IBM, ING, Microsoft, Nasdaq, R3 in launch of new token standards body

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Today saw the launch of the InterWork Alliance (IWA) with more than 30 organizations participating. The vast majority are enterprise focused. The aim is to enable organizations to adopt tokenized assets by agreeing to distributed business models in a platform agnostic manner.

The initiative is targeting the tokenization of all sorts of assets. That includes cryptocurrencies and security tokens, but also real estate, loyalty points and other assets. The aim is not just to define the token but also the contractual agreements and clauses that underpin the digital asset.

“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 (formerly of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance). 

Other members include Accenture, DTCC, SIX Digital Exchange and UBS. Additionally, numerous protocols and blockchain associations are participants such as Hyperledger, Hedera Hashgraph, Digital Asset, the International Token Standardization Association (ITSA) and the Global Blockchain Business Council.

The Token Taxonomy Framework (TTF), which is part of the InterWork Alliance, was initiated by the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). But neither the EEA nor ConsenSys are on the membership list.

“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. 

He continued: “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.”

A set of three frameworks

The organization has defined three frameworks:

  • The Token Taxonomy Framework which defines a token and how its value can be exchanged 
  • The InterWork Framework for the legal clauses that match up with token standards 
  • The Analytics Framework to enable market data and analytics in a privacy preserving manner 

“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,” said Mark Radcliffe, co-chair of DLA Piper’s Blockchain and Digital Asset Practice, an InterWork Alliance member. “DLA Piper believes that tokenization will fundamentally alter how business operates across virtually all industries.”

While a token standards organization is needed, the number of blockchain associations has proliferated. The cost of membership isn’t just a matter of money but rather spreading scarce resources thinly. As we adapt to the COVID-19 recession, some sort of rationalization is inevitable.

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