Blockchain has begun to come into its own in 2019. In this study, we provide use cases and growth opportunities in 3 sectors: global payments, trade finance, and KYC/AML. These are 3 of the areas where Blockchain has been tested and leveraged with key use cases emerging in financial services; in particular, cross-border payments, and digital identification and verification. There have been use cases in smart contracts across multiple sectors; smart contracts have been especially effective in real estate, supply chain logistics, and law.

The number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in blockchain and cryptocurrency had a peak year in 2018. Year-over-year to date, the 2019 M&A count is only at 48% of 2018. In terms of value, 2019 is at 64% of the amount at the same time in 2018. The study also includes key findings and growth opportunities going forward. The interest in blockchain solutions as a means of reducing cost, improving efficiency, and increasing collaboration among private and public players is still growing in financial services. Establishing consortia and utilizing the services of large players like Hyperledger and Ethereum confirms this interest, even as smaller blockchain start-ups continue to emerge globally and make an impact.

Regulating blockchain is in development. There has been significant advancement in the United States though; leading banks and blockchain fintechs are collaborating with regulators and experts to potentially influence future regulations. Currently, a majority of the states in the country have taken action to legislate cryptocurrency and/or blockchain. This lack of industry standards for the technology is one of the biggest concerns across industries in using blockchain.

Fintechs have been partnering with banks for several years. This cooperation will continue but there will also be consolidation; as start-ups develop and test new technologies, and grow their businesses, the larger companies will acquire them to utilize that technology. The enthusiasm for blockchain and its promise is demonstrated in the annual global survey that Frost & Sullivan conducts on the state of digital transformation in different industries. We found in that survey that the top 3 reasons banks, financial services companies, and insurance companies are investing in blockchain are: to improve security of certain classes of data, enable systems with blockchain-specific capabilities, and to gain efficiencies in their external operating ecosystem. Financial companies identified the advantages they are already seeing from blockchain – it improves cost efficiency, enhances customer care, and facilitates further innovation.

Some of the strategic imperatives for financial services companies that are interested in transforming their operations with blockchain include education – internally and externally in their ecosystem; focus on customer expectations when developing technology; recognizing its advantages and what it enables, since it is only likely to continue to grow.