By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation Weekend
Paul Sin, head of Deloitte Asia Pacific Blockchain Lab, discussed “Unleashing Blockchain in Finance and Beyond” during a recent visit to Bangkok. He told media that blockchain provided solutions to unique problems thanks to key features of its distributed ledger technology (DLT).
Deloitte uses hashing algorithms to encrypt data on the blockchain, allowing different users (or nodes) to replicate each other’s data for high availability without exposing the information to unauthorised access.
This core feature of DLT gives rise to applications that are especially valuable for cross-industry transactions, especially in the financial services sector and for supply-chain traceability.
Blockchain applications have been adopted to do business across industries in banking, insurance, healthcare, digital rights, supply chains and regulatory processes.
In banking, blockchain technology is now being used for settlement and clearing, syndicated loans, offshore financing, and regulatory matters. In insurance blockchain deals with duplicated claims, marine insurance, micro-insurance, and agent certification. Meanwhile, its supply chain traceability applications include product warranty, traceability, patent records, and intellectual property rights.
The benefits are not confined to the business sector, with blockchain applications also being used by the public sector and government. For example, the public sector is using the new technology for intraday reporting and mandatory insurance, while the government is using it in its governance model, for open API (Application Programming Interface), and the regulatory sandbox – where businesses can test their systems safely under the supervision and recommendations of regulators.
Sin said the beauty of blockchain for finance lies in the way it helps small and medium-sized enterprises get access to financial services. Currently, only one in four SMEs are successful when applying for loans. Blockchain technology helps address this problem, offering further options for those rejected.
“Blockchain is a B2B [business to business] platform where all kinds of businesses in different locations can form multiple partnerships to improve their efficiency or reduce costs. That’s because blockchain helps businesses share information while keeping data privacy,” said Sin. However, businesses that want to use blockchain must first digitalise their data. The financial sector, where data is already digital, is thus a pioneer in using blockchain technology.
Deloitte’s Asia Pacific Blockchain Lab was opened in September 2017 with the aim of centralising resources in the region to better serve its clients. Sin said the lab collaborated with two other blockchain research facilities in Dublin and New York in order to bring over 40 DLT solutions to the Asian market.
“We chose to establish our lab in Hong Kong because of its role as both the financial centre and trading hub in Asia Pacific,” said Sin. “There are hundreds of trading companies in Hong Kong that will prosper from [China’s] Maritime Silk Road strategy. The availability of talent [in Hong Kong] was another major factor.”
In March 2017, the lab used blockchain to develop a trade finance proof-of-concept (POC) for the Hong Kong Monetary Authority and five of the city’s leading banks to share information about trades including purchase orders, bills of lading, open-account financing, and invoicing. Sin reports that it eliminates forged invoices with proof of authentic supporting documents on the blockchain network.
The project was launched in September 2018, with governance framework defined, business model established, and technical scalability proven.
Sin explains that Deloitte also partnered with China Life Insurance to implement a blockchain application for cross-border bancassurance; with the China Consortium to launch blockchain cross-border real-time exchange of information; and with the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Singapore Exchange and Nasdaq to implement a blockchain financial settlement platform.
Meanwhile, for supply chain traceability, Deloitte worked with Kerry Logistics and Cargo Smart to launch a blockchain-driven logistics application.
Deloitte has also worked with MoneySQ, Hong Kong’s first online crowdfunded lender, to create the trustME business platform. Sin says his company is now busy using the blockchain network for supply chain traceability across the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area, synchronising real-time data among SME manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.