Stephen Chia: Don't Be Left Behind, Step Onboard the Blockchain Train

BEYOND CRYPTO

Stephen Chia: Don't Be Left Behind, Step Onboard the Blockchain Train

Blockchain’s adoption in Malaysia is still an at infancy stage but blockchain NEM Foundation's Stephen Chia is convinced that certain industries are ripe for disruption.

The word blockchain often conjures up thoughts on cryptocurrencies, or the more commonly known one, Bitcoin. While blockchain is the technology that powers cryptocurrency, it is just one of its countless applications.

It’s potential? Immense.

Take Sweden, for example. Its government implemented the use of blockchain, at a trial stage, to conduct property transactions. Information, once stored on a blockchain digital ledger, cannot be tempered with. Thus, making it much more difficult, if not impossible, to forge records.

Young African startups have also been pushing the use of blockchain in land registry and ownership where fraud is prevalent there. Through blockchain, details of transactions are visible to all parties, making the process more transparent.

We are seeing a lot more corporations walking through our doors, wanting to know more about blockchain

Here in Malaysia, blockchain awareness and adoption is still at infancy, says serial entrepreneur Stephen Chia, who is council member of NEM Foundation.

“Everyone is still learning and it’s no different for Malaysia. We are embracing a new technology. But we are seeing a lot more corporations walking through our doors, wanting to know more about blockchain,” says Chia from the 10,000-square-foot NEM Blockchain Centre (NBC) in Kuala Lumpur.

NEM Foundation is backed by creators of the NEM blockchain platform whose native cryptocurrency is the XEM. NEM set up NBC to establish its presence in Southeast Asia.

It’s mission? To promote the use of the NEM blockchain and distributed ledger technology to businesses, governments and the general public in the region, and ultimately, “To accelerate the adoption of NEM blockchain platform,” says Chia who also serves as the foundation’s regional director.

“We are seeing a lot of innovation from smaller companies,” says Chia, when asked about blockchain adoption in Malaysia. “But we are also starting to see divisions of big companies looking into it, such as financial and insurance companies.”

Blockchain is the Game Changer in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Blockchain has already been defined as a technology that will reshape financial markets due to its hack-resistant, transparent nature. It promises cost savings and the possibility of reducing the entire trade cycle from days to minutes, and even zero.

The technology is low cost because of its open source nature. It is hack-proof, tamper-proof and has the ability to be very secure when conducting transactions

“The technology is low cost because of its open source nature. It is hack-proof, tamper-proof and has the ability to be very secure when conducting transactions,” says Chia.

“In order for you to successfully penetrate a blockchain network, you need to, perhaps in microseconds, to attack thousands of computers at once - that’s almost impossible to do,” he further explains the fundamentals behind the tamper-resistant network.

Put it simply, blockchain has the potential to reinvent transactions that requires going through a middleman. So, it is not surprise that major players in the financial industry are looking seriously into blockchain solutions. But banking and real estate are not the only sectors looking into blockchain applications, from commodities to healthcare and education, from semiconductor companies to a supermarket chain are looking into its potential.

Industries Poised for Blockchain Adoption in Malaysia

In Malaysia, Chia picked the palm oil sector as poised for blockchain-disruption.

“For the palm oil industry, there are a lot of challenges because of sustainability (certification) with the European importers.

“So, how do you actually build trust in the palm oil industry? If you have a supply chain, how are you able to prove that your palm oil is from sustainable sources and document it every step of the way?.”

Medical records should be on blockchain because you own the information and you choose who to give that information to - not the other way round

Blockchain is the answer, Chia insists. It hold the promises to combat fraud in certified products. “So, if you have the right authorities to be on every step of the supply chain and you are able to prove to regulators that ‘Hey, this batch of oil produced from this palm is sustainable’ - we can prove it all the way.”

The decentralised nature of the blockchain means data is distributed across a network of computers and would allow any approved participants to join the network.

“Medical records should be on blockchain because you own the information and you choose who to give that information to - not the other way round.”

Growing interests among Malaysian businesses in blockchain is encouraging, says Chia, who hopes to see more industry buy-in to the idea.

The foremost challenge, for him, is getting people to understand what blockchain is. Through NEM Foundation, he hopes to drive up literacy and adoption of the technology.

“There’s still confusion in the market about blockchain. There are pockets of people doing different things but they all get lumped into one basket,” Chia says, “But it’s just like early days of the Internet,” he opines optimistically.

“In Malaysia, we have a very favourable environment for embracing new technology and organisations are very willing to listen,” he adds “And this is why setting up our blockchain centre is ideal. 

Blockchain’s Limitation is Speed, At the Moment

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