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Why Israel’s Banks Will Unite Over Blockchain

November 1, 2016 at 12:11 PM | By Jit Sutradhar News

This opinion piece was written by Roy Keidar and Yuval Shalheveth of Israeli law firm Yigal Arnon and Co with the assistance of Ahuva Goldstand.

In the article, the authors argue that the Israeli financial industry could be poised to take a global lead on blockchain tech.

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The general consensus is that there is huge potential in blockchain technology. Some say it may be as big as the Internet itself, doing for transactions of value what the former has done for transfers of information.

Blockchain could completely alter traditional industries, changing the face of financial transactions, legal contracts, verification mechanisms and even voting procedures. Where consensus is lacking, there possibly lie the future steps of blockchain.

What can we expect to see next? Our hunch: we are entering the phase of the institutionalization of blockchain, and it will be led by the financial system. Yes, by the banks.

The potential advantages to using blockchain are obvious. Most significant is the ability to remove the middleman, and allow for faster, cheaper and more secure transactions. This could prove to be economically beneficial to the financial system which facilitates billions of transactions every day.

No less important is the advantage it provides for developing countries, where trust in the authorities is relatively low, and especially for those which suffer from high levels of corruption. There, people are looking for different ways to realize their civil liberties, including voting, identity verification, registering land ownership, etc. Blockchain technology – direct, decentralized, and secure – provides a potentially unprecedented and private alternative to these.

Early adoptor

Arguably one of the most vibrant blockchain industries currently is in Israel. A combination of expertise in cryptography and Big Data gained in the world of security and defense, combined with a passionate and talented entrepreneurial ecosystem has led a growing number of companies to lead the way to the next big thing in the blockchain domain.

These companies include startups like Synereo (a decentralized communication platform), Simplex (a payments service working on enabling bitcoin purchases with credit cards), Colu (Colored Coins).

Yet, careful observation of the Israeli ecosystem shows that it comprises much more than early-stage startups. Major Israeli financial institutions, perhaps lacking the sheer magnitude and market share of their American and European counterparts, are showing increasing interest in various applications being developed by these younger companies.

Several banks (such as Bank Hapoalim, Leumi and Citi Bank) have launched accelerators with infrastructure designated to support early-stage initiatives. They offer much-needed funding, technical support and the opportunity to interact and collaborate with the banking system. This synergy could prove to be extremely valuable, as one of the major hurdles facing entrepreneurs in the field is developing products and solutions that could be adapted for, and used by, the highly conservative, heavily regulated environment such as that in which the banking system operates.

In addition, more investors are being drawn into the industry, incentivizing promising ventures and adding fuel to the growing excitement and expectations surrounding the field. Recently, we’re also seeing increased involvement of lawyers and accountants in the sphere, discussing implications and working with their clients on some of the challenges associated with blockchain.

 

Article Source: http://www.coindesk.com

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