The blockchain is an exciting developing technology that many experts and institutions are studying for its promising applications. The financial sector is especially interested in its features, which can revolutionize everything about finance as we know it. Read on to know more about the blockchain and its benefits to the financial services industry.
What Is The Blockchain?
The blockchain is a digital ledger — a virtual collection of transactions recorded and tracked in a decentralized network. That means no central authority or person has control over the network.
It’s composed of individual “blocks” of data. Each block contains a record of information. The blocks are linked together in chronological order. No one can alter the links, ensuring a high level of security and permanence in the network.
The blockchain makes transactions faster, more efficient, and more cost-effective. Since its inception, experts and researchers have been improving the blockchain’s application in various things, including the financial world.
Most famously, it serves as the underlying technology for cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Investors and researchers are now using blockchain development service companies to help them further improve the use cases of the technology.
Blockchain Benefits to the Financial Industry
In a nutshell, blockchain technology has improved the following aspects of the financial industry:
- Transparency: since users are undertaking transactions on a distributed ledger, a high degree of transparency exists in the network. This exposes things like fraud, helping financial institutions resolve and prevent them more efficiently.
- Security: as consumers do more of their day-to-day activities online, their need for online protection increases. The blockchain makes payments and money transfers faster and more traceable than in traditional forms of banking.
- Costs: with the blockchain, investors have less need for financial advisors that charge high fees — it cuts the middleman and eliminates many costs associated with traditional banking.
- Programmability: specific types of blockchains, such as the Ethereum blockchain, feature smart contracts. These contracts are programmable and can automatically execute tamper-proof clauses with great accuracy.
Specific Use Cases
The financial industry is a huge world, and the blockchain has been used in many of its areas. The following are some of its most groundbreaking use cases:
- Settlements in Asset Management: traditional asset management processes are slow and manual. They’re also risky and get more complex, especially in terms of cross-border transactions. Blockchain technology streamlines the entire process and automates the trade lifecycle. On top of that, all parties have access to the same trade data.
- Claims Processing in Insurance: the insurance sector experiences a plethora of challenges, including fraudulent claims, fragmented information sources, and manual processes. Blockchain-powered smart contracts offer complete control, transparency, and traceability for each insurance claim. They can automate payouts while controlling the risks of fraud and other such challenges.
- Trade Finance: current supply chains are complex, slow, and fragmented. Transacting parties often need third-party intermediaries to lower their risks. With smart contracts, such a need for middlemen disappears. The transfer of goods, titles, and money from one party to another is done automatically as long as contract criteria are met. This results in a network with solid confidence in its suppliers and buyers.
- International Payments: transferring money from one country to another often takes a tedious amount of time when using traditional banking. With digital options and blockchain, customers can make international transfers any time of the day. This eases the pressure on the global payments sector, which is gigantic, slow, and error-prone in its current state.
KYC for Compliance: financial institutions are required to adopt a Know-Your-Customer (KYC) policy, but this can be time-consuming and difficult to maintain. The blockchain can provide a single digital source of ID, letting banks and external entities seamlessly exchange information.