Proposal For Standardisation Of Blockchain And Electronic Distributed Ledger Technologies

Author:Mr Pearse Ryan and Robert Cain
Profession:Arthur Cox

 International standard setting is a complex area, with a multi-step process applying to the formulation of standards. The rise of the financial technology or FinTech sector has given rise to potential substantial opportunities for business supplying FinTech solutions, substantial benefits for consumer and business users of Fintech solutions and consequential concern among regulatory authorities and legislators as to how to deal with this new and booming sector. At present and for the immediate future, the area is largely not subject to specific rule setting or law. That may change in the medium to long term and we have recently seen the EU Commission launch an internal task force to review and recommend Commission approach and initiatives in the area1.


As part of this general focus on FinTech we have recently seen the first initiative at the international standard setting level. Standards Australia (SA), the national standards authority, put forward in April 2016 a proposal addressed to the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) for the standardisation of blockchain

 and distributed ledger technologies.2 As explained in the SA press release, "this follows consultation with stakeholders which uncovered that interoperability between different protocols is the key to unlocking the potential of blockchain". The proposal scope is to support interoperability and data interchange among users, applications and systems, both nationally and internationally. The SA proposal was approved by the ISO Technical Management Board in September 2016. The Technical Management Board approved the establishment of a new technical committee on blockchain and distributed ledger technologies and allocated the secretariat to SA. Thus, SA will manage the subsequently established international body, to be known as the Secretariat of the International Technical Committee for Blockchain Standards (ISO/TC 307) (the "Secretariat").

There are currently fifteen other participating countries involved in the proposal, including the UK, the US, Canada, China and Germany, as well seventeen observing countries, including Ireland, Argentina, Spain, Switzerland and South Africa. It is likely that a number of the observers will move to participant status, which is a common procedural step in the standard setting world. As the authors are Irish lawyers, it is understood that the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) are working to...

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