Smart contract consortium, the Accord Project, which includes a number of leading law firms, has partnered with global online identity organisation, the Open Identity Exchange (OIX), to create standards for self-executing contracts.
While OIX may not be well-known to all, it is an important trade organisation and is certified by the US Government, and counts the UK Government, as well as senior figures from Barclays bank, LexisNexis, Google and Microsoft as among its executive members and leadership team.
OIX’s goal is to help build global standards for online identity, which in turn will help support trade and security across multiple economic sectors and between government agencies. Meanwhile, the Accord Project, which includes smart contract pioneer, Clause and blockchain platform Hyperledger, has the goal of working in partnership with law firms and standards bodies, as well as other tech companies, to form the necessary foundations for the use of legally and technically sound smart contracts around the world.
In which case, this is a big deal, given the influential group of backers for similar standards at OIX and that online identity is a key aspect of agreeing standards for smart contracts.
After all, no one wants contracts self-executing until everyone is certain all parties are operating from the same ID rule book and with the same definitions, just as the international banking payments system equally relies upon common standards of identification – and simply could not work without that.
Also, once a sufficient number of leading businesses and standards organisations have hammered out the rules by which smart contracts can operate globally, there is little then to hold back their use. And, aside from the initial technological knowledge gap that some firms have in relation to smart contracts, it is standardisation of format and protocols that holds back wider use by companies and lawyers. Once those are agreed then the age of smart contracts handling complex commercial matters around the globe can really begin. And with these steps it may not be that far off.
Alongside the OIX agreement, Accord has also forged partnership agreements with the Decentralized Identity Foundation, and Sovrin, which are also ID-focused groups, and also the Trusted IoT Alliance, which has a focus on setting standards for the Internet of Things. With these Accord will also work on the development of open source code that relates to smart contract use.
Accord Project Co-director, Houman Shadab, who is also a co-founder of Clause and a professor at New York Law School, said: ‘As the Accord Project develops standards to promote digital transactions that are enabled by smart legal contracts, it is crucial to get the identity aspect of contracting right.’
‘Collaborating with the OIX ensures that the Accord Project’s open source standards and technology for smart legal contracts will incorporate leading approaches to digital identity, including those that promote decentralisation, self-sovereign identity, global interoperability, and the use of distributed ledger technology. It is important that organisations that start using smart legal contract technology are building from an industry recognised set of standards. We need to know, canonically, how to begin to introduce data-driven functionalities into legal contracts.’
The partnership will begin by publishing a white paper on the Accord Protocol ID – an industry standard for decentralised digital identity and the supporting trust framework for smart legal contracts.
OIX Chairman Don Thibeau added: ‘The Open Identity Exchange is excited to partner with the Accord Project for the development of open identity standards and a trust framework for smart legal contracts. Distributed ledger technology provides a new vista for digital identity, as well as for contractual agreements. Through this collaboration, the Open Identity Exchange and the Accord Project will produce open cross industry standards for a new paradigm of legal contracts — smart legal contracts.’