Santander's InnoVentures Distributed Ledger Challenge: Decoding Blockchain
February 3, 2016
If you are like me, questions about blockchain go beyond what it is (although that is still a recurring question). They are more along the lines of:
How is it being applied to the processes and tools we know and care about? How will it be incorporated into products in a way that will change our lives?
In an audience poll via Twitter at the start of the event, 80% of the audience said they were at most “somewhat familiar” with the Distributed Ledger space, with 33% “new to the space.” It’s clear that the buzz is growing, though even people close to the space aren’t quite sure what it is for, what its impact will be, and what the opportunity is to adopt this complex and revolutionary technological concept.
What this event crystallized is that the opportunity with blockchains and distributed ledgers exists in the ability to enhance the efficiency and workflow of transactions...from banks exchanging currencies, insurers issuing bonds and derivatives to the capital markets, retailers sharing and pooling customer rewards, even renters paying their landlords. Where there is an exchange of information, goods or currency, blockchains and distributed ledgers can expedite the transaction, reduce waste, and streamline the process –most likely shaving costs in the process.
Seeing the breadth of industry applications at this event was the real eye-opener. When considering the nature of a “transaction,” it’s not a stretch to say they are inherent and ubiquitous to virtually every industry. It is no longer a question IF blockchain will impact your industry, it’s a matter of HOW and WHEN. Discovering ways to incorporate the technology into your digital product will be a major driving force on how your team innovates in the coming years.
One last thing: when sending transactions through a blockchain system, there is a bit of a leap of faith required to turn transaction verification away from a third party and toward a publicly sourced ledger. One of the biggest challenges for enterprise adoption of blockchain systems is in vetting counterparties, ensuring privacy and security, and establishing the legal and regulatory foundation for engaging in these sort of transactions.
This is precisely the type of service the winner of the Distributed Ledger Challenge, Cambridge Blockchain, provides. It is also a core subject of an upcoming MITEF NYC event on Digital Trust in a Blockchain World next Tuesday, February 9. I hope you will join me there to hear key opinion leaders discuss what's on the horizon.