The Birth of Blockchain
by Philippe Denis, Chief Digital Officer, BNP Paribas Securities Services
From its original roots in bitcoin technology, innovators across a wide range of industries are quickly recognising the potential that blockchain offers to transform processes and information flows. Blockchain relies on a global ledger, distributed across a network of computers, and visible by all parties to a transaction. Each party has the same public and private key to agree the validity of transaction and open the next block in the chain. As data cannot be altered, and is therefore irrevocable, blockchain offers considerable potential to deliver infrastructure for financial instruments.
BNP Paribas has been an early pioneer in exploring and exploiting this potential. In June 2014, we held our first hackathon which highlighted 14 opportunities to improve processes and business and create new business models. A year later, we created our blockchain lab for transaction banking services, including trade finance and treasury. This dedicated lab has enabled us to accelerate our efforts in this area, with internal, customer and external engagement. For example, we are part of the R3 consortium which comprises 42 banks who are working towards a distributed ledger for the financial sector and exploring a variety of use cases. We have also established a variety of partnerships with industry peers, associations, academics and fintechs. In April 2016, we formed a partnership with Smart Angel, a crowd funding/ equity product using blockchain, which has already gained considerable industry and regulatory interest and support.