“The true potential of blockchain is more exciting by far than that of cryptocurrencies,” said Jun Lu, head of Lufax Technology Center, at CNBC’s East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.
When people talk about blockchain, Lu ventured, they are often only thinking cryptocurrencies. “Cryptocurrency is but one application of the blockchain technology, which in comparison has vastly more untapped potential and considerably more value to offer,” considered Lu.
Recognizing the value of blockchain’s alteration-resistant property, Lufax has already begun to record transactions on its digital wealth management platform using decentralized ledgers enabled by blockchain. To this date more than 10 million transactions have been recorded on the Lufax blockchain ledgers. This has allowed investors to trace the assets involved in transactions, and boosted their confidence. Meanwhile, the inherent transparency of these blockchain ledgers helps Lufax to ensure compliance and accountability. With customer consent, Lufax also offers them the service of using blockchain to safeguard their KYC information, so customers may just go through the onboarding process once, instead of having to get approved each time when they foray into a new asset type such as funds and trust products.
Machine learning and blockchain are revolutionizing everything from customer service to asset allocation, said Lu. Lufax has developed a Know Your Intention (KYI) module using machine learning and behavioral psychology to better understand customer needs and render timely services. Even so, Lu thought human oversight in what financial institutions do is still necessary for the foreseeable future. Like the early days of Internet, “at this stage we have barely scratched the surface of the true extent of what technology can do to revolutionize banking and financial services,” analyzed Lu. “While it is premature to predict robo-advisors trained through machine learning can take over completely, it is not too early to consider what the guardrails should look like in such a scenario.”
While his enthusiasm for the blockchain technology exceeded that of bitcoin, Lu did see a promising future for cryptocurrencies. “A battle-tested, market-proved cryptocurrency may eventually manage to supplant the role of the traditional currency,” mused Lu.
When asked what banks of 2030 will look like, Lu pointed to the accelerating trend of banking services moving from being dispensed in brick and mortar locations toward being increasingly digitized and offered online.
Physical banks may be a thing of the past, and “even if there are branches left, they will be nothing like the ones we see today,” said Lu. For all we know, each urban center may just be left with one solitary banking office – a communal space where tellers from various banks cohabit to provide some kind of public utility or community service for those in need, so that no one gets left behind by the incessant march of technology.