For banks eyeing blockchain technology, 2016 has been the year of tests, trials and proofs of concept. By this time next year, however, some 15% of them could be running blockchain solutions in the wild, according to research by IBM.
The technology giant's Institute for Business Value interviewed 200 global banks for a study entitled "Leading the Pack in Blockchain: Banking Trailblazers Set the Pace,” which is set to be released Wednesday. It found 15% of bank respondents intend to have fully implemented, full-scale commercial solutions in 2017. Behind them, another 65% indicated they plan to have blockchain solutions in production over the next three years.
"First movers are setting business standards and creating new models that will be used by future adopters of blockchain technology," Likhit Wagle, IBM's general manager of global banking and financial markets, said in a press release. "We’re also finding that these early adopters are better able to anticipate disruption, fighting off new competitors along the way” such as startup nonbanks.
About 80% of banks indicated trade finance, corporate lending and reference data have the greatest opportunity to improve using blockchain technology. Some 56% indicated regulatory constraints are among the top barriers to the success of blockchain implementation, followed by the immaturity of the technology and the lack of clear return on investment.
As part of the Hyperledger Project, IBM has been collaborating with financial services and technology firms to create a common blockchain fabric on which companies can build their own blockchain applications, such as logging transactions between banks and international businesses or allowing the two to share recordkeeping systems. Bluemix, IBM's cloud-based development environment, aims to help banks to identify fintech firms to work with, ensure those startups meet regulatory requirements and plug them into the banking platform without a complicated, expensive integration.
More than 40% of Bluemix users are banks, IBM has said.