Monday 06, March 2017 by Nabilah Annuar

Taking blockchain to the next level

Industry players unite to discuss the immense potential of blockchain technology.

Held in the Burj Al Arab on 6 March 2017, the Keynote Events 2017 World Blockchain Forum brought together key industry players to discuss future developments and the applicability of blockchain technologies across various sectors.

Taking a bold step last year, the Dubai government in October 2016 announced the Dubai Blockchain Strategy in bid to set a world precedent in the utilisation of blockchain technology. The strategy was launched by HH Sheikh bin Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and the Chairman on the Board of Trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation. The move was also in line with country’s vision to become a fintech hub.

Following on these initiatives, the forum discussed various aspects of blockchain from its functions, its extensive usage as well as its ability to ‘solve problems of the future’.

Aiming to set a world precedent, the emirate’s blockchain strategy is planned to make the Government of Dubai the first in the world to conduct the entirety of its transactions using the Internet of Things by 2020, saving 25.1 million hours of document-processing time and almost AED 5.5 billion in costs (equal to the cost of building the Burj al Khalifa). Blockchain technology can be used in various dealings from visa and immigration processes to trade activities.

UAE is believed to pioneer blockchain adoption across the region. This represents a massive value-add for companies across the Gulf and the wider Middle East, with a multi-billion-dollar new industry expected to evolve over the next year or so, alone. Being the best example of economic diversification in the Middle East, Dubai’s Blockchain Strategy is could also to create a new segment for investment opportunities, generating both value and job opportunities.

PwC in a recent report suggested that blockchain technology may result in a radically different competitive future in the financial services industry—where current profit pools are disrupted and redistributed toward the owners of new, highly efficient blockchain platforms. Some banks in the Middle East have been reported to begin exploring how blockchain might transform their approaches to trading and settling, investment and capital assets management. They realise that the technology could become a differentiating factor in their own capabilities, enabling them to process transactions with more efficiency, security, privacy, reliability and speed.

Blockchain technology is applicable to various trasnactions in the banking industry including, retail payments infrastructure, remittances, trade finance and syndicated loans, capital markets as well as compliance activities.

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