How interoperability could boost blockchain and avoid a ‘Betamax’ issue

13 Sep 2022

The Accenture booth at the Hyperledger Global Forum in Dublin's Convention Centre. Image: Leigh Mc Gowran/

Accenture’s Melanie Cutlan and David Treat spoke to about the importance of blockchain interoperability, metaverse possibilities, and the ‘competition frontier’ of digital wallets.

The conversation around blockchain has moved on from the “Cambrian explosion” of different projects in the past to a discussion around the “combinations and the relationships between projects”.

That’s according to David Treat, senior MD and global metaverse continuum business group and blockchain lead at Accenture. Treat is also the chair of the Hyperledger Foundation, an organisation bringing together resources and infrastructure for open-source software blockchain projects.

It organised the Hyperledger Global Forum in Dublin this week, featuring more than 100 speakers discussing key business issues for the Hyperledger community such as blockchain interoperability, the climate crisis, digital identity and tokenomics.

Treat previously told that blockchain is like a team sport. Yesterday (12 September), he spoke of the importance of events such as the Hyperledger Global Forum for discussions around interoperability.

“This is the only place to talk through the whole notion of the hybrid models that are going to take advantage of different ledgers for different purposes with different capabilities,” Treat told

He has spoken to clients that have been “paralysed from moving forward” on projects because they were concerned about picking the wrong blockchain tech.

He noted that a focus on interoperability between blockchain technologies helps to remove the concern of picking the “Betamax” option – like the video cassette that lost the competition war to VHS.

“If you enable an environment to allow more than one ledger to succeed and then to work through interoperability, then we can focus on advancing the more valuable parts of the functionality, efficiency, capabilities and the like,” Treat said.

A focus on the metaverse

Melanie Cutlan, Accenture MD and metaverse technology capabilities lead, also spoke at the event. She noted the emergence of the “internet of ownership”, where blockchain and other technologies can create verifiable digital identities, allowing new digital products and currencies to be created.

She said that the momentum of the metaverse is also creating a defining moment for leaders in the blockchain space. As the concept of the metaverse expands, ledger technology could be incorporated for transactions, identity verification and other features.

“The metaverse will impact everything we do, from consumers to enterprises, to how you manage your business, to the products that you buy,” she said.

Accenture has shown that the metaverse has already entered the world of work. Earlier this year, Accenture Ireland’s talent brand lead, Kevin Ennis, told how the company is using metaverse technology as part of its recruitment and onboarding strategies.

The consulting company revealed that it managed to onboard 150,000 employees during the Covid-19 pandemic using its metaverse technology.

Speaking to, Cutlan said that creating a sense of “togetherness” and “collaboration” was needed to onboard such a large volume of staff. “It comes with an entire experience of unpacking, you’re not only getting a device, but you’re actually getting the experience to connect with other people,” she explained.

Accenture has been researching the metaverse for around 15 years, with more than 600 patents related to the concept. The company has shared plans to continue making incursions in this area, with its Indian arm playing a key role in these ambitions.

“We made a statement in 2013 that every business would be a digital business and we got some interesting reactions then,” Cutlan said. “The statement now is the metaverse is impacting all our ways of life, so there’s kind of no business left behind, across the board. And we’ve seen that consistent engagement across the board.”

Treat added that “any company that has an employee” could benefit from this type of tech. “We basically demonstrated that if you have an employee, the metaverse can help from an onboarding, training, culture building, community, collaboration perspective,” he said.

Digital wallets: A competition frontier

One developing area that both Treat and Cutlan are interested in is the idea of digital wallets that allow users to carry their identity, money and objects from place to place.

“The winning digital business in the next period is the one who creates the most trusted access to that wallet,” Treat said. “So if you’re part of designing the standards and the infrastructure for it, I think that’s the competition frontier for a lot of companies.”

Treat said there are three industries that are best positioned to go after this “frontier”, which are financial services, the telecoms industry, and providers of hardware and cloud providers.

“So how it plays out between those three industries, I think it’s going to be fascinating,” Treat said.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic