The blockchain has been called “the future for financial services infrastructure”. Now banks, clearing houses and exchanges are becoming increasingly excited at the prospect of blockchain fundamentally transforming their business models.
distributed ledger technology could cut $15bn-$20bn from banks’ costs for cross-border payments, securities trading and regulatory compliance by 2022. Banks are developing other ideas, such as programming “smart contracts” that can verify and execute commercial agreements. As with any new technology, experimentation abounds. For a start, enthusiasts debate whether the blockchain even needs a digital token like bitcoin. For some, it is an article of faith that ensures miners are incentivised to do the work. Some start-ups, such as Ripple and Chain, are trying to create distributed ledgers with identifiable owners of assets and settlement finality. They argue an authoritative and unforgeable ledger for securities and derivatives is impossible, since legal enforcement of contracts requires people to prove ownership.