There’s a revolution brewing that the layman is not really aware of, and it’s a changing the face of digital financial transactions – and perhaps much more. Its origins remain a mystery. Created by someone (or a group, as many claim), with the pseudonym of Satoshi Nakamoto, the blockchain was brought into being in 2008 to serve as the public transaction ledger for bitcoins. It has applications in areas beyond crypotocurrency, and it is being enthusiastically embraced by the financial services industry.
But what exactly is blockchain?
Imagine information on a spreadsheet, but the spreadsheet is duplicated thousands of times across many computers in diverse geographic locations. If the spreadsheet is updated, a new ‘block’ of data is added, and it is simultaneously updated everywhere. A same picture is presented to viewers across the world. It is cryptographically secure and no data can be clandestinely removed or changed without the knowledge and consensus of all parties.
And there is no single server vulnerable to the hacker, all the data is easily verifiable and continually reconciled. It’s safe.
To quote Don & Alex Tapscott, authors of Blockchain Revolution*, “The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”
The immediate banking applications for blockchain technology are financial transactions like money transfers. Say you are sending money from a small town in Texas to a small town in India. The transfer is handled by at least 3 (and possible more) banks or financial entities before it reaches the transferee’s account. The transferor’s account is checked for funds, service charges are applied, and currency conversion takes place.
In a blockchain, each of these sub-transactions is represented as a digital block that needs to be verified before it is allowed to enter the system. And a record of every step is securely communicated to all the participating banks – nothing can be edited. Every bank knows exactly who did what, and when. Transparency is absolute.
There are many other uses of the blockchain. Australian Securities Exchange, for instance, is moving all its post-trade clearing and settlements to a blockchain system.
Trade finance with its letters of credit and bills of lading can be an obvious beneficiary of blockchain technology. The current system almost entirely paper based – and if goods are being shipped from China, for example, as many 50 people need to access the data.
So what can blockchain technology do outside the financial arena? Medical records, for one. In this day and age where medical diagnosis (and even treatment) is often being done from a remote location, a complete medical history is essential. A history from which no detail has been accidentally omitted. Absolutely ideal for a blockchain. What about privacy of the patient’s medical data? The blockchain can be double-encrypted so that only the attending physician with the password or digital fingerprint can access sensitive information.
Many big shopping chains are gearing up to incorporate the blockchain in their food management system. Why? Because one of the critical questions that we should ask whenever we consume anything is: “Where is this food coming from?”
In 2006 , there was a major E-Coli outbreak in the United States. Almost 200 people were affected, of which 31 developed a type of kidney failure called hemolytic-uremic syndrome. Ultimately, 3 people died in the outbreak. It quickly became clear that all the victims had eaten spinach. But from where?
The supermarket chains and the food industry as a whole panicked – spinach went off the market across the country – causing huge commercial losses. It took the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) weeks to trace the source of the spinach – grown on just one farm. Deaths, disruption, financial loss – all could have been prevented with blockchain technology.
Some observers remain skeptical. More than one tech guru believes that the blockchain has been hyped, that the claims are unrealistic, that it’s a passing fad. But interest is not abating – rather, speculation is expanding to newer areas. Smart property, where every detail is recorded in a land registry and is accessible. Music distribution, so that the artist can control (or at least be aware) of how a song is being used. Insurance…
…the list is endless and the future is blockchain bright.
Keynotes Announced: SAP Financial Services Live 2020
We are delighted to announce our Keynote Speakers & Session Titles for the upcoming free to attend digital event for banking, insurance, capital markets and central banks professionals; SAP Financial Services Live 2020 (17-19 November).
Meet Our Keynote Speakers:
Luka Mucic, CFO & Member of the Board, SAP
Financial Services: An Evolving Landscape
Christoph Böhm, CIO/COO, Deutsche Börse
Financial Markets and Technology in Transition
Maria Surmava, CIO, Discovery Health
Shared-Value Health Platform
Karsten Crede, CEO, ERGO Mobility Solutions
How to Become an Ecosystem Player
Peter Maier, President SAP Industries and Customer Advisory, SAP
Industry Convergence – Keynote Interview
Timo Elliott, VP – Global Innovation Evangelist, SAP
Opening Keynote; The World has Changed, and it’s Time to Adapt to the “Next Normal”
Alongside our keynotes, this event will be packed with SAP user case studies from leading global companies including: Bank of Ireland, Bank of Montreal, Capital One, Cornèr Bank, Discovery, Edelweiss, London Stock Exchange, MB Ageas, Munich Re, Samsung Life, Swiss Re, Vast Bank, Vienna Insurance Group, Zurich Insurance and many more to be announced.
Keep up to date with the latest information on our website >
Ahead of the event, you will have the opportunity to plan your own agenda with multiple live presentations each day to choose from. Then following the event, a library of on-demand content will be at your disposal so you can continue to strengthen your financial services business over the coming months.
Don’t miss the opportunity to connect online to debate, discuss and determine the current trends and hot topics for the financial services industry.
Sounds interesting? Register to join us here >
This is a Sponsored Feature
FinTech in Credit Markets: Efficiency and Potential Risks – Free webinar
With the help of alternative technologies, FinTech firms have begun to challenge the traditional banks’ role in financial services, from payment service to the provision of credits. This taster session aims to provide an overview of this development, with some focus on credit markets. We will discuss the scope and the drives of FinTech, its efficiencies, potential risks, as well as its relationship with traditional banking.
In this interactive session on Tuesday 10 November, Kebin Ma of Warwick Business School will discuss why FinTech has become a buzzword in the financial industry.
When: Tuesday 10 November 2020, 18:00 – 19:00 (UK time)
For information about the Global Central Banking & Financial Regulation qualification from Warwick Business School, in partnership with the Bank of England please visit wbs.ac.uk/go/banking
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Habits to bring back to the boardroom after the holidays
By Royston Guest is a leading authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. Entrepreneur, author of #1 best-seller Built to Grow and RISE: Start living the life you were meant to lead, CEO of Pathways Global and founder of The Business Growth PathwayÔ .
After a break from work, you feel refreshed, re-energised and re-focused and the quality downtime has given you the headspace you needed. Take this new energy and focus as an opportunity to introduce four new winning habits…you may be surprised at what you discover both personally and professionally.
Winning Habit #1 – Look At Your Business Through A Fresh Lens
When you’re working in your business every day, it is so easy to become blinkered. You start to see what you want to see, not the reality. I call this ‘focus distortion’.
It’s like at home when you’ve been away for a while and when you return you notice the pile of old magazines in the corner of the lounge or the DVD’s clogging the shelf beneath the TV. You start to question how long they’ve been there as you’ve failed to notice them previously. You decide to do a spring clean and set about creating a new reality as you look at your world through a fresh lens. Apply the same fresh lens to your business.
Post-holiday is a great time to do this, to imagine your first day back as your first day ever in the business. Challenge yourself to imagine you’re a new executive who has been newly appointed. With a fresh lens, challenge yourself to question everything, and I mean everything!
Ask quality WHY questions, review systems, processes and procedures and ask is it adding value, helping us to be a relevant, agile, resilient business? Is it adding value for the customer? Challenge the seven most expensive words in business; ’that’s not the way we do things’ or its sister statement; ’We’ve never done it that way before’.
Walking through your business with a restless curiosity and fresh lens is a cathartic experience and will certainly awaken your senses.
Winning Habit #2 – Question What Is Truly Worthy Of Your Time?
To create the stretch and growth potential for your people and business, you should focus on the things that only you can do. Yes, you’ll have oversight and a contributory role in other areas, but your primary focus should be on the high-value activities which allow you to realise the potential in your business and yourself.
On your return to the office, ask yourself this; what is truly worthy of my time?
If you find you’re spending more time on tasks and activities which quite clearly you shouldn’t be, then now is the time to change this because if you don’t, nobody else will.
Winning Habit #3 – Design Your High Performing Week
We all come back from holiday with good intentions; managing our workload more effectively, being home earlier from work to put the children to bed, not travelling as much. BUT, before you know it, the first few days and weeks pass, you were so busy catching up after your holiday your good intentions are out the window, and you’re back into your old ways of working. One of your highest callings is to be conscious and deliberate in how you set your high performing weeks up for success.
- focus on the things that only you can do, the areas genuinely worthy of your time?
- master the skill of saying NO to the unimportant things so you can say YES to the important things.
- create more time to work ON the business, not just the busy fool working IN the business.
- book quality thinking time in your diary, knowing the time you spend thinking will make the doing more effective.
- are home for bath and story time with your children or a meal out with your loved one.
Time and memories – you will never get back. Remember in life, you make your choices, and then your choices make you.
Winning Habit #4 – Become Your Own Performance Coach
Successful leaders have an insatiable thirst for learning, for showing up every day being the best version of themselves they can be. They spend their life being their own performance coach, ensuring they reach their true and maximum potential.
Maintaining relevance in the fast-moving arena of life is about being fresh, living life with deliberate conscious intent as the architect of your destiny. It’s about learning and developing yourself. Perhaps most importantly, it about applied learning and having the attitude of action.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the mechanics of the working day, and before you know it days, weeks or even months have passed since you spent time on you.
Invest time in you.
One of the six core human needs is the need for growth – for emotional, intellectual or spiritual development. If you are not learning and bettering yourself every day, then you are not growing.
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