Reimagining Financial Services with Blockchain

(This article is also published in Computerworld Hong Kong on December 14, 2016)

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Blockchain is finally getting the attention it deserves. From left to right: Sheila Lam (Computerworld Hong Kong), Larry Campbell (KPMG China), Bob Crozier (AIA Edge), and Ian Mitchell (IBM).

Often confused with bitcoin, a cryptocurrency based on blockchain technology, blockchain itself offers more promises than digital currency. It is also changing the fundamentals of finance.

Understanding the blockchain promise

Before blockchain, most technological advances improved or streamlined transactions and interactions. But they still follow traditional business rules and practices. For example, most companies keep their ledgers for protection against fraud and tampering.

Although well founded, it has traditionally made asset ownership and transfer inefficient. However, this solution worked in a world where trust was not a commodity.

Blockchain aims to change this; it makes trust a commodity leveraging cryptographic technology, transparency and business networks. It does this by encapsulating trust in a shared ledger that is transparent to every participant, and permanently recording all transactions in chronological order.

In a recent panel discussion organized by IBM, industry experts and observers noted that this makes blockchain a potential industry game changer.

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Reshaping banks and financial institutions to compete and thrive in the digital age

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Everyday AI At Work Blog Series

A banking license is no longer a guarantee to print money.  After years of ultra-low interest rates, increasing demands from regulatory and compliance, and cost-cutting measures, yields are not returning meaningful results.

The ever present 24 hour banking scene, and the convenience of out of branch servicing, has led to the anonymous and unaccountable network services center model that has a tangibly negative impact on client satisfaction. This model has also increased the public awareness of service standards, and service impact, while not increasing yields or customer growth. Being the incumbent players in the world of financial commerce, the banking industry has long established processes and procedures that have enabled efficiencies and structure within the established industry. But new players are not burdened by this legacy and are embarking on disruptive technology that offers niche services targeted at high volume highly profitable services.

Small wonder then that customers are increasingly turning to services offered by financial technology companies to fulfill their commoditized service needs.

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區塊鏈全球通行 賦予鑽石名份

(原文於2016年11月24日在香港經濟日報刊登)

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Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend”

有云:鑽石是女人的摯友。然而,鑽石的「名份」卻是一個困擾。

鑽石沒有世界通行的身份證。竊賊在甲地偷了寶石,拿到乙地去賣,神不知鬼不覺。因此,盜竊問題一直令人頭痛。業界嘗試了不同方法,如為知名鑽石發身份證,但當數據庫被黑客入侵,如去年十月美國寶石學院便宣佈,他們鑑定的逾千顆鑽石記錄失效。

英國初創企業 Everledger 最近利用 IBM 針對區塊鏈開發的軟硬件技術,發展出一套分佈式鑽石身份記錄系統,為鑽石賦予全球性的「名份」。日後即使個別系統被攻陷,電子竊賊竄改鑽石記錄,其他系統都能察覺,防患未然,為鑽石以至未來其他奢侈品,例如名畫等,提供前所未有的安全保障。

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區塊鏈出招 阻二噁英蟹橫行

(文章於2016年11月17日在香港經濟日報刊登,原題為「區塊鏈可保食品安全」)

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食品安全議題近來炒得火熱。遠至歐美等地的「瘋牛肉」及「注膠牛」,到最近驗出的二噁英超標大閘蟹,這些事件令我們察覺到,今天食糧供應跨越國界,預製食物更牽涉原材料供應商、烹調製作商以及物流配送三方,監管不易。

傳統方法會為合規產品頒發證書,但以紙本為基礎的證書容易做假。當食物供應跨越國界穿洋過海,面對不同文字註述的包裝食物,常人未必能輕易解讀,讓不法之徒有機會從中作假。

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Blockchain and the Internet of Things

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Blockchain continues to be a hot topic among businesses in Hong Kong. On November 11, TVB Pearl Money Magazine aired another Blockchain story that discusses how the new technology will revolutionize the logistics industry and make the Internet of Things more secure. IBM subject matter expert Iqbal AliKhan is again featured as one of the speakers. The full program can be viewed at here.

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Banking on Blockchain

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On October 21 Friday, Hong Kong’s TVB Pearl Money Magazine aired a feature program that looks at potential of Blockchain to transform the banking industry. In the program, Iqbal AliKhan, Strategy and Business Development Executive for the Global Payment Industry & Blockchains at IBM, was interviewed, and discussed why “permissioned” Blockchain is needed for secure transactions among banks.

The full program can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/2evY15O

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信用卡積分跨行共享 實現在望

(原文於2016年10月13日在香港經濟日報刊登)

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圖片來源互聯網

假如有天甲銀行卡的客戶,可以換取乙銀行提供的贈品,這種情境是否很吸引?

以上景象也許很快實現。中國銀聯與IBM合作,利用區塊鏈技術 (Blockchain),開發跨行共享獎勵積分,並在9月剛舉行的上海區塊鏈國際周上即場示範。如開發順利,銀聯會員各行的紅利點,未來有機會通過交易系統轉換,對客戶更方便和吸引。

銀行信用卡積分優惠就像航空公司的免費里程,向來吸引消費者。然而一家銀行提供的換領贈品始終有限,令吸引力大打折扣。過去一家航空公司的航班有限,為此世界各地不同航空公司會合組航空聯盟,這樣給客戶選擇的航班便會大增。銀行間是否也能依樣葫蘆?

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