Reliance Industries CMD Mukesh Ambani put his weight behind blockchain as a technology when he addressed the first ever Infinity forum on Friday. Experts believe his reasons are organically linked to how blockchain technology upended finance at an unprecedented level in the past decade. Blockchain’s use cases are continually expanding into new areas of finance and areas like healthcare, retail, entertainment and transport industries, showing exponential growth in different sectors.

Put simply, blockchains are databases distributed over many computers and kept secure by cryptography. A blockchain is a database that contains the history of whatever information it was designed to store. It is basically a string of "blocks" of information built on top of one another in an immutable chain.

What is blockchain

In a way, blockchain — which is the core technology — has tremendous use across public finance, banking and financial services. This could help build and secure a new financing backbone for the entire country as India seeks to expand the inclusive-nature of the financial offerings. This has been backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying that there needs to be a fintech “revolution” in the country.

Given that RIL has ambitious plans for its Jio Payments Bank, payments business, and is already aggressive on Jio Mart and other retail businesses, there is no doubt that the country’s largest industrial conglomerate is betting big on blockchain technology as a game changer that could help them reimagine the way of offering commerce and experience differently and pave the way for a fully democratised financial landscape. It also fits well with the digital infrastructure and high speed data connectivity put in place by Reliance Jio in the country, setting the stage for next step in terms of connectivity of machines, devices and vehicles, which is the Internet of Things.

Riding on blockchain technology, financial transactions will need no intermediaries like the current set-up and can be done with speed with complete transparency. This will not only offer deeper engagement for their brands with their consumers, but also offer stability and security that regulators look for.

Given the large scale implementation orientation that RIL usually looks for in its operations, the application of blockchain could be another area where it becomes a trendsetter for other industrial houses and financial institutions to follow.