Banks have made massive changes to the way consumers think about managing their money. The rise of mobile and data-based services comes from the innovations and fintech partnerships developed in this space since the late 1990s.
Blockchain had not been part of this conversation for banks. It is a hesitation to embrace digitization and technological development that is out-of-character for a segment that is usually an early adopter.
Investment banks, government services, and other infrastructure providers are experimenting with blockchain in ways that could benefit the retail banking sector. Instant settlements, automation, and smart contracts make it faster and cheaper to manage money.
Caution is always warranted when looking at new technology. Retail banking can move from studying blockchain to deploying it by taking these specific steps.
1. Identify Objectives
As banks progress from studying blockchain to executing a strategy, the effort must be based on targeted business outcomes. What are the critical improvements expected from this effort? Blockchain can streamline bureaucracy, reduce barriers, increase transparency, and more. Every institution will have slightly different objectives with different priorities to implement.
2. Technology Enablers
What fintech firms can provide services that allow for blockchainization? Banks may seek out strategic partnerships as a cost-effective way to move toward deployment. A holistic view across every tech enabler will maximize the benefits of deployment while minimizing expenses, especially when the risk gets spread out between multiple organizations instead of a single financial institution.
3. Master the Lifecycle
According to Deltec Bank, Bahamas- “Blockchain provides an opportunity to accelerate digital service deployment.” It could make services become available on-demand. It can personalize to specific roles, reduce redundancies, and hit more consumer touchpoints. That means transactions can be faster and cheaper for a bank’s consumers.
4. Organize for Innovation
Future retail banking platforms will move away from the monolithic idea that one-stop must provide everything. It will be a place that is highly distributed and virtualized, creating a transparent ecosystem of services that come from numerous best-in-class providers. Consumers will choose specific, outcome-oriented features based on their current financial needs.
5. Execute the Journey
Banks must be willing to take the journey toward blockchain while continuing to support their existing applications. Some elements of the existing infrastructure could get modernized or be retired, but there might also be some co-existence issues to solve. That does not mean institutions must reinvent the wheel to have a successful initiative. It will require a C-Suite that is 100% invested in the idea that moving to this new tech is beneficial to the institution.
Retail banks could save as much as $4 billion annually with blockchain by making improvements to cross-border payments. It will improve security by creating efficient Know Your Customer opportunities that can reduce fraud. Although there are privacy and regulation concerns that must still get ironed out to reduce caution in this approach, the future of banking will be here soon.
Blockchain is going to be part of that future.
Disclaimer: The author of this text, Robin Trehan, has an undergraduate degree in Economics, Masters in international business and finance and an MBA in electronic business. Trehan is Senior VP at Deltec International www.deltecbank.com. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the author, and not necessarily reflecting the views of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries and/or employees.
About Deltec Bank
Headquartered in The Bahamas, Deltec is an independent financial services group that delivers bespoke solutions to meet clients’ unique needs. The Deltec group of companies includes Deltec Bank & Trust Limited, Deltec Fund Services Limited, and Deltec Investment Advisers Limited, Deltec Securities Ltd. and Long Cay Captive Management.