Blockchain in Financial Services

Blockchain in finance: How far we’ve come

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Professionally, one of the most exciting aspects of working on blockchain technology is finding out on a daily basis the opportunities available for me to influence so many things. These include the evolution of blockchain platforms, protocols, consensus algorithms, ledger models and message propagation algorithms, and the evolution of advanced financial applications as a direct result of blockchain enablement.

But what do I mean about financial applications, and what does blockchain technology have to do with evolving them?

For the past three years prior to IBM, I was focused on influencing the direction of blockchain technology adoption while working for a major financial institution. At that time, the capabilities of blockchain were basic — distribute ledger data, verify that transactions are originating from the right private key holder, Byzantine fault tolerance and proof-of-work as a consensus mechanism, and so on. The basic goal was to see how the concepts of crypto-signed transactions that modify data in a state machine — also known as blockchain technology — can be applied to existing banking systems and processes in order to reduce the costs of manual reconciliation and increase the quality of the client’s user experience.

Bring transparency, simplicity and efficiency to every financial transaction

As research and experimentation has progressed, I’ve been able to understand at a significant level of detail the requirements for fundamental banking operations as they exist today, and how those operations can be made more efficient using blockchain technology. This wasn’t an easy path to take, mind you. The subject-matter experts (SMEs) who know payment technologies, banking treasury management, central banking operations and financial custodian services, are incredibly difficult to find. Then when you do find them, they tend to be reluctant to describe the requirements for a system that has duct-taped together the entire world financial order for nearly 40 years.

But, here we are. Three years later and after more than a decade of working in financial services focused on cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications, I’m ready to start creating new businesses and products that haven’t been dreamed up yet. The infrastructure is actively under development, the old systems are starting to be replaced, and blockchain is starting to show its promise in real-world production systems.

In my next blog post, I discuss my research on the future financial products that will use blockchain technology.

Let me know what you think. Check out IBM Blockchain today and join the community to stay up to date.

Learn more about blockchain today

Managing Editor

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