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Fintech & Blockchain Tech: A Convergence, not a Collision by Chimezie Chuta

Introduction

Over the last couple of years, fintechs especially in Nigeria, have grown in leaps and bounds but the impetus for the next phase of growth will emerge from the convergence between the multiple industries, multiple players, and decentralized technologies.

Blockchain technology has created such a disruptive niche that has left operators in the traditional financial systems where most fintechs function, gasping for breath.

It is Dilemma of DeFi revolution and fintechs are asking …

  • Is this real?
  • Is there any role for us?
  • If yes, what might that role be?

Inclusive Fintech!

An inclusive FinTech that leverages Blockchain/ DeFi will dispel the many misconceptions rampant today, about blockchain and cryptocurrencies (especially bitcoin, IDO, IEO, DAOs, ICO etc), as well as the idea that businesses can be sustainable without a social dimension going forward.

Bridging the gap!

There’s a need to bridge whatever gaps that seem to currently exist.

One key way that could bridge this gap will be the ability to combine blockchain’s best functionality at creating smart contracts with AI’s ability to make data smarter and more useful.

Fintech companies are known to very well utilize AI, vastly in their value delivery. Together, the two technologies have the potential to transform the markets for digital assets, including digital asset securitization.

Convenience will always win!

Guys let’s face it, the only reason many banks still exist today is convenience!

If you’re active in the blockchain space and doubt me, ask yourself this: do you run your own Bitcoin node? Do you rely on a custodial wallet? If you’re one of the rare people who use hardware wallets, when was the last time you audited the source code of its firmware for yourself?

You get my point now, abi?

For as long as humans walk on the earth, businesses that can offer the convenience of a well-run service will make a good living, even in a supposedly decentralized world.

Indeed, centralized services that deliver value reliably and in a mutually beneficial way will almost invariably be preferred by users across different verticals.

The truth is that the primary value proposition of many fintech service startups is convenience.

Look at some of these fintech startups:

  • Paystack
  • FlutterWave
  • Paga
  • Piggy Vest
  • Carbon Pay later
  • Kuda Bank
  • Rent Small Small

I dare say that it is highly unlikely the global financial system will be completely dismantled and replaced by the DeFi model in any foreseeable future!

What is the future of this convergence?

There’s no denying the fact that the finance worlds are edging closer together.

Take a look at stablecoins and CBDCs.

They are strongly emerging today as decentralized finance derivatives, and even our own CBN has already launched eNaira with her Speed Wallet for both merchants and individuals visible on both Android Play and iOS Store.

A converged future of financial technology will strive to incorporate systemically critical intermediaries such as banks and other financial services providers, decentralized and centralized exchanges, and then apply the key benefits of blockchain technology and crypto-assets technology in a way that is safe, regulated, and achievable within the jurisdictions of their operation.

Gradually, we are seeing that the utopian ideal of full decentralization, is unrealistic for financial markets.

It’s even easy to say that the majority of decentralized finance applications people use today are decentralized only in name!

Remember Infura, Binance and Solana.

I can say without mincing words that regulators and central banks are vital components, with clear roles to play in maintaining orderly market conditions. Their pivotal role in providing the needed infrastructure that could connect existing market operators with the emerging DeFi technology in a big way, cannot be wished away.

A hybrid approach is required.

Indeed, centralized services that deliver value reliably and in a mutually beneficial way will almost invariably be preferred by users.

Existing DeFi platforms cannot simply be re-engineered and applied to the world of centralized finance.

A DeFi-CeFi hybrid world!

DeFi-CeFi hybrid is already happening amongst real organizations within the regulated financial system, many of them utilizing enterprise-grade blockchain technology as their starting point in sync with the regulated world and institutions within it.

  1. -XKD cryptocurrency (Corda is a permissioned network, where all participants are known entities and existing rules and regulations can be applied, while still delivering the benefits of a decentralized cryptocurrency).

The roleof centralized services in the world of decentralized finance was, of course, brought into sharp relief with the recent listing of Coinbase.

Collaboration is critical.

Real change in financial markets is driven by collaboration. Improvements to the way money and assets flow through the global financial system have almost always been achieved by successfully integrating new technology with the existing infrastructure and institutions within it.

Remember our keyword for successful service delivery, convenience.

Real change in financial markets is driven by collaboration. Improvements to the way money and assets flow through the global financial system have almost always been achieved by successfully integrating new technology with the existing infrastructure and institutions within it.

Conclusion

Very few—if any—businesses operating in the financial services industry would suddenly refuse to participate in the centralized world, where they are already entrenched, and switch to a completely new way of working in the name of decentralization.

For such a switch to a new technology to happen, it will need to be seamless and with minimal disruption to their day-to-day operations, while still enabling them to connect with their peers and other parts of the financial market infrastructure.

Thank you!

 

Written by Chimezie Chuta, IT professional & Drupal web developer. Trainer @ Lagos DrupalVersity. Founder, BlockSpace.Africa, Coordinator, Blockchain Nigeria User Group, 3D Printing guy! (chimeziechuta@gmail.com). The piece was presented by Chimezie Chuta at the Nigeria Fintech Week, 29 October 2021, Lagos.

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