Distributed Ledger’s Promise a Few Years Off


Distributed ledgers might change financial services forever, but for now, financial firms should be prepared to take baby steps for at least a few years, according to experts.

“Everyone is still grappling with finding a path to real blockchain use cases,” said Tim Coates, a managing consultant at Synechron and who will speak at Markets Media’s Summer Trading Fintech Event. “However, we spend more time worrying about the incremental steps than the final Nirvana state, which is unrealistic in most circumstances.”

The initial offerings that use distributed-ledger technology will not change the industry overnight, he added.

Tim Coates, Synechron

“There will be blockchain projects that go into production in 2018, but we expect it will be an incremental journey,” said Coates. “Next year’s use cases won’t be particularly ambitious or disruptive yet. We are just going to have to get people’s comfort levels up and solve some small problems before the regulators and bank senior management are comfortable to expand its use to solve industry problems from siloed versions of the truth.”

Greenfield projects likely will bear fruit the quickest while those projects replacing existing workflows will take longer to accomplish.

Anytime an organization attempts to replace existing workflows that is when roadblock begin to appear, Coates noted.

One novel use case where he expects the technology that will change the industry is in the field of digital identity.

“Digital identity is one of those truly revolution use cases out there,” Coates explained. “The ability to develop a digital profile suitable for the banking sector requirements will revolutionize business models in all industries.”

The greatest hurdle to overcome in the adoption of distributed ledger is not the technology, but those who look to use the technology.

“I have full faith that the current technology constraints around scalability, interoperability, and privacy will be resolved and that we will be able to do all the things that are promised. I think it is a far bigger assumption that the industry can get through all the soft side consortium issues,”  he said.

Whether consortia can deliver industry standards that may revolutionize on business line within an organization while disrupting another, such as brokerage and custody, has yet to be answered, Coates added.

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