Morgan Stanley Shares Roadmap for Blockchain Adoption

While the long-term opportunity offered by is clear, widespread by financial institutions will take between 5 and 10 years from now, according to .

Morgan Stanley Global Insight blockchain techIn a new report entitled &;Global Insight: Blockchain in Banking: Disruptive Threat or Tool?&;, Morgan Stanley a timeline for blockchain adoption.

The financial services firm believes 2016-2018 will be the years during which and corporations will be testing use cases of blockchain. These proof-of-concept tests will be aimed at assessing if blockchain can scale and effectively reduce costs.

During the years 2017-2020, we will begin to see shared infrastructure emerge, with proven assets being adopted well beyond the initial proof-of-concept stage.

Between 2021-2025, more assets will move onto blockchain as efficiencies prove out.

Morgan Stanley's roadmap for adoption of blockchain by financial institutions


Use cases being explored

According to a report by Magister Advisors, financial institutions are expected to spend over US$ 1 billion on blockchain projects in 2017.

Among the proposed applications, blockchain is expected to provide greater efficiencies for post-trade settlement and change in title, but also trade finance, international payments and regulatory.

Post-trade settlement: A distributed ledger could enhance the audit function as specific securities are more easily tracked. The technology could enable all participants to see where the documents are in the sequenced approval process. Additionally, there are opportunities to shorten the settlement window which would allow for lower costs to trade.

Trade finance: Using a blockchain would allow all parties to see when the goods have been shipped and release funding appropriately.

International payments: Moving to a blockchain would shorten settlement periods, speed up transactions and reduce the risk of fraud.

Reference data: Blockchain technology could offer significant efficiencies to transactors by holding reference data for individual securities.

Regulatory: A blockchain hosting the data for regulator could be more efficient for banks assessing the data intra-firm as well as for regulators wanting to compare their regulated entities.


10 challenges to overcome

While blockchain technology has the potential to offer many benefits for the financial industry, there are still key hurdles to surmount before blockchain implementation becomes a reality.

Use case cost benefit: Given the high cost of building a blockchain system, an proposed use must have a position return on invested capital.

Cost mutualization: If a shared blockchain were to work like an interoperable industry utility, banks would need to share the cost of building the infrastructure, which could be a challenge.

Aligning incentives: In the case of a shared blockchain, different entities may have conflicting priorities.

Evolving to the right standards.

Maintaining scalability: A blockchain must scale effectively from proof-of-concept to succeed, a key reason why most new blockchain proposals are looking at a range of rules, including ones that restrict users or centralize all, or part, of the blockchain.

Governance: A blockchain would need a governing body to decide who can access the blockchain and who are in charge of maintenance.

Regulation: The challenge of regulating digital identities and cross-border standards would need to be addressed.

Legal risks (KYC/AML): Banks and policymakers need close control for KYC and AML issues. Finding a single digital identity passport authorizer will be key

Security: Banks will have to perform extensive research to ensure that any blockchain they implement is at least as resilient as their current infrastructure against attack.

Simplicity: Blockchain solutions need to be uncomplicated and easy to understand. They also need to interface with other parts of the parts of the technology chain seamlessly, enabling faster set-up time, training time and fixing time.


Featured image: Morgan Stanley in Canary Wharf by Gordon Bell, via

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