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How To Succeed In Blockchain Development

The blockchain is an emerging new technology that has the potential to transform many industries including financial services

Photo Credit : GECKO Governance

1486963173_sVOai2_blockchain-GECKO.jpg

Blockchain

The blockchain is an emerging new technology that has the potential to transform many industries including financial services. That is why global financial services firms a team with more than just a tech background. If possible, they need to look at setting up a global team to leverage the talent and experience from various geographies. This became very clear to us at Synechron continue to announce blockchain plans, projects and POCs every day. They're seeking the opportunity to work on a cutting-edge technology initiative and be seen by the industry as an innovator. What's more, many of them have Blockchain FOMO (Fear-of-Missing Out).

Yet, to make a global impact with blockchain in financial services, businesses will need to bring together when we were in the process of assembling a dedicated 50-person team to develop our six blockchain accelerators for Trade Finance, Smart Margins, Insurance Claims Processing, Mortgage Financing and Processing, KYC and Global Payments.

We'd like to share those lessons learned during our own blockchain development.

Assemble a tech team of blockchain gurus
Every engineer wants to be able to innovate and be given the opportunity to build something with highly disruptive technology. The blockchain is one of those cool new technologies that can deliver on that promise. The challenge for firms looking to initiate blockchain projects is that as a new technology, there are not yet seasoned blockchain experts with experience using still evolving infrastructures like Ethereum, Hyperledger and Ripple.

When selecting the team of future blockchain gurus, look for self-motivated, proactive, focused technical professionals with experience in transaction processing systems, multiple languages and scripts, who are also quick learners with transferrable skills - SQL as well as NoSQL databases. These should be developers who are proven, stable all-rounders with passion and the enthusiasm needed to take up the challenge of building with an emergent technology in new languages like Go and Solidity.

There are additional topics relevant for blockchain such as cryptography and performance scalability - which can be added later on to the core team. Additions to the core team can be made through a variety of channels such as hackathons, self-initiatives, etc. While the creation and expansion of the core team is a bottoms-up approach, it does require laser focus from the top management - starting from the CEO.

Evaluate whether the technology is fit-for-purpose
While developing the six blockchain accelerators, the team started by looking into Blockchain, open source tools, consortiums and evaluating tools like Ethereum, Blockapps Strato, Eris industries (now Monax), Hyperledger & Multichain and found Ethereum and Hyperledger were more mature than other tools.

At Synechron, we were able to make that assessment because we went into the technology analysis with basic wireframes of the accelerators on paper and devised the detailed primary, alternate and exception flow of the would-be accelerators. We, therefore, understood what our functional needs would be and were able to evaluate these infrastructures based on their ability to deliver the security, permissions, smart contracting functionality, etc. that the financial services industry require.

Manage the Development Work
Perhaps the most challenging step can be transitioning from a vision and evaluation to the actual development work. A critical first step is an installation & configuration to set up the development environment needed to then begin developing modular components of the project. For Synchron and our blockchain accelerators, we started with simple smart contracts and the payments module. Once satisfied with the progress, the team geared up to work on the actual Accelerator. This modular development approach can be incredibly effective, and for us, proceeded as follows: 

"    Built the basic framework and segregated the code on the client side and server side.
"    Grouped some common functionality in JavaScript files.
"    Develop the database structure. Blockchain currently does not support any relational database hence we initially started off by designing the database architecture and designed various data structures that were needed.
"    This evolved to incorporate philosophies on various Primary/Foreign keys and to develop a system that would have a strong SQL to query and update records.
"    The team wrote their own libraries to insert/update and query the data. Over ten days, the teams worked 24 x 7 to get the blockchain program in place.
"    The team followed the basic engineering guidelines, Coding standards, modularization and the configuration management.
"    They used Subversion for configuration management.
"    Since they were dealing with the latest technology, consortiums like Hyperledger were still making changes to their platforms very frequently; therefore, the team had to take the latest source code of the tool and compile and retest to find out what was breaking the code as the platforms were open source and evolving.
"    Throughout the whole process, they remained passionate, energised and excited to be building something that would transform the global financial industry.

This development roadmap is something that we continue to follow as we build out new, modular components for our accelerators or as we work on custom development projects with our clients through our lab-for-hire model. And, while we have cultivated a team of blockchain gurus, financial services industry experts and digital experts to make our accelerators user-friendly for even non-technical roles, the industry at large is still in its infancy when considering how to take its first step on the blockchain. As companies figure out the right use cases for their businesses and how to adjust their business operations, these considerations can serve as a guide on where to start.

However, as they begin the journey businesses will do well to understand is that they need to sustain the work over a long period of time, since the technology is still in its infancy, and the team that they assemble needs to be prepared to evolve with the changing technology as they go along.

The blockchain is a long-haul game.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


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opinion Blockchain financial services

Sandeep Kumar

The author is Managing Director Capital Markets, Synechron

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