Blockchain is the future

06 August 2018

Blockchain is something that probably 95% of the population is either currently disinterested in or are still trying to understand what it means to their daily lives.  Phoebus Software recently invited Dug Campbell, an expert on the subject, to be the keynote speaker at its Talking Tech event.  The event, which was oversubscribed, attracted an audience from both technical and financial services backgrounds proving there is interest in understanding more, from different angles.

The reality is that a number of financial institutions across the globe are finding ways to utilise Blockchain for both future and current transactions.

At the same time, a whole generation is also showing faith in cryptocurrencies alongside traditional financial structures. A recent survey by venture capital firm Blockchain Capital revealed that nearly a third of millennials would rather own Bitcoin than stocks. Whether that remains the case after the recent collapse is another matter.

There has been much written about how blockchain and cryptocurrencies are being embraced. For example, the EU has launched a Blockchain and Observatory Forum, deVere is apparently launching a cryptocurrency app based on “global demand for digital currencies, and BNP Paribas Asset Management has completed a full end-to-end transaction using blockchain technology.

The irony of this interest by financial companies is that the invention of Bitcoin back in 2009 was developed precisely to cut out third parties such as financial institutions.  The original Abstract description by its founder, Satoshi Nakamoto, described ‘a purely peer to peer version of electronic cash [that] would allow online payments to be sent directly from one party to another without going through a financial institution’.

A quick look at the figures backs-up why financial service companies are so interested. There are now both multiple Blockchains and multiple cryptocurrencies operating worldwide. While the most popular, Bitcoin (BTC), has made headlines by falling sharply, the financials involved are huge with £18 million of Bitcoins being created on a daily basis.

And it’s not just Bitcoin that this is happening to, more cryptocurrencies are appearing all the time. This becomes a virtuous circle, the more people that use both Blockchain and the various cryptocurrencies, the more confidence they create, and the more they gain in both credibility and value. Last October for example, a British company that announced it was changing its name from On-line Plc to On-line Blockchain Plc saw its shares soar by 394 percent in a morning.

Blockchain is gaining in popularity because it has a value that no financial organisation has been able to create to date.  It offers a way to carry out and log transactions that are both completely secure and transparent; therefore it reduces fraud, risk and cost.  Once a transaction is logged it cannot be altered and every block in the chain links back to previous transactions.

Whether or not cryptocurrencies are used, it is highly likely that significant transactions such as house sales will soon be logged on the Blockchain, rather than having to be registered with solicitors and the Land Registry.  With the Land Registry looking to digitise, perhaps it will result in a far faster service on this basis.  In the UK, Synechron estimates blockchain could save the mortgage industry over £500 million per annum and reduce typical real-estate transaction times from forty days to thirty.  If the Land Registry put title documentation and asset ownership on a public blockchain they believe further savings of a similar size could be realised.

I envision a future where Blockchain becomes the normal repository for financial and other transactions, where trust of identity, ownership and availability of funds is required.  Today only Distributed Ledgers or Blockchains can truly deliver this permanent and immutable “truth” without a middleman of some description.

What is clear is that where we are now is only the start of a process that will evolve quickly, and is likely to change the way that we interact commercially and conduct business.  Within five years the world could look like a very different place, and even those in doubt of its relevance today may well be using Blockchain in their day to day lives.

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Debbie Staveley
Director and Owner,
bClear Communications

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