Will investment banks institute a meaningful blockchain?

I’ve been saying “no, not really” for a while now. Here is a good Philip Stafford FT story on the question, excerpt:

With an internal blockchain “all you’ve done is set up an interbank liability”, says Peter Randall, chief executive of Setl, a UK blockchain start-up, and the former head of the Chi-X Europe share trading venue. “True settlement is where you never have to see the other party again. Settlement can only take place in central bank money.”

Any such system would have to be grafted on to banks’ existing IT and payment systems, some of which have been in place for decades, and meet the requirements of market watchdogs. Regulatory issues include anti-money laundering and trade reporting laws.

“In theory it could bring benefits,” says Mr Swanson. “But if we’re not rigorous in issues like switching costs and all the ‘boring stuff’, it won’t go anywhere.”

Many in the industry say expectations are too high, and favour a long-term, phased approach to putting asset classes on the blockchain. It could start with central bank transfers in the payments system and then move on to settlement of various types of security.

And this:

“In terms of total R&D at banks, it’s a drop in the ocean,” says Virginie O’Shea, an analyst at Aite. “They don’t see it as going to revolutionise their business. It’s more speculative than anything. Blockchain is this year’s ‘big data’.”

I’m going to stick with my prediction.


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