Do you think that cryptocurrencies will potentially
see their end?
No, I don’t.
Some of these technologies, by their very
nature, are quite provocative to the status quo.
Everywhere we look, probably around every
case, there’s at least 30 percent of process inefficiency.
Now, more than 90 percent of the top 50 global
banks are doing at least one experiment in
blockchain in trade finance.
Welcome to SIBOS 2019.
Since its inception 41 years ago, this is
become the premier financial services event
of the world, featuring more than 11,000 delicates,
600 speakers and 300 exhibitors from all over
Hosted by financial payments powerhouse Swift,
this conference is pretty much a bankers paradise.
Over the course of two days, we managed to
sit down with eleven experts from some of
the most prominent financial institutions
consulting firms, research groups, fintech
developers and open source ledgers in the
game today, including IBM, Accenture, McKinsey
and Company, ANZ, Hyperledger, Fnality, Synechron,
and Everest Research Group.
And yet, despite being inside the belly of
the beast, we found that blockchain was still
on the tip of everyone’s tongue, and not for
the reasons you might think.
We are here at Sibos.I’m with Jason Kelly from IBM.
Could you please just tell me more about what
you’re doing here why you’re here and what
you’re doing at IBM?
So first, it’s Sibos, one of the premier banking
conferences in the world.
IBM has a history, has a deep history in banking.
However, I’m here as the blockchain general
manager for IBM and general manager of blockchain
means that we as a blockchain company, that
is also a cloud company.
It is also a services company, that is also
a convener of network company.
We’re here to talk to clients to get them
understanding that blockchain isn’t just a
big, bright, shiny thing, that says B-word,
but instead it’s it’s a true capability that’s
helping to transform this industry along with
Why is it a true capability?
People tend to say blockchain and they think
Oh, yes, crypto think that that goes way back.
This is not crypto.
Now blockchain is under that is the capability
And that’s what we focus on.
What’s the true outcome of blockchain so that
you get these things that you’ve been chasing
in your enterprise that are focused on one
thing, one thing only at the center, and that’s
data and that’s what’s been elusive.
So we blockchain thing, what is it?
It’s just driving clarity around two things
and that’s having trusted permission, access
Once you get to that data, you know what’s
So think about you as a supplier.
Perhaps if you’re a producer or supplier,
there’s a sort of supply chain there.
Right now you have many steps along a supply
chain with a consumer being at the end of
I think if you have trusted shared access,
you don’t have to make phone calls, look at
emails and check and see where something is
in the supply chain.
You could all have access, trusted access
by just looking at it.
And then when you saw that data and you had
access, you’d know it was right.
That’s what blockchain is delivering as a
capability on the forefront.
Then we think about all of the extra.
Guess what else depends on data?
So the Internet of Things, if you’re trying
to make sure that that device is that device
and it’s saying how something’s going to it’s
using data as well.
AI also is using data automation using data.
All of these things are now being empowered
by this new catalyst of capability, which
Hold on a minute.
Let’s take a step back.
This doesn’t sound like the blockchain we’re
used to talking about.
What exactly are we dealing with here?
Let’s take one of the use cases for blockchain,
for companies, for me, permission networks.
And the idea for permissioned networks is that there are a number of companies, let’s say
that want to create some network together,
let’s say supply chain, logistics, trade,
finance, all banks.
They just want to do the cross-border payments
in the you know, more efficient way.
And they create the blockchain network where
they will put transactions and they will be
and they will transparent to everyone and
every transaction will go in based on the
agreement between the parties.
So let us decide with at least 2 out of 10
participants to agree on transactions in order
to be to further that transaction to be added
to the ledger.
When people hear blockchain, they tend to
think of the two most common consensus algorithms
associated with cryptocurrencies, proof of
work and proof of stake.
These are mostly used for public or permissionless
networks where transaction validators don’t
need permission from anyone to verify transactions,
just the proper tools.
Here at Sibos we are going to take a closer
look at the other side of blockchain to see
how modern companies are integrating permission
or private blockchain networks into their
So first, let’s gain an understanding about
where and how this technology can actually
I’m Ronak Doshi, I’m vice president of Everest
Group, so we are a boutique research and advisory
firm focused on the global services industry.
One of the key research areas for me is blockchains.
So we’re seeing four types of key use cases.
The first one is what I call ‘alpha in the
room’ now in ‘alpha in the room’ what happens
is you have a single entity which has disproportionate
power and can get other entities in the room
It could be a regulator, it could be the form
that has the maximum market share in that
area, or it’s a vendor relationship where
the buyer has more power, like, say, a Wal-Mart,
like a bigger giant, can control all its windows
and can dictate the terms.
That’s where the alpha in the room construct
This is where we have seen the maximum networks
forming because you have a single entity who’s
trying to drive this agenda of blockchain
adoption and trying to create better processes
and kind of driving efficiencies.
The second area is the ‘bottom line collaborators’.
The ‘bottom line collaborators’ are trying
to reduce the cost of doing the business or
the process by coming together.
This is where you would see areas such as
trade finance, area such as digital identity
or provenance or seeing the entire supply
All of these are on international payments
These are key areas where you’re seeing this
The third category is what we would call as
think of it as this ‘disintermediation avoiders’.
‘The disintermediation avoiders’ are central
agencies who are doing settlements, are the
ones who are doing cloud protections processing,
and they are the ones who now are in track
of getting disintermediated because of technology
but the beauty of this is a lot of these guys.
You know, if you look at the Australian Stock
Exchange and a lot of these market intermediaries
have already started their blockchain journey.
So they are now thinking of blockchain as
an enabler for their business so that they
can protect their business.
But at the same time, creating new value added
streams of wealth.
So create new revenue streams on your value
for their customers so that they can retain
And the fourth category is what I would call
as a ‘disruption category’, which is more
like, you know, the examples of cryptocurrencies
and bitcoin and all of these guys were coming
together and creating newer ways of working
like like the peer to peer and marketplaces
So in all of these situations, you need ecosystems
or networks to get created.
The purpose is different.
It could be cost.
In some cases it could be disintermediation
avoidance in some cases.
In some cases it’s about creating your values,
a business model.
So we are seeing signs of all of this happening.
Let’s put that in some context.
What would blockchain technology look like
if it was applied to a real life system?
We’ve been fascinated by it ever since the
emergence of Bitcoin and we took a deep dive
And that’s where we kind of started realizing
the data reconciliation properties of blockchain.
Subsequent to that, we got challenged domestically
in Australia by some large property companies
who were asking us to solve a big problem.
Banks have been issuing paper to their clients
for a long time, for decades.
These companies, large landlords came to us
and said: you got to stop that.
So we decided that we would look to digitize
and standardize the product, but we also would
try to select the appropriate technology to
support a network of users who were competitors
to a number of actors who were either applicants
or beneficiaries and without creating a large
central capability or function.
Now, unsurprisingly, blockchain presented
itself as a really interesting opportunity.
So we leverage the IBM blockchain platform,
which is a hyperledger based code, to deliver
a platform where we could digitize standardised
guarantees, put it on that platform and give
our large beneficiary customers, landlords
in this case, a substantial uplift in their
experience guarantees paper to digital, standardization,
security and in quite a significant amount
It does enable all of those great benefits,
that reduction in friction, dramatic change
in lifecycle time and also the workflow that
we generated through the UI that sat on the
So this was a key example of how blockchain
was integrated by a large bank to digitize
and improve the efficiency of an existing
So let’s think about this on a larger scale.
If this is just one example of a process being
streamlined through blockchain, what kind
of impact would this have across an entire
Is the impact quantifiable?
Everywhere we look, probably around every
use case, at least 30% of process inefficiency.
It’s just about everybody in the ecosystem.
The idea is to get the frictionless processing,
Every piece of friction in that process today
causes delays, right, so it causes either
delays in people, time or money.
Some goods sitting in a board that can’t be
released until they can confirm that the funds
were exchanged hands.
Like that’s time in your inventory, right.
You’re paying for inventory that’s sitting
idle and you’re working capital, a capability.
That gives you the ability to faster get to
that working capital so you can spend it on
the right things.
You think of the ability to look across that
data and have different triggers you can do
now depending on who you are in the ecosystem.
You’ve got goods that you now know the location
of and your insurer.
You might want to offer insurance as there’s
a weather event coming across the ocean.
There’s all kinds of new services that people
So there’s cost savings, which are exciting,
30% cost savings or more, it’s fantastic.
I can do new things, right.
I can offer new products and services and
new people are going to start to enter the
market as they have access to that information.
This all sounds great, but is it as revolutionary
as it sounds?
Is blockchain technology truly applicable
to these kinds of situations?
Blockchain technology favors the crypto use
case far more.
It is built for that reason.
And, you know, the banking sector is trying
to sort of shimmy it to make it work for their
needs and their operational challenges.
And that’s the way not proven yet.
Whether that’s going to work.
But I think certainly the technology is a
unique way to achieve that censorship resistant
What is the case in which banks can actually
recognize the potential of this technology
and use it in a way that isn’t just shoehorned
into the existing infrastructure?
I think the discussion that utility settlement
coin and finality are pushing is a really
That’s a that is a potentially a unique way
that blockchain can grid can unlock the fact
that so the financial system requires banks
to lock up capital in a very crude way.
Basically, every bank has a bank account with
each other and stores cash there.
And so the finality story of fatality stories
is a promise to unlock that all that money
that’s stuck in bank accounts for interbank
And that’ll be at an enormous cost saving.
Can you break that down a little bit?
So you’re using something that’s called the
utility service utility settlement coin.
So what exactly is that?
So the core idea is that we can represent
a cash asset digitally on a shared ledger,
a blockchain, where the actual cash represented
by the digital claim is held on deposit in
a central bank with some of the characteristics
of central bank money, things like free from
counterparty risk, free from credit risk settlement
finality, which is actually where the name
finality comes from for finality international.
The idea is, however, that even though the
digital claim would have some of the characteristics
of central bank money, it’s not actually central
bank money itself.
It’s a very unique form of commercial bank
It’s really designed for wholesale settlement
between financial institutions and it’s designed
to be multi-currency in that it wouldn’t just
be one claim sitting on one ledger, but will
ultimately be claims against different currencies
pounds, euros, dollars, Canadian dollars,
Japanese yen, etc. on different ledgers.
So what is the main impact of this coin on
the two companies using it themselves?
So longer term, it’s really about automation
and efficiency, which seems to be the story
in financial markets for the last 50 years.
And the idea is that at some point in the
near future we will have a multi-currency
clearing and settling system for wholesale
purposes that runs 24/7.
365 could substantially reduce operational
risk, reduce capital consumption because of
the change in the amount of that’s a risk
rate of the assets that need to be allocated
against the cash that banks currently use
to fund their payments activities across the
It’s a big vision.
It’s something that is going to take some
time to realize its scale.
But we’re on the path.
So we’ve been talking to a lot of different
people over these past couple of days.
And one thing that is on their mind is blockchain.
We’ve talked of banks, consulting firms and
fintech companies, and all of them are doing
research or looking to pilot or implement
A year ago, everyone’s talking about cryptocurrencies,
but now everyone seems to be talking about
And what about other projects outside of the
How is blockchain revolutionizing the way
other systems work?
My name is Marta Geater-Piekarska.
I’m director of ecosystem for Hyper Ledger.
So Hyper Ledger is an open source project
within the Linux Foundation.
So we are non-profit, hosted by one of the
bigger non-profit technologies in the world.
We started three years ago as an answer to
what can enterprises and the business community
do with blockchain.
So not really the bitcoin side of things open
public permissionless blockchains more the
permission public or private blockchain technologies.
We are still a bit in a phase of kind of throwing
spaghetti to the wall and seeing what sticks.
So this is changing.
We are getting more and more focused.
All industries are getting more focused.
Understanding that blockchain won’t solve
it all and it’s all about the bigger picture
and the bigger solution.
So I think that in trade, finance and supply
chain, we will see more blockchain stuff for
kind of tracking the provenance, the blockchain
being integrated into full supply chain from,
you know, from the farmer all the way to the
consumer connecting consumer and farmers so
that I know that it’s Joe the farmer that
grows my coffee and not some random person
that I’ve you know, I have no connection to.
So it’s more kind of a personalized experience
for the users.
In terms of other products.
I think identity will becoming more and more
You know, Accenture has a very interesting
demo of something that is called Known Traveler
Identity, which breeds a seamless identity
kind of based system for travelling.
My name is David Treat.
I lead Accenture’s blockchain business globally
along with a guy named Simon Whitehouse.
I’ve been in the space leading this business
now for the past four years, building it up
from where it existed in Accenture Labs as
a pure R&D project for the few years before
But I’ve been in the blockchain space for
close to six and a half years now.
So what’s the most interesting thing that
Accenture is working on at the moment?
We have three focal areas really where we’re
putting the majority of our investment.
It’s financial services, infrastructure, digital
identity and supply chain, both physical and
And really, oftentimes all three of those
But being here in Sibos, you know, financial
services, infrastructure and and digital identity
are, of course, key on the digital digital
The importance of that is really a core foundational
capability that involves multiple innovative
technology spaces, not just blockchain.
It’s blockchain plus biometrics.
It’s all about the linkage between the physical
and the digital world.
The winning digital business today wins by
accumulating as much data as they possibly
can and then feeding it into their A.I. machine
learning algorithms and generating marketing
insights and the rest who we know control.
The first foundational thing that this new
combination of technologies creates is that
for the first time ever, I can encode three
I can encode the intent, the rights and the
obligations of the data as I share it with
So the intent I want you to have this piece
I’m going to cryptographically sign it.
I want you to have it.
You then store it and you’re storing it with
a set of rights that I’ve given you as to
what you can do with it.
And this is all codified in the data and then
a set of obligations that you owe back to
So this is the control aspect of suddenly
through the cryptography, through the through
this notion of user controlled digital identity.
I can take those specific pieces of data elements
and I can intentionally share them with you
for specific purposes.
Importantly, we’ve also created as a community
the ability for me to revoke it.
I can say I only want you to have it for 10
minutes or I want you to have it until I tell
you that I no longer want you to have it.
And I can pull it back.
We’ve never had that ability before.
So we have this notion of me having a personal
data store that’s my digital identity wallet
that I accumulate, my passport information,
my driver’s license, my medical information,
work credentials, etcetera.
And I now have this data of attested information
from service providers and authorities.
The interesting thing that, you know, there
is, of course, you have to directly link the
digital world to the physical world.
And so biometrics is the way to do that, right.
Whether it’s face or iris or fingerprint or
DNA, at some point, you know, it’s the whole
notion of linking that physical and digital
And so the pattern is I have a personal data
I’m able to intentionally share that data
I’m able to have control over it.
And I’m encoded as some of into some of those
attestations are biometrics attestations so
that then someone can verify that yes, that
digital information belongs to that human.
Reclaiming my identity.
So what are the actual use cases for this
So one of the ones we’re most proud of and
is and is closest to a production implementation
is work that we’re doing with the countries
of country of Canada, the Kingdom of Netherlands,
Schiphol Airport, Toronto, Montreal Airports,
KLM Airlines and Air Canada as a starting
group of an ecosystem that’s looking at the
massive problem of the travel industry’s growth.
We’re set to, I think, you know, close to
double the amount of travelers in the next
The current infrastructure just won’t be able
to support it.
And so the whole notion is with this self-managed
user, you know, user managed digital identity,
I can take that attested information and share
my details ahead of time intentionally with
those that I’m going to interact with on my
They can pre certify, pre-clear me and then
it doesn’t have to be a surprise when I show
up at immigration and pin my passport over.
They shouldn’t be surprised to see me.
Instead, I book my ticket hour, you know,
hours at a minimum.
But but days, weeks, months ago they should
know I was coming.
They have me in context that we can use facial
I just walk right through.
So it’s kind of a base case.
But build on build from there.
I share that information on my hotel, the
car services, the restaurants I want to attend
to go to.
I’m sharing the pieces that I want to choose
to share with all the p players that I want
to have provide me hyper personalized services
in a very controlled, private, secure, revocable
Suddenly, I can create an end and traveler
experience around my own management of my
own digital identity information.
So I won’t have to wait for two hours at the
I just walk straight through.
Or if you’re attending a giant conference
and there’s a long queue at the long queue
to get in, maybe you just walk right through
because that’s really you pre-registered and
through facial recognition.
You just you know, you’re in.
These sound like some great ideas.
But why haven’t we seen anything come to fruition
What are the hangups?
What is holding blockchain back from being
Is there anything?
So, first of all, I would say that is still
an element of the cost of the technology,
different elements, acquiring the right capabilities.
Developing the technology, the computational
power that is needed for some let me say of
This is something that I think from a technology
perspective needs to be matured.
The second element, which I believe is a bit
of a roadblock, is the lack of standardization.
So, I mean, the banking sector has always
pushed for a interoperable standards at global
level or at a domestic level.
In the absence of a stand that it’s different
for the four that banks are to communicate
with each other and given the distributed
nationality of blockchain.
And the fact that multiple actors needs to
interact on the same network this could be
actually a huge challenge.
The third element, which I would mention is
the fact that some of the blockchain technology
that we’ve seen, for instance, for coins where
intrinsically not fit for purpose for financial
services application at scale.
So for instance, now we see a clear trend
of financial players it’s investing in to
private permissioned chains.
While the very first one where public and
So I mean, this is part of the evolution of
the technology that is undergoing.
That has been also an investment from the
financial community in this respect.
And probably this might be overcome, let’s
say, in the next few months.
So with all this talk about mainstream blockchain
adoption, where does that leave crypto?
So what is your overall opinion on cryptocurrencies
and specifically cryptocurrencies like bitcoin,
ones that are meant to challenge the centralized
infrastructure that we see today?
I think they’ve been a tremendous catalyst
for change within banking.
I think they’re fascinating because of the
way they’ve just emerged from from nowhere.
And there’s way too many altcoins out there
right now to even understand what everyone’s
There are some emerging technologies that
are that are much, much more centered around
enterprise use cases which are starting to
show some promise.
But I think cryptocurrencies
they will always have a place at the periphery
of our economy.
So you don’t see a place for something like
Bitcoin in the mainstream in the future?
Because I think it doesn’t have the properties
that are attractive for high speed transmission
It’s too slow, right?
The T.P.S. is way too low.
You know, 7 T.P.S. or 10 T.P.S. versus the
MasterCard Visa Network, which is twenty thirty
It’s not fit for purpose for mainstream adoption
because of that.
I think its governance is difficult for us
to to support or lack thereof I should say
and the regulators, you know, you have to
But I get the impression that the door is
open for a set of digital assets to emerge
in our economy.
But for those, I guess, you know, digital
coin 1.0, I think they’ll have their place
in history, but they have to evolve.
They don’t evolve and become more customer
friendly, faster, more secure and more transparent
then there’ll be other coins that emerge private
or or perhaps central bank-issued that will
overtake them because to just be others had
better features and capability.
So do you think that cryptocurrencies will
potentially see their end?
No, I don’t.
So bankers don’t love volatility.
Their customers don’t like volatility.
But we didn’t lose sight of the fact that
those currencies, be they as volatile as they
were at the time, and they are much more stable
now they nailed the clearing and settlement
problem the bankers have.
So my intuition said that if we can get a
stable coin and you see much more talk about
stable coins now, including Libra, for example,
that can deliver the properties of a cryptocurrency
which synchronizes clearing and settlement,
you can transform the payments process beyond
any reasonable expectation that correspondant
banking might traditionally attempt to do.
So you’ve got to take the right features and
capability out of the wild cryptocurrencies,
if you like.
Put them into a more regulated framing.
But at the same time, not losing those really
important features that say instant transmission,
synchronized clearing and settlement and ideally
a really strong digital wallet experience
for a customer.
Through the advent of cryptocurrencies
the world seems to be finally taking blockchain
But as we look to the future will blockchain
remain in the forefront of innovation in the
How do you see the relevance of blockchain
technology in the future?
Do you think it’s this big like a technological
revolution that people are saying, like comparing
it to the Internet and those things like that?
I think it’s an interesting thing.
The true success of it will be when it becomes
So I think we won’t be talking about blockchain
or technologies when it’s already part of
sort of the day to day life that we have.
So I think that’s that’s ultimate test.
I sort of see that at the end, you know, we
don’t really talk about some of the technologies
anymore that have transformed our lives as
So I think the true success of it will be
when we don’t talk about it anymore and it’s
embedded everywhere and we just accept it
as it is.
This has been Sibos twenty nineteen where
I’ve talked to some of the biggest names in
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from
all of this, it’s that blockchain technology
is here to stay.
I’m Jackson with Cointelegraph and I’ll see
you down the road.
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