At the end of June, the “Innovationsforum Blockchain” sponsored by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research presented itself for the first time with an evening event on “Blockchain and Banking”. The evening was moderated by Frank Bolten, CHAINSTEP Managing Partner. In the premises of the lawyer and tax advisory firm CMS Hasche Sigle in Hamburg, nearly 80 interested persons had gathered. The evening was opened by Dr. Jan C. Rode, project manager at the Innovationsforum and CHAINSTEP Marketing Manager, before Bolten took over the moderation.

Moritz Gerdes from Comdirect Bank gave a talk on blockchain-based innovations and future scenarios for the financial sector. Comdirekt itself works on a blockchain use case for peer-to-peer trading of CFDs with risk limitation. Participants can issue financial contracts themselves and act directly without an intermediary. The first test ran on Ethereum, which proved to be not yet perfomant enough for this case, the second series of tests will be handled by the Linux and IBM supported Hyperledger blockchain. “Due to its special characteristics, the blockchain technology is predestined for use in the financial sector. In theory, the improved security architecture could simplify operational processes, but some regulatory hurdles still need to be overcome “, summarized the Innovation Manager.

Dr. Jörn Heckmann, host for the evening and senior associate at CMS, spoke about smart contracts. This does not include contracts in the proper sense, but automatically and previously unstoppable programs, which, however, can lead to legal consequences (eg if the leasing company blocks the ignition in the case of ubpaid leasing leases for the car). Here, the contractors act as both judicial and executive power (in the event of a loss) – something which we deliberately separate in our society and gives a first glimpse of possible regulation within the blockchain world. “However, Smart Contracts are the logical next step in a world where contracts are digitized and automated,” says Heckmann.

Prof. Dr. Philipp Sandner is the head of the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management. In his talk he reviewed the efficiency of our current payment system in comparison to the increasingly popular blockchain technology. In Initial Coin Offerings (ICO), startups take ever higher and higher sums – in part only for concepts and not even for functioning prototypes. “Nevertheless, banks and other intermediaries have to think about their business model if they want to remain part of the development,” said the blockchain expert.

The event was rounded off by a short panel with moderator Bolten and all three guests, before the buffet and networking were opened after just 2.5 hours. Here you can read the report of the Innovationsforum (including videos of the lectures).