Financial Services Industry embracing distributed ledger technology and actively advocating its adoption every day. And why not? Blockchain has shown significant potential, thus the financial institutions considering blockchain that could help them for considerable savings in infrastructure, transaction and administrative costs. Let’s explore What can Blockchain Technology do in Financial Service?
Blockchain’s potential is abundance. It’s ability to store data in a ledger, with extra security and decentralization nature denotes limitless blockchain application. You get an insight of blockchain financial services use-case, here are several examples of blockchain application in cross-industries:
“Financial services are the economic services provided by the finance industry, which encompasses a broad range of businesses that manage money, including credit unions, banks, credit card companies, insurance companies, accountancy companies, consumer-finance companies, stock brokerages, investment funds, individual managers and some government-sponsored enterprises.” This is how Wikipedia described Financial-Services.
Adoption of blockchain will impact almost every area of the financial industry. Blockchain is assumed to provide every party in the network access to the same ‘source of truth.’ However, it is private and permission blockchains, which is where the future of technology lies. In this series we describe five blockchain technology use-case in financial services:
1. Improve Online Identity Management: When identity management is moved to blockchain, users will be allowed to define how they would identify themselves and with whom their identity has partaken. However, users will still require to register their identity on the network developed using blockchain, but once it’s done, a new registration not required for every service provider every time if service providers are also connected to the same network. Once is enough.
Challenges: Blockchain is quite a new technology and very few people have expertise in it. As they are still embracing blockchain to know its full potential, thus identification options are still limited. Additionally, standards for identity on blockchain are not yet set and best practices are still being developed. However, if identity management jumped on blockchain, users must be aware of minimizing any private information that they don’t want to divulge.
2. Execute Smart Contracts: Blockchain cuts out any middlemen and smart contracts foster trustworthiness between parties. For instance, Deloitte developed a PoC for a life term insurance product to record in a blockchain smart contract. Smart Contract based this project aims to define a payout beforehand in the insurance policy clearly.
Challenges: Blockchain is secure, so experts in domain consider smart contracts as a safer alternative to traditional contract law. Though maturity of the blockchain technology is still an issue, smart contracts are finding their place – and they are here to stay.
3. Increase the Usage of Loyalty Rewards: Loyalty and rewards program are companies strategic investment. The 2016 Bond Loyalty Report study on North American loyalty rewards revealed the low success rate for loyalty rewards programs. Customer loyalty programs are not apprehending their full potential since it struggles with less client retention, redemption rates, time delays, and high costs. That’s where blockchain comes in. Giants in technology believe the issues can be fixed by using Blockchain where the innovative technology enables to integrate all of the programs into an interlinked network. The distributed ledger technology believed to offer new opportunities to manage transactions and maintain records, essential for integrating rewards programs.
Challenges: By linking rewards programs, blockchain is believed to solve many issues. However, the concern is there could also have limitations. For instance, the introduction of Blockchain platforms for loyalty program interlinking adds transaction layer for consumers, merchants, and program operators, which would likely call for a per transaction cost. A danger of currency devaluation is also a point of concern as it is essential points of trading in an open marketplace.
4. Speed Up And Simplify Domestic and Cross-Border Payments: Currently, international transactions take days, if not weeks, to be completed. To overcome the current structural weaknesses, adoption of blockchain has increased to offer near-instant cross-border payments. Blockchain to be said, “reduce the settlement time and lower the cost of completing global payments for businesses and consumers”. The ledger-based system and decentralized blockchain technology effectively removes the intermediary banks and also provides guaranteed, real-time transactions across borders.
Challenges: Even with the comprehensive benefits, there are some difficulties in adopting Blockchain in cross-border payments. The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the year 2015 charged Ripple with a US$700,000 fine for its non-compliance with the KYC and AML laws. Banks and Fintech need to improve and implement KYC and AML into the system for a secure, transparent yet immutable transactions records.
5. Digitize and Automate Of Stocks & Trade Processes: Buying and selling stocks and shares has always meant many go-betweens, including brokers and the stock exchange itself. A blockchain – that enables every party a say in the validation of a transaction will create a decentralized and secure ledger which speed up the settlement process, ensures greater trade accuracy, and simultaneously escape some of the ‘middlemen’ (such as brokers) while changing the role of others (such as those determining share price).
Challenges: However, increased transaction security and reduced risk of manipulation potentially attract to regulators, blockchain can also give growth to severe legal and regulatory challenges. The financial market ecosystem is currently uncertain that blockchain will live up to its promises. Maintaining security standards across a decentralized database and concern around scalability are challenges tech giants are struggling with.
6. Improved KYC Experience: The current KYC process took days and even weeks to satisfy the requirements from regulators. Blockchain with its distributed ledger enables digital identity improvements that help financial institutions meet the ever-changing KYC requirements. It further also reduce the costs associated with implementing a robust KYC program. The shared and immutable ledger of blockchain allows for unaltered transaction history that diminishes financial crimes and compliance violations in the long term.
Challenges: The KYC space is an area of enormous risk and hence investment. Blockchains are being investigated as solutions of this challenge by banks as well as fintech to tap into the comprehensive authentication process.