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News: How Did a Team of A Level Students Find Bugs in the Clearmatics Hackathon?

08 February 2019 | Bill Hodgson

If two firms use two ledgers with different technology, how do they transfer value without an intermediary? Using the Clearmatics Ion framework might be the answer. Clearmatics organised a hackathon, which took place at Rise created by Barclays. Five teams took part and used the Ion framework developed by Clearmatics with a free choice of use case.

The explorations each team chose were these:

  • The team from Santander modelled bond issuance and trading across Hyperledger Fabric and Ethereum 
  • A team from Adhara explored making payments across networks from Clearmatics and Ethereum 
  • A team from Web3 Labs explored replacing LIBOR using Quorum and the Ethereum public blockchain
  • The team from Barclays tested bridging Ethereum and Corda
  • And the A level students from Bedford School re-invented the distribution of exam results on an Ethereum blockchain

Unlike some Hackathons, this didn't have a common set of problems. Each team chose their own approach to explore the bridging of ledgers. Why does any of this bridging stuff matter? Because sooner or later production systems using distributed ledgers will become commonplace. At that point, different use cases may well use competing networks requiring integration for the benefit of all.

The team from Bedford School is currently studying for their A levels, all but one of them can code in Python. The non-coder got a crash course in coding on the 8:15 train from Bedford to St Pancras. Besides which none of the A-level students knew the Ethereum technology until five days ago. The judges awarded the Bedford team Third Place for their inventive use case, their presentation with a sense of humour, and for finding a bug (now fixed). They also praised their approach for being a re-usable pattern.

In second place was Web3 Labs (the LIBOR idea) for publishing their solution as open source. Web3 also had great underlying reference implementation of Ion (written in Java). You can download their solution from Github now.

In top place was the team from Santander who went above and beyond with their technology. Their approach to model the flow of control as well as custody showed a real world scenario. Santander also bridged two different ledger platforms which was a tough challenge.

Honourable mentions went to the Barclays team who weren’t eligible to win their own hackathon and to Adhara for producing a solution which has commercial potential.

What did it all prove? That transfer of value across different ledger platforms is complex but achievable and that more exploration of passing control across networks should take place. The Clearmatics Ion framework is open source, and will develop further as a result of events like this.

More info at the Clearmatics Medium blog here.

Notes

Clearmatics are leading the Utility Settlement Coin (USC) project. The USC project has 17 financial institutions as participants. It aims to enable movement of cash balances across the USC network with 1:1 parity to their central bank currency.  The best source of background on USC is at the FT here: https://ftalphaville.ft.com/2017/09/18/2193542/what-is-utility-settlement-coin-really/

 

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