BTP: Enabling efficient and trustworthy multiparty innovation
Duncan Johnston-Watt is a passionate entrepreneur. He is the Co-founder & CEO, BTP, an enterprise blockchain company. Prior to this, he founded Cloudsoft Corporation and served as its CEO for nine years. He was also the founder & CTO of Enigmatec Corporation. Duncan holds an MSc in Computation from Oxford University where he was a graduate student at Balliol College and has served in multiple fintech roles. In 2021 he was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA). His specialties include Open Source, Blockchain, Cloud, Autonomic Computing. He speaks on an array of topics. Excerpts from an interview:
The Inception of BTP
BTP is an enterprise blockchain company, delivering the fundamental building blocks for multiparty innovation, ultimately enabling digital collaboration that is decentralized, efficient, and trustworthy. Headquartered in Edinburgh, the company has a presence in Barcelona, London, New York and San Francisco. BTP is a member of the Blockchain Research Institute, the Global Blockchain Business Council, the Linux Foundation’s CNCF, Hyperledger Foundation, LF Energy and OpenSSF communities, as well as the Industry IoT Consortium.
According to Duncan, business today is inherently multiparty and highly dependent on critical infrastructure and supply chains. “In this climate, collaboration is key to success provided that it is founded on efficiency and trust. However, building efficient and trustworthy multiparty applications is a complex challenge. We make it easy to create multiparty applications that enable efficient and trustworthy collaboration, by taking care of the underlying technology infrastructure.”
When he and his longtime collaborator Kevin O’Donnell co-founded BTP, it was clear to them that blockchain was still a science project for most businesses, so making the technology easy to use seemed to be a good bet, and critical for widespread adoption in the enterprise space.
Sextant – Realizing the benefits of Blockchain
BTP’s flagship offering – Sextant allows organizations to navigate distributed ledger, smart contract, and information security infrastructure deployment and management with ease. It makes it easier to deploy a distributed application in production by removing operational complexity. It focuses on three key areas:
Distributed Ledgers: Sextant automates the deployment and management of enterprise blockchain infrastructure and supports leading open-source distributed ledgers.
Smart Contracts: Sextant accelerates the adoption of smart contracts by simplifying the deployment and management of the Daml and WebAssembly runtime environments on distributed ledgers.
Information Security: Sextant simplifies the deployment and management of decentralized file, storage and document management systems that protect business-critical information.
As a serial advocate for emerging technologies, Duncan is keen to point out that risk is a very subjective even emotive topic. “Leaving aside the conflation of blockchain with bitcoin which continues to be an issue, the biggest risk is misunderstanding its applicability. Blockchain technology is best applied where there is friction – e.g., inefficiencies or lack of trust – between multiple parties.”
BTP – The Way Ahead
April 2021 saw the launch of the DLT Landscape, an open source, living segmentation of the evolving distributed ledger technology market. “Created by our VP of Strategy, Csilla Zsigri and inspired by the growing complexity of this space, this is an initiative that taps her extensive knowledge as an industry analyst but crucially is independent of the company,” explains Duncan. “Curated by Csilla and hosted by us on behalf of the community, it is modelled after the CNCF Landscape and leverages the same open-source code base.”
The Success Mantra
“In our view, we are a startup in a fast-moving, emerging technology space, so in that sense the challenges we face are no different to those facing startups in similar spaces other than having to deal with the confusion between bitcoin and blockchain which as mentioned earlier persists.” He says that the company continues to focus on enabling enterprises to exploit blockchain and associated technologies, in particular smart contracts, which is a world away from crypto. “I’m an entrepreneur. I’m a big believer in pattern recognition and a fan of amongst others William Gibson, Max Richter and Tom Waits.”
Blockchain – The Future
Blockchain technology has the potential to drive major changes and create new opportunities. Adds Duncan that blockchain is a foundational technology. It has the potential to help transform our economic and social systems. “Provenance, payments, and identity are three key application areas that are not only driving the adoption of blockchain technology, but also have great potential to yield significant value for our economy and society” he signs off.