Today the U.S. Accredited Standards Committee X9 (X9) announced the publication of an ANSI standard for distributed ledger technology (DLT) terminology. It includes definitions for terms such as blockchain and central bank digital currencies and targets the financial services sector.
A couple of months back, the World Economic Forum published a report with the Global Blockchain Business Council, which mapped the wide range of blockchain standards that impact the sector. One of the challenges is there are already multiple standards that define terminology, each in a slightly different way.
Blockchain standards come from mainstream bodies such as the ISO and technology standards bodies IEEE and ITU-T. But as in the case of X9 many industries have also published standards. In this case, the ANSI standard is free to download, but that’s not the situation for all blockchain standards.
It’s worth stepping back to look at the real need for standards, which is interoperability. Given the very nature of enterprise blockchain is communication between businesses, the need for standards has rarely been as strong.
But there are multiple levels of standards. One is to ensure that data and processes adopted within an industry are consistent so that the data can potentially be transferred between different networks. Otherwise there’s a risk that consortia create new silos because they can’t interoperate with other networks.
Another level is technical interoperability or how the networks can talk to each other or legacy systems. While work is progressing on standards for technical blockchain interoperability, there is still a wide range of approaches and it might be hard to gain broad buy-in.