Unlocking the Transformative Potential of Blockchain Technology
By Kamran Shahin, Vice President Product Development and Innovation Mastercard Middle East and Africa
With the rapid digital transformation of the financial sector around the world, Blockchain, which was once associated only with cryptocurrency, continues to emerge as a technology with the potential to create exciting new opportunities for the industry. Around $950 million was invested in Blockchain-related startups in 2017 (excluding initial coin offerings).
However, Blockchain itself is still in its infancy, and has yet to mature to realize its full potential. Several business and technical challenges must be overcome, and its true value can only be unlocked by integrating the technology with other assets.
Mastercard is first and foremost a technology company. We actively and continuously evaluate emerging technologies to explore how they can benefit our clients. We believe that Blockchain, and Permissioned Blockchain technology in particular, offers significant potential to enhance trust, simplicity, operational efficiency, and customer experience in the delivery of banking and payment services.
We have invested significantly in exploring the potential of Blockchain. We have built our own Permissioned Blockchain technology from the ground up, and integrated it with our core services to offer a unique and compelling value proposition for our clients. With over 70 Blockchain patents, we are ranked third in the world behind only nChain and IBM by patents filed. We have innovated with the needs of financial services in mind, and our platform has several unique differentiating features, including fast performance (on par with existing financial networks), and enhanced security (designed to be resistant to quantum attacks).
We have also explored several emerging blockchain use cases to assess the value they can bring to our clients. The use cases that are seeing the most traction in the market are in Supply Chain Logistics and Trade Finance, where we have started to see solutions move beyond the PoC / Pilot stage to go live. There is also a lot of advanced exploration in the areas of Capital Markets, Digital Identity / eKYC, and Payments, especially cross-border remittances, RTGS, and national digital currencies.
At Mastercard, we are currently focusing on Cross-Border B2B Payments, Supply Chain Proof of Provenance, and national digital currencies; and we are continuing to evaluate and experiment with other emerging use cases, such as Digital Identity / eKYC.
Blockchain is a very exciting technology with tremendous implications for the future of business. With our continuing efforts and investment in this space, we believe we are well-positioned to capitalize on the promise of blockchain to unlock a future of priceless possibilities for our clients.
The views and opinions in this piece reflect those of Mastercard and not necessarily those of GSMA.