John Hancock Financial Unveils LOFT Synergy with ConsenSys and BlockApps

A blockchain proof of concept announced via the firm's LOFT innovation hub.

John Hancock Financial today announced that its Lab of Forward Thinking (LOFT) has entered into a collaborative tri-party synergy with app developer ConsenSys and full-stack infrastructure developer BlockApps STRATO, for an Ethereum blockchain proof of concept (PoC) solution aimed at enhancing the on-boarding of new wealth management clients, according to a joint press release.

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The use of a distributed ledger such as the blockchain systems used by cryptocurrencies continues to be sought by financial services companies as an application across other mediums such as for settlement and digital rights management or other digitally provisioned activities, and in the case of the synergy announced today for on-boarding new clients.

Aimed to help on-board clients

As one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S., John Hancock also caters to wealth management clients with financial services products, and is a subsidiary of Manulife Financial Corporation – a name that it does business under outside of the US – and which has nearly a trillion dollars in assets under management (AuM of $935 billion as of December 31, 2015) and operations across Asia, Canada and the United States. Manulife Financial is listed on multiple exchanges including the NYSE under ticker MFC.

The news follows nearly a year after the company launched the LOFT facility in Boston, featuring a 6,500 square-foot office space located in the Seaport area in the city’s ‘innovation district’, which was established in order to develop FinTech and related endeavors such as the one announced today.

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Launched via LOFT hub

“Our goal is to simplify and enhance the customer experience when they first begin doing business with us.  In the wealth management business this involves not only satisfying customers, but regulatory and legal aspects as well,” said Ace Moghimi, Assistant Vice President and Head of Innovation, North America, for John Hancock/Manulife, commenting in the official press release.

Igor Lilic Source: LinkedIn
Igor Lilic
Source: LinkedIn

Igor Lilic, Principal Technical Lead of ConsenSys Enterprise, added in the announcement: “The LOFT group is a model example of innovation within the enterprise:  bright, enthusiastic teams tasked with understanding new technologies and who aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty by building prototypes. We are incredibly enthusiastic about John Hancock’s commitment to the blockchain ecosystem and we look forward to continued collaboration as LOFT builds smart contract based platforms.”

Mr. Lilic was previously a developer at OANDA earlier in his career in 2009, in addition to a number of related prior and subsequent roles within financial services as well as blockchain-related positions. He has been in his current role with ConsenSys for just over nine months already, according to information in a public LinkedIn profile.

Commenting in the press release, Kieren James-Lubin, Chief Product Officer of BlockApps, said: “LOFT is just that – an organization focused around forward thinking. They are building the technical knowhow and internal stakeholder support that will allow John Hancock to be a disruptor rather than a disruptee as the blockchain revolution materializes. We are extremely enthusiastic about our partnership with LOFT.”


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