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The problem with blockchain is that same problem that all today’s technologies face. Most people seem to be focused on the technology and not the benefits. The result: the man on the street might feel that blockchain isn’t of interest. But within a few years, blockchain will underpin all sorts of industries. This was a recurring theme during the last “FINTECH Hangout”, a collaboration between Next Money DXB and Emirates NBD.

blockchain
A full house at Dubai Future Accelerators for the NextMoneyDXB event, Bring On Blockchain

Blockchain is still in its infancy. One day, Zahir Khoja of MasterCard, the moderator for this first “FINTECH Hangout”, assured us, no one will be buying the gadgets and machinery, instead they’ll be looking beyond the machines and just embracing the wizardry that blockchain solutions can provide. Consumer experience is key and only then will blockchain technologies start to scale.

For example, the technology and strategy consultant, David Horton, head of innovation at Synechron pointed out, in the USA there are huge fines for divulging an individual’s medical records. Imagine going to the doctor when they can pull up with your permission your entire medical history, secured by blockchain technologies.

On the other hand, the finance industry is currently awash with the blockchain hype and the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO), David Horton continues. The blockchain FOMO is evidenced by the potential client stating that (s)he needs a blockchain product and may not even know what that might mean.

Ola Doudin, CEO of BitOasis, the bitcoin startup, was a little more gung-ho about the immediacy of change that blockchain solutions can bring to the world today. “Legacy businesses” are going to suffer; payment networks not national currencies should beware the future, Ola says. But disruption will only happen with collaboration, she affirms.

Taking blockchain technologies forward won’t be that easy. Stuart Evans, MD of Loyyal, the blockchain loyalty program start up, notes that the drivers of blockchain today “are the brave and the bold”. This is the only way change will take place, and by getting all those brave, bold parties together at one time.

And the banks are listening. They are driving change too. For example, Naimish Shah, Head of Innovation at Emirates NBD, is continually on a quest to understand how technology can help businesses. “We’ve identified use cases and we have to bring businesses along with us to validate all hypostheses”. Iteration and testing is key, he explained.

This FINTECH Hangout brought together a audience of senior businessmen and women who already know that blockchain is not hypothetical, but they learned who is doing what in the industry and how they are doing it.

The event was introduced by Aaron Oliver, chapter lead of Next Money Middle East and Vikram Krishna, EVP Marketing at Emirates NBD.

James Welch is a co-founder of Next Money Middle East and a speaker on technology. His day job is being a data consultant in the advertising industry. Find out more at www.digitalorchestra.ae 

If you’d like to find out more about a Next Money event coming up near you, please go to nextmoney.org or for the Middle East chapter, please go to meetup.com/nextmoneydxb.

Or watch this short clip where Aaron tells the nextmoneydxb story (it’s brief!): https://vimeo.com/201150735