IBM Is Taking Blockchain Beyond The Hype By Making It Viable For Businesses

There is much more to Blockchain than Bitcoin and it is inextricably linked with the Blockchain boom and notably the most famous application of the technology. Interestingly, the global cryptocurrency market in Asia hit $350 million in April 2018, but the area so far lacks legitimacy with the Indian Government deploying a wait-and-watch policy towards crypto-assets.

Jitan Chandanani, Blockchain Offerings and Engagement Leader, IBM India / South Asia

In India, Blockchain technology has seen its biggest adopter in the BFSI sector, but tech giant IBM, also a leading enterprise Blockchain provider, has been assiduously working on making Blockchain more business viable, mainstreaming the technology and increasing its adoption among other sectors. According to a McKinsey report, IBM has invested heavily in Blockchain and sees strategic value in applying it across major industries. In an interview with Analytics India Magazine, Jitan Chandanani, Blockchain Offerings and Engagement Leader, IBM India/South Asia talked about scaling Blockchain adoption in India, creating blockchain-enabled services, its application areas and generating revenue opportunities.

One of the biggest disadvantages of Blockchain is that it is regarded as an immature technology and companies are yet to measure its return on investment. The technology is also at the beginning of its adoption curve in India and some of the drawbacks include a lack of proven use cases and a lack of talent. However, that’s the job IBM is doing stressing on the strategic importance of Blockchain to major industries with in-depth analysis and making it “sector agnostic”. “Initially in 2016 and 2017, IBM started off with the financial services market and blockchain was all about BFSI. IBM built a blockchain-based trade finance platform which was developed to support the creation of cross-border trading networks. But now the focus has been on making Blockchain more domain-agnostic and apply it in different industries,” he shared.



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IBM Trumps Competition With Its All-encompassing Infrastructure – Hyperledger Platform

IBM currently offers Blockchain-as-a-Service built on top of the Hyperledger Fabric in its IBM Bluemix cloud environment. Billed as a long-term investment in the strategic imperatives technology which also includes IBM Watson’s Cognitive Computing platform, IBM started offering multiple deployments outside the financial service sectors in 2017. The tech giant started by offering multiple PoCs in the area of KYC identity management and consumer digital identity among others. IBM also has a first-mover advantage in the field being one of the first companies to develop enterprise-ready blockchain solutions, thereby giving the company considerable thought leadership in this area. Another high point is that given the traction that IBM’s cloud service is getting with its cloud engagements, Blockchain also has the potential to become one of the fastest growing sources of revenue. Outside the BFSI sector, IBM is also betting big on other areas such as Healthcare and retail that can be other big verticals for Blockchain. Some of the platform adopters of Hyperledger Fabric 1.0, released in 2017 are Alibaba, Belltane, BlocLedger, IBM, Oracle, SecureKey, State Street and many others.

IBM Enters Healthcare With A Collaborative Blockchain Network

Earlier in January this year, the company also announced a collaboration with stakeholders to build a blockchain-based ecosystem for the healthcare industry. In an attempt to broaden its use cases, IBM partnered with leading members from the healthcare domain such as Anthem, Health Care Services Corporation, PNC Bank and Aetna to improve interoperability and transparency. The tech giant indicated that the goal is to allow the blockchain network to enable healthcare companies to build, share and deploy solutions that drive digital transformation in the industry. The idea is to build a collaborative blockchain based network which can reduce fragmentation and optimise tasks such as claims processing, payment processing thereby ensuring smooth healthcare information exchanges. According to Claus Jensen, chief technology officer at Aetna, a CVS Health business, “We are committed to improving the healthcare consumer experience and making our healthcare system work more effectively”. “Through the application of blockchain technology, we’ll work to improve data accuracy for providers, regulators, and other stakeholders, and give our members more control over their own data,” he said in a statement.

Closing Thoughts

Blockchain is an emerging market for enterprises and Chandanani emphasises that organisations still have to find out how Blockchain may fit into their businesses. “The biggest challenges we are facing is sparking the conversation around the technology and building awareness is a continuous challenge. I believe that 2019 is the year when we’ll see a lot of initiatives taking off and 2020 will be the year of Blockchain,” he shared, wrapping up the conversation.


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