It wasn’t long ago that your average enterprise wouldn’t even mention bitcoin, ethereum, or any number of cryptocurrencies in public.
Instead of using the cryptographically secure tokens to streamline workflows – or even talking about doing so – some of the most recognizable enterprises in blockchain have largely confined themselves to uses of blockchain as a new decentralized database, absent any digital assets.
Slowly however, over the past several years that has started to change. Executives at large corporations have shown themselves to be increasingly willing to take public stances both for (and against) what is now a $300 billion token market.
But if 2017 was the year that companies began talking about crypto, it wasn’t until recently that enterprises have been willing to publicly use cryptocurrencies in both early-stage prototypes and live applications.
Now, it would seem the floodgates are prepared to open, with the $140 billion IBM revealing to CoinDesk that it has been meeting with executives from commodities trading platforms, large corporations, and perhaps most importantly, central banks, to explore how cryptocurrencies can help save them money and generate revenue.
“We’re seeing tons of demand for digital asset issuance across the board,” said IBM’s new head of blockchain development Jesse Lund, who was hired from Wells Fargo earlier this year to help develop the computer giant’s cryptocurrency strategy.
At the moment, that work is largely being pursued using the public Stellar platform, and its native cryptocurrency, the lumen (XLM), a partnership made public last October.
But in interview, Lund said IBM is interested in expanding the business applications of cryptocurrencies in a number of ways.
By using the same technology that is allowing an increasing number of startups to raise capital on the Stellar platform, IBM is exploring a wide range of other tokens.
Lund breaks down the demand IBM is seeing into three main kinds of tokens: securities tokens that give owners a stake in the issuing company, utility tokens that give users access to a service such as phone minutes and commodities tokens that represent precious metals and other physical assets.
“We’re actually seeing a move toward the issuance of tokens that have a higher velocity that represent, for example, a claim on a portion of gold bullion sitting in a vault somewhere,” he said.