Blockchain to gain limelight this week | Sunday Observer

Blockchain to gain limelight this week

23 September, 2018

Blockchain, a disruptive technology that will fundamentally change banking as well as many other industries will be in the spotlight this week at a two-day forum aimed at sharing best practices and contributing to Sri Lanka’s journey towards Distributed Ledger Technology.

Organized by BPOS Global Sri Lanka, the ‘Blockchain Sri Lanka 2018 Forum’ will be held on September 25-26, at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo. Minister of Telecommunication, Digital Infrastructure and Foreign Employment, Harin Fernando will grace the occasion as chief guest. Chairman of The Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, Rajendra Theagarajah will be the guest of honour and a speaker at the event.

Anselm Perera

“In May, we hosted a master class workshop and seminar titled ‘Blockchain Oman 2018’ at the Sheraton Oman Hotel which was a grand success. Inspired by the outcome of this event, we registered an event management company in Sri Lanka and are now gearing up to host a similar forum in our motherland,” Chief Executive Officer of BPOS Global Sri Lanka, Anselm Perera told The Sunday Observer last week.

The forum, designed to host over 200 senior professionals across different industries will discuss strategies for blockchain implementation and digital transformation, as well as its future by using case study presentations and panel discussions. It will bring together public sector policymakers, private sector business leaders and technology innovators to collaborate on the re-invention of technologies, processes and products through digital transformation, organizers said.

The Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy will deliver the opening remarks while the keynote address will be made by Chairman of Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka and the founding chair of LIRNEasia, Prof. Rohan Samarajiva.

“While there are systems in place in Sri Lanka, it has become a mess because of the people who manage it. But with the use of Blockchain and investments, this anomaly can be corrected because one would then not be able to interfere into the system,” says Perera.

Citing the example of the 19th Amendment that places a limit on the number of Ministers in Sri Lanka’s Parliament, Perera said since the system has been manipulated, the number had reached 94 but this would not be feasible in Blockchain-driven technologies.

“Like the internet that revolutionized us in the 1990s, the blockchain is the next generation of internet. But the main difference is that while internet shares information, it could not share value.

“When you do a card transaction, it will hit your account in three days while the settlement through the bank to the beneficiary will take 3 to 5 days and involve so many intermediaries. But, under blockchain there is no need of settlement by third parties and the sending and settlement will be made by the same person,” Perera, a Senior Banker in Oman who counts over 38 years of international banking experience with a rich knowledge of the Middle East and Sri Lankan Markets, pointed out.

He said that beyond the current Bitcoin hype, there is a quieter revolution taking place as various governments and industries explore the potential uses of digital currencies and their underlying blockchain technologies. “Governments as diverse as Russia, Japan, China and Dubai are developing state cryptocurrencies to supplement (and maybe eventually replace) their more tangible fiat currencies. Thus, banking and financial industries need to streamline their systems, lower costs and explore new revenue streams by leveraging tokenized systems and public and private blockchain platforms.”

The forthcoming event will commence with the inauguration ceremony on Tuesday (25), followed by a keynote address and a presentation on “A vision for Distributed Ledger Technologies in Sri Lanka” by the Founder of Blockchain Technologies Corp, USA, Nick Spanos. There will also be a Q&A session and networking cocktails. Day two will consist of four Plenary Sessions and panel discussions.

“We have an array of international speakers from New York, Ireland, Nigeria, Australia, India, Malaysia and Singapore and four Sri Lankan Speakers. There will be B2B meetings arranged on request and BPOS Global is committed to form partnerships with service providers to take Blockchain to every part of Sri Lanka,” Perera said.

The key topics that will be discussed at the forum are - Potential of blockchain in government, A vision for Distributed Ledger Technologies in Sri Lanka, A National Blockchain - Opportunity for Sri Lanka, Blockchain, AI, ML, Cognitives, Go Digital Strategies and API development, Is Blockchain the right solution for you and the impact of Blockchain on the future of the finance function.

According to experts, although Blockchain technology was popularized by the Bitcoin digital currency system in which financial transfers are stored cryptographically, Blockchain is a kind of database which can store any kind of data and run a computer code called ‘smart contracts’. Hence, the technology is secure and can be used for a wide variety of applications, such as block chain-based payments in banks, international trade, land registrations and services that require an agreement with multiple parties.

“In blockchain, data is stored in multiple locations and altering one location does not achieve a hacker’s objective. So security wise, blockchain is going to be used for more than just currency and transactions,” an expert connected to the financial services industry, told The Sunday Observer.

It is learnt that while American multinational technology firm, IBM has 1,000 employees presently working on blockchain-powered projects, they’ve also set aside US $200 million for development. Financial and tech firms invested an estimate $1.4 billion in blockchain in 2016 with an increase to $2.1 billion in 2018.

The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) had last year appointed two research committees to study the suitability and practicality of the application of Fintech and Blockchain technologies in the local context. The reports of the committees are due to be submitted soon, informed sources said. In June this year, Sampath Bank announced that they had built Sampath igift using blockchain technology, becoming the first bank to develop and introduce a blockchain-based banking solution in Sri Lanka.