In this post—the latest in my series about what the Fjord Trends 2018 report means for financial services (FS) and human resources (HR)—I will be examining a trend that Fjord calls “In Transparency We Trust”. Here, Fjord is talking about the way that the blockchain restores transparency and trust to the digital information people and institutions exchange with each other.

The rise of blockchain offers us the opportunity to restore trust in digital relationships, transactions and data by enabling us to have confidence in the authenticity and origin of a piece of information. Because it is a peer-to-peer technology, blockchain could be used to verify information or to authenticate contracts without the need for intermediaries such as credit bureaus or lawyers.

Blockchain could, in the longer term, help the HR function in FS organizations to streamline cumbersome, time-consuming processes where it needs to collect data about workers or verify candidate information such as employee credentials, employment history and qualifications.

Consider the time-savings if a job candidate’s education and certifications were available in a blockchain-powered ledger—HR professionals could gain instant access to the data rather than needing to pay and wait for a third-party service to verify the information the candidate provides.

Sony, for instance, has developed a system for storing and managing educational records such as degrees, diplomas, and test results on the blockchain. This could help streamline the current practice of sharing records over email or by a physical copy. The concept is meant to prevent fraud while providing simple access to information to organizations for job interviews and assessments.

In future, the blockchain could facilitate new ways of learning that transform how FS companies and professionals interact with training companies and educational institutions. The startup ODEM is using blockchain and smart contracts to enable students and educators to interact directly and participate in the exchange of education and learning, without the involvement of intermediaries.

Every course is enabled through a smart contract—the student deposits money before the course occurs and funds are automatically moved to the teacher’s wallet when the course is complete. Blockchain records are used as a proof of certification for students and evidence of the teacher’s experience on the platform.

In time, blockchain could also help organizations to simplify processes such as payroll and cross-border administration of employee expenses. As FS companies start to make more extensive use of contractors, labor-on-demand platforms and other contingent workers, smart contracts could facilitate the terms of the relationship and the payment of fees.

Despite significant investment, scaled implementation of blockchain technologies is slow in many sectors due to caution about privacy, governance, and data protection. But blockchain has enormous potential to help simplify complex HR processes and demonstrate transparency in the years to come.

Innovative FS HR functions should already be thinking about how they can use blockchain to power new services and applications that create far deeper levels of trust between the organization and its extended workforce.

The next post in this series is about the ethics economy. In the meantime, you can find the Fjord Trends 2018 report here.

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