Blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin BTC/USD, can propel a traditional financial services firm into the next frontier of fintech.
"The scrutiny of the contagion of what has gone wrong in the crypto world ends up bleeding over into us trying to use fintech — even though it's apples and oranges,” Symbiont CEO Mark Smith told the crowd Thursday at the 2022 Benzinga Global Fintech Deal Day event.
Blockchain pros are now looking at solving "hard problems," such as smart contracts, and alleviating issues that continue to entrench the financial markets, Smith explained. Gone are the days of the "mysticism behind this magic technology."
Smith appeared on stage for the panel "Blockchain Technologies For Supporting Traditional Finance," alongside Justin Chapman, global head of digital assets and financial markets for Northern Trust, and Milena Kohlhofer, director of blockchain for U.S. Bank.
And to those traditional financial services firms who might be feeling a bit timid about exploring the space, moderator Roy Ben Hur of Deloitte asked each guest to offer a bit of advice.
"You need to get support from the top of your organization," Chapman said, citing the importance of "understanding and education first." Without the whole organization supporting you, projects can stall or fail to launch altogether.
Smith advised blockchain pros to "understand the problem they're trying to solve and make sure the solution is appropriate."
"As Justin said — blockchain doesn't solve everything," Smith noted, adding that a lot of the "failed projects" came because blockchain probably shouldn't have been applied in the first place.
For Kohlhofer, it was "all about implementation."
"I think we tested enough and I know the clients we worked with have also tested a lot," she said. "Pick the most impactful project to move forward with, and speak closely with regulators early on to get approval ... starting that process early on will really help to push real projects into production."
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Image: From Left - Roy Ben Hur; Milena Kohlhofer; Mark Smith; Justin Chapman (photo by Joseph Parks for Benzinga)
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