Career in Blockchain Technology: Opportunities and Challenges

Reliance Jio plans to build a 50-member team of young professionals to work on blockchain technology for JioCoin, its own cryptocurrency” 

(Source: Livemint)

Blockchain Technology is something that has already caught everyone’s attention across the globe and India is no exception. Does this piece of news ring an alarm for something big that is about to unfold in the future? Is Blockchain Technology really going to take over in a massive way? Well, only time can tell!

First let’s understand what Blockchain Technology is:

The blockchain is an open ledger which records and manages transactions. Each record is called a block and contains details of the transaction timestamp along with a link to the previous block. This protects the data from being manipulated retrospectively. Moreover, since each transaction is recorded over a distributed ledger in an encrypted manner, the technology is designed to be secure.

4 main factors that highlight the Blockchain advantage are:

  • Lack of dependence on a centralised authority
  • Transparency in transactions
  • Protection against data tampering
  • Hackproof data due to encryption

Some have even gone to the extent of saying that Blockchain today is what Internet was in the 1990s. With a technology as promising as this, many aspirants have set their eyes upon Blockchain as the next career move. A Blockchain developer is sought after by many companies. With coding skills at the core, the desired skill set of a Blockchain expert is:

  • Knowledge of Java, C++, Ethereum’s Solidity, Python
  • Understanding of financial services, payment processing, credit services
  • Exposure to Big Data and Data Science

Why a career in Blockchain seems so lucrative?

  • Hiring across top companies

 Top companies across the globe such as IBM, Microsoft, Intel, JP Morgan Chase are recruiting Blockchain developers in huge numbers. Closer home, Reliance Infocomm, Yes Bank, Bajaj Electricals and Mahindra Group have employed Blockchain in many of their operations. The distributed ledger system is believed to lower operational cost. Hence it is expected that these corporations will need a lot of professionals for the transition from old to new technology. A PwC report says, 56% of Indian businesses are inclined to make blockchain a part of their core business.

  • Blockchain has multiple applications:

Many think that Blockchain is only associated with Bitcoins, which is not true. The application of Blockchain technology is diverse and its utility can be seen in healthcare, supply chain, banking services, manufacturing, real estate, digitizing land records etc. This means gradually all walks of life will be pervaded by this technology and operations will be designed keeping these in mind. This implies that companies in most of the sectors in India will hire professionals who can work on Blockchain technology.

                                             Source: Deloitte
  • The rise of Cryptocurrencies:

Even though cryptocurrencies are yet to get clearance from the regulatory bodies in India, they seem to be on the rise. A number of Bitcoin exchanges and wallets have cropped up in India. Zebpay, Unocoin, Coinsecure, Coinmama and BTCXIndia are few of them. As per statistics, there are thousands of customers who are on board the Bitcoin companies every day. If Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies are accepted by the Indian authorities, there will be a huge demand for Blockchain developers amongst start-ups and established players alike.

  • Growing dominance of Fintech companies and digital wallets:

Post demonetization in India, we have witnessed the proliferation of Fintech/ Digital payment firms. Gradually, credit settlement, insurance claim settlement, loan disbursal, micro-financing etc. will depend on various forms of technology and Blockchain is one of them. Studies have shown that Blockchain technology, with its Distributed ledger Technology (DLT), can facilitate quicker claim settlement, easier customer enrollment, fraud control etc.

Application of Blockchain in Financial Services Industry

                                         Source: Deloitte

Initiatives were taken by India to embrace Blockchain Technology

India has taken huge steps towards digitization on account of transparency, integrity and security, in the recent past. Most people are of the opinion that the adoption of Blockchain Technology will complement this move quite well:

  • As the number of professionals in the Blockchain sphere is limited, some higher educational institutions have launched courses for gaining expertise in this technology.
  • The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) is planning to constitute an expert committee to study the application of Blockchain technology in creating a decentralized and cashless Banking system.
  • Telangana government has announced the use of Blockchain technology in digitizing land records and upgrading other data.

Adoption of Blockchain Technology comes with a set of challenges

The current state of affairs indicates that Blockchain Technology can revolutionize the future, however, there are certain caveats to it.

  • The technology is in its infancy, it is too early to predict its applications and success thereafter. Studies and research are still underway and a lot is yet to be discovered. What has been unravelled is just the tip of the iceberg, so there are lots to wait and watch.
  • Too much hype around the technology is creating unrealistic expectations. It can be unwise to put major things at stake, especially in the financial services sector, if the Blockchain technology doesn’t deliver as expected. Since this is an upcoming technology, it is quite possible that there will be issues in its adoption and integration.
  • Lack of compliance can prompt many fraudulent companies to come into the Bitcoin space. The trading can be used to fund illegal activities and soon this may reduce the popularity and credibility of Blockchain technology.

Final Thoughts

Identifying revolutionary patterns in its formative stage is the sign of a genius.  However, the judgement has to be based on a balanced view of things. Many of you may start dreaming of a glorifying career as a Blockchain Professional without thinking about your interest in the field or the future of Blockchain in India. It is not advisable to follow a herd mentality and be blinded by higher salaries. You need to look at the big picture and gauge the stability of the career in Blockchain technology before taking a leap on impulse. So, research well and educate yourself more about the opportunities and challenges faced by this technology. This is the only way to assess its merit and take calculated risks.