Do you know what blockchain is? If you don’t, you’re not alone. A survey has found that almost half (48%) of finance professionals have no idea what blockchain is.
That’s according to the 2019 FinTech Barometer, an annual survey conducted by credit management software firm Onguard.
Most commonly known as the technology underpinning cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, blockchain is, at its simplest, a record-keeping technology.
What sets it apart from traditional methods is that it involves storing transaction information on a distributed ledger – a network of decentralised computers.
These computers, or nodes, verify each transaction. Once confirmed, the transaction is stored as an immutable ‘block’ of information.
Listening to some of blockchain’s fiercest proponents, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the technology has a solution for all of the world’s problems. Some headlines have even claimed it can “cure cancer”.
As with any technology buzzword, hype can warp the perception of how much a technology is being used, as well as the impact it is having.
According to research and analytics firm Gartner, blockchain is reaching the ‘trough of disillusionment’, the point in the hype cycle where interest in the technology falls as it fails to deliver.
Blockchain: No-one knows what it means but it’s transformative
That’s not to say that blockchain is all hype. The technology is already being used around the world to verify the authenticity of goods as they pass through a supply chain.
And investment banks, such as JP Morgan, have also made ventures into the distributed ledger technology.
Onguard’s survey, which quizzed 1,000 finance workers, found that 29% already use or are planning to use blockchain.
But just over half (52%) said that blockchain is never mentioned in meetings.
Among chief finance officers, 45% said they discuss blockchain at least once per week.
Cloud computing and artificial intelligence were cited as the technologies expected to have the most impact on the finance sector.
Just 10% said they viewed blockchain as a disruptive technology.
“While the exact uses of blockchain are not yet defined, the level of activity using this form of technology is only going to increase,” said Marieke Saeij, CEO at Onguard.
“Businesses are already benefitting from enhanced data security and the ability to automate admin processes. With nearly two-thirds of CFOs already preparing an initiative related to blockchain, I expect that this is just the beginning of a blockchain revolution.”