Blockchain technology is for real. “Yes, it is real now!” Winston Damarillo, executive chairman of Amihan Global Strategies, made this reaction when asked about emerging technologies, specifically blockchain. He said a number of organizations are convinced the technology that started off at the same time with cryptocurrency, particularly Bitcoin, through a White Paper made public in 2008 by an individual or individuals who went by the name “Satoshi Nakamoto.”
“And, I think, the reason for that is that blockchain has matured, technology is available, I think the market tested it already with the blockchain Bitcoin remittance that they are feeling it is ready for mainstream,” he emphasized.
Amihan, a Filipino technology and consulting firm pushing digital transformation, is taking advantage of blockchain’s growing popularity with organizations across the world, not the least in the Philippines. In fact, Damarillo’s organization has been in the thick of the blockchain “revolution” in the Philippines, with one of its big projects the creation of a Self-Sovereign ID (SSID) using the technology.
He said across the world, the Philippines is third in blockchain adoption. Amihan digital experts are presently crafting the SSID for the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP), with seven banks enrolled: Asia United Bank, Banco de Oro, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Citibank, East-West Bank, Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company, and Union Bank.
“It is just the start, the Self-Sovereign ID. I think banks are also envisioning what they can do to simplify exchange between banks to make it easier (for their transactions). They are also trying to figure out how they can connect to retail, how they connect to government payments. And we are working with other banks, too,” said Damarillo in an interview.
One of the financial institutions he mentioned is LandBank of the Philippines of which they are exploring on ways how to make it really easy for the banking community to take advantage of government programs like the Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT), TRAIN (reformed tax law), and others. “It’s because the easier we make access to money, the more Filipinos will take advantage of that product by not relying on cash. Cash is very harmful to Filipinos because that’s where 5/6 (usurious lending) and other mischief come from.
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“I think by using this (blockchain) technology we make more Filipinos digital and taking advantage of it,” he pointed out. Damarillo, in fact, and other Amihan executives organized and hosted recently another blockchain event, one of its “CxO Series: The Business of Blockchain” workshop in Makati City.
Present at the event where Amihan offered blockchain were bank executives, airline officials, and other representatives of some of the country’s top businesses and organizations. Damarillo said blockchain has become real, “just like the Internet.”
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He added: “What’s even more exciting is that as you can see here, (the venue) is full-packed; the companies are super-interested (with blockchain) unlike other technologies, like cloud computing and other things that we’ve been involved with. The only other interesting thing before this was the Internet itself.
“I think we are seeing the second wave of the Internet where we are now really transacting.” Leading banks, he said, like BDO and Philippine National Bank (PNB) are now recognizing that blockchain is important for them, not only to make their banking functions efficient, but also make it super-easy for customers to take advantage of banking functions.
The Amihan top executive noted how banks through the Bankers Association of the Philippines (BAP) through the use of blockchain are trying to lower the number of unbanked Filipinos. On its part, Amihan is helping to educate organizations to understand and learn more about the “second Internet” as they talk to the insurance industry, healthcare industry, and other sectors.
“We want the (Philippines) to be among the most skilled country of blockchain engineering. So, we spend a lot of time with DevCon (Developers Conference,” Damarillo said. Soon, he added, they will launch a training aimed at making more blockchain professionals, so that the country can have more available supply of human resources adept with the technology.
“And then, finally, we are spending a lot of time educating and advocating to the heads of companies like what we are doing today, such as the CEOs so that they can start to take advantage of the technology as well.” Amihan defines blockchain as “purely distributed peer-to-peer system of ledgers that utilizes a software unit that consists of an algorithm, which negotiates the informational content of ordered and connected blocks together with cryptographic and security technologies in order to achieve and maintain its integrity.”
The technology features consensus, immutability, provenance, and privacy. Blockchain’s generic applications include proof of existence/non-existence, proof of time/order, proof of identity, proof of authorship, and proof of ownership.
Damarillo said the technology has specific applications, such for as payments; cryptocurrencies; digital assets; compliance; voting; and record management.