Article | April 15, 2020
The 21st century doesn’t fail to surprise human society with its innovation. Blockchain is going as a part of mainstream business operations and it's impossible to keep FinTech unaffected.
As the new universality of the twenty-first century, technological advancements have now unquestionably seeped into the workflow structure across multiple industries and are an indispensable element of varied business processes. Assignments that once needed human hands, bulky machines, and physical currencies have now been efficiently digitized. Mobility, cloud services, and consumers who have grown up in the digital age are forcing a CHANGE.
Technology has been the core of a number of disruptive trends in financial services and it is a driver behind three key themes; the first being convergence of other industries into financial services that is frankly leveraging data and technology, the second is wholesale sort of interruption or disruption of business models and new entrants entering into the competitive landscape and certainly last is a much more transformative journey and that is the leveraging of things like Blockchain Technology, which is completely going to change the financial services ecosystem and marketplace in 2020.
Anyone with an internet connection can now engage in day-to-day banking activities, trading and investment in the stock market, widen e-commerce platforms, make online payments, exchange currency online, undertake equity funding, and more. Similarly, new players are now experimenting in different areas of financial activity such as banking, payments, peer-to-peer lending, wealth management, and more.
FinTech itself is at the cusp of the renovation as if there was a need. That flux of change is coming from the headwinds of Blockchain swinging its wings. Its stagnant style of doing business is apparent to all. What needs to be examined though, in this distinct phenomenon is the contribution of Blockchain which has enhanced this progressive revolution.
Table of Contents
•Why use Blockchain for Fintech?
•How is it currently managed?
•How big is the impact of Blockchain in FinTech?
•Blockchain for Global Payments/Cross-Border Transfers
•Blockchain in Trading and Trade Finance
•Blockchain in e-KYC Utilities
•for Credit Scoring
•Conclusion (All in all)
Why use Blockchain for Fintech?
When we talk about FinTech, or technology for finance, we are going to touch a very delicate aspect. We are in 2020 and banks still demand people to send them a fax with their information, because regulators that are there are not catching up with the technology. So Blockchain for FinTech is a very powerful tool. But until the regulators don’t allow it to be deployed in full, recognizing digital signature, recognizing a contract, a time stamp by blocks in a blockchain is going to be hard.
How is it currently managed?
Let’s understand this with an example - payment with a credit card. Before the payment with a credit card arrives in our bank account, there are 12 companies with 12 databases. They bring the data one to the other before it arrives to the bank account. With the blockchain, it’s up in a single transaction. So in many cases for remittance and for rebalancing accounts, even between branches of a single bank, a blockchain solution allows to remove error in transaction. There are banks that have branches in different time zones. At the end of the month, one time zone branch writes the transaction in the previous month, the headquarters writes the transaction in the next month. And when the month goes to level, it creates a lot of confusion. The accounting system based on blockchain technology will guarantee that all is aligned perfectly.
How big is the impact of Blockchain in FinTech?
Blockchain surely is born for fintech and is already bringing quite a lot of interest. The reaction of the financial industry is being very positive, one of adoption. When the financial board saw blockchain, rather than getting scared, they started adopting the technology for their own good. In fintech, blockchain is making a big influence to start with.
According to a survey on the financial services sector and fintech conducted by PwC, around 77% of the financial services industry plan on adopting blockchain by 2020. Banks being 1/3rd of the institutions surveyed have shown an inclination in incorporating blockchain in their operations as was reported by a study published by Accenture and McLagan (January 2017) that made mention of at least eight of the ten biggest global investment banks comprising the blockchain route.
Blockchain for Global Payments/Cross-Border Transfers
Blockchain-powered payments are hyper-secure and private. Each user has personal cryptocurrency keys that they can use to conduct transactions safely. The blockchain ensures that only participants involved in a particular transaction know the details of this transaction. Any changes to the transaction are possible only with the consent of all participants.
Learn more: https://capital.report/blogs/tracking-the-future-of-cross-border-payments-with-ai-ml-and-blockchain/8124
As per Deloitte, blockchain-based payments from business-to-business and peer-to-peer results in 40% - 80% reduced transaction costs. They’re also settled within seconds. Yes, it would be a paradigm shift but as per a projection by Mckinsey & Co. blockchain could drive $50 - $60 Billion in transcontinental B2B and $3 - $5 Billion in P2P payments respectively.
A blockchain records and validates every transaction and administers transactions in a way that no one can tamper with or delete them post-execution. FinTech companies such as Aeternity leverage this advantage of the blockchain to protect payments.
Another benefit of blockchain is that it eradicates the need for a mediator to handle financial services like money transfers. This is a huge relief for businesses that provide peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions.
Learn more: https://rubygarage.org/blog/how-blockchain-works#article_title_1
Blockchain in Trading and Trade Finance
The trade financing field requires lots of tedious paperwork and bureaucracy. Stock and share purchases have to pass through brokers, exchanges, clearing, and settlement. Shipping, for example, requires client-side etiquettes like lading bills, invoices, and the letter of credit. Each transaction is typically completed within three days. Yet transactions can be delayed when trading transpires over the weekends.
The blockchain technology can release traders from troublesome checks of counterparties and optimize the complete lifecycle of a trade. Using a blockchain, companies can intensify trade accuracy, speed up the settlement process, and reduce contingencies.
Ornua and Barclays completed the world’s first blockchain trade transactions in 2016, employing four hours rather than a week on a letter of credit — a document guaranteeing the export of $100,000 worth of agricultural products. IBM & Maersk collaborated for a global trade platform to attain scalable solutions of Blockchain in Fintech. Furthermore, Forbes released its report of Top 50 Billion-Dollar companies who’re exploring the scope of implementing blockchain solutions.
Learn more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/michaeldelcastillo/2019/04/16/blockchain-50-billion-dollar-babies/#3d2cf7be57cc
Blockchain in e-KYC Utilities
Identity can be undoubtedly established by government-issued documents such as driver‘s licenses, social security cards or passports, etc. Establishing identity through KYC verification is a lengthy procedure.
While exploring the bank-driven approach to KYC customer record sharing, there is always a debate around centralized versus decentralized approaches.
According to Niall Twomey, Chief Technical Officer, Fenergo, The centralized model offered centralized KYC utilities, controlled by a single entity. The main proponents and vendors behind these models at the time were incumbents with huge data resources and reach, which makes sense when it comes to creating a KYC utility. However, each utility had separate financial institution members, meaning that the overlap of customers and the ability to re-use customer information between them was seriously diluted. This was a key showstopper for utilities at the time. This led to a shift towards a decentralized model, where control is shared and participants coordinate with each other without going through a single intermediary.
Blockchain is a form of distributed ledger technology, having a specific technological foundation and cryptographic features that enable the storage of data in an immutable (unchangeable) ledger of ‘blocks’ of records. The blocks of records are linked in groups or a ‘chain’, which are maintained by a decentralized network, where all records are approved by consensus. It can build trust between financial institutions as it is auditable, and can help streamline the attestation process; ensuring clients are in charge of their own personally identifiable data.
The use of blockchain, currently best known as the foundational technology for Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, could overcome inefficiencies and duplication of effort in KYC information gathering between legal entities within a more comprehensive financial corporation or even between competing banks.
The blockchain offers a digital identity system. Using this system, clients need to go through validation just once and can then use this verified identity document to conduct transactions all over the world. A blockchain allows clients to
• Manage their personal identity data and reputation;
• Share their data with others without safety concerns;
• Log in to digital services without passwords;
• Digitally sign any type of documents, such as claims and transactions.
for Credit Scoring
FinTech companies are widely using blockchain to cater to the unbanked population lacking CIBIL score and helping them get credit. Apart from the unbanked and underbanked, two more groups of consumers — credit invisible and unscorable — lack banking services. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows that one in ten adults in the USA don’t have any credit history, and 19 million Americans have unscored credit records.
Unscorable consumers mean people who have credit records at least in one credit reference agency but the data is too out-of-date to generate a reliable score. Consequently, millions of people are deprived of loans, mortgages, the ability to rent apartments, and more.
Traditional banks and lenders approve loans based on a system of credit reporting. Blockchain technology unlocks the possibility of peer-to-peer loans, complex programmed loans that can approximate a mortgage or syndicated loan structure, and a faster and more secure loan process in general.
When you apply for a bank loan, the bank evaluates the risk involved. They do this by looking at factors like your credit score, debt-to-income ratio, and homeownership status. This centralized system is often unfriendly to consumers. The Federal Trade Commission concludes that one in five Americans have a “potentially material error” in their credit score that negatively affects their ability to get a loan
Alternative lending using blockchain technology offers a cheaper, more efficient, and more secure way of making personal loans to a broader pool of consumers. With a cryptographically secure, decentralized registry of historical payments, consumers could apply for loans based on a global credit score.
All in all
In fintech, blockchain finds application in areas like digital ID, customer authentication, insurance, to name a few. Blockchain practitioners are experimenting with this technology to bring out new use cases and applications to solve the repetitive and complicated issues in the fintech industry.
Blockchain in fintech is anticipated to reach $6,700 million by 2023 in the United States. Financial institutions will use blockchain for smart contracts, digital payments, identity management, and trading shares. The blockchain sector in fintech has been intended to provide banking with a more seamless and efficient experience. We will soon see the process of cash to crypto and vice versa to become ubiquitous.
Blockchain technology has tremendous potential to deliver excellence in core areas of banking and financial institutions’ business model. But to succeed in implementing blockchain, financial institutions should collaborate with the ecosystem before they launch blockchain solutions.
Article | April 15, 2020
Powered by Ledgers: Leading Market Experts Predict How Exchange 4.0 will Digitally Transform Financial Market Infrastructure
The move to Exchange 4.0 is well underway, with profound implications for financial markets.
Forward-thinking firms are already positioning themselves for a DLT-fuelled future. But behind the buzzwords, there are lingering questions. What benefits will digitalisation bring, both to trading venues and the market participants they serve? What are the main obstacles to Exchange 4.0, whether they stem from outdated thinking or misaligned stakeholder incentives? And what sort of step-changes can we expect as digitalisation takes off?
In a recent report, Hirander Misra, Chairman and CEO of GMEX Group, and the Realization Group interviewed experts at firms pioneering the new world of crypto asset trading
Alokik Advani, Managing Partner, Fidelity International Strategic Ventures
Charles Kerrigan, Partner, CMS London
Jessica Naga, Director Responsible for Legal and Compliance, SECDEX
Anoop Nannra, Global Blockchain Segment Leader, Amazon Web Services
Nicholas Philpott, Director, Zodia
Duncan Trenholme, Head of Digital Assets, TP ICAP.
We summarise the key highlights and perspectives from virtually every stakeholder group involved in the trend towards digitalisation.
Introducing Exchange 4.0
Just as the world is experiencing a fourth industrial revolution, sometimes called 4IR, financial exchanges are beginning their own technological revolution. The 4IR concept is the driving force behind the Internet of Things, where AI and web technology combine to create smart products. A similar idea is taking hold in the world of financial market infrastructure enabled exchange trading, as DLT, smart contracts and tokenisation make it possible to facilitate true asset portability while linking far-flung liquidity centers.
But there is a great deal of confusion as to how distributed technology will change financial market infrastructure so that it can make the transition, be fit for purpose and what benefits it will bring. There are also significant roadblocks, either in terms of old-fashioned thinking or stakeholders defending their turf. Experts say it is only a matter of time before these obstacles are overcome. The first step, they say, will involve trading venues and participants developing a new mindset, one that embraces open-source practices. As Exchange 4.0 becomes better understood, and as firms move from proof of concept to bottom-line benefits, we can expect a rash of major changes. New trading centers, new products, new ways of doing business and new ways of enabling post trade are all on the way.
Creating the network effect
A growing number of exchanges and trading firms are embracing distributed ledger technology (DLT) and tokenisation, recognising a surge of interest in crypto asset trading from both retail and institutional investors. But many of the venues are replicating silo-based models and missing out on the most important lessons from the digital revolution. DLT, tokenisation and crypto asset trading offer a chance to create much larger market ecosystems by enabling participants to transact across borders more easily and by facilitating asset portability. Rather than divvying up the pie, it’s all about making the pie much larger.
“The key thing about this is asset portability,” says Hirander Misra. “If you look at marketplaces in this space, there are lots of exchanges across the world and there’s tumbleweed growing through most of them. How do you create that network effect? But then also, how do you focus on what you’re really good at?”
Misra says the problem starts with exchanges adopting a silo mentality, where they seek to service clients exclusively rather than building a more collaborative model. Trading, clearing and settlement end up being offered in a closed-in environment. “Essentially these exchanges are just pockets of their own liquidity.”
But the future could soon look very different. “You’re going to see exchanges, custodians and other services interconnect more seamlessly, with the ability to swap services and assets across jurisdictions and across different types of users to get that network effect. This is a construct that I have labelled Exchange 4.0,” Misra says.
What the Experts Expect
Provided that network effect can be created, what sort of benefits can firms look forward to? The list is long and varied.
Alokik Advani:“You have to try this in pockets of smaller assets, where it can be really efficient – private markets, alternative assets, private equity, venture capital, real estate, private debt. All of these things are obscenely inefficient. They trade like bulletin boards today. If you wanted to bring that to some level of an exchange-like infrastructure with a DLT backing and speed of clearing and settlement, it’s a revolution.”
Charles Kerrigan: “You are seeing the move towards digitalisation as a prime example of capitalism forcing change. You are talking about another wave of creative destruction. We have digitalised the front office of financial institutions – what you see as a customer – but the real benefits will come from digitalising the market infrastructure. Crypto shows how this can be done. Payments have learnt from that. Securities issuance is following. We are simply following the logic of the information economy. This is a big one.”
Hirander Misra: “With Exchange 4.0, say you’re an existing exchange and you have existing infrastructure. You may want to set up a digital exchange, but you may not want to replicate everything you have. You may not need another matching engine, you may need digital custody or you may need issuance. The thing about Exchange 4.0 is that you can combine the services you have with services others have or augment what you already have. So, you’re not beholden to creating yet another siloed infrastructure.”
Jessica Naga: “There is something to be said for the countries that take the jump and do this now fast. They will have first movers’ advantage, if they build the necessary legal framework and infrastructural ecosystem in a sustainable way. The clear advantage of technology and FinTech companies is that their business is cross border and therefore from one centre, they can service the world.”
Anoop Nannra: “We look at Exchange 4.0 and the opportunities in terms of creating digital assets on virtually any aspect of our business. I think it’s really exciting, being able to create a futures index based on real-time solar energy production. Right down to the second. You create new patterns and opportunities for liquidity to occur. Capital historically will move to the environments where liquidity is most easily had.”
Nicholas Philpott,: “The locations and the cities that succeed in the future may no longer be the same as the ones at present. It’s a much more even competition now. If you can spin up a virtual exchange with none of that physical infrastructure that opens up the possibility of some very interesting developments as far as the new trading centres of the future are concerned. You’re broadening the market across a bigger spectrum of participants. More people can have access.”
Duncan Trenholme: “It’s possible that some of the private permissioned blockchains get traction in certain areas and solve certain use cases, but over time we believe the open permission-less blockchains will eat market share. The idea of running your own distributed ledger, in a centralised manner, just misses the point of what this technology can do. It’s repeating the limitations of vertical silo’s all over again. As people do connect, they’ll increasingly experience the benefits of transacting on an open, interoperable, and programmable financial system.”
A way forward
All of this leaves traditional venues and market participants having to prepare for a wholesale change in the way they operate while still conducting business in the here and now. At the same time, scores of new exchanges have sprouted up with DLT technology and digital assets that can only be traded on one platform.
By forging the DLT-based world of the future while still servicing traditional assets in traditional ways, we will see a hybrid model which bridges the gap between digital and traditional financial market infrastructure. This will serve to eradicate the current silos and fragmentation to facilitate better portability of assets by interconnecting the whole capital markets value chain of participants, across international nodes (jurisdictions), to more easily trade, clear and settle.
Article | April 15, 2020
One of the brutal facts of the COVID-19 outbreak is that it will be difficult for small businesses to survive. The self-distancing and shelter-in-place orders, while temporary, are taxing for already cash-strapped merchants. Adding to the hardship, small businesses may find it especially difficult to get a much-needed loan from their local bank or credit union since many have closed physical branches to encourage social distancing. And while banks offer many services online, only 1% are capable of extending a loan digitally.
Article | April 15, 2020
The current global pandemic has changed our mindset and habits, as we are forced to revaluate the current ways we do things by thinking further outside the box. Over the last 12-18 months there has been a complete contrast of fortunes in the capital markets technology sector, with some firms flourishing, some struggling to survive, and others having to reinvent themselves to do so. Here at GMEX Group it has presented a substantial opportunity for innovation, which continues to accelerate on the back of the momentum already built.
One such opportunity centres on digital market infrastructure-enabled digital assets which, despite near-term market-driven volatility, will continue to experience increasing demand for solutions and services from institutional capital markets firms.
Market Infrastructure Evolution
GMEX Group started as a FinTech company over 9 years ago and focused on supplying technology to traditional exchanges and post trade operators based on a partnership-driven approach. Over the last few years, as a growth-stage company, we have focused on both digital market infrastructure solutions (including issuance, exchange trading, clearing, settlement and digital custody for digital assets), as well as continuing with traditional market infrastructure enablement. Our hybrid market infrastructure approach has enabled us to deliver technologically advanced, institutional grade, future-proofed solutions that take advantage of the inherently positive characteristics of both traditional and digital market infrastructure.
In today’s environment, exchange matching engines, digital trading platforms and post trade systems need to embrace a hybrid ecosystem approach. Bridging the gap between traditional and digital capital markets, whilst effectively mapping to evolving regulatory frameworks, is essential. This requires an approach which encompasses traditional and digital assets, digital currencies, security tokens and digital securitisation of traditional assets including derivatives and commodities. The increasing regulatory requirements for digital asset infrastructure and the resultant demand for solutions that are fit for purpose has played into our core strengths.
We’ve worked to provide a complete hybrid market infrastructure product suite called GMEX Fusion, which is ideally suited for regulated exchanges, trading venues, custodians and banks focused on both traditional and digital assets of all kinds. Our solution set has been designed to support the latest technology and business challenges that are impacting the way traditional exchanges are looking to operate as they look to embrace digital transformation. GMEX Fusion also addresses the demands from the cryptocurrency exchanges, digital asset trading venues, Non Fungible Token (NFT) marketplaces and emerging markets looking to start-up or enhance their exchange ecosystem and support digital assets. GMEX is working with many of these entities across multiple jurisdictions as our footprint is very much global, with clients and partners all over the world.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is driving technological innovation in many spheres, and with it comes the need to move from analogue to digital - and embrace Exchange 4.0. The industry-changing network will see exchanges, trading venues, post trade operators, custodians, and other services interconnect more seamlessly, with the ability to swap services and assets across jurisdictions and across different types of users. This transformational solution will necessitate digital exchange trading systems, order matching engines and post trade platforms to transition from the legacy solutions that have been around for decades.
We are now moving past the second and third generation of blockchain in financial services towards Exchange 4.0 at an accelerated pace.
As an industry, we’re in a state of flux which has merely been exacerbated by the crisis. If we look at FinTech firms now, I would argue it’s the most exciting time ever because so many new technologies are emerging. With blockchain on the one hand, and AI, Internet of Things (IoT) and quantum computing on the other. From being nascent, many of these are now starting to grow as well as integrate. With all this technology around, the opportunity for innovation is immense. But that’s counter-balanced by the inertia of existing legacy platforms, processes and mindsets.
We know how the smartphone revolutionised the way we communicate, online and in every other fashion. Even 10 years ago, we couldn’t have envisioned where we are now and the extent to which it’s developed.
We are now in the same place in financial markets. We don’t necessarily see it and despite the innovation there are many silos which don’t talk to each other effectively. There is strong client demand for the full spectrum of digital and hybrid services. However interoperability and time to market remain a challenge, with traditional and multiple types of blockchain-enabled digital market infrastructure being severely fragmented.
The team at GMEX group firmly believe that digital market infrastructure and related services need to integrate with existing market infrastructure and technologies to foster interoperability. By doing so there is an opportunity to interconnect the whole capital markets value chain of participants across international nodes (jurisdictions), to more easily trade, clear and settle traditional assets and digital assets and eradicate the age-old exchange silos.
The immense opportunities
As unfortunate as the current crisis is, it will end and immense opportunities will follow once normality resumes. There is expected to be exponential growth in digital assets over the next five years, with a continued uptick in institutional demand. This is not only a huge opportunity for FinTech firms, but also a big opportunity for financial markets firms and those that provide financial services.
To GMEX, this presents an opportunity where the right answer isn’t the traditional status quo and it isn’t the decentralised Wild West. The right answer is somewhere in between, and that presents an opportunity to create new products, new asset classes and new revenue streams.
The ability to harness hybrid market infrastructure will be essential in the capital markets sector, irrespective of whether the underlying asset class is traditional or digital. And to achieve the winning position, innovation now is key!