Understanding and applying Blockchain technology in banking: Evolution or revolution?

Mark Buitenhek, Global Head of ING Transaction Services

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Abstract: This paper explores the emerging technology of blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies looking at what the technology is and its potential to disrupt and transform the financial services industry. It highlights the technology’s characteristics and explains why these can have a profound impact on the entire financial sector in areas ranging from settlements, payments and identity services, as well as creating new products based on for example ‘smart contracts’. It will give readers an idea of what stage the technology is at—at the top of the Gartner hype cycle and therefore due to enter the ‘trough of disillusionment’ before useful applications start to emerge.


The paper also highlights the work that the industry needs to do to make blockchain applications a mainstream part of the financial landscape. It stresses that this is not a technology that a single organisation can hope to perfect to gain an advantage over rivals. Rather, it can help the entire industry by speeding up transactions and making them more secure. But its full potential can only be realised if there is widespread collaboration throughout the sector to explore applications and create common standards.

Keywords: blockchain, distributed ledger, smart


Mark Buitenhek is Global Head of ING Transaction Services, an important growth area for ING Wholesale Banking. The products and solutions include integrated cash management products and channels, trade finance services and working capital solutions. Previously Mark was Global Head Payments & Cash Management for ING, where he was responsible for setting the overall business architecture, managing the extensive product portfolio and defining new products and services. He has more than 25 years of experience in banking, particularly in the payments, cash management and cards industries. Over the years he has led many payments initiatives as well as strategic projects and change programmes in both the Retail and Commercial Divisions of ING. Mark participates in several European payments and cards committees. For more than six years he chaired the Payment System Committee of the Dutch Bankers’ Association and the Dutch Steering Committee on the introduction of Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA). He is also a member of the SWIFT Board of Directors, the European Payments Councils’ Plenary, the Equens Supervisory Board and the MasterCard Board Europe.


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