Any process relying on outdated ways of doing things usually comes into technology’s crosshairs, and financial providers see blockchain as the newest opportunity to become more efficient and faster at serving customers.
John Mahon, head of product research and strategy at EdgeVerve, says blockchain is ideally suited to the drawn-out process involved in buying a house and getting a mortgage, with extended waiting times, and impatient phone calls between buyers, sellers, solicitors and estate agents.
“Blockchain has the ability to compress supply chains,” says Mahon. “If the thing everybody is querying is put out for all to see on a blockchain, you can see the status. A startup might look at that as a great opportunity for simplicity and creating transparency in the whole process,” he says.
EdgeVerve is a subsidiary of the Indian IT giant Infosys. The team at EdgeVerve’s applied research centre in Dublin has expertise in the technical frameworks underpinning blockchain. Mahon believes the next step in blockchain’s evolution will involve the layer above that – “over the top” solutions that companies or groups of organisations in a supply chain can use to solve particular business problems.
“The real true use cases that deliver business value should emerge within the next one to two years. I can see adoption growing significantly,” he says.
Use cases beyond financial services are also emerging. IBM and Maersk recently announced a partnership to replace the paper processes in shipping and freight forwarding with blockchain data-sharing tools.
Kevin Loaec, managing director of consultants Chainsmiths, says blockchain will enable “completely new business models”, like online services which are heavily used, yet free to consumers. “I think we will have the blockchain equivalent of a Google or a Facebook. Blockchain will change the world, but not in an area we expect,” he says.