UNLOCK interviewed Tech Mahindra’s Executive team to discuss their blockchain strategy and implementations across the MENA region and globally. The interview was carried out with both Ram Ramchandran General Manager Head of Enterprise Business in MENA, and Mr. Rajesh Dhuddu Global Practice Leader Blockchain.
Tech Mahindra is building its blockchain leadership position and has one of the largest implementation in the telecom sector. According to Dhuddu, “In the last 12 months we have carried out over 20 blockchain implementations with some of them being in the MENA region.”
One of the biggest implementations in the region has been with Abu Dhabi Government. Tech Mahindra announced during Gitex 2019 their partnership with the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities (DPM), a leading UAE Government entity to launch a Blockchain solution for Land Registry using SmartHub Application. The solution would enhance citizen services by increasing transparency and traceability of records, security, and ensuring easy archival of data. The solution enables digital transformation of land registry, decreasing the processing time related to Land Registry related transactions and create value which can bring benefits to citizens and multiple entities associated with municipalities (like property developers, banks). SmartHub application using Blockchain will also provide benefits in services like Buying Resale Property and Tenancy Contract Verification etc.
In the press release, Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, Ahmad Abdolsamad AlHammadi CIO Abu Dhabi Municipality, said, ”The government and private sectors in Abu Dhabi are working together to achieve the digital transformation agenda led by the government. We believe in proactively embracing new age technologies and delivering better citizen experiences to the residents of Abu Dhabi. The implementation of next gen technologies like Blockchain and SmartHub digital services will help serving a wider segment of citizens enhancing customer happiness, quality of life and accessibility of our services. This is a beginning of many more services that we plan to roll out during the course of the year.”
Ram Ramachandran, General Manager and Head of Middle East & Africa, Tech Mahindra, said, “We are delighted to be a strategic digital and technology partner to Department of Urban Planning & Municipalities (DPM) in the journey towards enhanced government to citizen experience. The Blockchain program for Land Registry demonstrates the progressive nature of the Abu Dhabi government. Tech Mahindra is committed to enable its customers in digital transformation roadmap, build and deliver of cutting-edge technology solutions and services that address real world problems and meet customer’s evolving and dynamic needs.”
In the interview with UNLOCK Ramchandran explained, “We are actively working with Abu Dhabi Municipality on blockchain solution for land registry, rental contracts where in one stop an expat can create the lease contract with owner of apartment, and not need to visit the Municipality, the electricity department or any other government department because the transaction and document will be on the blockchain and all related services will be offered from the Smart Hub application.”
He adds, “This has already been launched with AlDar Properties who have placed their properties on the Blockchain, allowing potential clients to directly carry out the rental agreement through SmartHub utilizing Hyperledger Fabric platform and smart contracts.”
In addition Tech Mahindra is working with Abu Dhabi Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities to place the entire city of Abu Dhabi on a digital map on what is called Virtual Abu Dhabi. As Ramachandran explains, “ We are utilizing both virtual reality and Blockchain to show case three-dimensional maps of buildings in ADNOC area, potential renters or buyers will be able to virtually navigate through the buildings and apartments, and if interested alert the owner online and eventually sign a lease or buy utilizing smart contract capability.”
Most of the blockchain discussions are in Abu Dhabi at the moment. As Ramachandran states, “At this moment we have prospective customers at different stages of maturity and certain programs beyond proof of concepts. We are in advanced stages with some Ministries in Abu Dhabi mostly for Government to Government services. As for the most active implementations we have noticed that most of them are in banking, financial, payments and trade finance. “
The logistics sector in GCC has also shown huge interest in utilizing blockchain according to Ramachandran. “We have seen interest from the port authorities in Qatar, Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, KSA for utilizing blockchain and smart contracts to reduce the amount of paperwork.”
Even in Africa Tech Mahindra is working with the agricultural sector to expand AgriFarm supply chain provenance adding more export value to the products being exported. Ramachandran believes that 25 to 30% of all POCs will go into production in 2020. He adds, “In MENA region out of all the POCs in place 50% of them are from private sector.”
According to Rajesh Dhuddu Global Practice Leader Blockchain, “ The transition to blockchain is happening slowly and enterprises are utilizing permissioned based blockchain as a start, examples include Ford Motors who are developing supply chain blockchain platform for all their suppliers allowing more collaboration and trust between them. Blockchain platforms have to have a clear connection to business outcomes either revenue or cost perspective.”
TechMahindra is working with an array of blockchain platforms and companies. Recently they announced their partnership with Samsung SDS to offer Nexledger platform in addition to their already strong implementations with HyperledgerFabric from IBM, R3, Corda, Microsoft and others. As explained by Rajesh, “We are blockchain platform agnostic because it is too early to place your bets on any of them so we are aligned with everyone. Our partnership with Samsung SDS is mutually beneficial as we take their offering to our customers while we work closely with them on development in India. We have a 20 plus team working with Samsung SDS on Nexledger platform from India.
Rajesh adds, “We also worked closely with Samsung SDS, and Pegasystems to develop DPA (Digital Process Automation) and Blockchain for warranty value chain. This will save at least 1 billion dollars on false warranty claims.”
Even more interesting is that according to Rajesh TechMahindra will be launching five different blockchain ‘platform as a service offering’. He explains, “We are working on five blockchain as a service solutions, one of them deals with loan securitization , other with trade finance, and we recently built contracts and digital rights management solution on IBM platform for the media and entertainment industry..”
As for the future, Rajesh does not believe Quantum computing will be an issue in our lifetime for compromising or breaking Blockchain protocols, albeit 5G implementations by telecom operators will propel Blockchain, AI, and IOT to another level and here he states, “We will see complete end to end enterprise automation that includes blockchain, smart contracts between devices in an IOT ecosystems ushering in much more automation and digital transformation that what we saw with 4G.”