08.05.2016
By Rob Daly

Baby Steps for Smart Contract Standards

The Distributed Autonomous Organization, the venture capital business based solely on smart contracts, may have flamed out, but it has only pushed Wall Street and the fintech industry to increase their efforts to further develop smart-contract technology.

“It has not slowed down any of the efforts by our members, participants, or the Chamber itself regarding smart contracts,” said Perianne Boring, founder and president of the Digital Chamber of Commerce.

Since starting the digital currency and asset trade association in July 2014, Boring has seen interest in smart contracts only grow to the point where the Chamber launched its Smart Contract Alliance working group.

Perianne Boring,Digital Chamber of Commerce

Perianne Boring, Digital Chamber of Commerce

“Our members have been discussing it for many months now, she said. “A lot of the companies that are investing and innovating with smart-contract technologies and the working group grew very organically.”

Its three-prong mandate is to address educational, technical, and legal/policy issues for the industry and policymakers.

“These are issues that no one company could achieve or tackle on their own,” said Boring. “It takes bringing multiple companies together to go after these big-picture challenges.”

The SCA is focusing much of its efforts on education currently, given the nascent nature of the technology.

“As soon as we felt that we were making progress on Bitcoin, the community begins using the term blockchain, which put us back to square one on the education side,” she noted. “Then they start adding these new applications, such as smart contracts on top of blockchains. We have a lot of educational work to do,”

In the meantime, the SCA also is seeking to help the industry establish the necessary technical and interoperability standards for smart contracts.

“Although we are not writing standards on day one, we have provided a platform and a forum for standards to be written when the industry has matured and is ready to take the next step,” said Boring.

Across the Atlantic, Barclays and the University College London recently published the position paper Smart Contract Templates: foundations, design landscape, and research directions, to further spur industry discussions on smart contracts, reported the digital currency news site CoinDesk.

Within the 15-page publication, the authors discuss the necessary foundations of a smart contract— terminology, automation, enforceability, and semantics—as well as present model templates that are designed to support the management of the complete lifecycle of smart contracts and a roadmap for further development.

“This, of course, will require substantial work from academia working with lawyers, standards bodies, and the financial services industry,” concluded the authors.

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