Blockchain

The internet revolutionised the way we exchange information.

Blockchain is revolutionising the way we transact.

Over $1.5 billion invested in blockchain companies in the last year.

The value exchange revolution

Before blockchain, the only way to establish trust between multiple untrusted parties on the internet was to use a trusted intermediary. Without that trust, someone could potentially spend the same dollar multiple times, sell an asset they didn’t own, or assert that diamonds originate from conflict-free zones.

Blockchain provides a way for multiple, untrusted parties to see the same version of the truth. It does this by creating a distributed ledger (or database) and having transactions validated by consensus among multiple parties. As a result, value can be exchanged and information can be verified without the need for a trusted intermediary.

 

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The potential for blockchain is vast, because any time an intermediary can be removed, there is potential to:

  • decrease cost
  • reduce delay
  • lower risk
  • increase transparency

“Over 20% of financial services businesses at risk to FinTechs by 2020”

PwC FinTech Global Report, 2016

Blockchain in business and society

"It is only a matter of time before distributed ledgers become a trusted alternative for managing large volumes of transactions”

Securities Settlement - Santander FinTech 2.0

The operational processes that support the settlement of securities globally involve multiple interactions between intermediary custodian banks and centralised record keeping depositories and clearing houses.

Blockchain offers the opportunity to distribute the record of security ownership reducing the numbers of intermediary record keepers and simplifying the settlement process. This can result in reduced cost, faster settlements, reduced risk and enhanced liquidity.

It will take time to transform something as complex as global capital markets but we expect to see changes in specific areas such as Repo and Collateral Management within the next 12 months.

"Blockchain can provide permanent and secure registries preventing mismanagement of records"

Land Registry – Factom, Inc.

Maintaining asset registries can be a challenging, especially where corruption, mismanagement and fraud is commonplace. One example is land registries. There have been numerous cases where an individual owns the official paper title, but this doesn’t match a countries’ official land registry. This often leads to legal proceedings, resulting in innocent people being evicted from their house and houses even being demolished before the legal confusion is cleared up. In a bid to prevent this happening in the future, Honduras’s government have turned to blockchain technology start-up, Factom, Inc., to build a secure and reliable land title record system. This record will be stored in a distributed fashion and will not rely on a central trusted intermediary to maintain. As a result single points of failure, susceptible to corruption and error are removed creating a trusted single version of the truth. This should help prevent further injustices in the future. 

"Blockchain provides transparency and traceability building trust amongst nations"

Foreign Aid Systems:

Distributed ledger technology is providing governments with a platform to demonstrate transparency and traceability of foreign aid donations. Donors can issue digital coins with a sterling value and as there are no geographical boundaries online, foreign exchange fees can be reduced. The ledger has the ability to trace exactly where the currency is being spent and by whom. This ensures that the donation reaches the intended end-user. As a result, the transparency of international aid spending has the potential to build trust amongst nations, encouraging them to donate more and can allow funders to target key outcomes more effectively. 

“There are 230 million children under five years old without a birth certificate; it has to be a technology solution.” (John Edge, Founder ID2020)

Legal identity:

In an increasingly digital world where societal structures and boundaries are becoming more and more blurred, blockchain technology has the potential to host and distribute information on the legal identities of the approximately 1.5 billion people in vulnerable societies who struggle to gain access to legal, political, social and economic inclusion. By distributing the responsibility for this data, people’s identities will be more protected and less likely to be prone to manipulation or loss. Government and non-government organizations, with blockchain technology, have the potential to help the world’s disadvantaged populations become safe, part of society, financially included and economically active if such at-risk peoples have legal identities.

“distributed ledger technology could reduce banks’ infrastructure costs […] by between $15-20 billion per annum by 2022.”

Santander Fintech 2.0 January 2016

The benefits of Blockchain

Cutting costs and complexity

Cutting costs and complexity

Blockchain can be used to orchestrate and automate interactions with external parties, as well as within your own processes.

Speeding up transactions

Speeding up transactions

Blockchain’s verification system has the potential to enable near to or real time processing and settlement of transactions.

>Reducing data duplication

Reducing data duplication

Blockchain provides a single shared view of the truth in your network, reducing data entry duplication and reconciliation.

Increasing resilience

Due to the distributed nature of blockchain, there is no single point of failure. This makes it significantly more resilient than current systems.

“Santander is the first British bank to start using the technology [..] for recording international payments, and may start rolling out the service to customers next year.”

Reuters May 2016

Our Blockchain services

For business leaders around the world who are struggling to understand what blockchain is and how it applies to them, we can help you understand why this nascent and disruptive technology will impact on your business in the digital age. By combining our world-leading strategy, business and regulatory expertise with deep technical capabilities we can partner with you from strategy through to execution.

PwC’s Blockchain Services Team have deep domain expertise in technology and software engineering, with 120+ years experience building and running systems in the FinTech arena, including a range of blockchain technologies. We have extensive experience in designing and delivering innovative solutions, with a proven record in delivering business critical platforms, from the world’s largest credit card processing platform to a bitcoin payment processor. The core team leverages PwC’s huge range of domain expertise (in capital markets, insurance and banking) and depth of industry insight, from strategy and operations through to legal, regulatory and assurance.

Heralded by many as the biggest technology innovation since the internet; blockchain offers both threat and opportunity to your business. Understanding how to react requires a combination of deep business understanding, technology capability and the strategy development disciplines.

Using our breadth of business experience, we can help you to rapidly define your response and design the response across all aspects of your business, from technology, and operations, to assurance and regulatory requirements.

 

Leveraging our product and delivery experience, network and partnerships, we can turn your strategy into reality, from establishing a blockchain lab to building proof-of-concepts to creating consortia taking design to reality.

 

As our world becomes increasingly digital and distributed we need technology that can scale while providing the necessary security, trust and accountability. We believe blockchain is that technology.

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Steve Webb
Partner
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Patrick Spens
Director
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Seamus Cushley
Director
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Ajit Tripathi
Director
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