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Blockchain technology has applications beyond fintech | Source: Pixabay

India is betting on blockchain, but can it help your business?

BLOCKCHAIN technology is gaining traction across the world as new applications for the technology are found every other week, both within and outside the realm of financial services.

India, Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy, is also hoping to utilize the cryptography-secured distributed ledger technology. In his 1st of February budget speech, Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said the government would explore the use of blockchain technology to ‘usher in the digital economy’.

Its clear blockchain has huge potential. But for companies thinking of adopting the technology, where do they start?

Hoping to fill a gap in the market, BlockSmiths, the founder of India’s First NASSCOM Blockchain Special Interest Group (SIG), recently partnered with Xebia to provide blockchain solutions for Indian companies to make their processes and products more efficient and secure.

Tech Wire Asia’s Heidi Vella spoke to the company’s chief business officer, Harmeet Singha Monga, to find out how Indian firms can get involved with blockchain.

What is so exciting about blockchain for businesses?

Every once in a while, there comes a new technology that has the potential to transform the world fundamentally. For any innovation to become a revolution it has to equally benefit the masses to such an extent that it becomes an irreplaceable part of their lives.

Take the example of the PC revolution. In its early days, there were only a few hobbyists who understood its potential. But now, as we know it, computers have become an inseparable part of our lives and we cannot even imagine a day without them. We saw the same happening with the mobile and Internet revolution.

Internet-enabled us to communicate without any friction, but asset exchange was still a problem because it required us to trust the intermediaries. Blockchain is a leapfrog technology that enables frictionless and transparent asset exchange without the need for an intermediary.

This means that individuals and organizations can freely transact and interact with one another with little friction. This is the immense potential of blockchain.

How aware are companies in India and the Asia Pacific more generally of blockchain and how keen are they to incorporate it into their businesses? 

Companies in the Asia Pacific are aware of blockchain technology, but not always sure how a blockchain-based solution can effectively be implemented and leveraged.

We receive multiple queries a month from several big multinational corporations and public organizations asking how the blockchain technology works and how they can implement it in their business processes to realize efficiency gains.

We are currently working with multiple corporations from Europe, Southeast Asia, and India in areas such as security, supply chain, payments and many more.

How can blockchain help Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) save money?

Well, SMEs are the backbone of any economy, but this sector is also one of the most unorganized.

From streamlining contracts, to supply chain and trade financing, or to getting access to alternative financing, blockchain will allow SMEs to compete in ways never seen before.

In the coming years, we will see an aggressive adoption of blockchain in this space as it not only resolves and streamlines the business processes but also opens doors to new possibilities.

Everyone is saying blockchain will majorly disrupt the banking sector, do you agree?

Blockchain will surely drive a wave of innovation in the banking sector but to say that only the banking sector will be the major benefactor would be a distorted view of this technology’s potential. There is a huge world beyond banking which is ripe for disruption and we will see wonderful things happening in the economy once blockchain reaches a critical number of industries.

For example, in real estate, the immutable records that blockchain helps us maintain avoids any fraud on ownership records. Similarly, blockchain can enable voting both at a governmental and organizational level resulting in a more transparent process.

Wherever there is scope for corruption due to opacity and wherever there is scope for error/manipulation due to human greed and mistakes blockchain can help.

Blockchain sounds revolutionary, but are there any challenges that need to be overcome before widespread adoption?

There are a few challenges, especially in the Asia Pacific region. They include isolation: blockchain requires individuals and organizations to come together to achieve a common goal. This needs us to go beyond our traditional structures and build a suitable environment where even competing organizations are working in a consortium or collaborative format to achieve great results.

And technical skills: companies need to encourage employees to learn skills such as Smart Contract and dApp development to help them adopt a decentralized future. Similarly, educators and educational institutions should formally impart blockchain knowledge as students have the power to drive innovation.

How can companies get involved with your blockchain SIG?

This Blockchain SIG brings together interested member companies under the banner of Nasscom, which is an apex body of USD$154 billion IT BPM industry in India.

The group will be promoting Blockchain adoption across multiple industries and sectors such as fintech, IoT, and travel.

Moreover, it will enable Blockchain and distributed ledger technology knowledge sharing among member companies and encourage them to publish material for the general audience.

The SIG also plans several ‘blockathons’ and blockchain events inviting participation from both corporates and students to drive innovation and education in this space.

To join the Indian Blockchain SIG, you can get in touch with BlockSmith on Twitter or email clearly explaining your thoughts and ideas as to why you want to become a part of this initiative.