An unnamed source at Barclays says that the bank, along with UBS and BNP Paribas, are exploring Ethereum.
All three banks have already publicly disclosed their exploration of Bitcoin’s blockchain technology to streamline how transactions are processed. UBS is even testing a ‘Smart-Bond’. It opened a dedicated blockchain research lab in London earlier this year.
The source told International Business Times UK that while the three banks are currently the front runners in working with Ethereum, their research is not “in any great depth.”
“You are talking about 100 or 200 people that are building stuff with this and some of them are from banks,” the source said, adding, “It’s the beginning. It’s not even the end of the beginning. It’s the beginning of the beginning.”
Ethereum formally launched its platform last week, releasing a command line version of its first tool, Frontier. “What bitcoin does for payments, Ethereum does for anything that can be programmed,” according to its creators.
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However, the source noted that there are drawbacks with Ethereum, such as the difficulty to debug applications built on it. Ethereum may be working on another version of its platform that is “more amenable” for banks. At a briefing on Frontier’s launch, a spokesperson went as far as to claim that the platform was “the only game in town for banks looking to build blockchains.”
The source also noted the “pockets of innovation” at Barclays- some are working on promoting “social good”, while others, such as in the investment bank, are working on creating efficiency.
The approach taken in working with ‘Bitcoin 2.0’ technologies like Ethereum follows that of parallel projects: development would be of the not-for-profit, open source variety. It would require the collaboration of several institutions. “The whole value proposition here depends on banks being open and working together,” he said. However, “They don’t really do this. They seem to be worried about being competitive. Whatever reason they give is bo***cks.”
He claimed that “most banks are just looking at Bitcoin technology; most of them have developed coins,” noting the irony that at the same time, many are unwilling to offer banking services to Bitcoin businesses.
One coin being experimented with is “govcoin”, which may help authorities save £4-5 billion in annual benefits overpayments and fraud.
“The floodgates are waiting to be opened,” he said.