on considering new/new processes. Our goal is to build interfaces, tools, and user profiles that enable the invention of net new processes that aren’t possible until you integrate data at an ecosystem-level.

 

As we have focused on these new/new processes, it has becomes very evident that existing solutions aren’t designed to support them. How do you produce “secure reporting” between and across companies? How do you execute “blockchain audits” of chains? Who owns and how is “ecosystem data” monetized?  Forget going from T+3 to T+0… have you considered that legacy internal audits, in some cases, are T+730!

 

These are some of the new/new process flows we are focused on at Libra. We are working to make sure chains have strong assurance and reporting capabilities and digital currency infrastructure has the regulatory and tax capabilities to support FI’s compliance requirements.

 

Just as SAP, Oracle, Workday and many other currently successful software companies grew out of enterprise-level process redesign.  So to will ecoApp companies, like Libra, grow out of ecosystem-level process redesign as we all march into the next big thing in software: Ecosystem Resource Planning or ecoRP.

Libra, “Required”?

I took a bit of flack from some friends about a comment in the recent Coindesk article where I stated that Libra’s ambition is to be “required” for all blockchain-based projects.  Please see this post as some of the thinking to that perspective.  In retrospect I guess I could have added “or something like it,” but hey, why not dream big!

 

Say you’re a tax accountant at an Asset Mgt. shop and one of your responsibilities is to calculate taxable positions and outcomes.  You review transactional data, calculate the capital gain/loss, and then forward the results to your Controller so they can roll the numbers into the provision.

 

What data might you need to execute this task if one of the systems you interact with is a blockchain and/or smart contract?

  1. Blockchain transaction data…great, that’s on-chain!
  2. Cost basis…….uh, that’s not on-chain
  3. Holding period…again, that’s not on-chain
  4. Metadata on naming conventions…not on-chain
  5. Formatting logic for mgt. reporting…not on-chain
  6. Regulatory reporting formats…not on-chain
  7. Executive reporting workflows…not on-chain

 

Get the picture?  Almost everything this non-technical business user needs to actually do their job is *not* on-chain, it’s outside the protocol, occurs post transaction….it is, “off-chain” as we prefer to say.

 

Now, let’s consider that interesting moment when an IT exec is trying to sell internal colleagues on what a great idea it is to take a blockchain PoC, which has similar sorts of taxable requirements, to pilot or production stage.

 

If there isn’t a clean and simple solution for marrying on-and-off chain data so certain tax processes can get executed, do you think this company’s tax leadership is really going to support that project?  Do you think the risk and compliance officers are going to sign off?  What about auditors and the business executives that own the P&L?

 

Or, will some of those stakeholders gum up the project such that it takes so long to get traction that it just dies?

 

And that, in my experience, is why so many PoC’s fail.

 

At Libra, we are focused on meeting the needs non-technical business users, such as auditors, regulators, GRC, and tax professionals.  Understanding and working with these business user profiles is, in our view, a critical success factor to increasing blockchain project approval and funding rates.

 

Now, if you think about this scenario across the multitude of business process requirements for non-technical business users, wouldn’t you agree that Libra [or something like it] is “required” to accelerate the adoption of blockchaintech?

 

Note: I’ll leave aside, for another post, our thoughts on why domains such as audit and tax will change as processes move from centralized to decentralized and distributed databases.  And, how and why that creates space for startups to compete against entrenched infrastructure.

– Jeremy Drane, Chief Commercial Officer