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2020: THE YEAR BLOCKCHAIN COMES OF AGE

– By Rob Coole, VP of Cloud Technologies at IPC

 

Despite headlines over the years stating that blockchain will change the world, it has not been validated or deployed at such speed and scale like other new technologies such as AI or cloud.  Blockchain’s intensive power consumption, reliance on multiple servers and the sheer expense of it, are some of the main reasons cited. In the past, the hype had not met the reality.

But in 2019 blockchain came into its own. With more understanding of what blockchain can do for financial markets and its use points becoming more clear, real-life deployments and advances have started to develop. 2019, for instance, was the year when we saw new blockchain alliances such as Enterprise Ethereum Alliance, increase of blockchain start-ups and the introduction of new infrastructure projects.

Additionally, Gartner’s own Hype Cycle for Blockchain Technologies shows that blockchain is sliding into the “Trough of Disillusionment” – predicting that over time, “permissioned blockchains will integrate with public blockchains, and will take advantage of shared services while supporting the membership, governance and operating model requirements of permissioned blockchain.” Additionally, Gartner predicts that blockchain will be fully scalable by 2023. IPC’s sense of the future of blockchain, particularly in the enterprise space, is just as positive. We are seeing customers truly learning about the practical purposes to deploy, leading to more investment in time and money in blockchain.

Rob Coole

Blockchain is suited for complex, collaborative, multi-party, and critical application use-cases and one reason why the hype around blockchain took much longer than some predicted. Adoption in highly regulated, complex markets such as the financial services industry shouldn’t be a surprise. However, we are now seeing a rise in organisations taking a competitive advantage by adopting next-generation blockchain, rearchitected and redesigned to meet the stringent requirements needed for the financial industry.

Next-generation blockchain organisations are leading the way showing the industry how the technology can be used intelligently for the world we live in today. R3, an enterprise software company for example, is working with an ecosystem of over 200 financial institutions, regulators, trade associations, professional services and technology companies to develop Corda, a Blockchain platform designed specifically for businesses to deliver two interoperable and fully compatible distributions of the platform that address issues such as transactional certainty, data privacy, and the scalability limitations.

Both application service providers and subscribers should exploit service providers with products and solutions so that they are not left behind.  It is important that partners are complementary to both service providers and subscribers in terms of operational level integration to complement application services.  It is critical for adoption success.

We are now seeing blockchain have real value with the integration and support from the hyper-scale platform community such as Microsoft Azure and AWS together with open industry platforms, such as IPC’s Connexus Hub, that creates end-to-end solutions that solve business problems.

We are, like many technology sectors, seeing a move to an API approach. APIs support partners integration and gives institutions the ability to easily access data, provide insights and inspire innovation for the market need.

Service providers, like IPC, can play a critical role here by supporting operationalisation in the systems-oriented context. Such providers are a natural connector embedding connectivity to key market participants. IPC, for example, enables access to all asset classes with over 2,000 sell-side firms, 4,000 buy-side firms and over 75 exchanges in its vast, diverse ecosystem.

Of course, 2020 has and continues to bring new challenges, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting every aspect of our lives. The World Economic Forum, however, believes technologies such as blockchain “will benefit all countries currently impacted by COVID-19”, as it provides an efficient approach to reduce trade cost on a global scale.

Digital initiatives such as blockchain is non-partisan and open to all which allows users to act quickly at low cost with low barriers for innovation – all valuable factors in getting the global economy back on its feet. So, although blockchain adoption was slow in its early stage, 2020 seems to be the year blockchain comes of age.

 

Top 10

WHY INDONESIA IS THE WORLD’S NEXT DIGITAL PAYMENTS BATTLEGROUND

Kelvin Phua, Global Head of Payment Networks at PPRO

 

The COVID-19 outbreak has seen the e-commerce sector surge. Despite economic uncertainty, consumers around the world are turning to the internet for the goods and services that they previously would have looked for in-store. In APAC, this has meant that some emerging markets have accelerated their adoption of digital services; the growth that was projected to take years has only taken months.

One notable example of this is Indonesia. According to a recent survey, Indonesia’s e-commerce sector is expecting 50% year-on-year growth with its value set to reach US$35 billion in 2020, up from $23 billion in 2019. What’s more, 30% of the country’s growing e-commerce market is new to online marketplaces and 40% intend to keep using e-commerce after the effects of the pandemic lessen.

With this upward trend has come a reliance on digital payments, and both public and private sectors have responded accordingly. Recently, the Indonesian central bank announced that all mobile payment providers were to replace QR codes with the standardised QRIS (Indonesian Standard QR code), providing a single integrated platform for all transactions made using QR codes across multiple e-wallet providers. On the private sector front, LinkAja has launched an online shopping solution to overhaul traditional marketplaces throughout Jakarta by enabling users to pay for goods using an app with the products delivered straight to their door.

For e-commerce and digital payment providers, these examples are good indicators that the time is right to go after a share of this market.

 

Understanding the playing field

Indonesia possesses many of the key characteristics that are critical to a market’s adoption of digital payments. With a smartphone penetration rate of 60%, well above the region’s average of 51%[1], and having witnessed its middle class grow from 7% to 20% of the population over the last 15 years, it comes as no surprise that Indonesia’s internet economy has more than quadrupled in size since 2015.

Currently, there are 37 local payment methods (LPMs)[2] in Indonesia, with GoPay, Doku, OVO, Dana, and LinkAja some of the frontrunners in the battle to claim a slice of the payments pie. This number is expected to grow as Alipay formalises its entry into Indonesia in partnership with Bank Mandiri and Bank Rakyat Indonesia, joining WeChat Pay which was officially granted a licence to operate in the country this January in collaboration with CIMB Niaga.

The growing number of players jumping on board with digital transactions bodes well for the Government’s National Non-Cash Movement launched in 2014. Go-Jek’s recent funding round and Facebook’s plans to build an e-commerce ecosystem around WhatsApp will help accelerate the adoption of digital payments for millions of SMEs in Indonesia, with businesses already using the popular messaging service to interact with their customers. Similarly, PayPal’s arrangement with Go-Jek will see the latter’s users use GoPay at PayPal merchants globally.

With the influx of foreign payment services and investment catering to higher consumer demand while creating the digital infrastructure needed to facilitate higher payment volumes, Indonesia is shaping up to be Southeast Asia’s next digital payments battleground. But what does this actually mean for businesses and consumers there?

 

Navigating a fragmented payments landscape

With all this consolidation and market movement, payment providers are innovating quickly to strengthen and enrich their offerings by partnering with others to develop their own unique payment ecosystems. Initially, these new partnerships will result in greater efficiencies when it comes to connecting consumers and businesses through one platform. But the fundamental pain point remains; the development of multiple payment ecosystems will continue to create the dilemma of choice. Consolidation in the truest sense of the word is yet to be achieved, and the payments landscape in Indonesia remains highly fragmented.

Since Indonesia loosened investment rules in 2016, foreign e-commerce players such as Amazon and Alibaba have entered the domestic market, competing against homegrown firms such as Tokopedia and Bukalapak. This has provided consumers with access to a wider variety of goods at more competitive prices.

To keep up with consumer preferences in Southeast Asia’s largest economy, merchants and payment service providers would need to evolve – by delivering a customer-centric experience where consumers are able to pay with the local payment method they prefer and trust.

In the long term, businesses should refrain from the drawing of battle lines in Indonesia’s fragmented payments landscape and create a payment ecosystem that takes into account payment preferences of the local consumers. Those who seek to enter multiple markets through one payments platform-as-a-service will be the ones most likely to succeed in capturing the lion’s share of the e-commerce market.

 

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Technology

ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND FUTURE OF TECHNOLOGY

Ashish Jain, CEO, Future FX

 

Artificial Intelligence refers to machine intelligence that is programmed to think like humans and mimic their actions. For example while writing this article, I am not actually typing it but dictating it out using the microphone and the text is being typed by Microsoft Word itself.

The ideal characteristic of artificial intelligence is to rationalize and take actions to achieve a specified goal.

As technology advances the previous methods of artificial intelligence are taken for granted as new necessities are conjured. For example the computer was one of the most iconic invention of artificial intelligence but now it is considered as mandatory.

Artificial intelligence is continuously evolving and has to evolve. Machines are made in a way that they understand mathematics, linguistic, psychology and many more other terms that are related to human mind.

Artificial intelligence is used in many sectors for example the medical sector. It is used to test drugs and medicines.

We have applications and games which includes chess where the computer plays against us this is also a feature of artificial intelligence. Similarly self driving cars are also an invention of artificial intelligence. These have to be designed very intelligently.

This can also be used in the financial industry to trace and flag activities in banking and finance such as unusual debit card activity or usage and large deposits.

This also helps to estimate the demand supply and prices of the estimates and that makes trading easier.

Earlier, we had to pay a visit to bank on order to deposit a cheque. Then we updated to ATM/Debit Cards and now you can be identified by your retina. Many different sectors have also adapted this method to make actions it more convenient and safe.

Some more examples of artificial intelligence are iPhone’s Siri, Google’s Smart Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Maps, Ride- sharing apps like Uber and Ola, diseases mapping, Automated investing, virtual travel booking, social media monitoring, inter team chat tool, NLP tools, etc.

Artificial intelligence is all around us and playing an active role in our daily lives. Every time we open our Facebook newsfeed, do a Google search, get a product recommendation from Amazon or book a trip online, we are using it immensely.

In the coming years, computers might match or even exceed human intelligence and capabilities on tasks such as decision- making, reasoning and learning, analytics and pattern recognition, visual acuity, speech recognition and language translation.

Smart systems in commodities, vehicles, day to day use objects will save time and effort offering us a more customized and comfortable future.

It will help the medical sector hugely in upgrading the medicines and treatments, inventing new ones which haven’t been found yet and making everyone’s lives more safer and healthier. A large number of data can be collected from person to person about their health and nutrition and thus changes can be made in the lifestyle.

Artificial intelligence will bring changes in the educational system making it more revolutionary and advanced.

Overall, every factor has advantages and disadvantages and artificial intelligence has it’s lot too. Considering all the advantages artificial intelligence will also affect the human decision making power, analyzing and rational thinking, lifestyle etc. It will make people lazier and will affect their creativity. It can also lead to unemployment due to increase in usage of machines.

Like everything has a balance, artificial intelligence needs to be balanced too so that we can enjoy it’s benefits without suffering the negatives.

 

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