Blockchain technology is one of the hottest topics of discussion in tech circles. The technology started as an underlying platform for Bitcoin but has penetrated almost every sector over the last ten years.
At the time of launch a decade ago, people thought it to be yet another overhyped internet gimmick, which would fade away very soon. However, that hasn’t been the case, as the platform kept growing from strength to strength, and at a very good pace. Several established companies have invested heavily in innovative technology, including IBM, VISA, HSBC, JPMorgan, Microsoft, Intel, and Facebook.
One such company, which poured a lot of cash in the innovative tech is Bank of America, the North Carolina based banking giant. BOA has been investing in the innovative tech for over five years, as it believed it to be the future of banking and finance. In fact, the bank has the most number of blockchain related patents filed among finance companies. But contrastingly, the technology head of BOA, under whose leadership the bank took big strides in the blockchain space, is quite skeptical towards the technology.
In a recent interview, BOA tech chief Cathy Bessant stated that she has grown skeptical over the years on whether the popular tech would achieve something significant anytime soon. Bessant has led the technology division of BOA since 2010, after which the bank started taking serious efforts in the blockchain space. Most blockchain patents that BOA holds came under her leadership.
She stated that as an open-minded individual, she is bearish about blockchain. Bessant thinks the claims made by promoters of the technology, that it is the future, are quite debatable. Similar opinions have been posted by a number of academicians like Economist Nouriel Roubini, who recently stated that blockchain is nothing but an extremely overhyped technology.
However, the majority of experts and analysts have been quite optimistic about the technology. Especially, after the entry of giant companies, space has got a great boost in terms of research and investment. For the past couple of years, American tech behemoth IBM has been deeply exploring distributed ledger space, developing various blockchain based solutions for government and private entities. The company recently launched its global payments platform, World-Wire, in collaboration with Stellar crypto.
Various companies have set up their own blockchain divisions. Facebook is all set to launch its own cryptocurrency, a stable coin targeted at cross-border payments. JPMorgan has already become the first US bank to launch its own cryptocurrency. Intel has inked several deals to create blockchain based solutions, and so have Microsoft and TCS.
Such big companies conduct extensive research behind every decision, let alone creating a whole new division and infusing millions in it. This shows that blockchain has some future, which is why these companies are expanding their time and resources on technology. And apart from private companies, even governments across the globe are taking it very seriously.
For instance, governments of countries including Argentina, Australia, and Canada have collaborated with IBM, and other blockchain start-ups to create blockchain platforms for various public departments, to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Even powerhouses like Russia, India and a few African nations have taken concrete steps in this direction. IBM, for example, will be developing a blockchain network for a few African nations to eliminate the evil of counterfeit drugs in the region.
The year 2018 saw a severe collapse of the cryptocurrency market, as almost every digital currency kept bleeding throughout the year. However, fortunes were bright for the blockchain space as venture capitals invested over $5 billion in the industry, significantly more than the $1.5 billion they poured in 2017.
All of these facts stand in contrast with Cathy Bessant’s remarks. Nonetheless, she holds a position of her own, which needs to be taken seriously.