The Lakeba Group, which is currently running a series of commercial blockchain technology pilots, was approached by Professor Tom Smith at Macquarie University to provide students with practical exposure and active involvement in blockchain developments.
The partnership aims to boost the commercial focus on blockchain technology development at the tertiary level and will fall under Macquarie’s PACE (Professional and Community Engagement) program.
Among the live projects that the students will work on is Lakeba’s Blockchain Against Fraud (BAF) initiative.
The live pilot, taking place with undisclosed banking institutions, aims to demonstrate how the decentralised, shared ledger can minimise the possibility of fraud as it only enables verified contributors to store, view and share digital information in real time, and keeps a record of any changes made (i.e. prevents the ability for data to be edited/overwritten).
Giuseppe Porcelli, CEO and founder of the Lakeba Group, told Mortgage Business that the BAF initiative is a blockchain protocol used by outsourced payroll providers and financial corporations to validate the origin, integrity and content of payslips or any other financial document.
“It provides an immutable record of any financial document entered into the system,” the CEO said.
According to Mr Porcelli, there is a particular need for this type of innovation at the moment.
“The banking industry is facing increased challenge with fraud being a prevalent theme, hurting profits and depleting critical trust in banking institutions,” the founder said.
“The current royal commission into the banking industry, designed to address and establish new standards to mitigate the loss associated with fraud, further highlights the entrenched trust challenges in this sector.”
He added that a recent UBS report suggested that up to a third of all Australian mortgages could be fraudulent, where only 67 per cent of mortgage applications were “completely factual and accurate”, down from 72 per cent in 2017.
Mr Porcelli also referred to the 2016 Report to the Nations on Occupational Fraud and Abuse issued by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), which estimated that the total loss caused by fraud events in 2016 exceeded $6.3 billion, with an estimated 5 per cent loss of annual revenues in a typical organisation.
Referring to the partnership with Macquarie University, Mr Porcelli said: “A student team will be working on the BAF project along with the team of Lakeba resources.
“Their roles will be blockchain architecture and design along with coding of smart contracts, giving them first-hand exposure to working on blockchain solutions for the financial services industry.”
He continued: “The partnership with Macquarie University brings meaningful commercial blockchain projects to the students that are studying in that space, giving them real projects to work on.
“We hope to achieve better outcomes by leveraging the students who are dedicated to blockchain technology.”
The Lakeba Group founder noted that the World Economic Forum predicts that blockchain technology will enable 10 per cent of global gross domestic product within the next 10 years.
He therefore added: “The significance of this forecast, and the enormous amount of effort being invested in blockchain developments globally, means we have an industry responsibility to share our innovation knowledge with this new generation of students. They will be our future technology leaders.”
Anne Cooper, associate dean, corporate engagement at Macquarie University, commented: “Partnerships with companies such as Lakeba are significant for our students and are a continuation of the active engagement Macquarie has established over the years with key industry sectors.
“Sustaining the accelerator program with Lakeba will provide a critical multi-disciplinary learning opportunity for our students in exposing them to the fast-paced field of blockchain technology innovation.”
Professor Smith added: “Lakeba has demonstrated industry leadership in the blockchain development sphere, and we look forward to immersing our students in the cut and thrust of the commercial world of blockchain technology.”
As part of the selection process, students will likely need to participate in a hackathon, with groups of students competing for entry to the program.
Annie Kane is the editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business.
As well as writing about the Australian broking industry, the mortgage market, financial regulation, fintechs and the wider lending landscape – Annie is also the host of the Elite Broker and In Focus podcasts and The Adviser Live webcasts.