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Enterprise Tech Dispatch: Indian banks join blockchain wagon, social media firms irk cybercops

Enterprise Tech Dispatch: Indian banks join blockchain wagon, social media firms irk cybercops
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Large Indian IT services firms and startups have been trying to use distributed ledger technology or blockchain to solve issues in sectors such as BFSI, logistics and supply chain to bring in more transparency.

The latest development in the space comes from JP Morgan, which according to an Economic Times report has said that seven Indian banks have joined its blockchain platform. 

The banks, including Yes Bank, Union Bank of India, Federal Bank and Canara Bank, have signed up for JP Morgan's interbank information network (IIN) service that already has 330 members including Deutsche Bank, the report said. IIN is JPM's information exchange service that lets banks complete cross-border payments faster at a lower cost.  

Also read: Ripple’s WhatsApp-like blockchain superhighway can replace SWIFT: India MD Navin Gupta

According to experts, the BFSI sector in India is ready to adopt blockchain and several banks have already started using the technology.

TechCircle has interviewed CTOs and CIOs of several banks including HDFC Bank, ICICI Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank and Yes Bank who have all said that they were holding pilot projects with startups to understand how they can use blockchain.

In April last year, ICICI Bank had said it had successfully onboarded 250-plus Indian companies on its blockchain platform for domestic and international trade finance. In August 2016, the bank had started a pilot for international trade finance with Emirates NBD.  

In January this year, 11 Indian banks including ICICI Bank and Axis Bank had rolled out blockchain platform for SME financing. 

In July, Yes Bank in collaboration with US-based firm MonetaGo had said that it has facilitated the issuance of commercial paper worth Rs 100 crore ($14.6 million at the exchange rate at that time) using blockchain for natural resources conglomerate Vedanta.  

R Venkattesh, president and head of operations, technology and human resources, DCB Bank, has also said in an interview to Moneycontrol that blockchain is expected to change the financial services infrastructure radically.

System integrators expand blockchain play 

System integrators such as TCS, Infosys, Wipro, Tech Mahindra and HCL Technologies are also expanding their play on the blockchain.

Last year in October, Infosys had partnered with R3, a blockchain software company that works with heavyweights such as Intel, Microsoft, and Wells Fargo to collaborate on digital-ledger solutions for banks and other institutions.

In March this year, TCS, too, had said it was partnering with Microsoft and blockchain firm R3 to develop a cross-industry blockchain platform.

In May, Wipro partnered with R3 to develop a blockchain-based solution to enable digital currency for interbank settlements for a consortium of Bank of Thailand and eight other commercial banks in the Southeast Asian country.  

Podcast embed: Listen: There’s a lot more to blockchain than cryptocurrencies

In August, Pune-based Tech Mahindra partnered with a startup called Adjoint to roll out blockchain solutions for banks and financial institutions. In the same month, the Indian IT services firm partnered with US-based blockchain solutions provider BlockApps to accelerate the adoption of blockchain networks by enterprises.

Telcom service providers such as Airtel, Vodafone and Jio may not be able to take advantage of blockchain. According to a report in the Economic Times that cites IBM's CTO for South Asia Gargi Dasgupta, telcos face challenges around vendor lock-in and standardisation.

On the global front, IBM in an interview to CNBC said the company was ready to work with Facebook on blockchain technology. In June, the social networking giant had said that it would launch a cryptocurrency wallet service called Calibra next year that will trade in a virtual currency named Libra as part of efforts to foster global financial inclusion.

Social media firms draw ire of cybercops

Cops, especially in the South Indian states, dealing with crimes related to social media companies such as Facebook, Twitter and Google and GoDaddy appear very displeased with these firms alleging they take very long to respond to queries related to investigations, The Economic Times reported.  

The report also cites an official from the Bengaluru cyber cell saying the department was thinking of naming Facebook as an accused due to delay in taking down posts or fake accounts. The official also said social media crime had doubled in the last two years. In fact, in the last nine months, the report says the Bengaluru division has registered 212 cases.  

Soon after the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica imbroglio came to the fore followed by alleged WhatsApp-led mob lynchings in the country, the IT ministry had doubled down on social media firms to ensure that fake news and hate speech was not propagated in the country. Social media firms such as Facebook, Google and WhatsApp have taken steps to ensure that false information doesn't spread but doesn't ensure real-time monitoring.

IoT's security issues can be fixed

Experts and analysts have often said that security of the internet of things (IoT) network or mesh can be a challenge when it comes to the adoption of the technology by large enterprises or government organisations. While cybersecurity companies have products and solutions that offer protection to IoT networks, researchers have been putting in efforts to make the technology more secure.

According to a report in TechRepublic, the Wireless Broadband Alliance and Long Range Wide Area Network (LoRaWAN) Alliance in a new paper has said that combining wifi signals and LoRaWAN can not only increase use cases of IoT but also its security.

Another research paper from Princeton University's department of electrical engineering said algorithms could be designed to stop IoT attacks, especially on a large mesh such as an electric grid.

The paper, which is authored by Indian origin professor Prateek Mittal, claims their solution algorithm reads the thresholds of power transmission in the grid and then computes solutions to redirect power flows and generator activities in the case of an attack to maintain power supply.

Hackers seem to be adapting to solutions designed to thwart IoT attacks. According to a report in TheHinduBusinessLine that cites cybersecurity firm Trend Micro, the company has picked up activity in the dark web that shows that hackers are learning new ways to launch IoT-based attacks.

Other news

Markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) has decided to undergo digital transformation. According to an ET report, the regulator has shortlisted seven firms including Larsen and Toubro Infotech, Wipro and Infosys for its data centre transformation. The data centre solution will include the creation of a data lake helping the regulator keep up with high trading volumes.

On the global front, network solutions provider and telecom equipment manufacturer Nokia has opened a new 5G Future X lab in Espoo, Finland. The lab will research and showcase innovation on the network infrastructure side.

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