HSBC has managed to cut the cost of settling foreign exchange (forex) trades by a quarter using blockchain technology, according to a report from Reuters this Thursday which cites an executive overseeing the project as its source.
The blockchain-based system that HSBC is using could be a key stepping stone for showing the capabilities of blockchain technology for banks and within the trading space.
Through its FX Everywhere system, HSBC processes between 3,500 up to 5,000 trades per day. On a daily basis, the process settles trades worth $350 billion, according to the Chief Operating Officer of FX cash trading and risk management, Mark Williamson.
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Although the potential of blockchain technology has long been spoken about, the traditional financial services industry has been slow to make any real use of the technology, with few companies moving beyond the testing phase.
This is because many companies are wary of the technology that was used to create Bitcoin, with concerns over security, regulation and the impact on existing systems holding back widespread adoption.
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However, the news from HSBC today could mark a change for the industry and is a rare case of the technology being put to use by a major bank. Since February of last year the FX Everywhere platform has processed FX trades worth $250 billion, the London-based firm said in January.
Commenting on the announcement, Williamson said: “We going at a pace now. We’re able to demonstrate that this is not a one-off proof of concept or just one or two trades.”
Through the platform, which operates on a type of blockchain known as a “shared permissioned ledger,” HSBC processes payments across its trading hubs in the Americas, Europe and the Asia Pacific.
According to the report, Williamson told Reuters that the bank settles “billions of dollars” worth of payments on the platform, without giving any precise figures. The main aim of HSBC is to provide its tools to corporate clients with difficult, cross-border forex flows.
“The more participants that you have joining the HSBC shared permissioned ledger and the ecosystem, the more efficient we’re going to become in providing services to our clients,” added Williamson.