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June 14, 2017
Safe, secure and speedy – blockchain in action
By: Sarah Francis

Blockchain and Hardware Security Modules sound pretty techy and quite scary but they don’t have to be. I wanted to do a short blog to describe what blockchain is and how we’re using it to make an impact in various industries.

Blockchain has been in the market for the last couple of years. It is a shared record of transactions that is maintained by a network of computers on the internet, instead of a centralised authority.

There are two main concerns that surround the technology: scalability and security.

The beauty of blockchain is that it allows you to see a verified, accurate and untampered with account of transactions. These can be payments, but equally they can be simpler exchanges of information. However, once you attempt to use blockchain on a corporate scale, there are question marks over whether it can cope with the increased volume on a daily, or even hourly basis, with the same veracity.

Security is a concern not because of the blockchain process itself, but because certain blockchain implementations, such as many financial services uses, require a digital wallet. The challenge is that digital wallet technology has not always been well protected and there have been instances where it has been hacked.

In the Innovation Programme, we looked at it and thought, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could make it secure to use and also scalable for corporate use?’. Who better to work with than Thales, and its Hardware Security Module (HSM).

HSMs are crypto-processors that securely generate, protect and store digital keys –which secure and control access to digital information. The keys stored in the Thales HSM architecture cannot be extracted or used except under a highly controlled protocol. We decided that the market leading Thales nShield HSM could provide the simple path to large-scale commercial use of blockchain technology.

We made it possible for the HSM to secure the blockchain. The solution used Fabric, a Hyperledger technology and can be adapted for other leading blockchain technology platforms as well.

What this means is that financial services companies can offer a higher degree of security and trust in processing payments. Our work started here, but is sure to grow.

Supply chains require a secure means of tracking products from source to shelf and not just payments. The healthcare industry relies on securely sharing information to provide better patient care. Broader trading ecosystems can be created with an independently secured means of operation at its core.

With so many applications for this technology, I am excited to see where it can take us.

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