CUs need to be involved in blockchain from the get-go, or they risk being frozen out.

What I’d like to know about blockchain

Like everyone else in the credit union world, I’m a little tingly these days about Blockchain technology. It’s also, and possibly more properly, known as Distributed Ledger, but I suspect the short punchy term “blockchain” has already won.

I’ll skip yet another explanation of what blockchain/distributed ledger is — there are many definitions and imaginative analogies out there. But I bet that some other credit union marketers are wondering the same things I am.

Will blockchain transactions look any different to members and other consumers?
We’re communicators — what will we need to communicate to members? It’s still rather unclear how directly blockchain transactions will impact members. Maybe we have to wait for products to emerge, but as yet I haven’t found much besides some fuzzy handwaving. I suspect that our main messages will be more secure and faster transactions. Overall, blockchain will be infrastructure, not an end user product. For example, CU members might get an app that lets them securely and instantly transfer money, but they won’t really know or care that it’s built on blockchain transactions.

Are CUs getting on board fast enough?
It seems to me that CUs need to be involved from the get-go or risk being frozen out or priced out. Credit unions have some potential advantages here thanks to their agility and ability to cooperate.

When will we start seeing blockchain in real-world action?
I’ve seen lots of “could” and “would” and even some proof-of-concepts, but nothing in the wild yet. We may yet be waiting a few more years.

How will the transitions and interactions be handled between blockchain and “old style” infrastructure?
Will CUs need to maintain two sets of infrastructure? Is this yet another added technology expense without a big ROI? Or will better security and speed make up for it?

What problems could blockchain technology help solve?
For example, could we finally solve the micropayment problem, or is there still too much storage and computation overhead? Could it make things like credit scoring more accurate?

Brian Wringer

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