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Blockchain technology lacks enough use cases to be disruptive, says Worldpay

Worldpay's Jason Scott-Taggart says although the company is looking at blockchain, there are too few strong use cases for the technology at present

A lack of strong use cases for blockchain is preventing the technology from disrupting the financial services industry, according to Worldpay.

The payment company’s head of technology operations, Jason Scott-Taggart, said the organisation had not ruled out using blockchain in future, but the technology still has some way to go.

“You’d be surprised, but in payments blockchain is not as disruptive as people assume it is. There’s not a lot of demand for cryptocurrencies, and blockchain as a technology is not something we have seen a good application for in what we do yet,” he told Computer Weekly in an interview at the ServiceNow Knowledge 18 conference.

His view echoes research from Gartner, which found just 1% of CIOs are currently undertaking blockchain projects and 8% plan to start one in the short term.

The analyst firm’s vice-president, David Furlonger, said the technology was “massively hyped” and warned “rushing into blockchain deployments could lead organisations to significant problems of failed innovation, wasted investment [and] rash decisions”.

DevOps ambitions

Scott-Taggart also used the conference to outline how Worldpay is working to implement DevOps throughout its IT department to drive innovation, improve customer satisfaction and build services more efficiently.

The organisation wanted to balance its use of waterfall software development methodologies with more agile practices by embracing the bimodal IT model, enabling the department to focus on building and deploying new software, rather than customer support issues.

To do this, Worldpay partnered with service management firm ServiceNow last year, and is now looking to use the technology to scale up its DevOps ambitions.

“The idea is that if DevOps works well, its success will support more work done in that way. The fact that we are organised to operate in a bimodal way means we can develop and support applications and platforms in different ways,” he said.

“Our expectation is that DevOps will grow over the next couple of years to be the predominant method [of software development].”

The company is also interested in ServiceNow’s Madrid release, which is due to launch in the first quarter 2019. This version of its platform will enable support for coding and testing of applications, as well as integration with several extensions to give an overview of business operations.

“We are keen to add more interfaces with the DevOps tools. I want ServiceNow to be the air traffic control for us as an IT department,” said Scott-Taggart.

“Because all the changes and any implementation you’re making has to come through ServiceNow as a clearing house, we have a wonderful opportunity that if we hook into GitHub, Atlassian Jira, Chef, Puppet [or] Jenkins, we can actually start giving a dashboard view of all the change that’s going on in the organisation.”

He said this would ensure the company has a better understanding of the work different teams are doing across the IT branch.

“It’s helping us more with the project management and programme management element of how we run as an IT department,” he said.

“That will add great value and it will add to the development side of the house as much as, if not more than, the operation. Classically, IT service management is more focused on IT operations, but this brings together the ‘Dev’ and the ‘Ops’ in the tooling as well.”  

Scott-Taggart added that the usability of ServiceNow’s platform had brought several benefits to the company to date: “It’s easier for us to manage incidents, it’s easier for us to raise change and it’s easier for us to do problem management.”

The reaction to the DevOps project as a whole has been positive from staff and customers, he added.

“Colleagues working this way have given great feedback and improved employee engagement and satisfaction. Customers using the resulting services have commented on the speed of developments, the responsiveness of the team and how reliable they are from day one,” said Scott-Taggart.

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