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GCC Banks Should Move Quickly to Adapt Disruptive Technologies

Marmore MENA Intelligence, a research subsidiary of the Kuwait Financial Centre "Markaz", recently rolled out its report "From Bitcoin to Blockchain" (1).

In this release, Marmore fathoms the potential impact of the Blockchain technology on various sectors in the GCC region.

Reading along the lines of "Financial Times", Blockchain is a data-recording structure that mothers a shared ledger that is distributed among networked computers, allowing users to make and verify transactions immediately, eliminating any interference from a central authority. New transactions are cross-checked by the network and, when approved as valid, are added to the Blockchain.

The traditional payment model ropes in a third party, trusted by everybody, to be involved in a transaction. Blockchain puts that model to a test by eliminating the centralized system and replacing it with a system that is widely distributed and secured by cryptography. Transactions that happen on the Blockchain network are public, allowing anyone to join the network and verify the transactions.

Banks and financial companies are exploring Blockchain to tide their day-to-day challenges. Many technology pundits and bankers had projected that even though Bitcoin could possibly be restricted to a few thousands on the Internet, the underlying technology-"The Block Chain"-holds a huge potential in real-world scenarios. The concept of decentralization that Blockchain promises has creased the brows of several central bankers, who are also increasingly becoming receptive to the idea of incorporating Blockchain to their systems. Although overnight adoption is unlikely, we envisage Blockchain being used in some form or other to carry on regular transactions over the next 5-7 years.

The GCC region, traditionally, has lagged behind in adopting disruptive technologies. Lack of a robust start-up environment and difficulty in mirroring the success of global start-ups have been threatening the potential of the GCC region. Given the defiance to change, coupled with the absence of a robust framework, it is too early for investments in Blockchain to befall in the GCC region. The argument that nothing noteworthy is happening in the GCC region fails to hold water.

Dubai, through its Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) of emerging technologies, has been hitting the top of the list by nurturing and developing latest technologies. The objective of the DFF is to ring in new technologies for the government and bureaucratic services. Dubai's approach is new in that it dares to defy its traditional nature of simply serving as a hub and is actually bent on leveraging on new technologies for catering to the needs of the state. The DFF's Dubai Future Accelerators program, for instance, has singled out 30 companies and has given them 3 months' development time and access to millions of dollars of venture capital to put their technologies to a test with local government authorities. Two key projects-Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system, and a Blockchain project developed by Consensys-were economically buttressed by the program.

Dubai recently steered a series of pilots, through its Global Blockchain Council, on using Blockchain in the following areas-health records, managing conflict diamonds, land title transfer, business registration, digital wills, tourism engagement, and shipping. Dubai has lofty ambitions of creating smart cities, and these are likely to deliver stacks of data daily. Tracing the progress of the Blockchain technology, it is not easy for anyone to question its capability of handling the pool of data.

Blockchains can be put to use in almost any form of record keeping, agreement, contract, or register. Recently, the UK government has started probing the use the Blockchain for public services lending credibility to the fact that Blockchain is primed to move into mainstream. The below table outlines, without baring their potential applicability for the GCC region, just a few ways the Blockchains are being used or could be put to use in the times ahead.

Blockchain and its potential applicability in the GCC region

Applications..........................Applicability in the GCC region
Tracking tax payments...........Low
Online voting.........................Low
Stock trades.........................Neutral
Land registries.....................High
Cloud storage.......................Neutral

Source: Marmore Research

About Marmore
Established in 2010, Marmore is a research subsidiary of Markaz, an investment bank and asset management firm that celebrated 40 years of business in 2014. Marmore caters to the growing research and information needs of organizations in the MENA region. The company publishes reports and conducts research on demand.


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Jeudi 6 Avril 2017