CIO Forum debate: Blockchain is the most overrated technology in 2017

He went on to note that another challenge is about stakeholder alignment in the logistics ecosystem.

When a person sends out a cargo overseas, the whole shipment involves a number of parties from different locations. “There are many changing hands in the logistics sector—the terminals, carriers, forwarders and customs alike. Aligning all their priorities is a challenge,” he said.

Blockchain activities across verticals

While Bullock and Louie have concerns on blockchain, ASTRI, Standard Chartered Bank and fintech company ANX International have already carried out blockchain PoC or have brought it into production.

“Probably it was a bit overrated two years go. Right now we have cooled down and tried to bring something more concrete,” noted Duncan Wong (pictured, third from right), vice president, financial technologies of ASTRI. He sat on the negative side and refuted the debate’s motion.

ASTRI has collaborated with Bank of China (BOC) on a property valuation blockchain proof of concept (PoC) trial. Wong said the blockchain system has been running for three months and no hiccups were found. Following BOC’s PoC, ASTRI has moved towards another PoC on trade finance.

Wong also noted some DLT use cases in the US. For instance, a company uses smart contracts to manage digital rights of songs or other assets. There are also people using blockchain to trade excess renewable energy generated from solar panels with each other.

Likewise, Standard Chartered Bank completed a PoC on the application of DLT and smart contracts in trade finance.

The trade finance PoC is Standard Chartered’s collaborative effort with Bank of China, Bank of East Asia, Hang Seng Bank and HSBC and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu. The PoC aims to bring enhanced operational efficiencies, and reduced potential fraud for financiers, importers and exporters.

Aside from banks, other verticals are also experimenting with blockchain technology.

Joining the negative side, Alvin Ho (pictured, far right), regional head of digitization & client access for transaction banking at Standard Chartered, said traditional companies like retail and FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) have blockchain projects in their pipelines.

Ho noted blockchain’s adoption will be increased after key challenges like legal implications of smart contracts and governance framework have been tackled.

“Blockchain is not overrated. The potential is there. It is pretty much up to us to look into regulations to make it a reality,” he noted.

Also on the negative side, Ken Lo (pictured, second from right), ANX Co-founder and CEO, sees an array of cross-industry implementations of blockchain technology. “We have over 2,000 implementations in production that support over a million users worldwide. It’s no longer just hype.” He noted more people are exploring how blockchain can be practically implemented for their businesses.

How will blockchain evolve in 2017?

Blockchain projects have been conducted or are underway across verticals and companies of different sizes. How will blockchain evolve this year? Most debaters noted it would still be in the cautious stage.