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January 15, 2016 at 06:07PM

Can blockchain technology reinvent banking? by Resham Karira

Resham Karira highlights the benefits of blockchain technology, despite the challenges it faces from regulators.

Blockchain technology will have a much wider impact on the financial industry than payments alone. The shared public ledger has the potential to radically simplify banking itself.

The blockchain – or the ‘distributed ledger’ – is a record of digital events that’s shared between many different parties. It can only be updated after consensus from a majority of the participants in the system and, once entered, the information can never be erased. The blockchain therefore contains a certain and verifiable record of every transaction ever made, demonstrating that digital records can be held securely without any central authority.

A number of banks, including Citigroup, Barclays, and UBS Bank, are exploring blockchain technology for cross-border payments and plan to integrate it into their existing systems. Fintech startups such as Ripple and HyperLedger are also developing new ways to exchange data through blockchain technology.

While it’s likely to have broad potential, a few benefits are particularly worth highlighting:

  • Security – The fact the blockchain ledger is distributed across thousands of computers means that hacking is almost impossible, reducing server maintenance requirements and improving security for banks.
  • Transparency – The sender and the recipient of every transaction are recorded and all transactions are publicly available for inspection. The blockchain reveals how money flows around the financial system, and into which markets.
  • Privacy – Users are anonymous and can move money around instantly and securely. This allows banks to save time and reduces costs on international transactions.
  • Risk – No single authority has control, which means that if there’s a fault, the rest of the network will continue to function. Currently, if a bank’s system goes down, users are unable to perform transactions; using blockchain technology, the bank’s system would continue as normal.

The technology faces some challenges in terms of regulation, access, and ownership. However, it’s difficult to ignore its potential to simplify banking by reducing costs, improving product offerings, and increasing speed for banks.

This article is reproduced with kind permission from Datamonitor Financial. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here. Photo: Patrick Fore, CCO

Santander Bank: «Distributed Ledger Eliminates the Need for Central Authorities»

Santander Innoventures, a US$100 million fund of the billion dollar financial institution Spanish Santander Group, has released a research paper titled “The Fintech 2.0 Paper: rebooting financial services,” to examine the advantages of distributed ledger as a transaction and asset settlement platform.

The decentralized and transparent nature of the distributed ledger technology of Bitcoin, also known as the blockchain technology, allows anyone on the network to record or certify irrefutable and unalterable document or asset autonomously.

Bitcoin is one of many unique applications built on the distributed ledger technology. As security expert and author Andreas Antonopoulos explains, “saying bitcoin is a currency is like saying the Internet is email. Currency is just the first application. Bitcoin as a currency is only the beginning.”

In its newly released publication, Santander Bank and its global venture capital fund Innoventures explores the potential of the distributed ledger technology as a cross-industry global financial platform, which allows banks and financial institutions to certify ownership and clear transactions without intermediaries or third party applications.

“Distributed ledgers eliminate the need for central authorities to certify ownership and clear transactions. Distributed ledgers can be open, verifying anonymous actors in the network, or they can be closed and require actors in the network to be already identified. The best known existing use for the distributed ledger is the cryptocurrency Bitcoin,” says the bank.

Currently, the bank is extensively looking into a blockchain-based smart contracts and authorization platform, which could potentially allow any organization to settle intangible assets and access historical records of transactions in one single platform.

“Almost any intangible document or asset can be expressed in code which can be programmed into or referenced by a distributed ledger,” explained the bank.

The bank is also maintaining close relationships with bitcoin startups mentored and accelerated by its venture capital fund Innoventures, to develop blockchain-based applications that

could enhance and optimize existing banking systems and infrastructure.

Source: Santander Bank: “Distributed Ledger Eliminate the Need for Central Authorities”