Blockchain gains momentum worldwide, are India’s banks and IT companies ready?

Written by Ketan Warikoo || May 16 2016

Blockchain is a distributed, immutable ledger that records transactions using digital tokens. Its distributed architecture is much like P2P services such as Skype and bittorrent and it uses public key cryptography to ensure complete security for users. The immutability of entries on the blockchain is a key design feature that makes it particularly attractive to industries that lean heavily on trustworthy records, such as banks. But is India ready?

Not to be confused with (a wallet and explorer service), the blockchain ledger technology was the key building block for Bitcoin. It is only in the last two years that blockchain emerged from the shadow of the cryptocurrency and became a tool for financial disruption.

In its current avatar, blockchain can be used to record transactions as well as process documents, secure financial messaging, network interactions, escrow and counterparty validation, core trade operations and even art. The technology is set to revolutionize age old paradigms in the banking industry, especially involving:

  • Anti-Money Laundering
  • Know Your Customer
  • Payments
  • Remittances
  • Clearing and Settlement

Blockchain (as part of Bitcoin’s vision) was originally designed to circumvent financial institutions (FIs) such as banks and clearing houses, however in an ironical twist it has become a preferred tool for FIs themselves. Globally there is a lot of activity happening on the blockchain. R3, a New York based consortium that is evaluating blockchain for financial systems has signed up 45 banks in a short span of two years. A few months R3 announced a successful trial involving 40 banks to trade debt instruments on blockchain. Similarly, some companies have developed real time, low cost systems on distributed ledgers that can handle more than a billion transactions per day.

Indian banks and financial institutions too need to form a similar consortium and move quickly to take advantage of this disruptive technology. In a significant move, India’s banking regulator RBI (Reserve Bank of India) too has backed the transformational potential of blockchain, asking Indian banks to evaluate it for their operations and processes.

Given the fact that a significant chunk of banking operations worldwide are handled by technology developed and maintained by Indian IT companies, it is surprising that India has not grabbed pole position in the race to blockchain based banking. Hopefully the coming days will see CTOs and CIOs of Indian banks and technology providers becoming more active in this space.

There are a number of features that set blockchain apart from a standard database or an archive, something that several commentators gloss over while attempting to explain blockchain. While blockchain is a database, such a simplification would be tantamount to describing a computer as a typewriter.

As part of our research on next generation technologies for the banking and payments sector, Kapronasia has come out with a report on ‘Blockchain for Banking in India’. To introduce some of the concepts and seed blockchain oriented outreach among Indian banks and developers, Kapronasia will also be holding a webinar in the coming days. To learn more please click below or contact us at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.