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TMCNet:  Bringing Blockchain Euphoria to India - Fintech Storm India Summit 12-13 May

[May 10, 2016]

Bringing Blockchain Euphoria to India - Fintech Storm India Summit 12-13 May

MUMBAI, May 10, 2016 /PRNewswire/ --

Fintech Storm India Summit 12-13 May will be hosting the first international blockchain symposium in India this Thursday in Mumbai at The St Regis. A dedicated half-day workshop is being hosted for the benefit of banks, FIs, RBI, policy-making bodies, payments and fintech startups and blockchain enthusiasts in India - with confirmed participation of RBI, NPCI, and PayPal. This is a part of the 2-day summit exploring dedicated tracks such as the evolving payments landscape, digital banking and technology-driven trends such as robo advisory, online lending and crowdfunding industry, disintermediation of financial services, convergence of banking, e-commerce, telecommunications etc.

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Blockchain technology - an introduction 

It took more than 20 years for the Internet, which was invented in 1974 with the TCP/TP Internet network by Vince Cerf, to become a mainstream reality. The blockchain might be looked at as a similar revolution or disruptive force in the history of mankind, although it will probably take less time for this technology to enter the mainstream arena.

The financial industry as a whole is a first mover in blockchain, investing nearly $1 billion in blockchain companies (Magister Advisors); The technology could cut $20 billion in annual costs in global banking (Santander InnoVentures). In 2015, Quartz reported that bank spending on blockchain technology increased by 150% from the previous year to $75 Mn in 2015, and forecasts an increase to $400 Mn p.a. in 2019.

Some definitions of blockchain: 

The word blockchain stands for transactions grouped into blocks and posted sequentially in a chain to the ledger.

Blockchain is a decentralized transaction database shared by all network nodes, owned, updated and monitored by everyone, controlled by no one. Like a giant interactive spreadsheet everyone has access to and updates to confirm that the digital transactions are unique. The double-spend problem (of digital currency) is solved by the proof-of-work consensus (the concept behind bitcoin).

Previously, a centralized third party had to issue and reconcile all transactions to prevent the digital asset from being spent multiple times (easy to copy digital assets). Blockchain is a transaction network that can potentially be used by financial institutions and consumers to transact directly. It is well-suited for applications requiring a rapid, permanent time and date stamp such as: - payments - financial asset transfers - smart contracts - ownership splits - transfer of ownership - authentication - and notary services.

"A technology that brings substantial benefits in terms of speed, security, transparency, convenience and cost" (McKinsey, 2015).

Public decentralized ledgers are accessible to every Internet user. The public nature stems from the free and unconditional participation of everyone in the process of determining what blocks are added to the chain, and what its current state is (Buterin, 2015). These fully decentralized blockchains rest on a consensus mechanism of proof-of-work (or proof-of-stake) for validation purposes: "in the case of bitcoin, the "longest chain - the chain with the most proof-of-work - is considered to be the valid ledger." (Swanson, 2015, p.4).

Speaking about blockchain, which has captured the imagination of academics, central banks, young startup adventurers and Wall Street veterans alike, Ms Arifa Khan, Founder of Fintech Storm, which hosts monthly roundtables and debates on various fintech verticals in London said, "I am bringing the blockchain ephoria to India. I am excited about the appetite for blockchain in India, from banks, NPCI and RBI, in a departure from other technologies where startups are the only early adopters. The more I researched the subject, the more I was convinced that here was a game changer that could reinvent banking and transform every known process of financial services transactions having worked across retail, corporate and investment banking globally."

Ms Khan who also facilitates inward flow of investments offers, "India is ideally suited to deploy the technology for better governance in massive databases such as extra ordinary general meetings of corporates, democratic referendums, e-voting, passport & immigration, health records, tax compliance, e-learning & certification, and ultimately financial inclusion - which is a priority for Modi Government and 'Antyodaya' which is a laudable goal for social reformers such as Nitin Gadkari, Narendra Modi. Successful concepts such as loanbase - which make cheap loans available in emerging countries from foreign lenders - and untested concepts such as P2P micro lending or P2P micro insurance can be put to great use with blockchain to financially empower the poor. I foresee the spawning of entirely new industries outside of BFSI, such as outsourced and decentralised market research & reviews facilitated by a consumer app, experience-discovery platforms, low cost accessibility of e-education, e-healthcare and other essential goods to improve the quality of life for Indians. We can hope for technology to elegantly solve the myriad problems of opacity in economy and non-compliance that the regulators and law making bodies grapple with."

Prof Marc Pilkington, Professor at University of Burgundy France, and Co-chair of the blockchain workshop along with Ms Arifa Khan, said "I came across the bitcoin innovation as a young researcher in early 2013. But, having written a doctoral thesis years earlier on monetary matters with an emphasis on heterodox perspectives, I felt at that time that cryptocurrencies were getting too little attention from the economics profession. So I immediately decided to devote my time and efforts to improve my understanding of the nature of this technological breakthrough in the history of mankind. My research soon led me to the conclusion that although, extraordinary in and by itself, bitcoin was not the end of the unfolding story, the real innovation being the technology underpinning bitcoin, namely the blockchain. Three years later, the blockchain is taking the world by storm with the emergence of a new paradigm in banking and finance, and even in the way economic agents will interact in the future by designing new structures, new architectures and new protocols for conducting a wide range of human activities."

RBI is looking at blockchain with much interest to understand its implications on the banking and financial services institutions in India and is in the process of constituting an internal committee to liaise with banks, fintech and to decide on regulatory policy on upcoming sectors such as P2P lending marketplaces, virtual currencies etc.

The regulator is looking to buttress knowledge of the new age financial technologies, and to judge the financial risks of adopting the same in India where the average consumer still needs to be safeguarded.

"It is my privilege to have been invited by RBI on 5th May for a sector presentation on blockchain and its implications for financial markets, attended by a multi-disciplinary team of 10 led by the Executive Director. RBI further deputed a cross-department team to participate in fintech deliberations at Fintech Storm India Summit 12-13 May to understand the market sentiment. It speaks to the openness of the regulator, in keeping with the trend with their international counterparts. I got to share my global fintech expertise with the country's most respected think-tank and gate-keeper. It is a badge of honour, which I wear with great satisfaction" said Ms Khan.

Some of the questions brainstormed at the session delved into supply-demand economics, policies for stabilisation of currencies etc - what approach were central banks taking to cryptocurrencies, and alternative forms of digital currencies? Virtual currencies and the influence of monetary policy, correlation between price volatility of bitcoin and Satoshi's algorithm for pre-determined supply.

Continuing on the Summit, Prof Pilkington shared, "I am delighted to co-chair the blockchain symposium with Ms. Khan, and help launch the Global Blockchain Think Tank on the occasion of the Fintech Storm India Summit in Mumbai on 12-13th May 2016 in Mumbai. I am full of praise for her tremendous organisation skills, powerful networking potential both in India and the UK and, above all, her invaluable human touch, bringing together regulators, investors, entrepreneurs and academics under one roof, to find inspiration, and try to direct that energy toward constructive business, financial and societal change."

Besides catching the attention of RBI for our research, we are expecting to attract blockchain leaders such as IBM, Microsoft Azure, banks, IT firms, strategy consultants and young innovators to take advantage of the symposium to facilitate cross-sector brainstorming of ideas to conceive innovations unique to India such as financial inclusion, governance, subsidies etc.

In the tradition of being a pioneer in bringing to masses avant-garde technologies, Fintech Storm was the first to host a public blockchain-dedicated workshop in London in June 2015. The firm has since hosted six workshops in London featuring notable crypto sciences and blockchain firms such as blockchain.info, Coinsciences, Magnr, Safello, Everledger, SETL, Helperbit and young innovators such as Nicolas Cary, Gideon Greenspan, Colin Kwan, Leanne Kemp etc. Consultations with investment banks in Canary Wharf, startups, and strategy consultants who have set up new blockchain teams on Fintech Storm's recommendations convinced the founder that the financial services industry was just eyeing the proverbial tip of the iceberg in blockchain. Arifa has held various discussions with banks on disintermediating processes such as public bond syndication, IPOs etc and has participated in hackathons to explore potential use cases. She envisages playing a key role in bringing the pervasive benefits of blockchain technology to the common man in India.

At Fintech Storm India Summit 12-13 May, startups can showcase their ideas and get valuable feedback, collaborations and outreach at India Funding Conclave on 13 May. Any startup or SME seeking funds both equity and loans in any industry can participate - not just fintech. Besides intellectually stimulating debates at India Financial Forum on 12 May featuring PayPal, Fino Capital, Bandhan Bank. BFSI CEOs are cordially invited to dinner on 12 May at Annual Dinner Party of Fintech Storm India 7:30 PM onwards at Hotel St Regis.

RSVP [email protected]

Review the full program of the 2-day summit at: http://fintechstormindia.com/agenda

List of speakers, investors and participants: http://fintechstormindia.com/speakers

Media contact:
Arifa Khan
[email protected]
+91-9619703635
Managing Director
Genius Incubator Ltd.


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