Bitcoin and beyond: Which banks are investing in blockchain?

Tamlin Magee
Tamlin Magee

Tamlin Magee

Tamlin is online editor at Techworld and ComputerworldUK. He has previously covered a wide range of beats at a variety of publications, from European channel markets, enterprise cloud and privacy to architecture, design, film and music. He is particularly interested in the intersection between technology, the political sphere and the day-to-day.

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While the spotlight has shone on the dramatic highs and lows of the various cryptocurrency markets like bitcoin, the existing big banks have been making great strides with their ideas for the underlying blockchain technology.

Major financial institutions have explored blockchain for a variety of purposes: optimising supply chain records, battling fraud, tracking payments and making existing processes more efficient.

See also: what is blockchain?

This interest has led to the big banks striking partnerships with major technology vendors and smaller startups to develop proof of concepts. And there is 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.

Read next: How to buy a bitcoin

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 around the use of blockchain systems.

New York-based fintech company 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. A further 12 joined R3 shortly afterwards including Banco Santander, Danske Bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Westpac, and use cases are now underway – for example, RBS is now sending mortgage receipts to the Financial Conduct Authority via the R3 Corda blockchain.

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

So, which financial firms are backing the blockchain? Techworld understands that any bank worth their salt is trialling blockchain in some way internally, but here are some of the banks that have been publicly throwing their weight behind the technology...

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