Tue, Sep 12, 2017 - Page 12 News List

World Congress on Information Technology: Banks use trade fair to show blockchain technology efforts

By Ted Chen  /  Staff reporter

Taiwanese banks yesterday showcased a variety of upgraded services, as well as ongoing experiments in blockchain technology at the World Congress on Information Technology in Taipei.

CTBC Bank Co (中國信託銀行), the first Taiwanese member of the R3 distributed ledger consortium, demonstrated its blockchain-based solution to seed trade finance processes.

Developed by the CTBC Blockchain lab, the solution is aimed at streamlining the processing of documents involved in international trade, such as bill of lading and insurance policies, by taking advantage of the distributed ledger’s indelible record keeping and automated “smart contracts.”

Currently, paper documents submitted by sellers, buyers, cargo forwarders, logistic companies, insurers and banks involved in international trade must be delivered and manually verified, contributing to slow processing times and high costs, as well as added risk of forgery, human error and inaccurate filings, said Channing Huang (黃晟恩), a digital banking division manager at CTBC Financial (中信金控).

The trade financing solution allows companies that have established mutual trust in business relations to submit their documents digitally using blockchain, Huang said, adding that verification is faster and more accurate with automation.

However, the solution is still in the internal testing phase and does not include payments or funds transfers, Huang said.

CTBC Bank also gave a glimpse into the future of retail banking where interactions and services are increasingly delivered via digital channels, advanced ATM’s and voice-controlled artificial intelligence (AI) assistants.

E.Sun Commercial Bank (玉山銀行) said that it would iron out technical hurdles in its partnership to create a payment app based on Gcoin, an open source blockchain infrastructure developed by National Taiwan University professor Liao Shih-wei (廖世偉).

The payment app is designed for New Taiwan dollar transactions as well as credit card reward points payments and other royalty program schemes, the company said.

However, as transaction records need to be broadcast and synchronized across a large number of user nodes on the blockchain, each transaction takes about 20 seconds to complete, E.Sun Bank digital finance executive Liu Mei-lin (劉美玲) said.

“Compared with conventional closed-end payment systems, blockchain-based systems have a slight time lag, making it less than ideal for brick-and-mortar use,” Liu said.

While Taiwan lags behind China in terms of cashless payment, domestic banks still lead their Chinese counterparts in terms of AI-enhanced services such as robot investment advisory and customer service chatbots, she said.

E.Sun showcased its cross-boarder shopping pass designed for local consumers shopping on Chinese e-commerce Web sites.

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