KPMG exec touts blockchain for the finance department

It may not see the uptake once imagined, but blockchain could find a home in the finance department.
10 April 2019

KPMG logo on their main office for Canada in Toronto. Source: Shutterstock

Blockchain continues to be touted as a way to improve efficiency and transparency for a range of business transactions.

Whatever your thoughts on the technology, with IBM’s recent launch of cross-border payments platform Blockchain World Wire, it would be naive to discredit its potential staying power.

A new report by KPMG reveals that uptake is slow— two-thirds of corporates have so far sidestepped the technology altogether, and an additional 27 percent were unsure whether their company was using it, which, let’s be honest, probably means they’re either still mulling it over, or not at all.

Reasons for not using it included the usual; lack of resources and funding, lack of influence over purse-strings, and lack of technical capabilities.

However, in the report, KPMG’s Innovation Principal and Tax Leader for Blockchain, stresses a particular use case that businesses should consider.

As you might have guessed from his job title, Jarczyk believes blockchain could go a long way in helping finance executives gain “economies of scale” in their data and analytics work streams.

“Blockchain is like a spreadsheet on steroids that can automate certain tasks, build greater transparency, speed, and reliability, and provide a single source of transactional information,” said Jarczyk.

“[…] this single ledger acts as a source of data, which allows for higher-value analytics using various technologies including artificial intelligence, apps, and other analytical tools.”

In the finance department, blockchain could make a significant difference between teams spending hours finding and connecting data when they could instead be focusing on analyzing that data for a real return and benefit to the organization,” he says.

As well as resolving inefficiencies and reducing errors, the technology could help solve critical issues related to business transactions, such as buy/sell orders, intercompany transfers, financing arrangements with banks, and the movement and tracking of assets.

“Coupled with the power of artificial intelligence, automation tools, and other power apps, there is a real potential for blockchain to transform the tax and finance departments from reactive to proactive,” said Jarczyk.

By focusing on a specific use case, such as finance, Jarczyk might be on to something. Oracle’s Vice President of blockchain product development, Frank Xiong, told Forbes CIO Summit that he predicts “between 50 percent and 60 percent of companies will use blockchain in the next few years.”

However, he also noted that the technology isn’t the be-all-end-all solution for business.

“We’re past the stage that blockchain can cure everything, so people are becoming more realistic about what’s good for their business model,” he said.