Blockchain solutions within financial services
Blockchain has been doing the rounds across a wide range of industries for quite some time now. This well-known distributed ledger holds so much unprecedented possibilities that corporations and companies are either planning or on the verge of integrating it into their operations today.
The finance sector is no different. There are a number of multinational corporations like Capgemini, Accenture, TCS, et al., that are offering blockchain-based solutions that can be implemented into the core functions of the financial services sector. In fact, major financial institutions like Citibank and Credit Suisse have also commissioned studies to investigate blockchain’s potential and its use cases.
Let us see how banking and financial services can yield the most from adopting blockchain.
Blockchain can help improve cross-border payments, as they have always been an expensive and slow process. For instance, a person transferring money from the US to his friend in India will involve a number of intermediary banks that will charge their commissions.
Although money-transferring services like MoneyGram and Western Union can make quick transfers, they are very costly. This is where blockchain can play an important part by speeding up and simplifying this process by eliminating involvement of mediatory parties. It will also make the money transfer process more affordable.
The blockchain technology will reduce the costs to 2-3% of the total amount and would provide guaranteed real-time transactions.
Trading in stock markets cannot be done without the involvement of brokers and the exchange itself. However, by creating a decentralised and secured ledger, like the blockchain, gives participants their individual right to validate a transaction, thereby expediting the settlement process and allowing precision trading. And since the entire blockchain is shared by all the members, it becomes easy to prevent double-spending and keeping a track of token owners.
Besides, a powerful scripting system can be of great help to automate transactions or making them contingent on defined pre-conditions.
Example: Three years ago, Nasdaq had announced its plans to implement blockchain as part of its enterprise-wide initiative. The company had said the technology would be put to use in order to expand and boost the equity management capabilities that are offered by its Nasdaq Private Market platform. It also assured offering ‘efficient, fully-electronic services that facilitate the issuance, transfer, and management of private company securities.
Blockchain-based smart contracts are bound by legal rules. These can help users with transferring of money, shares, assets, and etc., in a transparent and reliable fashion, without the need or dependency of a third party lawyer or other intermediaries. For instance, if two people intend to exchange some asset in the future, all payments and preconditions can first be converted into a smart contract. And whenever these stipulated conditions are met, a shared cryptographic ledger can transfer the money to the other party.
Smart contracts are more efficient, economical, faster, and remove errors that come from manually filled forms. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the two open-source blockchain-based platforms for smart contracts.
There are thousands of fraud cases happening in the insurance sector due to slow and outdated systems that fail to verify and authenticate a person’s identity. Other sectors like healthcare, banking and online retailing are also facing a range of security issues that can be reasons for future business losses.
Incorporating blockchain technology can nullify these problems by tracking and managing digital identities in a secured manner. Blockchain-based authentication systems use definitive identity verification with the help of digital signatures that are based on public key cryptography.
At present, blockchain-based solutions are able to settle thousands of transactions per second. This is very slow compared to the VISA payment system, which processes an average of 2000 transactions per second. There are new solutions like the lightning network with off-chain channels, which are capable of increasing the output to hundreds of thousands of transactions in a second.
It is said that the upcoming Ethereum Plasma could process more than 10,000 transactions in a second.
Key takeaway: Blockchain can provide an efficient, secure and trouble-free scalability of financial transactions.