This article has been adapted from Verdict Magazine’s March 2020 issue.
Blockchain technology represents a phenomenal opportunity to reshape the way businesses interact and transact across nearly every industry in the global economy. However, to date fintech’s “next big thing” has failed to live up to the hype.
Recently PayU’s Global Head of M&A Investments Fady Abdel-Nour sat down for an interview with Verdict Magazine to discuss the current state of play in blockchain, PayU’s involvement, and what’s next for the technology and its potential application in the world of payments.
Read the full text of Fady’s interview with Verdict below.
Verdict Magazine: Is 2020 likely to be another year of hype, or is this the year blockchain starts to deliver on its revolutionary potential? Has it already started to, or will it ever?
Fady Abdel-Nour: In order for blockchain to begin to deliver on its revolutionary potential, the industry as a collective needs to dedicate greater resources and time to investigating the technology’s full potential. We need to put it to the test. We need to experiment with it. We need to refine its uses, work through regulatory nuances and challenges and, ultimately, build on applications for it. Unfortunately, we are at least several years away from this happening.
V: PayU has invested in blockchain companies such as Baakt and Luno, while it is also part of the Libra Association. What convinced PayU that these were the right companies to invest in, and how are they/will they support PayU moving forward?
F: PayU’s mission is to create a world without financial borders where everyone can prosper. We believe that investing in these projects and companies will bring us one step closer to this goal by enabling global, open, instant, and low-cost movement of money that will create immense economic opportunity and more commerce across the world.
We see huge opportunity in blockchain to create a more connected global payment system to extend the reach of financial services. PayU partners with the best-in-field to deliver practical innovation and give customers access to industry leading products and services. That is why we are working with Libra, and that is why we have invested in companies such as Bakkt and Luno.
Every day, we see first-hand the unrelenting demand for improved access to financial services. A global currency could offer real value to many of the high growth markets PayU operates in, such as India and Southeast Asia. For example, Luno, Malaysia’s first fully regulated crypto exchange, is helping residents of emerging markets to invest and trade in cryptocurrencies, with many now making fair returns on their investments.
V: How do you see blockchain technology further improving PayU’s business operations in future? Are these any particular solutions currently being explored?
F: Blockchain technology has tremendous applicability to PayU’s core business of payments and more specifically cross-border payments. PayU is definitely keeping its eye on technologies for these applications however we would likely need to see some of the barriers discussed above removed before they have a significant impact on our business operations.
V: Can you provide any insight on the progression of Libra? Is a 2020 release still likely? What do you make of the opposition from regulators, and how might this impact blockchain’s wider implementation in the finance/payments industry?
F: Since the Libra project was announced in June 2019, it has generated excitement and stimulated discussion around the world. Now that the charter has been signed, the Libra Association will continue critical discussions with applicable regulators around the world, begin the important process of standing up a governance and policy structure, and create a transparent membership criteria and admissions process that will be applied in a uniform and non-discriminatory manner to begin welcoming the first wave of new members.
We are excited about the journey ahead, working together to build a better payment network, broadening access to essential financial services, and lowering costs for billions of people who need it the most.
In terms of opposition from regulators, the financial industry is bound by many legacy infrastructures making it unsurprising that regulation around blockchain is a complex issue. This technology doesn’t just challenge the way organisations operate, but also governments, and therefore finding appropriate regulation that works for both is far from a quick process.
The Libra Association and its members are committed to working with applicable regulatory authorities to achieve a safe, transparent, and consumer-friendly implementation of the Libra payment system and PayU is honoured to be a part of this effort. Responsible financial services innovation and regulatory oversight are not and have never been in contest.