session overview

Business Problems that Blockchain Can Solve Right Now

by jacqui hatfield, Partner and Head of Fintech regulatory orrick, Herrington


lockchain is past the “hype” stage and is hitting the “reality” stage. It is not a solution for everything, but it is useful in certain areas.

Seven Useful Areas

1. Medical Records
2. Legal title to a property
3. Evidence of ownership of a title in relation to precious stones, artwork or other high-end assets
4. Tracing the origin of products in food
5. Fast payments of insurance for flight cancellations or payments of goods following a shipment
6. Supply chain business with multiple players and a lack of trust (i.e. shipping, energy and property)
7. To assist with reporting requirements to avoid unnecessary duplication in financial services, regulated entities and regulators

The Current State of Blockchain

Many companies are investing in the research of blockchain because it can cut costs and reduce staff.  A number of Blockchain applications are in the development stage and some are already working.

For example, in the last West Virginia election, they used blockchain to permit proxy voting to servicemen abroad. The voting process included taking a photo of the individual's ID (passport or driving license), facial recognition by a mobile phone and a selfie of the individual holding the ID after voting. This is particularly exciting! In order for FinTech, including open banking, to scale and thrive, customer security has to be as easy as possible.

Scaling Issues

There have been scaling issues caused by a lack of interoperability of blockchains, the volatility of crypto assets and a lack of speed. This has resulted in difficulties for the Blockchain to compete with Visa in the world of payments. What's exciting about this space is as soon as an issue is spotted, a number of innovators seek to overcome it.

The use of asset-backed tokens including stable coins will assist with the volatility issues. The stable coins will be able to assist with the interoperability of blockchains which will be required for large projects, such as smart cities, to take off.

There has generally been a lack of trust with blockchain and FinTech in terms of data. This has particularly been a result of this year's release of the GDPR. As long as there are very few security breaches, it is likely the concentration on data will not be such a focus over the next few years. This should help the scaling of blockchain and open banking.

In Conclusion

Blockchain is an interesting area, and it is here to stay! Most are private and with permissions in financial services -- a trend that is expected to continue. It will be important for projects to be small in scale, initially, so there can be successes rather than overpromising large-scale projects.