Transferring the technology that underpins bitcoin from a power point presentation to a prototype is challenging the world’s largest investment banks.
According to its adherents, blockchain promises billions of savings as banks automate their payment systems. Freeing even a portion of the funds waiting to be settled could be significant. Vast quantities of collateral and margin are tendered as insurance to back daily trading on financial markets, estimated at between $65bn and $80bn a year, according to Oliver Wyman. The idea that one of Wall Street’s basic functions — moving money through a trusted system — can benefit from the Silicon Valley ethos of sharing information on peer-to-peer networks is one that appeals to some bankers. Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Barclays, UBS and Deutsche Bank are experimenting with their own technologies and have filed patents . But despite the buzz, there are few working models and a lack of joint adoption across the industry.