PwC buys stake in blockchain firm as Roland Berger forms blockchain alliance

17 May 2018 4 min. read

The Singapore and Hong Kong branches of Big Four professional services firm PwC have each picked up a stake in Singapore-based blockchain specialist VeChain. Meanwhile, the global strategy firm Roland Berger has joined an alliance of blockchain industry heavyweights seeking to promote greater adoption of the technology.

Providing specialised blockchain services in, among other areas, anti-counterfeiting, supply chain management and the Internet of Things, VeChain was launched in 2016 as an enterprise application software to address long-standing issues in various industries, including the luxury goods, food and beverage, retail, automotive, agricultural and logistics sectors.

Its new joint business relationship with PwC follows from an ongoing partnership with the Big Four firm established last year through its incubation programme, with VeChain provided with strategic advice, funding and resources to help accelerate the development of its blockchain-based applications and rollout across Hong Kong and Southeast Asia.

“We are glad to establish a deeper relationship with VeChain, which aims to build a trusted and distributed business ecosystem to help address long-standing challenges in supply chain management, food trust and anti-counterfeiting areas,” Raymund Chao, PwC Asia Pacific and Greater China Chairman, said. “VeChain’s mission aligns with PwC’s purpose of solving important problems and building trust in society.”PwC buys stake in blockchain firm as Roland Berger forms blockchain alliance

VeChain co-founder and CEO, Sunny Lu said on Twitter: "Working side by side with one of the reputable giants can make mission impossible very possible, for example, changing the world with #Blockchain."

In a press release, the Big Four firm stated that PwC Hong Kong had now commenced discussions with VeChain to provide trust based services on the VeChain platform, requiring the use of VeChain Tokens to access and perform transactions. The move forms part of the firm’s bid to provide innovative professional services through blockchain technology, with Chao previously saying of the PwC and VeChain collaboration;

“Disruption is here to stay in our current volatile business environment and it brings both opportunities and challenges. We firmly believe that it is through embracing disruptive change that allows innovation to flourish. We are confident that together with VeChain we will bring more value to the marketplace through collaborative innovation.”

As part of its embrace of disruption, the firm’s Hong Kong office late last year became only the second of the Big Four professional service locations globally to accept cryptocurrency payments for advisory services, following the earlier adoption by Ernst & Young’s Swiss unit – doing so as a reflection of the firm’s growing advisory work with a range of clients in the crypto domain. Just recently, PwC unveiled its new blockchain auditing service in an effort to support the technology’s wider adoption, and has also been testing a blockchain analytics tool to track cryptocurrencies after their initial coin offerings – seeking to help companies prevent money laundering via the medium as well as other criminal activities.

Blockchain developments

In other regional blockchain news, the global strategy firm Roland Berger has joined a newly-formed alliance of prominent industry players to likewise promote greater commercial adoption of the technology. The Innovation Alliance, led by the next-generation cloud-computing blockchain network aelf, includes among its founding members Signum Capital, Singapore’s largest blockchain fund, FBG Capital, a major Asian crypto and blockchain hedge fund, and Huobi Labs, the research and ecosystem-building arm of Singapore-based digital currency exchange Huobi.

Roland Berger Partner and Vice President Dai Ke said of the new coalition; “Traditional businesses need support and guidance in order to tap into the power of blockchain. From helping small businesses scale, to transforming long-established systems and practices, the commercial adoption of blockchain will be widespread, and this alliance will provide the insight organisations need to meet these growing demands.”

A recent business survey report from IT services and consulting firm Cognizant on blockchain in the Asia Pacific found that 88 percent of respondents in the financial sector viewed the technology as important or critical for the future of the industry, while three quarters were already looking into ways blockchain could be incorporated into their institutions. Altogether, fintech financing across the region was higher in the 2015-2016 period than in both the US and Europe.