Today R3 officially went live with Conclave, its confidential computing solution it first disclosed in 2019. In many ways, Conclave complements the enterprise blockchain Corda. Where Corda enables companies to share data they have in common, Conclave enables them to share confidential data in a very restricted way.
Looking at banking transactions, blockchain enables the sharing of a transaction between two banks. But sometimes it might be useful to share other transactions, for example, to tackle anti-money laundering.
Today each step in a transaction is viewed in isolation. But money laundering often involves several hops between banks. It would be possible to work out the original sender, the in-between steps, and the final destination by sharing data.
The problem is those transactions are confidential. Conclave enables the transactions to be shared in an encrypted form, without revealing the actual transactions to any of the other banks. The algorithm performs the analysis and verifies whether the client is telling the truth about the source of the money.
There are a broad array of applications ranging from calculating statistics across entire industries to clinical trials.
One way to think of trusted computing is like a safe room or a black box. Your data and other company’s data goes in, and an answer pops out, but nobody else sees your data.
And that safe room for Conclave is the Intel SGX chipset. Conclave’s goal is to make it easier to adopt confidential computing.
“Proprietary data—if shared and pooled effectively—holds the key to greater analytics, insight, and commercial opportunity,” said David E. Rutter, CEO at R3. “Yet, many firms resist sending it because of an inherent mistrust in how it will be used.”
“Conclave offers best-in-class technology, backed by the rich experience of our developers and business team, to empower customers to bring about a new era of privacy in data sharing, processing and analysis.”
There’s a plan to integrate Conclave with Corda, but that is yet to come.
The interest in confidential computing and multi-party computation is growing. In 2018 the Linux Foundation proposed the Confidential Computing Consortium, where R3 is a member alongside Accenture, Ant Group, Google, Intel, Microsoft and others.
Additionally, there’s the Multi-party Computation (MPC) Alliance, where members include Alibaba, Bosch, NTT and Salesforce.