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Shell’s Trading Arm Bags Stake In London-Based Blockchain Start-Up

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Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell’s trading arm Shell Trading International made a significant move into blockchain development on Thursday (18 January) by bagging a minority stake in London, U.K.-based start-up Applied Blockchain.

In the simplest of terms, a blockchain is akin to a digitally distributed ledger that can be replicated and spread across many nodes in a peer-to-peer network, thereby minimising the need for oversight and governance of a single ledger.

It is being actively pursued by several energy traders among others. Along with Shell Trading International, Caliberate Partners would also be taking a minority stake in the start-up founded in 2015 in London’s Level39 Fintech Accelerator.

Applied Blockchain develops blockchain applications with a focus on distributed ledger technology and smart contracts. The start-up grew organically through 20 initial client engagements in two years and was featured in Gartner’s 2017 ‘Market Guide for Blockchain Consulting and Proof-of-Concept Development Services’ report.

While the company’s clients include banking, telecoms, automotive, manufacturing and aviation players, the agreement with Shell and Caliberate marks the first foray into the energy industry for Applied Blockchain.

Furthermore, Shell has also selected the start-up as the winner of a development competition for it’s downstream businesses. Adi Ben-Ari, Founder and CEO of Applied Blockchain, said: “Such investments and partnerships will accelerate our growth and enable us to deploy our solutions to a truly global business ecosystem.”

Johan Krebbers, Chief Technology Officer for IT at Shell Global Solutions International, said: “Blockchain applications have huge potential to shake up how we do things in the energy industry from streamlining process, to simplifying how we work with our suppliers and serve our customers. Investing in Applied Blockchain is part of our commitment to use digitalization to create value in our core business and develop new business models.”

The latest development comes a matter of months after a consortium, including Shell and its rivals BP and Statoil, announced it will develop a blockchain-based digital platform for energy commodities trading expected by end-2018.

Other members of the consortium include trading houses Gunvor, Koch Supply & Trading, and Mercuria, and banks ABN Amro, ING and Societe Generale.

The author is an oil market analyst and Business Editor of IBTimes UK. Follow him on Twitter @The_Oilholic

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