R3 blockchain group adds 5 banks, brings in technology heavyweights

Thu Nov 19, 2015 9:00am EST
 
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By Jemima Kelly

LONDON Nov 19 (Reuters) - Five more banks have joined a global consortium working on ways blockchain technology can be used in financial markets, the firm leading the project said on Thursday, as it brought in experts from the worlds of banking and technology.

BNP Paribas, Wells Fargo, ING, MacQuarie and the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce will join 25 other banks including JPMorgan and Citi in the initiative, led by New York-based financial tech firm R3.

Most of the world's biggest banks, with the exception of Chinese lenders, have now signed up to the initiative. It represents the first time banks have collaborated on how the technology that underpins bitcoin, a controversial, web-based "cryptocurrency", can be used in finance.

"The R3 collaborative model is the best way to quickly, efficiently and cost effectively deliver these new technologies to global financial markets," said New York-based R3's CEO David Rutter, formerly CEO of electronic trading at ICAP, one of the world's largest interdealer brokers.

The blockchain works as a huge, decentralised ledger of every bitcoin transaction ever made, which is verified and shared by a global network of computers and therefore is virtually tamper-proof. The Bank of England has a team dedicated to it and calls it a "key technological innovation".

The R3 project is led by IBM's former executive architect of banking innovation, Richard Gendal Brown, and on Thursday the firm announced it had brought in James Carlyle, who was previously Barclays' chief engineer for banking architecture.

R3 has also brought in bitcoin core developer Mike Hearn, as well as fincancial cryptographer Ian Grigg and bitcoin expert Tim Swanson. (Reporting by Jemima Kelly; Editing by Janet Lawrence)