Establishing global standards for distributed ledger technology is ‘critical’ for mitigating risks as well as facilitating communication across different industries, according to a derivatives expert and lawyer.
Speaking as part of a panel discussion at the annual ASIC forum on Tuesday, 20 March, trade reporting service provider DTCC Data Repository Singapore chief executive Oliver Williams said developing standards for blockchain was “critical” to ensure interoperability between systems.
Using his own industry an example, he pointed out that the aggregation of information and data would be “very difficult” without the implementation of standards.
“If you take that lesson learnt, if you like, and moving forward to technology, the ability to have interoperability is critical,” Mr Williams said.
“The need for standards is very important, and as you see that's why we get behind … global initiatives to drive standards.”
A failure to establish global standards would also introduce regulatory risks, he warned.
“The idea of having this sort of technology emerge in silos unable to speak to each other, for lack of a better word of describing it, is an issue.
“But from a regulatory point of view as well, standards are important because if we don't standardise, we end up with effectively a ‘reg-arbitrage type’ situation,” Mr Williams said.
He added that problems would emerge if “some jurisdictions are able to use and others are not,” pointing out that the connectivity of global financial markets was “critically important”.
Co-panellist and King & Wood Mallesons partner Scott Farrell highlighted the role that established standards had to play across all industries, and said standards were the “multi-lingual dictionary”.
“They're not just the multi-lingual dictionary for technology to talk to each other. They're the multi-lingual dictionary you use now that every complex project involves multiple disciplines,” he said.
For example, the way lawyers would “speak” to programmers would be “through the language of standards”.
“We need that language, because if we're using centimetres as lawyers and the technologists are using inches, then the satellite crashes.
“And it's not just obviously between lawyers and technologists. So the standards are really important, and if you are in any profession going forward, you'll find you will be communicating through standards.”
In April last year, Australia played host to international discussions regarding the standardisation of blockchain technology.
Referring to Australia's role as secretariat to the International Standards Organisation's blockchain-related technical committee, Mr Farrell said Australia's “potential box seat” to the discussion would be a “great thing that we are deeply involved”.
This was “partly because Australia tends to punch above its weight in relation to the use of DLT and the smart contracts offer”, he added.
“So it's important we understand that language, because some of our financial markets infrastructure in this country might as well use it.”
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Australia was hosting international talks April this year. It has since been amended to last year (2017).
InvestorDaily understands the next meeting of the 'Blockchain and electronic distributed ledger technologies' technical committee (ISO/TC 307) will be held in London in May.
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