Bitcoin and beyond: Which banks are investing in the blockchain?

Matthew Finnegan
Matthew Finnegan

Matthew Finnegan

Matthew Finnegan joined IDG UK in January 2013, having spent two years writing for tech news titles including TechEye and ChannelBiz.

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Since its inception, the bitcoin cryptocurrency has been lauded for its potential to circumvent the existing centralised banking system. See also: what is Blockchain?

Recently however, interest has also shifted to the underlying blockchain technology, and the potential it offers to banks – both in terms of payments and optimising certain processes. (Read next: Why banks are betting on the blockchain - not bitcoin - to transform the financial sector)

This has often meant striking partnerships with startups that are cropping up as interest in the technology spikes. And there is for good reason for the growing attention: according to Santander’s estimates, the technology could cut banks’ infrastructure costs by up to $20 billion each year by 2022.

Updated 8 April 2016: Major Wall Street banks including J.P. Morgan Chase and Citigroup completed a successful trial of blockchain technology for keeping track of credit-default swaps in April 2016, with a view of extending the technology out to credit-default swaps or even for tracking live trades.

There have also been moves to work collaboratively on setting up standards aroung the use of blockchain systems. New York-based fintech startup R3 announced back in 2015 that it had created a consortium with a number of banks to investigate blockchain use cases around securities settlement and payments. This included Barclays, BBVA, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, State Street, Royal Bank of Scotland and UBS.

Back in December it was announced that a further 12 had joined R3, including Banco Santander, Danske Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Westpac.

Wired also revealed that the London Stock Exchange Group and big-name banks JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, have joined in an initiative alongside IT vendors such as IBM, Intel, and Cisco. The Open Ledger project, which is aimed at developing distributed ledger technologies which will be overseen by the Linux community.

So which financial firms are backing the blockchain? Techworld understands most are trialling it internally to various degrees, but here are some of the banks that have been publicly throwing their weight behind the technology...

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