Blockchain is only one of many technologies within Bitcoin which powers its peer-to-peer protocol. It essentially is like a database that stores, secures and facilitates transaction data for Bitcoin users.
Over the past few years, leading banks and financial institutions have focused on building Blockchain-based systems including cross-bank payment facilitation tools, inter-ledger protocols and multiple layer financial solutions. Billions of dollars have been allocated for the development of so-called “private Blockchains or ledgers” and banks are yet to demonstrate the commercial success of the Blockchain.
One major reason why banks continue to struggle to adopt the Blockchain and demonstrate its usability within the financial industry is the regulatory conflict which arises due to the decentralized nature of Blockchain.
By money transmission and financial policies, banks are required to strictly oversee transactions and financial activities. If a public Blockchain network-based system is implemented, banks will not be able to manipulate transactions and thus lose control of their network.
Basically, a public Blockchain network cannot be adopted due to regulatory hurdles. Private Blockchain networks can’t be applied either due to severe security issues. Over time, investors and Blockchain consortia realized that Blockchain doesn’t suit the financial industry and corporations such as the R3CEV have moved on to Blockchain-inspired technologies.
Is Google working on its own Bitcoin?
Google-funded Currencycloud is following a roadmap that is similar to the R3 consortium. Instead of pegging their system on Blockchain, Currencycloud is entering the financial industry with a Blockchain-inspired technology that is actually applicable to a wide range of operations such as transaction facilitation.
Recently, Currencycloud raised another $25 mln funding round from Google’s venture capital arm GV, which puts their total funding to date at nearly $55 mln, acquired from prominent venture capital firms and technology companies including Sapphire, Notion Capital and Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten’s fund Anthemis.
Essentially, the infrastructure of Currencycloud works as a cross-bank ledger that allows instantaneous transactions in a more secure yet cheaper ecosystem. With a simple API, banks can utilize Currencloud’s infrastructure to optimize settlement of payments.
Currencycloud CEO CEO Mike Laven stated:
“GV looked at that and looked at empowering developers and making it easy for them to tie up to global services and said that is consistent with our view of the world, a tool that's part of globalization. That was part of the theme of the investment. We've been saying all along, we're not just a payments company, not just an FX company. We're a platform with API access to the world of global payments."
A rapidly emerging group of fintech companies and Blockchain-inspired infrastructure developers are targeting banks and financial institutions that can utilize their solutions to optimize large commercial projects. So far, Blockchain technology, or to be more specific private Blockchain network-based platforms, haven’t proved its worth in the financial industry despite billions of dollars being invested in the technology.
The question remains if Blockchain technology is relevant in the realm of finance and if it actually can improve banking services. Concerns of investors on fintech and Blockchain startups is that banks are beginning to realize Blockchain without Bitcoin or the main digital asset, hash power and an open community of developers isn’t at all efficient.