Nowadays, blockchain technology is utilized across various industries. So what about the banking sector? How are blockchains currently used in fintech, and how will blockchain technology advance the industry?
FROM TREND TO STANDARD
Blockchain is a decentralized (DeFi) architecture consisting of peer-to-peer blocks that contain information about transactions carried out by system participants. Each individual block is connected to the previous, meaning any involved block cannot be changed retroactively without changing all subsequent blocks. This makes it possible to trace the full history of operations, providing an immutable, transparent ledger of transactions.
To maintain the confidentiality of data and transactions performed with it, systems based on distributed ledger technology use a technology based on Zero-Knowledge of the secret protocol (zk-SNARKs and zk-STARKs). This cryptographic protocol uses public Probabilistic Proof Systems, allowing parties to exchange verified information without disclosing.
zk-SNARKs and zk-STARKs are applicable to operations that require data confidentiality and communication between banks or other financial institutions. Electronic signatures and secure authentication systems, for example, use zk-SNARKs and zk-STARKs.
Smart contracts hold promise for the landscape of business interactions. A smart contract is an agreement between parties in the form of a program code based on the blockchain platform, which ensures the autonomy and automatic execution of contract terms when predetermined conditions occur. The terms of a smart contract cannot be changed, due to the blockchain’s immutability, and all transactions are recorded in a distributed ledger. This ensures total transparency.
Smart contracts have already been embraced by industries like shipping and transport. The spread of this technology creates great prospects for the banking industry. Smart contracts may replace time-consuming legal paperwork, reduce costs and speed up transaction processing. For example, transaction clearing, when all transactions are reconciled and verified, incurs high administrative costs; when using autonomous agreements on the blockchain, transactions are completely excluded.
Some banks have already started testing smart contracts with repurchase agreements. In real estate, smart contracts have been used to settle deals between developers, banks and borrowers; the bank approves the mortgage, and the smart contract automatically initiates the paperwork process from the construction company’s end.
In addition to smart contracts, some banks have begun to use a decentralized depository system (DDS), which runs on distributed ledger technology, to account for mortgages. This allows the parties to interact in a single trusted environment. DDS performs accounting, transfer of rights functions and storage of electronic bonds on mortgages, providing advantages in:
- e-mortgage issuance speed
- protection against unauthorized actions with mortgages by increasing the transparency of their movement
- reducing the cost of depositary storage due to the standardization of integration formats
THE SOLAR INSTALLMENTS MODULE HELPS BANKS IMPLEMENT THE LATEST ADVANCEMENTS IN LOAN AND INSTALLMENT SERVICES. IF NECESSARY, INTEGRATION WITH DISTRIBUTED REGISTER SYSTEMS CAN BE CONFIGURED
Blockchain has immense potential in the field of personal identification. With the application of blockchain technology, personal identification will become simple and universal. Customer data will be stored in a single register accessible to all banks for viewing. Arbitrary changes to the registry will not be possible. In this scenario, the authenticity of a customer’s identity can be easily and efficiently verified.
CROSS-BORDER AND RETAIL PAYMENTS
A large part of a bank’s operations is transfers of customer funds. At least two banks are involved in fund transfers, and often further intermediate accounts are added, which slows down the speed of transaction processing and increases service costs. Blockchains can improve bank transfers. The world’s leading payment systems are already testing blockchain technologies in international transfers. The global international money transfer system SWIFT is actively testing its own blockchain prototype. VISA is overseeing similar developments through their Visa B2B Connect project. American Express, together with Ripple and Santander Bank, offer an instant cross-border transfer service: businesses in the US and England are now able to make blockchain payments to their corporate clients who hold Santander accounts. More and more startups and alternative players offer transfer services based on a distributed ledger: Abra, Align Commerce, CoinPip, BitPesa and Romit services, for example, allow businesses to send and receive payments in different currencies, to and from different countries. This allows financial institutions to track funds at all stages, making transactions completely transparent, while system participants can instantly exchange cash payments.