Here's another sign that blockchain is becoming big business.
Deloitte today announced the formation of a blockchain lab in the heart of New York City's financial district in what the global audit and consultancy firm expects will be a "make or break" year the technology. The lab is home to more than 20 developers and designers and will work with Deloitte teams abroad as well as over a dozen of the company's technology partners.
Open now and dubbed the Americas Blockchain Lab at Deloitte, the new practice will help drive the development of blockchains solutions for financial services firms, from proofs of concepts to ready-to-integrate solutions, stated the company.
"Financial institutions have the power and ability to move blockchain to the next level," said Eric Piscini, a principal with Deloitte Consulting, in a statement. "To get there, companies will need to move away from churning out proofs of concept and begin producing and implementing solutions."
Some firms are well on their way.
In October, Visa and Chain, an enterprise blockchain infrastructure startup based in San Francisco, announced Visa B2B Connect, a business-to-business (B2B) payments platform that will enable banks to process and settle international corporate payments in near-real time. Based on a permissioned private blockchain architecture, the solution is scheduled to enter the pilot phase this year.
Just this week, the Postal Savings Bank of China (PSBC) announced it had partnered with IBM to launch an asset custody management system based on the open-source Hyperledger Fabric project. An early trial, which involved buying and selling bonds, yielded major operational efficiency gains. According to the bank, it was able to slash processing times by 60 to 80 percent.
Financial firms aren't the only ones that are bullish on blockchain.
Recently, a Deloitte survey of 308 senior executives at midsized and large enterprises ($500 million or more in annual revenue) across a variety of industries in the U.S. revealed that 21 percent of firms have already brought blockchain solutions into production. An additional 25 percent plan to do the same within a year.
Businesses of all types are also pouring money into the technology.
Among those firms planning to invest $5 million or more during 2017, manufacturers and consumer products producers take the lead (42 percent), followed by technology, media and telecommunications providers (27 percent).
Bucking conventional wisdom, the financial services industry trailed with 23 percent. Cryptocurrencies aside, banks and other financial firms are eyeing blockchain to build ultra-secure transaction systems and trading platforms that offer real-time clearing and settlement.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.