XBRL US provides insight into blockchain and smart contracts.

Posted on April 8, 2016 by Dave Nitchman

XBRL US held the first in a series of workshops on emerging technologies this week. Hosted by Baruch College and sponsored by the CFA Institute, “Smart Contracts, Blockchain and Data Standards”, drew a large audience.

Smart contracts are an emerging framework for defining and executing commercial agreements of all kinds using Blockchain, the distributed, cryptographically assured ledger, or database.

The seminar saw a number of demonstrations including:

  • NASDAQ’s blockchain based Linq, for private securities issuance, which seeks to manage┬áthe process of buying and selling shares in privately held companies and recording those transactions in perpetuity.
  • Consensys’ Ethereum-based Total Return Swap proof of concept which highlights that way that complex workflow can be automated and settlement risk managed.

It is clear that although extremely early in the life of these technologies they have the potential to improve a wide range of existing business processes. For them to work, however, they will need to be able to rely on a wide range of high quality structured data, including XBRL documents prepared by companies.

In his remarks, XBRL International CEO John Turner described the importance of defining trusted, well defined semantics in industry standards, urging those working in the field to think about interoperability, agreed semantics and agreed processes from the beginning in order to maximise the technology’s adoption.

The workshop was very well received. Congratulations go to Campbell Pryde and Michelle Savage of XBRL US, in particular, for pulling together the event. View the presentations here.

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