Digital business models are now a standard option in the retail banking sector. It is part of a broader movement throughout the entire financial services industry to be where people are instead of making households come to specific locations.
When looking at the excitement that blockchain technologies create in the financial services industry, it is curious to find the retail banking sector deciding to stay on the sidelines. Investment firms and infrastructure creators see a world where this technology can automate processes while creating instant settlements.
Some of the hesitancy is attributable to an uncertain future of regulations. Attempts to launch blockchain-based exchange-traded funds (ETFs) were already blocked by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Many retail banks are small, sometimes community-owned, and may not have the resources necessary for investment.
Potential Options for Retail Banking and Blockchain
According to Deltec Bank, “Blockchain offers the banking sector three critical strengths: trust, data handling, and a reduction in the use of intermediaries.” Those features lead to potential applications that are worth taking into consideration.
1. Risk Scoring
Retail banks take a conservative approach to lending because a significant number of households are unbanked or underbanked. Pooling the data could allow institutions all over the world to see information in real-time settings without explicit permission at the time of application. Smart contracts could offer pre-programmed access, creating a process that enables more informed decisions.
2. Fraud Prevention
Know Your Customer (KYC) protocols are a growing area of regulatory compliance that retail banks must implement. Up to $16 billion in losses occur each year in this sector because of identity theft. Spending on anti-money laundering efforts was more than $25 billion in 2017. Blockchain gives the industry a digital fingerprint that becomes a unique identifier. This data can be present on the distributed ledger, making it available anywhere in the world.
Over $600 billion in cross-border payments occur each year. The market grows at 3% consistently, and an increase in international trade could make that trend rise even more in the next decade. The only problem is that payment processing at the retail banking level is clumsy and mediated, with high transaction fees. Blockchain eliminates the idea of a border because it permits the exchange of value within seconds. It still provides immutability and transparency while reducing expenses for everyone.
Can Blockchain Work in the Retail Banking Sector?
The financial services industry is encouraging its retail banking sector to give blockchain a try. The C-Suites must believe that the long-term advantages this technology offers are worth the cost of its investment.
Blockchain can offer less friction, lower costs, and better security. There could be some growing pains during the implementation journey, but the potential gains over time look to be worth the risk.
Disclaimer: The author of this text, Robin Trehan, has an Undergraduate degree in economics, Masters in international business and finance and MBA in electronic business. Trehan is Senior VP at Deltec International www.deltecbank.com. The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this text are solely the views of the author, and not necessarily reflecting the views of Deltec International Group, its subsidiaries and/or employees.
About Deltec Bank
Headquartered in The Bahamas, Deltec is an independent financial services group that delivers bespoke solutions to meet clients’ unique needs. The Deltec group of companies includes Deltec Bank & Trust Limited, Deltec Fund Services Limited, and Deltec Investment Advisers Limited, Deltec Securities Ltd. and Long Cay Captive Management.