How Does Blockchain Address the Pain Points of Islamic Banking?

Raghuram Rajan – one of the most prominent economist and 23rd Governor of RBI (Reserve Bank of India) suggested in his 2008 report on the Financial Sector that interest-free banking (Islamic banking) should be practiced on a large scale. This was recommended with an intention to provide access to people from economically backward society with little to no access to banking services.

While Islamic Banking is prevalent in Islamic countries, several non-Muslim countries such as United Kingdom, China, Germany and United States are also offering Islamic windows in their conventional banks. So, what is it that provides it a widespread appeal? Is it because the system is based on high ethical principles or because it encourages the Muslim community – hesitant of investing in conventional banks, to come forward and invest in Shariat compliant projects thereby mobilizing huge amount of capital? Whatever may be the reason, the fact that Islamic banking is gaining traction both within and outside the Muslim community, cannot be denied.

However, these principles aren’t easy to abide by in practice as doing so may lead to higher transactional costs than most non-Islamic firms are accustomed to. This is because Islamic Banks lay a lot of importance on contractual relationship, which typically involves several contracts (more than three), parties, with lot of stress on preventing speculation, ambiguity and interests. In other words, Islamic contracts are anytime more complex than that of a conventional bank as it caters to entire system of transactions. Consequently, the number of legal and administrative processes increases, which further raises the cost of doing business.

Furthermore, Islamic Banking requires abidance with the stringent standards for financial transaction that complies with the Sharia Law. For instance, banks can create debt only when it is backed by underlying assets such as gold.

Role of Blockchain in the Islamic Finance Industry

Integrating Blockchain technology across the Islamic finance industry has opened doors of opportunities for banking and finance organizations. In fact, incorporating blockchain in Islamic Banking will revolutionize the way payments, remittances and other transactions are conducted. The smart contract functionality of the Blockchain technology automates the entire contractual process including the enforcement of terms and conditions of the contract for Islamic Banking and Financial institutions. These self-executing programs electronically encode the terms of the contract and execute only when the conditions are met. As a result, all the associated legal and administrative intricacies, as well as redundancies involved in Islamic banking or financial products can be alleviated.

Also Read: How Can Blockchain Put An End To Fraud In Financial Transaction?

What makes the inclusion of this technology more appealing is that the contracts that are once uploaded on the Blockchain become immutable, secure and easily verifiable. Consequently, operational risks ascending from counterparty risks get mitigated obviously. In short, smart contracts automates and streamlines the processes and operations of banking and financial institutions complying to the Shariat Law. This will help them realize reduced transactional and contractual costs within a short processing time while eliminating the risks of duplication and fraudulence.

Moreover, since Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency doesn’t involve ‘Riba’ i.e. lending or debt as in traditional banking, they could be categorized under the asset class that are created through mining and are thus compatible with Sharia-based regulations. This has earned this technology the much-required legitimacy, which others had refused to provide.

Final Words:

The Islamic finance industry is guided by the principles of trust, equality, and fairness. Blockchain has become a perfect medium to integrate and operationalize these values by exponentially streamlining the operations, as well as business processes of the Islamic banking system. Furthermore, Blockchain significantly increases the chances of improving the transactional activities due to its’ inherent ability to provide trust and transparency along with security and protection in various transactional activities. With apparent similarities between the characteristics of Blockchain and ethics of Islamic finance, its’ usage and incorporation would certainly open doors of opportunities for Banks and financial institutions following the principles of Shariah.

Can Blockchain Help to Find the Cure for Cancer?

Of all the diseases that have plagued the human race in decades, cancer tops the list for being the most grievous one. The name itself makes shivers run down the spine, for what this dreadful disease results in. While the medical science and technology is evolving day by day, still there is no assured or potential cure to cancer.

Lot of funds are at work to research for a cure.You will find plenty of foundations, collecting fund for the ‘cause’. We donate to the research and remain clueless about use and results of the funds.

As per the recent release of Google, its Artificial Intelligence is able to make predictions when a person will die. These predictions are up to 95% accurate.

“When an AI program can predict the unseen, then why can’t it find a cure for the disease that causes over 9 million deaths every year?”

Artificial Intelligence is an algorithm that works on pools of data, to recognize patterns, to create an understanding and learn from them. To work on cancer and to find a potential cure, AI would require data from across hospitals’ cancer databases and run calculations. It may be the greatest attempt till date. Then why aren’t we doing it? Because of the Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Clause and acts like HIPAA, hospitals cannot release private information of their patients, creating a complete drought of data for AI programs.

How to connect AI to the pool of hospitals’ cancer databases then?

The answer to this challenge lies with Blockchain, a decentralized and distributed ledger technology. Similar to any other industry, Blockchain technology in healthcare is restructuring how this industry functions. Unlike the centralized data pools, the data can be shared on Blockchain while maintaining complete anonymity of the patients’ personal details. This will not infringe Doctor-Patient Confidentiality Clause or acts like HIPAA. AI can then access the data from across the hospitals, to recognize different patterns of how cancer is caused, how it functions and how it can be treated.

Furthermore, Pharmaceutical Industry will be aided with this combination of Blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, where having access to such patient data bases will enable AI to discover better treatments for various diseases, including cancer. In this manner, Blockchain and Pharmaceutical Industry, working in tandem with Healthcare and Artificial Intelligence will be highly beneficial in making incredible breakthroughs.

15 Innovative Blockchain Use Cases that has Revolutionized the Technology Landscape

The technology landscape is abuzz with a new yet promising technology, ‘Blockchain’. The distributed ledger technology (DLT), has disrupted the IT landscape in ways that has not been witnessed since the arrival of internet. The technology that underpins Bitcoin will make organizations more transparent, democratic, decentralized, efficient, and secure. While the most apparent application of Blockchain Technology is in the Financial services industry, the technology has also found application across several other industries.

What is a Blockchain and How Does it Work?

Blockchain – A distributed ledger technology is perceived to be a disruptive technology that has the potential to transform the traditional business models and other networking technologies. However, the truth is that it is more of a foundational technology that can create new paradigms for sharing transactional data, both within and outside global enterprises. In fact, businesses are trying to figure out ways to leverage this ledger technology to save time as, well as costs and redefine business processes.

Based on a distributed and peer-to-peer network, Blockchain allows data storage on thousands of servers. Furthermore, anyone in the network will have the authority to view any transaction or entries made by any participant in the network. This makes it practically impossible for an entity to take control of the network. What makes this technology more alluring is the ‘Data Immutability’ feature that doesn’t allow minutest of alterations in the data uploaded. This means that each data structure block is not just linked to previous blocks but is timestamped with a cryptographic hash.

All these features allow autonomous management of blockchain ledgers for information exchange between different members. This does away the need for a centralized administrator as every blockchain participant is an administrator, which makes it a decentralized technology. Another extremely important feature that makes Blockchain – a full-proof platform for transactions is the automatically executable Smart Contracts or scripts that predefines certain conditions for an error-free transaction. For triggering a transaction, one or more than one set of inputs or conditions need to be created by the users.

Exploring Interesting Use Cases of Blockchain

Interesting blockchain use cases

Given the transparent, distributed, decentralized and immutable elements of Blockchain, forward-thinking enterprises including Fortune 500 companies are exploring new ways to use this distributed ledger technology. We have listed below some extremely interesting Blockchain use cases spanning across multiple industries. Have a look:

1. Currency Exchange and International Remittances:

Issues such as high transfer cost, inadequate money distribution methods, high liquidity requirements, transactional risks, limited brand options etc. are plaguing the financial services industry. Blockchain can be used for resolving these challenges with international remittances while enhancing pricing transparency along with better transfer security. In fact, several Banks and Remittance companies are adopting digital currencies like Bitcoin or platform like Ripple for streamlining remittance services.

2. Peer-to-peer Lending and Payments:

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending using cryptocurrencies and Smart Contracts in a Blockchain network is disrupting the traditional peer-to-peer lending. It cuts out the need for intermediaries for transaction settlement and management. Additionally, it helps in better management of KYC records, User Authentication and Collateral Management (if applicable).

3. Audit Trail:

In certain law and accounting firms, the need to have untampered records of conversations, documents etc. shared between different parties is very important. A great way to ensure data security is to store documents or files that are either crypted or unencrypted on a Blockchain database. Besides ensuring data immutability, users can view who and by whom were these documents added to the Blockchain. This can provide businesses with an unalterable audit trail.

4. Smart Contracts:

One of the most important applications of Blockchain is creating smart contracts. Smart contract does away with the need of intermediaries and facilitates transaction in a seamless and hassle-free way. These “self-automated computer programs run on Ethereum and other Blockchain platforms, just the way they are programmed that too without the interference of any third party or fear of fraud, censorship and downtime. For instance, when a business enters into a smart contract with a supplier, the supplier immediately receives the payment after the iOT sensors notices the arrival of goods from the supplier at the warehouse.

5. Regulatory Compliance:

The current compliance regulations that have been implemented across the globe requires proper structuring and reporting of risk data. However, it isn’t easy to keep pace with the ever-evolving regulatory environment, which is further compounded by aggregating data, legacy IT systems and information overdose due to legal and regulatory barriers. Blockchain has the potential to assuage all the bottlenecks and challenges faced by organizations in a bid to keep up with today’s evolving regulatory landscape. Moreover, Blockchain does away with the need to collect, store, settle and aggregate the information for regulators as all the transactions conducted within the blockchain are documented securely and immutably on the ledger. This provides a precise, permanent and secure audit trail.

6. Supply Chain Communication:

Usually things that we buy aren’t made up of a single thing or entity. In fact, most of the businesses function in a multi-partner supply ecosystem where in several suppliers sell their components to businesses who further assemble, market and sell the final product. However, the problem with this conventional system is that it is prone to theft, counterfeiting and increased regulatory pressure. This could be resolved by integrating Blockchain into the supply chain to get immutable, permanent and auditable records that show stakeholders the status of the product at every step.

7. Electronic Voting:

The current electronic voting systems are centralized by design, which means the codebase and database is controlled by a single supplier. Since, a centralized system fails to provide an open-source and autonomously verifiable output, it fails to acquire the reliability sought by election organizers and voters. By up loading voting records in a blockchain, the reliability and trustworthiness of the electronic voting process could be ensured.

8. Cloud Storage:

Blockchain offers companies looking for Cloud storage with a fast, secure and cheap solution. The distributed ledger technology offers end-to-end encryption to ensure data security while in transit. As compared to conventional cloud storage companies, the DLT-based cloud storage offers improved data security, increased uploading and downloading speeds that too at low costs.

9. Government Records:

Government organizations are dealing with inefficient operations and processes. Apart from this, they are also dealing with increased security issues of their ever-growing volume of confidential data. Blockchain technology can be leveraged by Government organizations for improving operational efficiency while establishing trust through increased transparency and fraud prevention.

10. Digital Identification:

Blockchain can be used for storing all types of data and business transactions in a secure way due to its distributed nature. By creating an identity on blockchain, individuals can have greater control over those who have access to their personal information. Furthermore, a digital ID can be generated by leveraging upon the decentralized element of Blockchain, and then assigned to every single online transaction.

11. Internet of Things:

The convergence of Blockchain and iOT paves way for several interesting use cases including that of supply chain. For instance, journey of perishable food items such as milk right from the dairy farm till the table is regulated by certain specific conditions such as maintaining the right temperature during transit, etc. By instrumenting individual milk containers with an IoT-enabled temperature sensor, data pertaining to temperature of milk at different point of transit is gathered. This data is sent to the Blockchain where it gets stored to be viewed by each participant involved in the transaction. Since, the connected iOT sensors gather accurate and irrefutable data about the management of milk during transit and transmit it automatically to the Blockchain, there’s no chance of data tampering or recording of incorrect data. Rather the information received is timely, as well as accurate. The use of Smart Contracts here helps manage the SLAs.

12. Smart and Collaborative Transportation:

This involves smart utilization of already existing resources and infrastructure, rather than creating new ones. This includes real-time ride sharing i.e. enabling people with cars to share their journey with people travelling in the same direction. Being a decentralized platform, Blockchain does away the need of intermediaries and connects users directly with each other.

13. Online Gaming:

One of the most interesting use cases for Blockchain is online gaming. Cryptocurrency casinos are leveraging blockchain technology in majorly two different ways. One by making remittances or accepting payment with Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency and the other by providing fair gaming experience through open source functions, required for operating fair algorithms such as hashing, random seed and number generation. In short, users can enjoy a reliable, seamless and trustworthy online gaming experience by introducing Blockchain.

14. Proof of Authorship and Ownership:

Every day and every minute, millions of users are generating huge volumes of data on the internet. This data is used by internet giants such as Google, Facebook etc. to monetize their services. However, users have little to no ownership over the digital data created by them or the value that could be derived from it. Though, these companies claim to secure the integrity of their user data, they do not have a proper back up to secure their data in case of server failure or any similar situation. As a decentralized database, Blockchain data is simulated across several disparate nodes. As a result, no single node can undertake control of their data. Consequently, users can access the information they have stored on the blockchain through encryption keys, irrespective of the facility that generated it.

15. Eradicating Cyber Attacks:

Blockchain offers several security advantages over the conventional data warehouses due to their distributed nature. Given the fact that Blockchain networks do not have a single point of access for penetration, the danger of hacking is reduced significantly.

Also Read: Can Blockchain Technology be ‘The Approach’ to Cyber Security?

The aforementioned use cases are a proof that blockchains will be used by different companies within their funnels, in the years to come. However, businesses should scrutinize each idea to create its dependency on blockchain while identifying promising blockchain use cases.

There are indeed numerous applications of Blockchain that can largely impact the existing transaction systems for the better. Stay hooked for the next edition of our blog to get an overview of many other use cases of this innovative technology.

Sofocle Technologies – One of the early adopters of Blockchain Technology Sofocle offers Enterprise Blockchain solutions that help businesses in their digital transformation journey and gain competitive advantage. To know more about our products and solutions, drop us an E-mail at [email protected] or Contact Us.

Securing Automotive Supply Chain with a Blockchain Based Solution

The automotive industry is moving quickly towards an era of intense change. In fact, the future of this industry will be starkly different from that of today and will soon be more than just an industry about vehicles. However, the current industry landscape is exposed to certain challenges such as counterfeiting, lack of transparency, inefficient recall management and more. These challenges have pushed businesses to fine-tune their supply chain strategies and operations, as an optimized supply chain can prove to be a critical element that can set businesses (automakers) apart from their competitors.

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Addressing the Pain Points of Food Industry by Implementing Blockchain in the Food Supply Chain

On a cold November morning in 2012, agents of the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration) paid a surprise visit to ‘Castle Cheese Inc’ – a cheese factory based out in rural Pennsylvania. The company that was till then known for selling 100 percent real parmesan to some of the most renowned grocery chains was found to use substitutes and fillers such as wood pulp in their product. What followed next was an untold story of fraud and deceit about a company that had been known for manufacturing and distributing safe, healthy and honest product for almost a century.

Continue reading “Addressing the Pain Points of Food Industry by Implementing Blockchain in the Food Supply Chain”