ANZ, one of the big four banks in Australia, has lambasted blockchain as a hyped solution to problems that are either already solved by existing database technologies or that are yet to exist.
ASININE, NASTY, AND ZEALOUS: ANZ TAKES A SWIPE AT BLOCKCHAIN HYPE
The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited has attempted to distance itself somewhat from statements made by Maria Bellmas, the bank’s associate director of trade and supply chain product, just as it publicized her personal views.
In a sweeping broadside at the fledgling technology, Bellmas argued:
“Blockchain has been the darling of the tech world for some time and increasingly so over the medium term, perhaps in part pushed by scorned crypto fanatics grasping for some justification of their obsession in the wake of the bitcoin collapse.”
Ouch! That attitude certainly sits in stark contrast to IBM’s position that:
“The blockchain revolution has the potential to transform our lives. By enabling organizations and institutions to transact with less friction and more trust, blockchain technologies will usher in the next era of the Internet.”
The tech giant has been considerably active in developing blockchain solutions for business. Indeed, ANZ partnered with IBM to develop a blockchain solution for insurance. Even JPMorgan has been testing blockchain through its Quorum division for a number of years (before releasing its widely ridiculed native currency).
RIDICULE FOLLOWED BY CONCESSIONS
Bellmas went on to concede:
“Don’t peg us as philistines; blockchain is a technology with a huge number of benefits and it is particularly proving useful in the trade finance space.”
So what does the ANZ actually believe? Referencing a US National Institute for Science and Technology flowchart, the bank concedes there are some situations where blockchain is worth considering deploying.
The flowchart, interestingly enough, ends with the quality that represents blockchain’s primary use case: immutability. Per the flowchart:
“If you don’t need to audit what happened and when it happened, you don’t need a Blockchain.”
The flowchart sets out to exclude situations where a blockchain would not be either necessary or advisable if you can use a traditional database. Yet, given the way it concludes, it becomes a pro-blockchain chart.
Where it can be agreed that having timestamped evidence of what participants do in most commercial settings, blockchain is the ideal solution. Use cases range, but the point NIST almost accidentally makes is that blockchain technology reduces the need for trust and increases transparency–making it a solution to many of the transactional frictions both businesses and consumers face.
In an increasingly interconnected and complex world, it is difficult to think of anything likely to become more important.
BANKS WARY OF CRYPTO AND BLOCKCHAIN
Banks are clearly wary of the impact cryptocurrencies may have on their bottom lines. Cross-border transactions are particularly profitable for the sector, particularly in Australia. In a damning report, the World Bank found that Australia is the third most expensive G20 economy for customers and small businesses to transfer money internationally. Most of that cost is directly attributable to the country’s long-term suffering from a virtual oligopoly of four large, uncompetitive banking giants.