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R3 Makes Code for Financial Agreements Platform Open Source

The bank consortium R3 CEV has released its Corda platform as open source to encourage innovation and interoperability in the industry's development of blockchain technology.

The distributed ledger platform, built by R3 and its large bank members, is designed to record and manage financial agreements between regulated financial institutions and restrict access to sensitive data within such agreements to those who need to validate it. By making it open source, outside developers will be able to test the platform, contribute to the code and build applications on top of it.

Blockchains provide more value to financial services when they're "able to integrate and work seamlessly with each other," David Rutter, R3's CEO, said in a Wednesday news release. "The applications being built therefore need to be based on common, open, interoperable platforms – much like the common protocols on which the internet operates today."

The move is also an invitation for the developer community to "critique, collaborate and contribute," chief technology officer Richard Gendal Brown said in a blog post about the code release. R3 debated the right time to release Corda's code as open source and opted to do so early, he said, instead of waiting until the code had been perfected and every bug had been patched. That means finding "gaps, issues and problems" with the code is expected, but R3 welcomes feedback and fix submissions, Brown said.

The R3 code was contributed to the Hyperledger project, an initiative with the Linux Foundation to advance blockchain technology for recording and verifying transactions across multiple industries. Hyperledger's technology is built for more general purposes, where all details of a trade are shared with all members of the network. As of Wednesday developers can access the Corda codebase, sample applications and a tutorial to help begin writing their own "CorDapps."

Corda's release, which the firm announced in October for a Nov. 30 release, comes on the heels of revelations last week that founding members Goldman Sachs, Banco Santander and Morgan Stanley would not renew their memberships in the consortium.

The blockchain startup Chain also began open-sourcing its platform, Chain Protocol, recently; and Digital Asset Holdings plans to open-source DAML (Digital Asset Modeling Language), its smart-contract-like modeling language for financial applications, and supporting tools, though it has not indicated when.

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