In January Bitcoin Magazine reported that PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the world’s largest professional services firm, had started an aggressive blockchain-based fintech development program and recruited 15 technology specialists to explore the application and commercialization of the blockchain technology.
“The pressure to reduce costs while generating revenue growth is an ongoing goal of organizations all over the world,” notes PwC’s Blockchain Solution Portfolio website. “As those goals become increasingly difficult to obtain, many forward-thinking companies are beginning to consider innovative peer-to-peer technologies for their potential to reinvent business processes.”
More information on PwC’s blockchain strategy and technology partners is starting to emerge. Blockstream is one of the first companies to announce a strategic partnership with PwC to bring blockchain technology and services to companies around the world. Together, PwC and Blockstream will help companies evaluate cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies against business needs.
Blockstream, a company focused on implementing sidechains and accelerating innovation in digital currencies, was formed by the authors of the Bitcoin Sidechains whitepaper “Enabling Blockchain Innovations with Pegged Sidechains,” released in October 2014. In November 2014, Blockstream closed a $21 million seed funding round with nearly 40 high-profile investors.
The Bitcoin Sidechains paper envisages an ecosystem of “sidechains” separate from the main Bitcoin blockchain but interoperable with it by means of two-way pegs, allowing for the transfer of assets between sidechains and the main blockchain. A sidechain can implement changes from Bitcoin Core, for example, more powerful scripting features or more watertight privacy.
Blockstream launched Sidechain Elements, a sidechain development framework with open source code and developer sidechains, and a first commercial production sidechain, called Liquid, which is meant to improve capital efficiency and market liquidity by facilitating rapid and secure transfers between accounts held at any participating exchange or brokerage.
“For our clients, understanding new world applications of Bitcoin and blockchain technology, adapting it for myriad uses, and using it optimally are critical to improving financial security, efficiency and compliance,” said PwC FinTech Co-Leader Haskell S. Garfinkel. “PwC is teaming with Blockstream to offer our joint knowledge and capabilities to clients – giving them one place to go, maximizing expertise, talent and assets from both organizations.”
PwC analysts see three trends related to blockchain that they believe will be important in 2016: Companies will need to protect their intellectual property as they explore new collaborative opportunities with customers, suppliers and competitors; large financial institutions will need strategic plans to set parameters for technology risk-taking; and market participants will start to develop the processes that surround the transactional layer.
“Blockchain technology has the potential to open the door to revolutionary possibilities in multiple industries,” added PwC FinTech Co-Leader Dean Nicolacakis. “As we kick off 2016, we’ll be working with Blockstream across our practice areas to bring joint expertise, thought leadership, training, pilots and full-scale implementations to market.”
In related news, Eris Industries announced a strategic partnership with PwC. “We’re very pleased about this and looking forward to accomplishing great things in the coming year,” said Eris Industries’ COO and General Counsel Preston Byrne.
“Eris is a universal blockchain platform capable of running any client for a public blockchain and any client for a permissioned blockchain which is open sourced,” notes a Microsoft post on the partners in Microsoft’s Blockchain as a Service ecosystem. “The Eris platform greatly reduces the complexity of creating blockchain-based applications. Integrate multiple blockchain, distributed file storage, and other distributed systems into a cohesive application. Eris also makes it simple and easy for your organization to get started using permissionable, smart-contract capable blockchains.”
These two partnerships indicate main focus areas for PwC’s blockchain fintech program. PwC stated that they decided to look into Bitcoin and its underlying blockchain technology in response to the growing demand of their clients and investors. PwC has reviewed almost 1,000 blockchain startups against client’s needs to create a solution portfolio to support the blockchain needs of financial institutions around the world.