Banking Payments

Get serious about this blockchain thing

Chris Skinner says it's time to get serious about bitcoin and this blockchain thing. Image: BTC Keychain, CC
Written by Chris Skinner

What are banks actually saying about bitcoin and blockchain? Chris Skinner reveals some interesting facts and statements.

Having noted that most bankers are now saying bitcoin bad, blockchain good, here’s a nice set of quotes I’ve gathered of what banks are actually saying:

  • ‘At its core, bitcoin is a decentralized protocol that enables exchange of value among parties around the world, giving it the potential to alter the financial services landscape’ – Jay Reinemann, BBVA Ventures executive director.
  • The bitcoin blockchain ‘is an opportunity for Wall Street to streamline some operations that are pretty antiquated’ – Duncan Niederauer, former CEO of NYSE Euronext.
  • ‘Money at its core is simply a ledger for keeping track of debts, and bitcoin is truly the best iteration of a universal ledger we’ve ever seen’ – John Reed, former chairman and CEO of Citibank.
  • ‘Blockchain is a really disruptive development, and banks have a lot of fear concerning this technology because in the pure theory of blockchain, a lot of processes within a traditional bank would be obsolete’ – Thomas F Dapp, research analyst, Deutsche Bank.
  • ‘Blockchain technology will not only change the way we do payments, it will change the whole trading and settlement topic’ – Oliver Bussmann, CIO, UBS.
  • ‘Blockchain technology continues to redefine not only how the exchange sector operates, but the global financial economy as a whole’ – Bob Greifeld, CEO, Nasdaq.
  • ‘In time, distributed ledgers will support smart contracts – computer protocols that verify or enforce contracts. This will lead to a wide variety of potential uses in securities, syndicated lending, trade finance, swaps, derivatives or wherever counter-party risk arises’ – Santander Innoventures.

Then Let’s Talk Payments published an excellent list of what banks are doing on the blockchain. I’ve combined their list with mine and you can see that 2015 is the year of the blockchain:

Fidor Bank was the first bank to experiment with virtual currencies and the blockchain. It partnered with Kraken (in October 2013) to create a digital currency exchange in Europe, working with bitcoin Deutschland GmbH in Germany. This was followed by a partnership with Ripple Labs to use its payment protocol to provide customers money transfer services in multiple currencies at a lower cost (May 2014). In February 2015, it partnered with bitcoin.de, a P2P bitcoin trading platform.

LHV Bank is working on a new project with blockchain technology (June 2014) and developed Cuber Wallet, an app based on ‘Colored Coins’ blockchain technology (June 2015). It also partnered with Coinbase (September 2014) and CoinFloor (July 2015).

CBW Bank and Cross River Bank announced partnerships with Ripple Labs to work on building a risk management system, and to provide low-cost cross-border payment transactions (September 2014).

USAA, Nasdaq, and BBVA invest in Coinbase, January 2015.

Goldman Sachs participated as a lead investor in $50m funding for bitcoin startup Circle Internet Financial Ltd (April 2015).

UBS creates a research lab in London focused on blockchain (April 2015).

BNY Mellon has created its own currency called BK Coins as a corporate recognition program that can be redeemed for gifts and other rewards (April 2015).

DBS Bank runs a blockchain hackathon in Singapore in May 2015 in partnership with Startupbootcamp FinTech and CoinRepublic.

Nasdaq launches enterprise-wide blockchain technology initiative, May 2015.

CBA partners with Ripple Labs to implement a blockchain ledger system for payment settlements between its subsidiaries (May 2015).

ANZ Bank partners with Ripple to explore potential use cases of blockchain (June 2015).

Westpac partners with Ripple and is testing a proof of concept with its staff for making low-value cross-border payments (June 2015).

Barclays Bank announces it is working with a range of startup companies, including Safello, to explore how blockchain technologies could be harnessed in the financial services sector (June 2015).

Santander announces 20-25 use cases that would save £12bn ($19bn) in bank infrastructure costs by switching to the blockchain (June 2015).

BNP Paribas is experimenting at making transactions faster by using blockchain (July 2015).

Societe Generale is running a training program to give employees bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency expertise (July 2015).

Citibank has set up three separate systems within Citi that deploy blockchain-based distributed technologies. It developed an equivalent to bitcoin called Citicoin, which is being used internally to understand the digital currency trading system better (July 2015).

Deutsche Bank releases a white paper stating that ‘it is entirely conceivable that banks could, for instance, set up a new digital booking and clearing system amongst themselves enabling them to offer client transactions featuring the benefits of the blockchain, such as speed, efficiency, internationality and cost savings’ (July 2015).

The Bank of England announces that central banks are looking at ways to implement ‘hybrid systems’ involving distributed ledger technology of the type currently used to record bitcoin transactions (July 2015).

US Ripple users are now able to make deposits to their Ripple accounts from Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Capital One, Capital One 360, USAA, TD Bank, US Bank, PNC or Chase from August 2015.

I could keep the list going, but the bottom line is that you need to take the blockchain seriously now.

Bank statements about blockchain and bitcoin.

Timeline of the announcements.

This article is reproduced with kind permission. Some minor changes have been made to reflect BankNXT style considerations. You can read the original article here. Image: BTC Keychain

About the author

Chris Skinner

Chris Skinner is an independent commentator on the financial markets through the Finanser, and chair of the European networking forum the Financial Services Club, which he founded in 2004. He is an author of numerous books covering everything from European regulations in banking through to the credit crisis, to the future of banking.

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