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Standard Bank gets serious about Bitcoin, Blockchain

Standard Bank operates as Stanbic Bank in Zimbabwe.

STANDARD Bank said the financial institute would be launching a number of events to help explain the benefits and risks of emerging technology in the financial services sector.
Naomi Snyman, Blockchain lead at Standard Bank, said not a day goes by without talk about how Blockchain will change the financial services industry and the world as we know it.
“You could say that Blockchain, and its sibling Bitcoin have become the new ‘IT’ words. Decentralisation is an opportunity and a threat, so it’s no surprise that we feel a mixture of anxiety and curiosity about the new technology”, Snyman said.
Snyman heads up internal think tanks, wider collaboration, and use-case studies for business applications for the technology.
“I lead Blockchain use cases and thought leadership from a facilitation and co-ordination point of view for Standard Bank Group. I am also a member of the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium, which includes Standard Bank along with other local financial institutions, our Regulator and broader industry players. I also represent Standard Bank on the international R3 Consortium, which creates and drives Blockchain projects across members banks around the world.”
“Though structurally I fall into the Emerging Payments space, the work we do on Blockchain stretches further than just looking at Payments but also Trade Finance, Digital Identity and Global Markets. A lot of our use cases are in Corporate and Investment Banking, and probably our biggest and most significant Blockchain opportunities are with ICBC, expected to be finalised at the end of 2017, where Blockchain will provide Standard Bank the opportunity to revolutionise data and asset transfers between China and Africa.”
She said: “If we think about how the Internet started; we didn’t understand why we needed it or how it even works. But it has completely revolutionised our lives. The same counts for Blockchain.”
Blockchain originated from the desire to make peer-to-peer payments without a bank. Hence, the cryptocurrency Bitcoin was one of the first Blockchain protocols.
Its intent was to completely disrupt, allowing peer to peer transactions to take place without the need of a third party.
It is really important to make the distinction though between Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Blockchain.
The benefits that Blockchain provides are much wider and more appealing than just Cryptocurrencies.
“In this world, you have to make peace with the fact that you will be disintermediated, your way of making money now and operating will be disrupted, because we are in a space where everything is being decentralised. Blockchain basically is a piece of technology that allows users to interact directly with one another through nodes instead of through a central party. Creating new networks and platforms are definitely the biggest benefits of this technology. The spirit of Blockchain is collaboration,” Snyman said.
Standard bank has been collaborating with banks across our two consortiums, the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium, and R3. — IOL