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IBM is opening a Blockchain Innovation Centre in Singapore in collaboration with with the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

IBM, which is a leading voice in the world of blockchain research and development, will also be looking to connect shared ledger technology with the physical world of global trade and logistics via the Port Authority of Singapore, the world's largest container transhipment port.

IBM Researchers will work with government, industries and academia to develop applications and solutions which are based on enterprise blockchain, cyber-security, and cognitive computing technologies, said an IBM statement.

In addition to drawing from the expertise in the Singaporean talent pool and that of the IBM Research network, the center will also engage with small and medium-sized enterprises to create new applications and grow new markets in finance and trade.

Robert Morris, vice president, Global Labs, IBM Research, said: "This is IBM's first collaboration with the private sector and multiple government agencies within the same country to explore the use of blockchain and cognitive technologies to improve business transactions across several different industries.

"Now with new cloud services that make these technologies more accessible, leaders from all industries are beginning to take note of the resulting profound and disruptive implications in a range of settings including finance, banking, IoT, healthcare, supply chains, manufacturing, technology, government, the legal system, and more."

IBM said it will work with the Port Authority of Singapore, the world's largest container transhipment port, and others to create a trade ecosystem which connects emerging financial technologies with the physical world of global trade and logistics. This will lead to new business models and attract more global trade and finance to Singapore.

Tan Chong Meng, Group CEO, PSA International, said: "PSA is pleased to be a collaborator in the new Center for blockchain Innovation being set up in Singapore. We will work with IBM and other partners, as well as through our new incubator program PSA unboXed, to explore the development and use of blockchain technology for Trade, Finance, and Logistics.

"These are fields that we can add value to with our expertise as a hub port operator in Singapore and around the world. We believe new technologies such as blockchain have the potential to reinvent multi-party business transactions and that Singapore is the right innovation hub to carry out field trials of such technologies across a variety of uses."

Kiren Kumar, executive director, Infocomms and Media, EDB, said: "The IBM Center for Blockchain Innovation will allow companies across industries to partner with IBM in co-creating cutting edge digital solutions for global markets from Singapore. We are also pleased that IBM continues to engage actively with institutes of higher learning through the center, creating roles for a deep talent pool in Singapore to advance emerging technologies."

The first projects for the center will focus on trade solutions using blockchain to improve efficiency of multi-party trade finance processes and transactions. The solutions and associated blockchain platform will be designed and developed in Singapore. These projects, which could also involve global banks and emerging financial technology companies, are aligned with the vision of MAS, Singapore's Central Bank, to further develop Singapore as a Smart Financial Center.

"The financial sector is well-placed to play a leading role in Singapore's vision of being a Smart Nation. Given that technology is a key enabler of financial services, MAS is pleased to continue to work with companies like IBM to promote technology innovation in finance, and encourage the adoption of safe and efficient technology with the financial industry," said Sopnendu Mohanty, chief FinTech officer of MAS.

The center is also welcomed by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (iDA). Assistant chief executive Khoong Hock Yun, Development Group, iDA said, "As we build Singapore into a Smart Nation, innovation in the financial sector is key to help increase Singapore's competitiveness as a global trading hub.

"The industry's move is a clear sign that Singapore is capitalising on opportunities to be market leaders in emerging technologies such as the blockchain. This can translate to strong benefits throughout our entire finance ecosystem including the boosting of local tech capabilities. We hope to see more examples of industry innovation moving forward."

Over the next three years, the Innovation Center is expected to deliver a number of technology pilots across the finance and trade industries. These projects will build on IBM's work with the Linux Foundation Hyperledger platform. The Innovation Center will be staffed with technical talent from Singapore as well as researchers from IBM Research Labs worldwide, said IBM.