The Blockchain West Summit focussed on enterprise blockchain applications in the supply chain, healthcare, trade, identity, security, FinTech, Federal government applications, and industry-specific public or private blockchains. In this view, IBM’s Head of Blockchain Solutions, Financial Markets, Jesse Lund, and Stellar Development Foundation’s Co-founder and CTO, Jed McCaleb, gave speeches to share their opinions on the changing financial services.
Jesse Lund begins by saying that the infrastructure supporting the global financial services hasn’t changed much in the last 30 to 50 years. Rather, there are incremental steps being taken on old technology and infrastructure, which is now promoting faster payments.
Jesse Lund says:
“The demand for better user experience in financial systems from clients has greatly outpaced the investment in the financial infrastructure. I don’t know anybody that likes to go to a bank anymore.”
He further adds:
“Big banks have become so big that they have lost touch with their client base and how the younger generations think and interact with money.”
In response to greater user expectations and decreasing consumer confidence, he believes, the FinTech industry was born.
Additionally, he believes that in the last 10 years non-bank entities, startups out of Silicon Valley have been releasing products that are impacting the revenue streams of big banks. The disruption effect of technology and the internet has already impacted other industries such as manufacturing and retail.
“The death spiral they are caught in isn’t their fault. It’s an impossible situation where there is an increased demand for better, faster, cheaper, financial services and on the other hand, there is an increased regulatory oversight and the big banks are spending billions of dollars on regulatory compliance”
In his opinion, Bitcoin is the only mainstream blockchain application in production and a major global financial utility.
“Bitcoin is the kind of transformational opportunity that I have been looking for in financial services but it was scary in the kind of potential it offered,” he says.
According to him, Bitcoin told the truth about how many financial institutions are charging us. On the other hand, it made the tech-savvy population feel that banks are no longer necessary. Even though banks may not need to be in the middle of the money exchange process, he thinks, they are required for the economic growth.
Lund says that the central banks’ reactions to the crypto-world has been positive, resulting in deeper research and investigation of digital assets.
Lund reads out a quote from a person at the central bank:
“We are contemplating a choice between two equally unacceptable options, one is to ignore cryptocurrencies and the other is to ban them altogether.”
The conclusion of this conversation was that they had to implement either one.
The bottom line of his experience was that banks are going to dramatically change in the next 10 years. Like Bitcoin, there are additional technologies that will take the world to the next stage.
Jed McCaleb starts by saying:
“The issue today is that there are different payment networks and they don’t interoperate, which leads to friction and delays.”
This problem can be solved using Bitcoins.
He then throws some light on another problem that people are unable to exchange money as there are so many different currencies. However, he says that it can be solved, and explains how Stellar can digitally represent existing currency.
“Stellar has a concept called anchors and an anchor is a financial institution. You can give it a dollar or euro or bitcoin and it can put a tokenized version of that onto the stellar network, which can be passed around like a digital currency and brought back to an anchor.”
He seconds Jesse Lunds’ opinion on banks being important despite how good cryptocurrency and blockchain technology is but it will lead to a lot of consolidation just like what internet did to bookstores.
He further adds:
“It is interesting how stellar and other cryptocurrencies could change the world, especially the things we have not already anticipated. There is going to be all kinds of neat innovations that I am excited to see.”