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1 October, 2019 09:52:47 AM

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Bangladesh can tap potential of blockchain technology

Mohammad Saifur Rahman tells theindependent
FAISAL MAHMUD, Dhaka
Bangladesh can tap potential of blockchain technology

Blockchain, a latest branch of information technology, has literally taken the world by storm with new ideas and products. The virgin financial technology market of Bangladesh has an immense scope to tap the potential of this technology, says Dr Mohammad Saifur Rahman, a US-based blockchain expert.

Rahman, the youngest faculty member in the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University, spoke to The Independent about how Bangladesh could cash in to get into the blockchain bandwagon.

He said blockchain is a concept that is hard to pin down in a sentence or two. “But for the sake of simplicity and further curiosity, let us say it is a ‘distributed trust platform’ which can be verified by anyone who is part of that particular blockchain network,” he added.

In Bangladesh, blockchain can have applications in financial industries, such as remittance, credits and payment industries, as well as in e-governance areas like voting, digital identity and certification of legal contracts, he noted.

He said the implementation of blockchain in different sectors depends on multitude factors. “Following media hype, we see blockchain start-ups getting funding, amassing more than 1.2 billion! And that too just in the Silicon Valley.”

However, some key challenges remain. Regulatory confidence, cost of technology, data security (PII data), and investment to link and implement the technology with existing systems are some of the major considerations, said Rahman.

He also said without support from the Bangladesh government, it would be extremely difficult to realise the full potential of blockchain in the country. “I am so proud of the current ongoing work in e-governance and certifications like know-your-customer projects and microfinance-related blockchain programmes that have already started in the country,” he added.

He further said that government-backed funding and support for regulatory drivers are critical. The reason is simple: the access to finance is essential and is key to productivity in ushering in economic growth in this emerging technology.

Rahman said blockchain-based businesses will have the greatest impact in developing countries like Bangladesh. “We need to play the right cards before entering the ‘enlightenment’ and ‘plateau of productivity’ phases from the Gartner Emerging Technology Hype Cycle,” he added.

About his research fields, Rahman said he also works on fields like Internet commerce, technology usage, retail and web analytics, consumer behaviour, and decision making—all of which could be integrated with the blockchain technology. “My work combines massive amounts of data from different sources (server logs, transactions, US census) to generate insights into how technology drives consumer behaviour, and how online and conventional markets are using new channels to compete and target consumers. I also have a particular interest in analysing consumer debt management strategies in the era of financial technology,” he added.

He also said a few of his PhD students are also conducting research on peer-to-peer loans and how that environment interacts with the local financial market structure. This is basically a method of debt financing that enables individuals to borrow and lend money without the use of an official financial institution as an intermediary.

“Peer-to-peer loan removes middlemen from the process. You can call this social lending. For example, you need USD 5,000. Instead of borrowing it from a single bank, you borrow it from 100 individuals, each of whom will loan you USD 50. These loans will be disbursed through a digital platform which will act as an intermediary between borrowers and investors,” he explained.

“For lenders, these loans will generate income in the form of interest, often exceeding what can be earned by traditional means. For borrowers, peer-to-peer loans give access to financing that they may not have otherwise got,” he said, adding that the whole digital platform sits on the base of blockchain technology.

BK

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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