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Deciphering bitcoin and blockchain

Graduate | Mar 06, 2017 |

If you’re into the technical side of finance, odds are that you’ve heard of blockchain. If not, don’t worry. You can catch up.

In a nutshell, it’s a digital ledger of records, arranged in data batches or blocks that are then linked together. Because it maintains a continuously growing list of transactions, it is becoming a destination platform for many financial-service companies.

Fordham Fintech Network invited professionals who have worked up-close with blockchain technology to speak on its presence in capital markets and accounting. Barclays Rise New York was a fitting backdrop for discussing the future of financial services.

“The really interesting thing about blockchain technology is that it is immutable,” said Mike Maloney, who serves as the blockchain IT enablement lead for Ernst & Young. “It’s never been hacked, giving participants the security they need.”

How does bitcoin fit into blockchain? Bitcoin, created by an anonymous publisher, aims to work as a currency under no central authority that can process payments instantaneously.

“The main difference [between blockchain and bitcoin] is that blockchain is an enabling technology,” said Tanmoy Jadhav, a senior manager of strategy, innovation, and transformation at Deloitte.

The panelists also discussed how blockchain can change the way contracts are issued, citing an example related to land ownership in Haiti. When the most recent significant hurricane left traditional ownership documents missing or ruined, land was practically open to claim, absent concrete evidence of prior possession.

“I look at blockchain as [a possible future] solution to [that] problem,” said Sigrid Seibold, a principal at KPMG in U.S. capital markets. “If a contract is put on blockchain, it isn’t going to wash away with a storm; it’s permanent.”

In an ever-changing industry marked by technological advances, longevity is priceless.

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