More work needed in regulations, industry to grab blockchain opportunities: panel


BLOCKCHAIN is no longer just a hype. There are real opportunities in using the technology for the economy, but regulators need to work with each other and the industry to support its growth, said international panellists during discussions at the Singapore Fintech Festival on Monday.

In the trade space, the two core capabilities lie in supply chain management and trade financing, said Jim Sullivan, deputy assistant secretary for services at the US Department of Commerce.

He said that blockchain technology can help SMEs better access trade financing, and also improve the transparency and efficiency of supply chain processes.

At a second panel discussion, ConsenSys' entrepreneur-in-residence Jason Jones said asset managers should "get in the game" and consider the possibility of investing in tokenised assets - a trend that he sees emerging in the near future. ConsenSys is a New York-based blockchain firm.

According to Mr Jones, the tokenised assets that investors should keep their eyes on are real estate, credit and supply chain.

Though blockchain presents a great deal of opportunities and has seen a number of use-cases, experts across both panels agreed that regulatory environments need to adapt to foster the growth of the technology.

Moderator Michael Casey, who is a senior advisor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) media lab, pointed out that it is a vision of several ledgers to interoperate with each other. Interoperability refers to freely sharing information across blockchain systems.

Jorg Gasser, state secretary for international financial matters at Switzerland's Federal Department of Finance, said that it is more important to talk about standards rather than regulatory frameworks within countries, keeping in mind that fintech crosses borders.

"We are very much inclined to see standards set in order to prevent failure and improve quality, but we are not so in favour of having a framework that hinders the technological progress," said Mr Gasser.

Mr Sullivan noted the rise of protectionist measures in the digital space, and said that the US is working hard to promote interoperable frameworks that crosses borders.

"We don't all have the exact same regulatory approach or domestic regime, but we should all agree on a fundamental baseline of standards. That way, we can have safe and secure interflows," he said.