PKO Bank Polski, one of the largest banks in Central Europe, this week inked a deal for a live deployment of a blockchain system for document verification. The bank is working with startup Coinfirm and has already completed a proof of concept with the young company which was part of its accelerator program.
The Trudatum blockchain platform means each document is saved on the network in ‘hashed’ form and signed with the bank’s private key. Hashing is an irreversible abbreviation that looks like nonsense. The relevant documents could include transaction confirmations and banking regulations. The client can check remotely whether the file received is valid and whether there has been an attempt to modify it.
Grzegorz Pawlicki, Director of the Innovation Bureau at PKO Bank Polski said: “Blockchain meets the key requirements of a durable medium, ensuring, among others, confidentiality and integrity of documents provided to the client, which further increases the attractiveness of this technology for banks”.
The technology and use case need some clarification. It’s unclear whether the system will use a private or public blockchain (response from Coinfirm requested). If details of banking transactions from a major bank are being stored on a public blockchain, even in a hashed format, that’s a big deal.
The most likely use case is as follows: you pay somebody, and you give them the document proving you’ve paid them. Assuming there’s some delay in the money hitting the supplier’s account, they can authenticate that the bank issued the transaction confirmation.
If the blockchain is private, then the question is why a blockchain is needed at all. Why couldn’t the documents be verified by the bank using a centralized system?
The company behind Trudatum is one of the more impressive blockchain startups. Their primary focus is on regulatory compliance such as KYC and AML, and the team has a strong industry history. CEO Pawel Kuskowski was Head of Global AML function for Royal Bank of Scotland and a Director of Compliance for UBS Poland.
Coinfirm provides compliance for many ICOs, but their systems go beyond the standard passport checks. They believe there are problems with conventional compliance systems, so they leverage AI and transaction data from the blockchain.
The startup ran their own ICO earlier in the year and raised $18m. Unlike most ICOs their tokens can be used. They sell risk reports for blockchain addresses to help determine whether your counterparty is fraudulent. If someone is paying you in Bitcoin, you want to be sure they’re not a gangster! The Coinfirm report prices range from 10 cents to $12.50 depending on the number of addresses and degree of detail.
One of the problems with cryptocurrencies is what happens if someone steals your money? To whom do you report it? From recent comments by their CMO, this is another problem the company plans to address.
Document verification is a mainstream blockchain application, though it works best where there are multiple document issuers. The surprise is that a bank is storing documents with transaction data.