Blockchain in Financial Services

Financial institutions adopting blockchain faster than expected

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According to a recent Reuters article, widespread financial adoption of blockchain technology was thought to be at least 5 to 10 years away. But a recent IBM study shows 15 percent of top global banks intending to roll out full-scale commercial blockchain products in 2017. Fireside chats and panelist sessions at Money20/20 hinted at this direction. Experts, financial institutions and tech consortia, shared how they are collaborating to shape the future of blockchain.

Hype versus reality

A key conversation point at the conference was on where the technology is in the “hype cycle.” While panelists shared that the landscape still requires standard setting and agreement on models and protocols, several companies shared real world use cases of collaborations moving to production in 2017. A variety of companies showcased their Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger powered applications built to address financial market requirements at Money20/20.

IBM at Hyperledger booth at Money 20/20

A full house as Christian Barrera shares how IBM Blockchain and Hyperledger collaborate at Money20/20

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IBM’s POV on blockchain

During the All Together Now, How Bank & Tech Partnerships are Shaping the Future of Blockchain, Chris Ferris, IBM CTO of Open Technologies, explained that these technologies are already available for experimentation and encouraged companies to act now in order for solution delivery in 2017.

During his Blockchain Explained presentation, Ferris discussed some of the offerings available that could save businesses time, reduce costs, and reduce risk. He clarified that the technology extends beyond bitcoin and shared the point of view of IBM on this technology and it’s usefulness across industries, combined with cognitive capabilities:

  • The technology must be built in the open to encourage innovation
  • It must be made ready for enterprise applications with a focus on privacy, confidentiality, auditability, performance and scalability
  • It must be permissioned to ensure greater trust across members, while enabling more optimized forms of consensus

Panelist moderators and audiences often asked who would be the “winners and losers” in the blockchain space. Almost all respondents said, it was too early to tell, but they encouraged openness and competition to increase innovation.

Balancing regulation with innovation

IBM Vice President of Blockchain Technologies Jerry Cuomo expressed that proactive public sector involvement could ensure open solutions are developed to support transparency, accuracy, and efficiency across business networks. Focusing on the importance of balancing regulation with innovation, he articulated four avenues of engagement for governments to support this movement:

  • Become an early adopter of blockchain technologies
  • Invest in research in the public sector and private sector
  • Adopt a pro-growth, pro-innovation approach to regulation
  • Set standards for security and privacy

One thing that was clear at Money 20/20 was that blockchain is not only a technology, but a principle that captures hearts and minds of different philosophical leanings. We are in nascent stages and the journey ahead is an exciting one!

Stay tuned for more…

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