Beyond the hype : Delivering on the Blockchain’s Potential

By Richard Copland.

I attended the techUK Financial Services & Payments Programme and a seminar on exploring the Blockchain’s potential and demystifying the hype. The positioning of this session was very much along the lines of Blockchain has the potential to revolutionise the delivery of financial services and payments.  From disintermediating banks from the payments process by way of a decentralised system of exchange to facilitating the development of ‘smart contract’ applications the distributed consensus ledger (DCL) technology has in some parts been described as the enabler of the internet of value.

The session with an exceptional panel of Keith Saxton, Simon Bailey Director of Payments and Transaction Banking at CGI, Dave Birch, Director of Consult Hyperion and author of Identity is the New Money and Richard Brown ‘on the blockchain nobody knows you are a fridge’ the leading authority on cryptocurrencies in IBM covered how the technology industry can support, what are the implications and is there a direction of travel.

For me, as someone who has come late to this world but sees the incredible disruptive potential, the takeaways were the Blockchain isn’t a magic unicorn. That ability to make the make the virtual world more like the real world is its transformative effective and the usecase challenge hasn’t been solved.

When it comes to choosing these I’m with the panelist in that the way forward is to do as is often prescribed, have a go and explore. The base technology you choose will have much depend on your objectives and whether this is an individual or organisational ask.  Whether you go for a Bitcoin or Ripple like offering is up for grabs as they offer different things and come with points of view and how much you see the world changing, with one working within the context of current financial structures and one looking to work outside it.

Disruptive journey ahead of us.

I also related to the idea that the disruption of the Blockchain is more likely to come from a solution for dishwasher warranties rather than an attempt to overthrow governments.  The real strength of its disruption is the ability to offer a vehicle to protect and reward the digital and creative industries.  Whilst we started in the world of payments and financial services, the thought of applying a blockchain concept coupled with a Kobalt type offering really does have incredible potential to disrupt the Music and Media content ecosystems. Just the start of the art of the possible, the journey will be bumpy, take longer and be more costly but the genie is out of the bottle. All this and we were supposed to be beyond the hype.