Since the term “blockchain” was coined, a paradox regarding the technology has become a controversial topic in this budding ecosystem. You see, while many detest cryptocurrencies, many traditionalists, especially those on Wall Street, are enamored with a certain form of a decentralized ledger we know as “blockchain,” which Bitcoin itself effectively conceptualized. Such individuals (and sometimes entire banks and institutions) see this advancement as a way to bolster their bottom line.
Funnily enough, however, a technologist working at one of the world’s largest financial institutions recently came out against blockchain, lambasting it in an interview with CNBC.
Bearish On Blockchain
Speaking to CNBC in an interview at the Bank of America’s New York office, technology and operations chief Cathy Bessant openly expressed skepticism towards blockchain technologies. Although her company has racked up over 26 related patents, according to The Next Web — the highest out of any financial institution — Bessant explained she has grown weary of the technology. She explains that she doesn’t expect for the advancement to produce any fruit in the near-term, adding that “in the closet,” she’s bearish.
When asked about the patents and the sudden about-face, Bessant noted that she is “open-minded,” hinting that she previously saw copious potential in blockchains previously. She also stated that BofA is ensuring that other companies and entities can’t infringe on its IP, if, by some stroke of luck, this technology “fulfills what some people believe its potential is.”
Her firm may have patents in tantalizing potential use cases, like ledger-enabled ATMs and storage solutions for private keys, but Bessant notes that she needs to see an application that is much more multi-faceted. It was added:
“All of the big tech companies will come and say ‘blockchain, blockchain, blockchain.’ I say, ‘Show me the use case. You bring me the use case and I’ll try it’.”
Despite all this, Bessant quipped that from a moral and fundamental level, she wants to see a technology that “makes us (meaning humanity) better, faster, cheaper, more transparent.” But is the technology she envisions blockchain? She didn’t tip her hand.
Her Wall Street Comrades Would Beg To Differ
Sure, everyone wants increased efficiency in a world where things are, let’s say, sticky. Bessant might not think the rise of blockchain will be a catalyst for such a change, but her Wall Street comrades sure do.
As reported by Blockonomi, technology giant Cisco recently issued a report on blockchain technologies. Firm researchers claimed that by 2027, as much as 10% of the world’s gross domestic product, could be secured by the innovation. The firm added that by 2021, the global corporate blockchain market could be valued at as much as $9.7 billion. Cisco expects for blockchains to be harnessed in smart cities, the supply chain, and the Internet of Things, thereby pushing this market to staple status.
While Cisco was dealing with the hypothetical, JP Morgan Chase has begun to harness the technology for good(?). For those who missed the memo, the institution operates its own Ethereum-related chain, Quorum, which now has its very own digital asset, the fittingly-named, widely unpopular JPM Coin. Fans of Bitcoin and other pure cryptocurrencies have clicked their tongues in disapproval, but the company believes that the digital asset can revolutionize its internal processes and, potentially, retail payments at some point down the line.
Even PayPal, who quietly issued its own cryptocurrency for an internal pilot, has lauded blockchains in some respects. In a CNBC “Squawk Box” segment, Dan Schulman, PayPal’s CEO, explained that while cryptocurrency’s use case is limited, he could see blockchain garner traction through this asset class.
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