The Corporate Blockchain Wave

March 05, 2018

The Corporate Blockchain Wave

I wanted to share a quick observation as I make my way to Tokyo for a packed-house CordaCon on Wednesday, March 7. If you are in the area, please stop by, and don’t forget our developer Corda Boot Camp on Saturday, March 10.

Since the start of the year, I have participated in events, panels and meetings with an increasing number of large corporates in the US and UK (and later this week in Japan). As I got ready to step on stage to a panel at Oracle Modern Finance Experience last month, the view of the packed room made me think that perhaps 2018 is the year of the Corporate blockchain wave.

Stage left as David Haimes presents at Oracle Modern Finance Experience: Blockchain and Its Implication for Finance. Note the queue of corporate finance professionals at the entrance in the far background.

Since our work on R3 began in 2014–15, we have seen overlapping ‘waves’ of awareness, interest and involvement in blockchain from different market segments. This began with Banks/FIs, with the segments of Insurance, Logistics, Healthcare soon following. Each subsequent wave seems to have compressed the journey of awareness to involvement, which intuitively makes sense as the enterprise blockchain industry matures. The last few months have anecdotally indicated to me that the next wave will be a broad one across the Corporate sector: corporate finance, corporate treasury, corporate supply chain, etc.

Education will play an important role, but will be quite different than what many focused on in 2015–16. Corporates are coming to this not for the technology, but for what the tech can enable. While they will want to learn what the value and risks will be for them, they will look at this more from how they can ‘plug into’ and use an enterprise blockchain offering. Is blockchain cloud-ready and low friction to get started? How does this fit into or enhance my existing ERP workflows? Will this help improve my working capital, tap new marketplaces for capital or help me optimize my balance sheet?

This is a great sign for our industry. Our CTO has long joked that we’ll know the blockchain industry is real when we stop talking about blockchains! This new and broad base of enterprise blockchain participants might have come for the technology, but they will stay for the business value.

For those looking to build CorDapps for this coming wave of corporate clients, please reach out to our Partner team, or look me up on Twitter.