The slow response of banks to the threats posed by Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) leaves the industry exposed to a $150 billion revenue shortfall unless they can up their game, according to an analysis by Bain.
Compared with current payment systems, distributed ledgers offer distinct advantages that meet customer demands for a faster, cost effective and more reliable cross-border payment option. While the technology is still in its infancy, distributed ledgers offer the potential for profound improvements in the operation of the complex pipelines that make international payments possible. And, in the long-run, distributed ledgers may impact all forms of payments including domestic cards and automated clearing houses (bank-to-bank).
In interviews with more than 50 senior bankers, venture capitalists, technologists, international payment association executives and start-up CEOs, Bain & Company found most banks are not prepared to retain control of international payments – a battle for a market worth $150-200 billion today.
Bain’s research shows that in theory banks are well positioned to confront the changes triggered by the rise of distributed ledgers. In practice, however, the situation is more complicated. Regulatory and other hurdles may have forced most digital currency start-ups to partner with, rather than compete directly against, incumbent banks. Yet, most financial institutions remain in ‘experimentation mode,’ wary about the scalability of the technology, privacy issues associated with broadcasting commercially sensitive information about money flows, and the volatility and governance of non-fiat digital currencies. With such a large prize available, faster-moving, more committed banks stand to gain significant share.
“Change will not come easily for banks,” said Glen Williams, who leads Bain’s global payments sector and co-authored the report. “They recognize that distributed ledger technology has the potential to improve the speed, transparency and efficiency with which payments are made, but the current market structure gives them a powerful incentive to stay the course. About $300 trillion of transactions flow through these networks each year, creating significant revenues for banks. Further, network dynamics make it hard for alternatives to scale up: participants will not join a network until it has sufficient reach, but reach comes only from widespread participation.”
Banks’ initial responses to fast-moving developments in digital currency – appointing mid-level technology executives to industry consortia, participating in the conference circuit and running limited distributed ledger simulations – have left them flat-footed.
Lack of a clear path forward is particularly problematic for international payments and trade finance, where distributed ledgers have the greatest near-term potential for disruption.
By cutting the number of middlemen and enabling direct transactions between counterparties in international correspondent banking, distributed ledger solutions speed up transaction times. They also ensure that each participant has a complete view of its customer accounts and balances – the key building blocks of automated payment-tracking and notification tools. Finally, distributed ledgers may also significantly reduce costs, including the capital tied up in the correspondent banking network, and error rates.
Trade finance, although a smaller sector than international correspondent banking, exhibits many of the same characteristics. It generates roughly $23 billion of direct banking revenues worldwide, supports many broader transaction banking relationships and suffers from extensive friction points. For example, about 50 percent of banks’ costs for a letter of credit arises from manual document handling and checking, which creates delays, errors and expense. That opens the door to huge potential improvements from distributed ledgers, though commercial offerings capitalizing on that possibility are still in early stages.
“Despite hesitancy among many banks, we see evidence that companies are finding ways to overcome technical and adoption hurdles to avoid getting left behind,” said David Gunn, head of Bain’s payments team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and the report’s co-author. “The wave of investment in digital currency start-ups clearly signals that payments channels are attracting a new degree of interest, and new competitors are changing customer expectations. Innovation is upon us, and doing nothing is not a viable option. Now is the time for banks to move from experimentation to action.”
In the longer term, as central banks gain comfort with the technologies, the impact zones will shift towards domestic payment systems – including cards and automated clearing houses (i.e. the ‘rails’ over which domestic banks exchange money today). This will impact all banks profoundly, not just those with significant cross-border business.
Banks’ initial responses to fast-moving developments in digital currency – appointing mid-level technology executives to industry consortia, participating in the conference circuit and running limited distributed ledger simulations – have left them flat-footed, claims the consultancy.
- Kibo Platforms’ Beta Version Be Launched in the Beginning of May - April 25, 2017
- Distributed Cloud Platform iEx.ec attracts $12M in Three Hours in ICO - April 25, 2017
- Cryptocurrency Working Group – Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) – The Way Forward - April 25, 2017
- Blockchain App Humaniq’s HMQ Token to be Traded on Six Exchanges - April 24, 2017
- Five days left until Blockchain Startup Exscudo ICO - April 21, 2017
- Apptrade to Reward Crowdsale Participants with Three Percent Bonus - April 21, 2017
- Blockchain Technology Startup Humaniq Raises $3.8M and Signs Contract With Deloitte - April 21, 2017
- Monolith Studio Announces Crowdsale for TokenCard, the First Debit Card Powered by Smart Contracts - April 20, 2017
- Blockchain Co. SingularDTV Recruits Hollywood VP - April 18, 2017
- Factom Closes Extended Series A Round of $8 Million Following Harmony Product Launch - April 18, 2017
- Interview with Back to Earth founder Clay Space - April 18, 2017
- Ethereum Movie Initial Coin Offering Sell Out - April 18, 2017
- Insurtech Startup Etherisc Wins “Blockchain Oscar” for Innovative Insurance Platform - April 14, 2017
- India’s Blockchain Community Launches Digital Asset and Blockchain Foundation - April 14, 2017
- UK EPSRC Supports Seven Blockchain Projects with £3.6 Million - April 14, 2017
- Dutch National Blockchain Coalition Presents Action Agenda - April 14, 2017
- Broadridge, J.P. Morgan, Northern Trust and Banco Santander Successfully Complete Pilot of for Blockchain Voting - April 14, 2017
- Blockgeeks Labs to Hold Blockchain Hackathon in Toronto - April 14, 2017
- Exscudo network EON coins are available for pre-order - April 13, 2017
- One of Big Four accounting firms is now legal adviser of Exscudo - April 12, 2017
- Dash Cryptocurrency Signs on with Kraken - April 12, 2017
- Blockchain Capital Closes ICO – $10 Million in Six Hours Raised in Record Time - April 11, 2017
- Ethereum meets Hyperledger – Burrow Ethereum Smart Contract Machine to Join Hyperledger - April 11, 2017
- Porsche Announces First Blockchain Contest - April 10, 2017
- Fidelity Labs Joins IC3 Blockchain Group - April 10, 2017
- Global Graphchain Project FERMAT Announces Distributed Governance Model Featuring Contribution Contracts - April 10, 2017
- Coinsilium and Oraclize sign MoU to form Strategic Alliance - April 10, 2017
- Industry Thought Leaders Invest With Blockchain Capital in its Ground-Breaking ICO - April 8, 2017
- Novus To Launch Innovative Blockchain Advanced File Index System - April 5, 2017
- Lykke Announces OEM Services – Lykke Accelerator - April 5, 2017
- BitHub.Africa Announces ICO Campaign to Foster Region’s Cryptocurrency Ecosystem - April 5, 2017
- SibCoin: Siberia Down, China to Go - April 4, 2017
- Groundbreaking Blockchain Research to Feature at International Financial Cryptography Conference - April 4, 2017
- Exscudo, The Nextgen Financial System, Announces ICO - April 4, 2017
- A Film by Manuel Stagars – The Blockchain And Us Video Documentary – Released in Full - April 4, 2017
- Genpact Harnesses Blockchain Technology to Transform F&A Operations to Improve Cash Flow and Enhance Customer Experience - April 4, 2017
- Blockchain Startup TaaS Partners With Exchange Platforms - April 4, 2017
- Synereo announces Qrator – The First Attention Economy App - April 4, 2017
- Blockchain Capital Releases Offering Memorandum for Its $10 Million Digital Token Offering - April 4, 2017
- Lykke Announces Availability of Blockchain Startup ChronoBank TIME Token - April 3, 2017
- Blockchain Workspace Launches Blockchain Education Company in Amsterdam, Netherlands - April 3, 2017
- Blockchain Startup SingularDTV Goes Hollywood - April 1, 2017
- Ledger Raises $7m To Accelerate Worldwide Adoption Of Security Solutions For Blockchain And Cryptocurrency Applications - March 31, 2017
- Slock.it secures $2 million seed funding to build Sharing Economy Platform - March 31, 2017
- Open Source Blockchain Project MultiChain Adds Fourteen New Partners and Enters Beta - March 30, 2017
- Tokenization in the Age of Blockchain - March 30, 2017
- European Commission Proposes Blockchain Pilot to Examine Regulatory Issues - March 30, 2017
- BitPesa has Partnered with Bitcoin Company Bitbond to Improve Access to Financing for SMEs in Africa. - March 30, 2017
- Switzerland’s SIX Securities Services Develops Blockchain-Based Bond Issuing Solution - March 30, 2017
- Beijing Officials Demand Chinese Blockchain Standards - March 30, 2017