Platform-Neutral Organization Empowers Businesses to Standardize the Interchange of Tokenized Value Across Use Cases and Networks
[Cross-posted at the InterWork Alliance Blog]
Wakefield, Mass., – June 2, 2020 – The InterWork Alliance (IWA) today formally launched operations as a platform-neutral, non-profit organization dedicated to creating the standards frameworks needed to increase innovation across token-enabled ecosystems. Distributed applications have the potential to disrupt global economics, but the wide-scale availability of different platform types has stalled web-scale adoption of tokenized assets. What is required is standardization at the business level, which would allow companies to be able to agree on distributed business models without choosing a platform first. The InterWork Alliance will set the standards for building distributed applications, including appropriate frameworks for tokenizing items of value, writing contracts over those tokens, and privacy-preserving analytics of multi-party data.
Launch members include Accenture, Amberdata, Blockchain Technology Partners, Calastone, Chainlink, DEKRA, Digital Asset, DLA Piper,The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), Envision Blockchain, HACERA, Hedera Hashgraph, IBM, ING, Nasdaq, Microsoft, Neo Global Development, R3, SIX Digital Exchange (SDX), Tokensoft, UBS, Web3 Labs, and others. Launch Associate members joining to support the IWA’s activities include 2Tokens, Blockchain Research Institute, British Blockchain Association (BBA), Cloud Security Alliance, DID Alliance, Global Blockchain Business Council (GBBC), Global Digital Finance (GDF), Hyderabad Blockchain District, Hyperledger, International Token Standardization Association (ITSA), Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) Cascadia Blockchain Council and others. We invite all organizations interested in advancing the token-powered economy to join the Alliance.
“Companies want to be able to create token-based business models without having a platform technology in mind. For this approach to work, standards are urgently needed around defining what a token is and how its contractual behaviors will work,” said InterWork Alliance President Ron Resnick. “The Alliance was created to serve as the organization where this essential work happens. By bringing great technology and innovative business leaders together to deliver the market-driven specifications needed to facilitate interworking, the Alliance can deliver a proven, standard approach that is required to bring consumer trust into this space.”
Tokens enable users to define, exchange and use anything of value – whether that value is digitally-native, such as cryptocurrencies, or other forms of value, such as artwork, properties, loyalty points, etc. For an enterprise to exchange or use tokenized value, business partners first need to universally agree on how that token is defined and how its value will contractually unlock through the various agreements and clauses.
“When our customers want to come together to solve problems in their sectors, they often want a neutral forum where they can work out collaborative frameworks and approaches that let them focus on business outcomes rather than technology implementation details. The IWA will play a critical role in helping business leaders across industries collaborate effectively,” said Marley Gray, principal architect, Microsoft, and the InterWork Alliance Chairman. “It provides a forum where industry participants can take real-world use cases as diverse as improving carbon market efficiency or trade finance efficiency, and use technology-agnostic token and contract definitions to foster interoperability and drive widespread adoption – that’s the big picture of what we need to do in the Alliance.”
The InterWork Alliance will provide the frameworks needed for businesses to create standardized token definitions and contracts in non-technical, business terms, and then turn them over to developers for coding on any platform of choice. The Alliance’s focus areas include:
- The Token Taxonomy Framework: provides a common language and toolset that enables multiple parties to agree on the definition of a token and how its value can be exchanged or used
- The InterWork Framework: allows businesses to compose multi-party contracts from clauses that directly correlate to the token standards, enabling communication protocols to be defined and connected to framework components regardless of the eventual technology deployment
- The Analytics Framework: enables organizations to derive additional business value from a privacy-preserving analysis of multi-party contracts, and shared data schema for value-add AI services and market-driven data reporting
Tokenized assets and the distributed applications that drive changes to those assets are highly composable. By identifying and standardizing the component attributes and behaviors of tokens and the contractual clauses that drive them, the ability for distributed applications to interwork with each other across disparate technology platforms will improve dramatically. It will also make it easier for individuals, businesses, and regulators to clearly understand – and help define – what tokenized systems are actually doing.
Here’s what some of the InterWork Alliance members have to say about the mission:
“There has been incredible innovation in the development of digital tokens for everything from securities, currencies, artwork, property—even carbon credits—with all relevant information such as specifications, ownership, rights and obligations stored with the token. Accenture is proud to be one of the founders of the InterWork Alliance and collaborate in the open standards development community for blockchain and multi-party systems that will enable ecosystems to move faster, with greater consistency and confidence,” said David Treat, senior managing director at Accenture, an InterWork Alliance member.
“Tokenization will impact every industry and sector. Financial institutions and enterprises alike need a common language, data and insights to build next generation products for trading and transacting in digital assets. Amberdata is excited to be a founding member of the InterWork Alliance and looks forward to helping lead and define the standards that will enable the adoption of tokenized assets and transform the future of financial services.” said Shawn Douglass, CEO of Amberdata, an Interwork Alliance member.
“We are at a critical juncture where we will only realize the benefits of token-based business models at scale if we can collaborate and agree on a common approach, building and expanding on the work of the Token Taxonomy Initiative. The InterWork Alliance has been designed from the ground up to enable this process which is why BTP is delighted to be a founding member of this initiative and, in particular, contribute to the InterWork Framework,” said Duncan Johnston-Watt, CEO and co-founder of Blockchain Technology Partners, an InterWork Alliance member.
“Standardization is always the great catalyst for the adoption of new technology. We believe that standardization of digital tokens will unlock a wave of innovation across financial services and beyond with the potential to create a new Internet of commerce and trading. Calastone is excited about where this could lead and expect to see not just the disruption of existing business models but also transformational business and collaboration models that no one could foresee right now. Our ambition, as the largest global funds network, is to provide a pathway to the adoption of tokenization and token-based assets,” said Adam Belding, chief technology officer of Calastone, an Interwork Alliance member.
“Collaboration and standardization are necessary for new technologies to thrive. The work of the InterWork Alliance group is important since it builds upon the cross-industry approach to tokenization standards while also expanding the scope to include standardizing how smart contracts interact with these tokens. We are pleased to partner with like-minded organizations to support a global framework that can be implemented with the DAML smart contract language,” said Chris Clason, director of Strategic Alliances at Digital Asset, an InterWork Alliance member.
“DLA Piper is very excited about the opportunity to represent and assist the InterWork Alliance and its Framework in developing a technology-neutral platform for token innovation. DLA Piper believes that tokenization will fundamentally alter how business operates across virtually all industries. Collaborative frameworks developed and managed by industry organizations such as the InterWork Alliance will be critical to the success of tokenization just as the Linux Foundation and the Apache Software Foundation have been critical to the success of open-source software,” said Mark Radcliffe, co-chair of DLA Piper’s Blockchain and Digital Asset Practice, an InterWork Alliance member.
“DTCC is proud to be an InterWork Alliance founding member and looks forward to collaborating with our peers to develop a DLT security framework that further protects the industry, individual firms, and underlying clients. This important effort will create a critical foundation that will help to increase the safety and security of DLT implementations,” stated Stephen Scharf, CSO of DTCC, an InterWork Alliance member.
“The impact of the technology we have been developing for years and the rapid pace at which our space innovates requires us all to collaborate. This will not only benefit multi-cloud platforms, such as the Unbounded Network but will allow us all to better work with regulators, governments and lower the barrier to entry and for software developers and hardware manufacturers. The InterWork Alliance is the implementation-neutral body that our industry needed, for us all to be able to exchange digital assets securely and legally,” said Jonathan Levi, CEO of HACERA, an InterWork Alliance member.
“The token-driven economy can unlock massive amounts of value. While today’s voluntary carbon credit system is estimated to be in the billion-dollar range, the required accounting is time-consuming and expensive, which can deter potential investors. The IWA efforts aim to make it much simpler. The Carbon Emissions Token (CET), a draft Token Specification Template in the IWA’s Token Taxonomy Framework (TTF), is an excellent first step in establishing a standard methodology for individuals and businesses around the world to begin leveraging. The key takeaway is that this is a global initiative requiring all businesses and governments around the world to cooperate and interoperate, regardless of the state machine being used, in order to properly account for all emissions as it relates to individual climate pledges,” said Jason Pancis, co-founder and COO of Envision Blockchain.
“The InterWork Alliance, much like our own Governing Council, is bringing a ‘by enterprise, for enterprise’ approach to filling one of our industry’s most challenging gaps: tokenization standards and best practices. We are proud to be one of the first implementers of the Token Taxonomy Framework and we look forward to working with the other founding members to accelerate market adoption of distributed tokenization through robust standards and open source tools,” said Mance Harmon, CEO and co-founder of Hedera Hashgraph, an InterWork Alliance member.
“The InterWork Alliance offers a way to classify tokens and contracts using a common language to describe them. The Alliance will help establish a foundation not only for technology and business but for the changing tokenization landscape as well. A platform-neutral alliance is critical for the entire industry, and IBM sees this as another important movement toward more open industry standards to help organizations build the token networks of tomorrow,” said Nitin Gaur, director of IBM WW Digital Asset Labs, an InterWork Alliance member.
“Digitization and tokenization of assets are imminent. The InterWork Alliance will help us to exchange experiences and best practices and to define standards with our partners. By working together, we can best achieve our common objective to profit from the gains of this enabling technology,” said Mariana Gomez de la Villa, program director, Distributed Ledger Technology, ING, an Interwork Alliance member.
“As digital asset networks and organizations worldwide continue to get more traction, including the further development of green digital assets, interoperability between these networks is becoming increasingly important. By having international standards in place around definitions, workflows and approaches, this creates a foundation for efficient collaboration and smooth interoperability in the token-powered ecosystems. The IWA will be critical to ensure open standards are widely adopted in the global industry to ensure the success of digital assets, including emerging green and distributed ledger networks within the capital markets and beyond. We welcome the opportunity to join this important endeavor,” said Johan Toll, head of Digital Assets, Nasdaq, an InterWork Alliance member.
“As token-based business models gain more prominence, it is very important to have a set of industry standards to help guide the industry’s development. The InterWork Alliance represents an excellent opportunity for businesses to come together and have their voices heard in setting these standards. R3 is delighted to be part of the Alliance, and we look forward to working together to break new ground in token-enabled ecosystems,” said Todd McDonald, R3 co-founder of R3, an InterWork Alliance member.
“The SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) has been built from the ground up to support the next-generation of institutional digital asset issuance, trading, settlement and custody. A critical next step in the evolution of these exciting new assets and their associated marketplaces will be the formation of universally agreed standards and practices to ensure that players in the ecosystem can connect in a secure and efficient manner. We are delighted to be a founding member of the InterWork Alliance and look forward to working with our member colleagues to establish industry-accepted commonality across the taxonomy, multi-part contracts, and analytics that will support this important step in the formation of next-generation financial market infrastructure,” said Tim Grant, chief executive officer of SIX Digital Exchange (SDX), an InterWork Alliance member.
“Building on top of the foundations provided by the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and Token Taxonomy Initiative, the Interwork Alliance bridges the gap that exists between businesses and the opportunity that technologies such as distributed ledger and multi-party compute provide. In allowing standards to be defined by the business problems that they solve, rather than the underlying technology, the IWA will ensure platforms, such as Web3 Labs’ Epirus, can provide the best experience possible for business in the creation, deployment and management of the next generation of distributed business applications for tokenized assets,” saidConor Svensson, founder and CEO of Web3 Labs, an InterWork Alliance member.
The InterWork Alliance launch Associate launch members include:
“We understand that to achieve widely supported token regulation we have to raise awareness, stimulate discussions, and bring together knowledge and expertise. This will allow us to reduce the barriers to the adoption of tokenization and help realize the wider societal benefits. Together with the InterWork Alliance, we can achieve a common perspective and understanding of the benefits of tokenization for The Netherlands with which we want to inspire change. The Token Taxonomy Framework is essential to clarify the path to tokenization, said Alex Bausch, chairman of the 2Tokens foundation, an InterWork Alliance member.
“The InterWork Alliance is just what the industry needs to realize the promise of digital assets and tokenization. Enterprises, governments, entrepreneurs, and regulators urgently need a common language to understand and drive the digitization of assets applied across a wide variety of platforms,” said Don Tapscott, author and co-author of 16 books about the digital age, most recently Blockchain Revolution and now Supply Chain Revolution, and executive chairman of The Blockchain Research Institute, an InterWork Alliance member.
“As a pioneer in the field of evidence-based blockchain, BBA will continue to advocate for open-access, peer-reviewed, scientific benchmarks and frameworks. Conscientious and judicious decision making based on the best available evidence should be at the cornerstone of applied tokenomics. We will support IWA in building a harmonized token economy,” said Dr. Naseem Naqvi, the chair of Centre for Evidence-Based Blockchain (CEBB), editor in chief of the JBBA, and president of the British Blockchain Association, and an InterWork Alliance member.
“GDF is dedicated to promoting the adoption of best practices for cryptoassets and digital finance technologies. We are very pleased to join the InterWork Alliance as an associate member and to work together to advance the token-powered economy. This cross-industry approach will be vital in creating the standards frameworks needed to increase innovation across token-enabled ecosystems,” said Emma Joyce, head of Community & Membership, GDF, an InterWork Alliance member.
“Standards play a critical role in the evolution and adoption of any emerging technology. Distributed applications and token-based services will require established frameworks that assure solutions interwork on the business level, regardless of underlying technology platforms. The InterWork Alliance is taking up that challenge and has assembled a strong, diverse membership base to shape its efforts. As champions of community-driven enterprise blockchain development, we are pleased to support this standards initiative,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director, Hyperledger, an InterWork Alliance member.
The InterWork Alliance has received industry-wide support including:
“Given today’s realities, businesses have an ever-increasing need to engage in token creation. Endeavors that provide platform-independent opportunities for businesses to focus on how to define the token models and contracts they need, like the InterWork Alliance does, are both timely and important,” said Sheila Warren, head of Blockchain and Data Policy, and member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.
About the InterWork Alliance
The InterWork Alliance (IWA) is a non-profit, member-led organization creating platform-neutral specifications and trusted certification to define how digital token business processes can interwork regardless of location or market segment. By focusing on real-world projects, market requirements, and performance metrics, the IWA will define tokenization and interworking standards to drive business-level interoperability, multi-party interchange, and trust across applications and networks. Our global membership includes leaders, adopters, innovators, developers, and businesses representing the best practices for every use case the token-powered ecosystem has to offer. To join the IWA, please reach out to membership@InterWork.org. To learn more about the IWA, please reach out to info@InterWork.org or visit https://interwork.org/.