Bridging the Governance Gap: Interoperability for blockchain and legacy systems

 

Smart contracts can unlock the hidden value of legacy digital systems based on interoperability with the capabilities of DLT systems.

In the past 10 years, blockchain and distributed ledger technologies (DLT) have generated tremendous interest and activity from developers, enterprises, venture capitalists, regulators and users alike. The innovation of blockchain technology leads to an important question about how legacy digital systems, operated by enterprises, governments and institutions, will be affected.

Presently, the answers to this question have varied from one extreme (“all legacy systems will be replaced”) to the other (“DLT is too slow and unproven to actually replace any working legacy system”). However, the eventual answer may lie somewhere in between, where the utility of select legacy systems is upgraded by DLT integration wherever appropriate, and DLT solutions witness a growth in enterprise adoption.

Multiple reports analysing the blockchain/DLT adoption by organizations have pointed out that blockchain integration with other systems (e.g. other blockchains or other non‑DLT information systems) is one of the crucial challenges. Early experiments on interoperability have demonstrated DLT‑to‑legacy integration to be useful in many use cases (e.g. reinsurance) in establishing trust among multiple parties.

This white paper intends to identify the foundational pillars for legacy system‑DLT system interoperability as well as efforts made in this direction, and recommends the adoption of a holistic industry standard that can accelerate the development and implementation of these “interoperability bridges” across geographic regions and disparate systems.

Authors

Sergey Nazarov Co-Founder, Chainlink Chief Executive Officer, Chainlink Labs

Punit Shukla Project Lead, Blockchain and Digital Assets World Economic Forum

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