PwC Finds Blockchain Distrust High, Even As Adoption Accelerates

The financial services (FinServ) market is, by far, ahead of other industries when it comes to blockchain innovation and adoption, according to data released this year by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC). Much of that innovation has been focused on corporate finance and payments, as top financial services players have introduced new blockchain solutions in an effort to disrupt and improve corporate payments.

While financial institutions (FIs) are investing significantly in the technology, their corporate customers may be weary when it comes to using the blockchain solutions their financial services providers now offer. According to PwC, trust and regulatory uncertainty remain top barriers to adoption of blockchain, particularly in the markets in which blockchain adoption is expected to be greatest.

PwC’s survey, which was recently covered by CFO Innovation, found 48 percent of professionals across industries agreed regulatory uncertainty was the top barrier to blockchain adoption, while 45 percent pointed to a “lack of trust among users.”

At the same time, the financial services market is significantly ahead of other markets — including manufacturing, government and healthcare — when it comes to their exploration and use of distributed ledger technology (DLT). For financial services, that means trust in DLT could present a speed bump in adoption despite the industry’s rising adoption of the solution.

This week alone, the FinServ market saw the addition of several new blockchain solutions, designed for corporate customers, from several key players.

PNC Bank‘s Treasury Management unit announced its participation in Ripple‘s blockchain cross-border payments network RippleNet, a move that allows corporate clients to accelerate accounts receivable and receive payments from across borders in real time.

Another blockchain conglomerate, R3, debuted its Marco Polo platform, which uses blockchain to facilitate trade finance and supply chain management for corporates. Developed in conjunction with TradeIX and several banks using the Corda blockchain infrastructure, the solution supports trade finance transactions and can be flexible to meet the specific needs of its bank users.

In China, eCommerce giant launched the nation’s first blockchain business license in collaboration with the Administration for Industry and Commerce of Suqian. Any Suqian-based companies that sell using the eCommerce marketplace platform have uploaded their information onto a blockchain platform to manage their business licenses, a solution that plans to use to facilitate invoicing and other B2B solutions moving forward.

Asia is a particularly strong area of blockchain innovation, according to PwC, which predicted in its report that China will outpace the U.S. in blockchain development efforts. The market is expected to secure 30 percent of those efforts between 2021 and 2023; at present, the U.S. is home to 29 percent of development efforts of DLT, researchers found.

Interestingly, however, while Asia is quickly becoming a leader in blockchain development and product launches, it is also the market struggling the most with trust of blockchain solutions. PwC found that 37 percent of Singapore respondents raised concerns about trust in the technology, the highest of any other market, followed by Hong Kong  at 35 percent.

Researchers concluded that companies across the world should focus on four key areas of blockchain development to make progress in their initiatives: set out a clear business case for development of the tool, develop an ecosystem of partners to join the effort, design tools deliberately around what end users will be able to see and do, and keep an eye on regulations and how they evolve in the coming years. These steps could help foster trust among end business users of these emerging blockchain tools.

“Blockchain, by its very definition, should engender trust,” said PwC Blockchain Leader Steve Davies in a statement. “But in reality, companies confront trust issues at nearly every turn. Failing to state a clear business case from the outset leads to projects stalling.”

He continued, “Creating and implementing blockchain to realize its potential is not an IT project. It’s a transformation of business models, roles and processes. It needs a clear business case, an ecosystem to support it  with rules, standards and flexibility to deal with regulatory change built in.”