The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) and U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) released guidance for financial institutions on servicing marijuana-related businesses in early 2015. While no doubt appreciated by the banking community, it may not make financial institutions more confident in servicing these businesses. The New York Times did a nice article on the guidance, explaining what it means for banks and the government’s perspective, but the situation should be broken down in more detail specifically for banks and credit unions.
In the machine-to-machine scenario, the blockchain remains completely transparent to “human” business users, and it will be deployed to develop solutions tied to the Internet of Things. The IoT is the network of physical objects or "things" embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity, which enable these objects to collect and exchange data.
The principle that the blockchain is the “enemy” of all intermediary business entails that the blockchain ensures a digitized and automated compliance checking process. Digitization hence extends from financial instruments and documents to the entire workflow of processes that generate, manage, exchange, and store these digital assets (i.e., blockchain tokens).
In the corporation-to-corporation scenario, corporations will start working on blockchain projects for mission-critical (i.e., niche) applications, while waiting for the “big thing” to occur. Banks may not have any role to play.
It is a fact that corporations are late to take on the blockchain debate, and such lack of awareness may be the symptom of a simple lack of interest. After all, banks are all over blockchain because bitcoin shook them up and made them keep their wide eyes open.
A recent American Banker article entitled “Is Regulation the Stumbling Block to Reaching Underbanked?” asked the right question. Unfortunately, the answer as presented was not as right. The article described a U.S. Treasury Department forum to help the banking industry accelerate financial inclusion. Financial inclusion is a term describing the unbanked or underserved consumers’ need for access to basic financial support.
In the bank-to-corporation scenario, transaction services running on the blockchain consensus distributed ledger will enable corporate users to benefit from the foundational characteristics of blockchain: speed, accessibility, and transparency—all values that inspire corporate executives’ decisions.