As the financial industry begins its long-awaited move to adaptive blockchain technology, many banks are becoming increasingly open to the use of crypto-based solutions for digitizing assets. It’s no secret the future of banking is digital for many financial institutions looking to modernize their product offerings. It even appears likely we’re headed toward an era of national digital currencies backed by central banks. Hats off to Mike Orcutt.
But HSBC’s decision to be the first financial institution to move $20 billion worth of assets to a blockchain platform is possibly enormously rewarding – or risky. While the future of blockchain-based platforms such as HSBC’s Digital Vault looks promising, security experts voice growing concerns over the management of such large amounts of digital assets.
While the rise in usage of blockchain technology has made financial asset management more transparent and accessible, the crypto world has seen its fair share of threats over the past decade. From Binance to Bitpoint to Quadriga’s wild story, the industry’s shift in reliance on the blockchain has its own perils.
Blockchains are particularly attractive to hackers since once they gain access to the private keys it’s game over and fraudulent transactions are very difficult to reverse (if at all). While blockchains have unique security features, they also have their unique vulnerabilities. As banks expand their digital solution, they will continue to face continuous ongoing threats to their blockchain infrastructure. As long as vulnerabilities as these exist, banks must learn to embrace innovative solutions that can keep their most sensitive assets secure.
Today we know that marketing tactics which branded blockchain technology as unhackable were simply misleading – and wrong. In total, since the beginning of 2017, hackers have stolen nearly $2 billion worth of cryptocurrency, mostly from exchanges, and that’s just what’s revealed publicly. Contrary to popular belief, these attackers aren’t just lone opportunists either, they’re sophisticated cybercrime organizations. According to Chainalysis, just two of these groups, both of which are still active today, have stolen a combined $1 billion from exchanges.
Whether the future of banking relies on the blockchain or paper-tracking is still up for debate. But if history teaches us anything, it’s that we’re still not out of the woods when it comes to protecting our most sensitive piece of data. Even if we’re HSBC.