Trying to transfer cash to a friend’s bank account is a surprisingly stressful process if you’re going through a traditional bank.
The transfers can take days, often lack a “received” receipt, and come with fees. At times, the cash seems to just disappear.
But a major shift is underway among startups and big banks who hope to make that process, and others, cheaper, faster, and more efficient by using the technology that underlies cryptocurrency Bitcoin. In fact, banking and financial markets are adopting the technology “dramatically faster than initially expected,” according to a Wednesday IBM report titled “Leading the Pack in Blockchain Banking: Trailblazers Set the Pace.”
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So much so that 15% of banks world wide expect to widely implement blockchain, which is a ledger of transactions updated in real time by various institutions, by next year, according to the report which surveyed 200 global banks.
These banks, mostly medium to large-sized institutions, are focusing their blockchain technology on three areas: consumer lending, retail payments, and reference data, which refers to the real-time information sharing of transactions across business divisions and institutions.
In four years, IBM says that 66% percent of banks expect to have blockchain in commercial production and at scale.
So far, the majority of banks are still in the testing phase—figuring out how to apply blockchain to their products and services.
Eight banks including HSBC and State Street successfully tested out blockchain in bond transactions earlier this year, UBS and Santander have been trying out the technology for cross-border payments, while Bank of America (BAC) announced Tuesday a partnership with Microsoft (MSFT) to experiment with the system.
Banks expect the the use of blockchain technology, which would allow institutions themselves to update data in real-time, to lower costs by cutting out the middleman, and speed up transactions since banks would cut down on time spent reconciling disparate data.