For me, the title of this post, taken from a Belfast Telegraph article, says so much without saying anything…
At 1.8m, the population in Northern Ireland is in between Adelaide and Brisbane; and whilst a beautiful, albeit historically troubled, part of the world, it has never been viewed as the centre of technological or indeed financial excellence. And yet, PWC, a high quality, highly respected organisation, are taking on 15 people alone to look at the commercialisation of BlockChain based technology in the area. This says so much about the power and potential of BlockChain technology.
“The BlockChain Can Change … Well
Everything” (Goldman Sachs)
Goldman Sachs’ comments are certainly wide ranging and as you deep-dive into the technology its opportunities are almost limitless. This view has been further reinforced by Santandaer Innoventures who in their report on Fintech in July 2015 felt BlockChain is a game-changer for the Banking Sector. They estimate up to $20bn of annual costs will be removed from banking infrastructure costs by 2022.
Some, such as the Bitcoin purists, believe this change should be taken even further and see Armageddon for the Banking Sector as whole. Their arguemnet being that a self-regulating, decentralised financial system, dispenses with the need for banks and trusted third party intermediaries. Is this a pragmatic view of the future of banking?
Realistically, no. Whilst the BlockChain has phenomenal potential, pragmatism determines that any commercial adoption will happen over time, and that adoption will only happen with the involvement of trusted third parties. We saw this with the internet.
When the internet first reared its head, initial adoption was slow, but as soon as major trusted names, such as Sun Microsystems & Microsoft, who admittedly came on to the scene very late, the internet began to take commercial shape. Why – because of our attitude towards risk and change.
Innately, we all have a natural aversion to change; large organisations even more so. Change means risk. Unmitigated exposure to risk inhibits us from going forward, especially when profitability is at stake, Organisations and Institutions will be very cautious and will adopt new ideas slowly – with banks traditionally glacial in their adoption. They will need to feel totally comfortable with new disruptive ideas; new technology needs to be thoroughly tested and subject to appropriate due diligence; by the third parties large Organisations trust.
It is perhaps ironic from a commercial perspective that the core tenet of the BlockChain technology promotes a decentralised environment that does not requires trust. Its reality, however, is that commercialisation and adoption will require trusted third parties to take it forward.
If PWC are trying to employ 15 people in Northern Ireland alone, it just reinforces the opportunities the technology presents to the trusted third parties.
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