Blockchain in the Payments Industry: Digital vs Fiat Currency Part 3

by Aaron Greatbanks Senior Associate, Investment Actuary and UK Blockchain Community Lead

Optimising key industries with blockchain

Blockchain’s characteristics means that it is prime for optimising key, cost sensitive industries.

In the UK, overworked organisations like the NHS could store patient journeys on an automated blockchain. Internal transactions, meanwhile, could be based on a digital currency, as seen from our work done with the South African Reserve Bank. Blockchain, combined with other emerging technologies, could improve the control and sharing of data – from check-ins and check-outs, patient updates, doctors’ output, room utilisation and more – to better manage patient records, cut costs and analyse hospital operations in real time. Applying currently available solutions for identity (see PwC’s Smart Credentials) and supply-chain transparency (see PwC’s Air Trace blockchain offering) to such cases could significantly boost efficiency of both systems and the allocation of investments to improve them.

In pensions, smart ledgers could provide the mechanism to automate most transactions and decision-making processes. A new structure could see key stakeholders and entities participate with each being given the ability to execute necessary tasks. Blockchain could support mutualised central databases, as well as streamlined know-your-customer (KYC) and data reconciliation processes, for significantly improved costs and time efficiency. And tokenised assets and transactions could facilitate quicker, cheaper fund movements, investments and withdrawals – all while also providing transparency and an immutable audit trail. These are the reasons why PwC Hong Kong recently recommended the use of blockchain for pension reform.

It’s little surprise then that a 2018 PwC global blockchain survey of 600 executives from 15 territories found that 84% reported their organisations had at least some involvement with blockchain technology. However, only 15% of those respondents reported live projects. This is typical of the stuttering adoption seen in the market, with regulatory uncertainty, a lack of trust among users and an inability to scale being key concerns expressed by executives.

A blockchain future: What it promises for businesses, governments and individuals

Nonetheless, the future in this space is exciting, and perhaps most exciting of all is how soon it may become reality, with many questions still to be answered.

How will business and private enterprise embrace this technology for payments and as part of wider, cross-industry blockchain platforms? One scenario envisions internal digital currencies being used to pay employees, settle remittances and allow for auditable employee spending with clients.

Or consider applications for governments. How and where will governments use digital currencies, and how do they tax them? We could see integrated systems where birth identity, insurance claims and taxation are all interlinked on a blockchain infrastructure.

Finally, how do we as individuals fit into this? How will the introduction of crypto and digital currencies by businesses and governments affect us? What are the personal use cases and how do we potentially fit into the wider blockchain system? How might our day-to-day lives change? And could we see further personalisation through other technologies such as artificial intelligence used in addition to blockchain?

The forthcoming pieces in this payments series will address these issues and explore scenarios which we may come face-to-face with in the (very) near future.

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by Aaron Greatbanks Senior Associate, Investment Actuary and UK Blockchain Community Lead

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