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Blockchain moves beyond the roadblocks

The hot new tech that powers businesses to make their finances more secure, is set  to  see wide usage in 2018
VISHNU ANAND
Bangalore, January 2 22018: The year  gone by,  saw   the crypto or virtual currency,  Bitcoin,   in wider use.  It remained controversial because of its ability to  operate on the  blind side of the regulatory radar. Nevertheless  it opened the floodgates to something much larger: the core technology on which Bitcoin operates,  is Blockchain -- an uber secure way,  of managing ledger data.
Today, Blockchain is redefining financial business across the world. Banks,  petroleum companies, local governments, are using Blockchain in their daily business.   A year ago Kenneth Arredondo, President & General Manager, Asia Pacific & Japan, for global enterprise software player  CA Technologies, warned: "Blockchain will have to overcome its “guilt by association” with  Bitcoin problems."   Indications are it has done just that and Blockchain is ready to take off on its own.
In essence, Blockchain is a type of distributed ledger in which transactions are sequentially grouped into blocks. Each “block” is “chained” to the previous block and recorded across a network, using secret coding. Each block contains a timestamp.   By its very  design, Blockchains are  protected against  modification of the data. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered later  without the alteration of all subsequent blocks and the consent of the network.
Indian enterprises are testing the waters of Blockchain in a variety of scenarios: Invoices  could soon  pay themselves when a shipment arrives;   share certificates will    automatically send  their owners dividends if profits  in their investment, reach a certain level.  Thanks to Blockchain technology, financial fraud could  be significantly reduced as all financial data will be recorded in an open, public distributed ledger than can be accessed by anyone with an Internet connection.  The World Economic Forum forecasts that in the next 10 years, Blockchains will become a global decentralized source of trust, that will seamlessly allow countries to collect taxes, and individuals across the world to transfer money without the involvement of intermediaries, most of whom work for financial gains.
Blockchain in India
|ASSOCHAM joined with analysts  PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)  to  recently release a   knowledge paper on "Leveraging emerging   digital technologies for India's transformation 2017 ." The document examines  "How India is embracing Blockchain" :
"With cryptocurrency usage expanding rapidly, India could potentially become a hub for Blockchain technology. However, there might be further considerations that need to be taken into account in adopting  Blockchain in India. Some skepticism around distributed ledger technology (DLT) and  Blockchain may arise from safety loopholes, the need for wide participation from banking institutions and regulatory bodies, etc."
|"Several banks and financial institutions in India are actively looking to deploy certain workloads on Blockchain. As per RBI’s recommendation, banks have been encouraged to explore and develop applications for digital currencies and distributed ledgers. A large Indian commercial bank successfully implemented a smart contract-based vendor financing solution for one of its large clients in  2017."
However,  the technology  is also useful in the public sector (managing public records and elections), healthcare (keeping records anonymous but easily available), retail (handling large ticket purchases such as auto leasing and real estate) and more.
Indian Blockchain startups 
The ASSOCHAM study finds that  in recent months,  Indian start-ups have begun throwing their weight behind Blockchain technology. A one-year old start-up has created a ‘bankchain’ for banks to explore, build, and implement Blockchain solutions in areas such as anti-money laundering, cross-border payments, asset registry and syndication of loans. Another start-up is using the Blockchain with AI to enable banks to authenticate and identify a person in a few hours. Simultaneously, many IT players are starting to build applications to help banks use the Blockchain.
These start-ups are helping spread the wings of Blockchain to a diverse range of industries. Typical of this trend are  RecordsKeeper, a centralized storage repository for enterprises built on Blockchain  and  Psi Phi Global, a company dedicated to offering ‘crypto lockers’ to store and share documents using Blockchain. These  companies are emerging as  large  recruiters for Blockchain.
Says Lovleen Bhatia, CEO and co-founder of India-based edu-tech player Edureka:  “From a career standpoint, financial services companies and Fintech start-ups have started recruiting Blockchain specialists in hordes. Take a casual look at your LinkedIn feed and you will notice that the number of openings for Blockchain-related jobs have tripled in the last year or so. Blockchain has the potential to help financial institutions slash costs by around $20 billion by 2022. This obviously unlocks career opportunities.”
The market for Blockchain-related products and services is expected to  reach $7.7 billion in 2022, a sharp increase from $242 million last year, according to the  researcher Markets & Markets. It is creating new opportunities for some of the larger, older, companies like IBM and Microsoft, writes  Fortune  magazine. "IBM  was one of the first big companies to see Blockchain’s promise, contributing code to an open-source effort and encouraging startups to try the technology on its cloud for free."
The attraction of Blockchain  goes beyond companies,  to countries:  Dubai has  announced recently that it will aim to be world’s first blockchain-powered government.  It has created an "ArabianChain", shifting government paperwork to this  blockchain and hopes to complete the transition by 2020. UK,  Canada and the larger countries within  European Union are  not far behind.  NITI Aayog has announced that it is  working to set up  IndiaChain,  India's  own Blockchain network.  It will be    linked to IndiaStack --  the  developers' code  for  the  Aadhaar project-- and in the long term   will help reduce fraud, increase transparency of business transactions and  tighten enforcement of contracts. IndiaChain could well end up as the largest Blockchain network in the world.
For nations of all sizes, for   big enterprises and small startups, seasoned professionals and  career seekers alike, Blockchain  seems set for interesting days ahead.   




    


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