5 More Banks, Bitcoin Experts Join R3 Blockchain Consortium

Five more banks have joined a consortium led by R3 CEV that is looking to collaboratively build a distributed financial

Five more banks have joined a consortium led by FinTech development startup R3 CEV that is looking to collaboratively build a distributed financial ledger.

The latest additions are BNP Paribas, Wells Fargo, ING, MacQuarie and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC). A total of 30 banks, including several global heavyweights, are now part of the consortium.

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From the additions, BNP Paribas and CIBC have expressed their interest in blockchain technology in the past, while Wells Fargo and ING have weighed in on Bitcoin.

Financial institutions are envisioning blockchain technologies for a variety of applications including securities settlement and cross-border payments. Many have been testing their own blockchain systems, but the value of the technology will not be fully realized unless the blockchains are compatible with each other. Hence, a number of initiatives have emerged to either develop the technology in tandem or develop universal standards.

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R3 also announced a number of notable appointments to its team. Richard Gendal Brown, former executive architect of banking innovation at IBM, will be managing director and chief technology officer. James Carlyle, previously Barclays’ chief engineer for banking architecture, will be chief engineer at R3.

Some notable figures in the cryptocurrency space were also brought on board. Mike Hearn, one of Bitcoin’s core developers and previously senior software engineer at Google, will be lead platform engineer. Ian Grigg, a financial cryptographer, will be architecture consultant. And Tim Swanson, a business consultant who has written extensively on blockchain technology, will be head of research.

The CEO, David Rutter, is simultaneously working on a project called LiquidityEdge, a trading platform for US Treasury securities.

It will be interesting to see if the appointment of Bitcoin experts means that Bitcoin’s blockchain is in the cards, or that their expertise in Bitcoin and blockchain systems will be leveraged for building private, or ‘permissioned’ systems. Intuitively, a regulated financial institution would go with the latter, which also poses fewer limitations. However, several notable projects- such as Nasdaq’s- are currently working with Bitcoin’s blockchain. Hybrid chain models may also be possible.

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