Disclosing the potential of the Blockchain Technology

Confer Global’s recent event ‘Blockchain Technology Summit’ turned into a fantastic knowledge sharing platform delving into all aspects of the technology…

A group of industry experts, project heads and enthusiasts associated to Blockchain recently assembled in Mumbai for a two-day event to discuss the status quo and potential of the Blockchain technology under the Indian context. The technology is commonly misinterpreted merely as a means of generating cryptocurrencies, nevertheless, the expert speakers in the summit skillfully brought out its actual potential in the fintech and allied industries.

Contrary to the traditional centralised platforms for financial transactions, Blockchain technology offers a decentralised system. Under this technology, verified and encrypted transaction data are stored in a distributed ledger. Thus, it not only ensures faster transaction but also prevents duplication and manipulation of data.

IT pioneering state shifts its paradigm

IT revolution in India started from Hyderabad years ago. That time the progressive state’s focus was on hosting big IT companies, however, today the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government’s strategy has changed with the transformation in the IT industry itself. “We now look for multiple small digital entrepreneurs coming and setting up business to generate economic values,” informed NT Arun Kumar, Special Representative, FinTech Valley, AP. He feels Blockchain in India is more towards application of the technology and not tokenisation— as that does not have legal back-up yet. “Blockchain has tremendous potential as a decentralised platform. We are assessing how this technology can help us now in land selling and distribution process,” he added.Approach of largest public sector bank

State Bank of India, the Indian multinational, public sector bank, is going to set up the largest banking innovation centre in the world, which will come up at Navi Mumbai soon. This will have more than forty innovation zones—including specific dedicated zones for Blockchain, Fintech etc. Describing the experience gained from their Blockchain journey, Sudin Baraokar, Head Innovation, State Bank of India (SBI), said, “We started our Blockchain journey in September 2016. Soon, we realised that the technology like Blockchain needs to include the entire community.” Later, on February 8, this year, SBI has launched an alliance or forum called Bankchain. Right now Bankchain has 27 banks— 22 from India and 5 from the Middle East. So, the journey is on.

Applying Blockchain technology, State Bank is focusing on developing what they already don’t have in their IT infrastructure. While talking about the potential of this technology in the banking sector, he said, “Success of Blockchain without the support of regulators and authorities takes a long time. Some regulatory authorities, for example, in Singapore, are ahead of the core. Central Bank of Singapore has already developed a fantastic regulatory sandbox. Apart from our own (State Bank’s) development sandbox, unless we get the regulatory sandbox, we can’t move with it. Therefore, we have thought of moving with pilot projects, which do not necessarily require regulations.”

Beauty of the Blockchain technology

The superiority of the Elliptic Curve Digital Signature Algorithm (ECDSA), which is used in Blockchain technology over the RSA, makes it much more secure. As a diversified organisation, Societe Generale Solutions Centre has been working on Blockchain technology for the last three years. Today, it is well recognised in the global banking environment.

Jayavaradhan Sambedu, Head Engineering Technologies of the company, informed, “The art of Blockchain technology lies in the fact that for every small change in the input, there is a highly magnified change in the output. This makes one of the underpinning features— for which Blockchain is able to give guarantee that once some data is committed to it, no one will be able to manipulate that.” He also focused on the need to overcome various challenges before complete adoption of the technology in the enterprises.

Societe Generale has already implemented Blockchain-based solutions in the fields of insurance and KYC. However, Sambedu added, “The standard for this industry is a must and without that we do not think major adoptions will happen. One good news is that under the supervision of AP government, a very large sandbox has been planned to set up in Vizag, which will help in conducting various experiments.”

Focus on other aspects of Blockchain

In the Summit organised by Confer Global, several other speakers made their presentations on different aspects of Blockchain technology. Ritu Kedia, Director, Barclays Technology Centre India, discussed the benefits of use of Blockchain to bring efficiencies in India Commercial Paper (ICP) business processes. Prasanna Lohar, Head Innovation and Architecture, DCB Bank explained the advantages of Blockchain-based smart contracts. Tina Singh, Chief Digital Officer, Mahindra Finance, focused on their learning from the first non-fintech implementation of Blockchain in India.

Karan Bharadwaj, CTO, XinFin Organisation, detailed the architecture of XinFin’s enterprise-ready hybrid Blockchain. He pointed out limitations of public Blockchain and demonstrated how a public and private eco system can coexist on XinFin’s hybrid Blockchain while maintaining privacy.

Vishal Nigam, Chairman, Indian Blockchain Council (IBC) – a not-for-profit, industry-funded association representing the Blockchain industry, delivered his talk on the activities of IBC. He focused on some successful cases using Blockchains in India.

Vikram Pandya, Director, Fintech Program, SP Jain School of Global Management spoke about the guideline on suitability of adopting Blockchain technology. He also highlighted some industries and application areas where the technology is being implemented at present.

Rajendra Mhalsekar, Head Corporate Banking, Technology, Yes Bank, pinpointed the salient advantages of adopting Blockchain in suitable industrial fields. He mentioned about the central government’s attempt to act on the field through recent formation of a committee.

 Tushar Trivedi, Senior Executive Vice President, Kotak Mahidra Bank, said, “Awareness on Blockchain has to go to the next level. We are probably a few years away from the overall acceptance of the technology.” He also drew attention on the progress of Bankchain.

S Bharath Bhushan, Deputy General Manager, Business Technology Group, ICICI Bank, explained how Blockchain technology is helping organisations in creating new business models within the existing architecture.

Sameer Dharap, Vice President, Blockchain Applications, XinFin, focused on TradeFinex.org, a contracting, payment and marketplace platform for global peer to peer trade and financing using Blockchain Technology.​

Pankaj Mittal, Co-founder, Pune Angels, delivered an informative talk on preventing cyber-attacks and security incidents through Blockchain technology, which is a very contemporary issue of concern for all finance companies.

Attendees’ reactions on the summit

Bhaskar K Divecha, Principal Advisor, Hari Om Tatsat Technologies commented, “I came here to gain knowledge on how the industrial eco-system is transforming with the advent of Blockchain technology, and what are the Indian users feeling about it at this moment.  I found here presence of people from various industries, and the summit has given me a fair idea about the status quo and application trend of the technology in India.”

Tanveer Inamdar, Director – IT, Muslim Co-operative Bank, opined, “I  think this event presented an excellent opportunity to network and learn from the peers and people who have got experience in the Blockchain field. Obviously, I have gained a good insight on the Blockchain technology.”

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