IBM is now a major stakeholder in we-trade.com, a fintech platform collectively owned and monitored by twelve (12) EU-based banking institutions focusing on digitalizing banking for top corps, SMEs, and even government organizations.
This is not we-trade’s first encounter with Big Blue, as the first enterprise blockchain consortium relies on IBM infrastructure since 2018 when we-trade was launched.
Ciaran McGowan, we-trade’s active CEO, said that the IBM partnership was unavoidable and it is the key for we-trade’s scaling and expansion to Asian, African, and Latin American markets where IBM already has a well-established network and presence, something contradicting McGowan’s speech at last year’s Sibos, in London, when he cited that we-trade was always more reliant on in-house technology and less on IBM.
Nevertheless, IBM now joins the consortium, previously occupied by CaixaBank, Deutsche Bank, Erste Group, HSBC, KBC, Nordea, Rabobank, Santander, Societe Generale, UBS, and UniCredit as seen on we-trade’s official website.
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The move sparked a domino of concerns over IBM’s aggressive strategy, and more specifically we-trade members are worried about Intellectual Property (IP) rights, something IBM struggled with in the past with analogous partnerships.
It is no secret that IBM has the most patent filings subjecting the term “blockchain” in the world, while it clearly doesn’t plan on relying on that number to stay ahead of the competition. Instead IBM’s, “satanic” one could say, plan, is to help small projects grow before being absorbed by IBM in a modest fashion.
However, we-trade’s ex CEO, Roberto Mancone, had previously stated that there will be a clear distinction between IBM’s intellectual property rights, which practically wrap the infrastructure, whether hardware/software or other services used to build the we-trade platform and the intellectual property of the platform itself, which naturally belongs to we-trade.
Still, now that IBM owes 7% of we-trade, plus the Hyperledger-based blockchain upon which the fintech company is built, there are no much romanticism and monopolistic fears could offer to the table.
McGowen in an attempt to scatter the rest of the consortium’s concerns said that we-trade will not be solely working with IBM Cloud, but instead will offer its customers the ability to pick any cloud provider they feel comfortable with. More specifically Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s AWS will be the alternatives for any client that wishes to avoid Big Blue’s influence.
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Although we-trade seems to have a decent pool of banks supporting the project, there are plenty of European banks that have dismissed we-trade’s proposal for collaboration. McGowen believes that this is due to the fact most EU banks are playing “wait and see” when it comes to enterprise-grade distributed ledgers.
This is not very surprising, considering that the EU had the same approach with a pan-European CBDC, and blockchain network when addressed the matter passed by German and French financiers who urged the EU to take matters on its own hand before Facebook’s Libra, China’s DC/EP or other foreign digital currencies flood the EU.
The EU acts calm and observing indeed, waiting to see others fail or succeed before it can act accordingly, analogizing the old and outdated European authoritarian regime is scared of being the pioneer who paves the way on an unknown planet.
McGowen believes that the absence of serious players in the field makes gov-level organizations think twice about trusting a private entity with the technology that will eventually monitor our everyday life in unparalleled detail.
In the meantime, we-trade is looking to partner with eTradeConnect, a Hong=Kong based analogous service provider which is ironically also backed by twelve (12) Asian banks.