From the leading Danish business newspaper, Børsen 9th January 2019
According to Gartner, most traditional financial companies will close by 2030. Several share this view, among others Deloitte, World Economic Forum and IBM. It is often underestimated how much change new digital technology will bring. Financial services are increasingly "weightless" and require few physical assets to establish. This makes the financial industry very vulnerable to disruption from new digital technology.
Blockchain enables major changes by creating trust and enabling transactions between unknown parties, without traditional financial intermediaries. Among the most important financial services provided by banks are transfers, savings and loans.
In 2017, transfers of $250 trillion were made worldwide. Banks earned over $200 billion on this. Blockchain and stablecoins (with a stable value) will make it possible to carry out these transfers faster and cheaper.
Savings are possible with blockchain wallet which are becoming increasingly easy to use. Several companies now also offer non-zero interest rates on a crypto savings. Anyone can create a personal wallet without authorization from a bank and without fees.
Lending can be carried out directly between the borrower and the lender on blockchain, without intermediaries and with very low fees. The borrower gets access to good lending opportunities on a global level. Transactions can be validated and both borrowers and lenders are identified and credit rated.
Blockchain will remove some of the banks' earnings opportunities - but will also create other opportunities. Blockchain can be used to optimize internal operations in banks, between banks, their business partners and central banks. Blockchain can be used to optimize transfers and eliminate links in the chain between banks, such as CSDs. Blockchain can be used to collect details of customer transactions and be a central source of information to enable more effective decisions on e.g., credit checks. Smart contracts can be used to ensure a higher degree of process automation and generally help to increase the level of transparency.
The banks' settlement process for international transfers lasts two to three days. An international bank transfer today passes through several actors, from correspondent banks to central securities depositories. The two account balances must be reconciled across the global financial system, composed of merchants, funds, asset managers, etc. This process can be optimized in many ways with the blockchain.
The representation of securities on the blockchain can become a major business opportunity for the finance industry. Many try to establish technical and legal infrastructure for this market both inside and outside the established financial infrastructure. And there are lots of examples of emerging successes:
An American company has issued shares on blockchain. These equity tokens can be traded globally by investors who have previously been approved. Trading will take place immediately and the liquidity of the share is expected to increase significantly. The digital share can be programmed with smart contracts to ensure compliance with regulations and ownership agreements.
A British company, in collaboration with London Stock Exchange, has developed a method for representing shares on blockchain.
The Thai state is working to represent corporate bonds on blockchain. Bond trading can then take place immediately instead of over several days. Multiple levels of financial intermediaries can be removed which will significantly reduce transaction fees.
A Chinese bank has issued $1.3 billion of mortgage bonds on the blockchain. The purpose is to provide participants in the mortgage ecosystem with instant information, as well as faster and cheaper transactions.
JP Morgan will "tokenize" gold bars. The gold bars are labeled electronically and can then be traced from the mine to the buyer. JP Morgan expects raw materials on blockchain to become a very large market.
Deutsche Bundesbank and Deutsche Börse have completed a successful project with blockchain as an infrastructure for the financial market, as well as settlement of securities transactions.
Finnish banks are working on digitization of property registers on blockchain. The banks could not agree on who was to manage a centralized solution, so one chose a decentralized model on blockchain. Five banks participate and the project covers 85% of the Finnish property loan market.