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Adrián Ruiz San Valero, Director of Banking Services, everis Argentina

Blockchain in the financial industry: a customer-centric experience

Companies today face the significant challenge posed by digital transformation and need new solutions to lead the way, while offering an experience that captivates their customers. And so one of the most revolutionary and recently talked-about technologies is blockchain.

What is the promise of blockchain? Delivering information in a way that is decentralized, secure, transparent, and efficient. Before adopting this technology, it is essential for companies to understand that the customer, and the experiences customers want, are the focus. We often meet clients whose objective is to adopt blockchain simply to be on the cutting edge. But that is not the point. The business case, the differential value, and the solution offered to customers are most important. Blockchain is a tool that helps us meet our objectives, but it cannot be an end unto itself. That is one of the main points we add to the conversation when we encounter similar situations. Offering a complete, more strategic vision of the business case, so we do not put technology ahead of customers’ needs.

In the case of the financial services industry, we see different trends today — such as the use of biometrics, new forms of payment, and multi-channeling to access products and information — that have emerged within the portfolio of options, bringing blockchain along as a complement to solve specific problems.

The important thing is not simply the technology that underlies and enables the creation of a product or service, rather it is the customer experience that differentiates us from the competition. When winning customers’ loyalty, you can offer better prices, but what makes the difference is their experience, an experience with real value added, that people will be willing to pay more for. That is the rule today.

Consider credit of any kind. Today’s customers are looking to access credit more quickly and securely; they don’t want the bank to pass along its operational complications. Systems that underlie the need and are invisible to customers must unify the solutions needed to deliver this service in the best way possible.

Take for example Alastria, the Spanish network of companies and institutions that are looking to implement a standardized consortium to encourage the use of blockchain. At everis, we believe we must drive a similar consensus within the financial services industry, while also maintaining a multi-sectoral vision to take better advantage of the network. Although, we are aware that building this network of banks and agreeing on the many issues is a change in the model that will take years. It was truly a hopeful sign that in late 2018, with the support of Alastria and the Inter-American Development Bank, the launch of LAC-Chain was announced. LAC-Chain will be a new alliance to drive the development of a blockchain ecosystem for Latin America and the Caribbean that is inclusive, efficient, and secure for everyone involved. What’s more, it was a great honor for everis to have been a part of Alastria and LAC-Chain from the beginning.

It is complicated, but we have already seen real cases of banks like Santander, which make international transfers on the Ripple blockchain platform, moving ahead of the market. That is also true of BBVA, which has long made transfers between one account in Spain and another in Mexico, and which recently issued a loan using blockchain. HSBC, for its part, has used blockchain for an international commercial operation.

Although we are aware of the potential of a decentralized and transparent network, it is also clear to us that there is a lack of maturity to make this an industry-wide standard and truly understand how it can improve processes within companies.

We also need to learn to clearly differentiate situations where blockchain is useful from those where it is not justified, so we do not waste capital when setting up a new platform, with essential investments in hardware, software, and training for existing teams (or creating new ones).

At everis, we continue to work with our clients who are interested in approaching this technology, innovating in the area of customer experience, and creating multidisciplinary teams with members from business, legal, technology and design areas. All of us are working together toward an objective of offering a new, high-quality digital experience.

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