News & Views - Savantor

Blockchain potential

Monday, 09 November 2015
Bitcoin has been with us for a while now but whilst acceptance of the crypto-currency might be slowly growing and its visibility increasing through association to big names such as PayPal, it's the underlying technology that holds the real potential for the payments industry. The distributed ledger, or blockchain, offers a permanent, verifiable digital record of all exchanges in a given "currency". It is not restricted to just handling funds transfers, it can record the exchange of any commodity securely, recording provenance along the way. That notion is appealing, but in bitcoin's case likely carries excessive costs related to storage and processing of all historic transactions, globally - whether important or not (e.g. a morning coffee or newspaper) – in a ledger duplicated at various points around the globe. The real-world impact would be significant as usage grows. More recently, the focus has moved away from bitcoin, and instead targeted exploiting the potential of the blockchain itself. Indeed, Visa has been looking into using blockchain technologies for making international remittances and has a proof of concept ready for testing. Whilst the global bitcoin blockchain is potentially unviable for the reasons stated above, blockchain technology can have a place in closed-loop environments such as that which Visa is exploring. The need to replace the existing payment conduits at some point is inevitable. Bitcoin, contentious as it may be, may have delivered the underlying technologies to make this happen.
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