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Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Opinion > Onguard

Blockchain: challenge or opportunity?

Marieke Saeij, chief technology officer at Onguard | 16:57 Wednesday 11th July 2018

Blockchain – the name itself is symbolic of its robust potential.

As of yet, nothing about this technology has been truly defined. Although not exclusive to the financial sector, professionals in this area are either intrigued by its potential or uninterested over fears that blockchain poses a security threat when compared with traditional document transfer and storage systems. With the general lack of knowledge on the subject, it seems only a few have an insight into the future potential of this technology and how exactly it can be fully utilised.

In these early stages, it’s a testament that few are ignoring blockchain. Internal research by Onguard has shown that 87% of CFOs are looking into blockchain. However, 36% have admitted that they aren’t clear enough to act on it. A further 62% of businesses we polled currently have open vacancies for blockchain experts, which implies a willingness to embrace this new technology, even this early on.

Blockchain has often been described as more of a challenge than a potential opportunity. This is buoyed by the general lack of palpable blockchain knowledge as well as the fear that the arrival of this new technology will render banks obsolete in the facilitation of secure document transfers, potentially leaving many financial and legal institutions looking for new revenue streams to offset this loss of income. With this in mind, there is evidence that some of the larger banks are collaborating on blockchain applications, because of how closely tied blockchain is to various cryptocurrencies, there is definitely room for potential evolution here.

On the whole, though, the development of blockchain is very much a watch and wait to see what happens. Just like the CFOs in our survey, here at Onguard we are monitoring developments and watching to see how blockchain can help businesses in the field of credit management, especially regarding the potential for removing the transactional element of a deal in favour of a simple exchange across distributed general ledgers.

It will be crucial for us to first ascertain whether it is secure and whether we understand the legislation and laws around it. We have a vibrant group of developers and architects looking into what is happening and feeding it back into the organisation to ensure we are ahead of the curve, but before we can recommend this to our clients we need to be sure on the above factors.

The consensus is that there are still several known obstacles to overcome – and possibly more unknown issues – before the blockchain vision becomes a reality. Service and solution providers will need to play their part in the future blockchain, making sure to understand and explain it fully to their customers. If you’re considering a change to blockchain, we recommend speaking to the experts, those that have been observing and researching blockchain before making any changes to your current infrastructure.

Blockchain will happen and it will bring benefits, and naturally, those businesses that are properly prepared and willing to make changes will reap most of the rewards.

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