As enterprises the world over become aware of the benefits associated with moving their operations to the Blockchain-as-a-Service (BaaS) platform, the Indian public sector would be the real beneficiary of this disruptive technology in the days to come, a top IBM executive has forecast. Touted as a key technological innovation of the digital cyptocurrency Bitcoin, Blockchain technology is disrupting traditional processes across industries — from financial transactions to marine insurance and more. For a layman, a blockchain can serve as “an open, distributed ledger that can efficiently record transactions between two parties”.
For use as a “distributed ledger”, a blockchain is typically operated by a peer-to-peer network which allows users to manage the ledger in a secure way and without the help of a third party. “Today, if you and me are doing a transaction and buying something online, we realise that multiple intermediaries are involved like banks, regulators, manufacturing agencies and marketing agents, etc,” Jitan S. Chandanani, Blockchain Leader, Global Business Services, IBM India (South Asia), told IANS. As the businesses have grown, the idea today is to seamlessly bring buyers and customers together without the hassle of going through multiple online gateways. “Blockchain is actually one solution that is delivering on the fact that it will help remove the intermediaries and connect them through a ledger or a network which basically replicates and translates information in real time,” Chandanani explained. “For example, If I’m buying a shirt from an online website, does the bank need to know the shirt size? Likewise, if I have an IBM shirt to sell and you want to buy an IBM shirt, do both of us really need to go through an agent or a broker? No, but only a network which will be connecting us,” the IBM executive explained.
Blockchain enables trust and connect by securing the exchange of information and replicating it to both the parties and, at the same time, keeping it private and secure. According to the global research firm MarketsandMarkets, the Blockchain market is estimated to grow from $210.2 million in 2016 to $2.31 billion by 2021. “The Banking, Financial Services and Insurance (BFSI) sector is expected to dominate the market with the largest share as the need for banking and financial transactions has evolved from a traditional payments systems to be seamlessly integrated into new systems,” it added. Huge opportunities lie across industry verticals in the Asia-Pacific region, especially India, Australia and China, the report added.
According to Chandanani, the adoption as well as awareness has increased among Indian firms and, eventually, the acceptance of blockchain will be redefined in the country. “The most beneficial sector definitely will be the government/public sector. We have multiple areas for implementation — from additional IT that can be used across government services or having all electronic medical records at one central place and controlling everything from there,” he noted. Since blockchain technology eliminates cyber frauds to a large extent, the financial services sector has been an early adopter. “BaaS comes with a high security business network. The key high-security attributes are cryptographics for the hardware, tamperproof cards for the management and malware protection for the database,” Chandanani said.
Blockchain will definitely help companies know what some of the global security standards actually are. “The response in India is fabulous. The CIOs like it. They know it’s secure, the information can be kept safely and it goes in the right parts. CTOs like it because it’s probably more efficient at this point of time and less stressful than investing in new systems. It’s a check mark on all the aspects and that’s how we are confident of the acceptance coming on,” Chandanani said. IBM is luckily in a sweet spot because of actually having one overall view of the complete Blockchain stack. IBM Blockchain provides fundamental support to transform a number of industry business practices, from banking and government to healthcare and logistics.
The IBM Blockchain Platform is an integrated platform designed to accelerate the creation of a “built for business” global blockchain network across industries. “We have been pushing extensively for blockchain and for hyperledger with all the industry networks we build and the answer is, ‘we will prefer to use IBM Cloud’. It’s not that we won’t use others, but the first choice will be IBM,” Chandanani explained. IBM is also looking to talk to industry bodies India to help firms embrace BaaS. “I think IBM is pretty much talking to every regulator who is writing in to us and most of the industry skill bodies that are available as well as relevant councils, be it insurance or others. Not just in India… this is a global activity that IBM is currently involved with,” the executive added.
By Nishant Arora