Blockchain, the decentralized ledger behind cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, is triggering changes in various industries such as food, healthcare and insurance.
Determined to introduce the technology to common business applications, Hong Kong-based startup CryptoBLK has stepped up efforts to convince financial institutions to build a new initiative focused on leveraging blockchain in multiple areas including trade finance.
Duncan Wong, the company’s co-founder and chief executive, recently talked to the Hong Kong Economic Journal about his business model and the future of the technology. Before launching his own venture, Wong had worked with the Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI), where he helped pen the Hong Kong Monetary Authority’s whitepaper on distributed ledger technology.
Q: Why did you start this business in the first place?
A: Before working for ASTRI, I was a professor at the Department of Computer Science of the City University of Hong Kong, and I also worked for my Ph.D. in cryptography in the United States. Blockchain technology involves cryptographic techniques, and since blockchain swept the world around 2015, I have been in this field.
Blockchain’s immutability, transparency, and traceability can generate significant value to enable companies to securely transmit trade documents. And that inspired me to launch a new venture to develop blockchain solutions for trade finance and other applications.
Q: What is CryptoBLK’s business model and what does the firm offer?
A: We founded CryptoBLK in 2017, and we have been focusing on providing blockchain-powered enterprise-grade solutions, which are deployed in trading, financing, and automotive certification, among others.
On trade finance, as it involves cross-border, multi-party transactions, the existing practice is challenged by pain points like counterparty risk, differences in legal systems between multiple jurisdictions, and time-consuming effort. It also heavily relies on massive amounts of paper-based documents, say, invoices, product lists, bills of lading, etc. Thus, it is easy to incur human errors.
CryptoBLK has partnered with banks to introduce blockchain-powered solutions in trade finance. By doing so, multiple parties and stakeholders can access and share digital documents simultaneously, and this significantly enhances transparency and speeds up the process. What would take a few weeks to process in the old system only takes four to five hours with our blockchain-powered trade finance solution.
Q: What are your plans for CryptoBLK? And how do you see the future of blockchain technology?
A: Global trade finance is an enormous market, with monthly transactions amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars. It would be great if CryptoBLK’s blockchain solution could seize even a small market share. In the next few years, we will focus on our core business, and we will keep enhancing our blockchain solutions and getting them deployed in various business applications.
Personally, I believe blockchain is a back-end technology to support the transfer of information while ensuring its authenticity. If the technology becomes popular and integrated into various applications, someday, it will be seen as common as the mobile internet technologies behind applications like video streaming and social media. Blockchain technology will become ubiquitous in the future.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Sept 27
Translation by Ben Ng with additional reporting
[Chinese version 中文版]
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