Welcome the Blockchain Generation

Guest Author
By: Sanjay Mathew, Sr. Director, FS Industry Solutions


While the Carolina Fintech Hub Generation Blockchain Challenge has come to a close, the opportunity to impact the future of multiple industries is far from over. Students participating in this hackathon were tested with real-world challenges: learning a complex technology on the fly, collaborating and making difficult choices within a group, and planning for contingencies when things didn’t go as expected.

And yet these students rose to the challenge.

For the 30 students on the 10 teams that submitted projects, the Blockchain Challenge was a chance to connect with industry executives and stakeholders in the North and South Carolina area. Participants took on a multitude of challenges, exhibiting qualities that are found in every successful entrepreneur, including the patience and perseverance to keep moving ahead and the discipline to keep collaborating and problem solving with their banking mentors and their Oracle support team. With access to the enterprise-grade Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service, student teams were able to take their ideas from business case to commercially relevant proof of concept with only two days of training. In addition to the experience, the connections, and the chance for a monetary reward, this generation’s entrepreneurs also learned valuable lessons from being hands-on with the process of applying blockchain technology.

But the students weren’t the only ones learning.

For those on the other side of this challenge—the sponsors who participated in mentoring student teams and judging the final results—this event provided an opportunity to give back to the community and foster emerging talent. But it was also a chance for the mentors to see what “thinking outside the box” looks like for the next generation and to reassess their organization’s own plans for transformation.

For these companies, the Blockchain Challenge modeled a smarter way to innovate—a practical approach of engaging the academic community and partnering with technology leaders that together can jumpstart the next generation of opportunities. 

Blockchain mentors from Oracle also enjoyed the fresh ideas and persistence exhibited by the students who were continually questioning the status quo—something that “mature” businesses sometimes forget to do. The young entrepreneurs didn’t take “No” for an answer and refused to be denied. Rather than being defined by project constraints, these future leaders broke through those constraints—often with the shear brute force of hard work, long hours, and a refusal to accept anything but success.

Financial services, and so much more.

The concept of blockchain as a distributed ledger for making and recording transactions is straight forward. It’s the unlimited scope for applications that’s causing heart palpitations in boardrooms around the world. It’s a technology that could affect—literally—everyone, but, acceptance in the financial services industry has been understandably measured. In fact, it may be that the acceptance of blockchain in other, less heavily regulated industries is key to accelerating its acceptance in the financial services arena.  “It will take a change in thought leadership within the industry to allow some of this technology to take hold,” observed one mentor from a leading national bank.  

It’s that kind of change that’s been seen in the Blockchain Challenge.

While sponsors of the first CFH hackathon were mainly from the financial services arena, the challenge itself was open to cross-industry submissions and produced a significant number of forward-thinking, viable business opportunities in areas such as energy, real estate, and healthcare, as well as financial services.

Sudhakar Pyndi, Director, Enterprise Architecture at Ally Bank, a mentor and judge in the CFH Generation Blockchain Challenge was impressed by the level of hard work and dedication shown by the student competitors and sees a connection between the variety of applications and his own financial services industry. “It was good to learn about those kinds of applications as well. We’re learning a lot that could easily apply to our industry.”

One mentor, impressed with both the variety in the applications and the level of excitement and commitment from the student entrepreneurs noted “There’s not just a showcase of talent there, but there’s a showcase of opportunity as well.”

Most executives believe that blockchain will revolutionize the financial industry over the long run, but many believe it will take time for the technology to gain market acceptance. That’s consistent with an Oracle survey that shows investment providers plan to more than double their use of blockchain (from 15% to 31%) over the next five years. But the Blockchain challenge made one thing clear to competitors and sponsors alike: There’s no going back; there’s only moving ahead—either as a leader in the process of accepting and implementing this cutting edge technology or as a beneficiary of the results.

The next generation is already there.

The Generation Blockchain Challenge Hackathon shows that a future with blockchain is here. Now. And based on the results of this challenge and the capabilities of these young entrepreneurs, it’s time to for the rest of us to lead, follow, or get out of the way.


Learn more about the Carolina Fintech Hub Blockchain Challenge contestants, here.

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