Blockchains and distributed ledgers in financial world – Opportunity or threat to banks?
Kurki, Juho Pekka Joonas
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Lohkoketjut ja hajautettu kirjanpito finanssimaailmassa - mahdollisuus vai uhka pankeille?
The purpose of this thesis was firstly to illustrate the different views that banks and traditional institutions have on most potential blockchain use cases compared to the views of fintech companies, secondly find out how the blockchain technology could change the competitive environment in financial markets, and thirdly, give the reader a perspective of the potential of blockchains by introducing several use cases that financial institutions and fintech companies are doing research on. We found out that banks have a positive view on permissioned blockchains due to their more congruent design with existing systems. Also the security and legal issues were seen easier to solve in permissioned blockchains. The fintech companies on their half focused on permissionless blockchains, especially the Bitcoin blockchain. This is a more economical and faster way to create blockchain-based applications. Banks’ view is that the technology works best in sectors where the amount of trust between parties is low, there are unnecessary intermediaries, cross-border payments or other barriers for efficiency. Additionally, the blockchains were seen to have biggest potential in markets where the volumes are relatively low. Trade finance, derivatives markets and post-trade settlement are examples of sectors that banks seem to have most attention on at the moment. Fintech companies, on their half, seem to develop blockchain applications for all kind of environments. This sector was significantly more ambitious and optimistic on the new technology. Legal issues or restrictions of the technology weren’t seen that big of a problem. The fintech companies seemed to have strong faith that these issues will be solved in the future. Blockchain technology might enable a situation where need for trusted central counterparties (banks) is eliminated. Also the fintech companies might drag banks’ business towards themselves. At the moment banks are in good positions as they play a major role in societies and have the resources needed to acquire promising fintech companies. In case there’s cooperation in the banking sector and the banks utilize the expert workforce they can gain from the fintech buyouts, they are likely to make their functioning more efficient and will create new profit pools. Anyhow, if they fail to keep up with the development, it’s easy to see them losing, at least partly, their business to new entrants. All depends of the actions that the banking industry takes in the near future.