IBM Introduces ‘Blockchain World Wire’, Its Stellar-Powered Near Real-Time Cross-Border Payments Solution

IBM has quietly introduced "Blockchain World Wire", what it calls "the new financial rail that can simultaneously clear and settle cross-border payments in near real-time", and a product that has the chance to become a competitor to Ripple's xRapid.

Here are two diagrams from IBM's website showing how the system is designed to work:

World Wire - Fig 1.png

World Wire - Fig 2.png

The process of making a cross-border payment using Blockchain World Wire (which uses the Stellar protocol) has the following steps:

  • "Two financial institutions transacting together agree to use a stable coin, central bank digital currency or other digital asset as the bridge asset between any two fiat currencies."
  • "The institutions use their existing payment systems – seamlessly connected to World Wire’s APIs – to convert the first fiat currency into the digital asset."
  • "World Wire then simultaneously converts the digital asset into the second fiat currency, completing the transaction." ("All transaction details are recorded onto an immutable blockchain for clearing.")

IBM claims Blockchain World Wire has the following advantages over traditional payment solutions:

  • Faster Payment Processing (simultaneous clearing and settlement)
  • Lower Costs (reduced capital requirements for cross-border transactions)
  • Increased Efficiency (one exchange fee between all currencies)
  • Supports payments of any size, in any asset type, to any destination

Given the lack of a press release and the fact that neither IBM's nor Stellar Development Foundation's Twitter account has any mention of this product, it seems like the two parties are working together, but the product is not ready for launch yet. Also, on its website, IBM does not provide much in the way of technical details other than revealing that it uses technology from Stellar, which was created by Jed McCaleb and Joyce Kim. At this point, it is worth noting that prior to releasing Stellar in July 2014, McCaleb co-founded Ripple (with Chris Larsen, in 2012) and served as its CTO until 2013. 

A surface level reading of Blockchain World Wire's description makes it sound a little like Ripple's xRapid. IBM's solution appears capable of using any digital currency -- not just XRP -- as the bridge currency, which could be seen both as a good thing and a bad thing. Stellar fans are generally excited because they are hoping that in most cases Lumens (XLM) will get used as the bridge currency. Some Ripple fans are a little worried that some financial institutions might choose Blockchain World Wire (whenever it becomes ready) instead of Ripple's xRapid (which uses XRP as the bridge currency, and which eliminates the need for nostro accounts) because of their existing relationships with IBM, even though to them IBM's solution sounds inferior to xRapid.

We will update you as more details about Blockchain World Wire become available.

Featured Image Credit: Photo via Pexels.com

'Bitcoin Type' Privacy Enhancing UTXO Transactions Now Available on EOS

Omar Faridi

The developers of pEOS, a project focused on enabling private and “untraceable” transactions on EOS, one of the largest platforms for building decentralized applications (dApps), have noted that they intend to provide tools which will allow users to conduct efficient token transfer transactions while maintaining their financial privacy.

“Accelerating Any Aspect of EOS” in Direction of Providing Greater Privacy

As explained in pEOS team’s Medium blog post, published on May 16, 2019, the privacy-enhancing crypto project is "much larger than just delivering pEOS.” The development team wrote:

We consider part of our mission to help educate, provide support, provide tools, and accelerate any aspect of the EOS blockchain in the direction of providing privacy enabled features and technologies. We strongly believe in the multiplicative effect this can have to every aspect of the EOS ecosystem.

Bitcoin Type UTXOs for EOS

In order to add more functionality to the EOS blockchain, while promoting economic privacy, the developers of pEOS have introduced a new smart contract which “implements bitcoin type” unspent transaction outputs (UTXOs) for EOS-based tokens.

As mentioned in pEOS team’s blog, UTXO was first used by the developers of the Bitcoin protocol, and it is “one type of output which can be either unspent (UTXO) or spent.” The outstanding balance of a UTXO-enabled wallet can be calculated by adding up all its spendable UTXOs, pEOS’ blog noted.

A UTXO Needs to Be Spent “as a Whole”

Transactions are processed by spending a certain number of UTXOs while producing new UTXOs for the recipient (of a transfer) and for any change that is returned to the sender, pEOS’ blog explained. The pEOS team clarified that “amounts in UTXOs don’t mutate.” This means users cannot “spend only some part of a UTXO.” In order to conduct such transactions, users must spend the UTXO “as a whole.”

According to pEOS’ team, these “constraints on what a UTXO is and how it is immutable, is what allows for privacy algorithms to be built on top of them.” For instance, the privacy-centric CoinJoin algorithm can be used with the smart contract-based UTXO code released for EOS, pEOS’ developers revealed.

On May 17, 2019, Block.one, the Cayman Islands-registered developer of EOS, released new software development kits (SDKs) for both Swift and Java developers. The latest SDKs for EOS aim to provide more support for native smartphone applications in order to offer “richer, more engaging experiences.”