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Bank of England payments infrastructure would be Blockchain friendly, not Blockchain based

A few weeks ago, two inspiring leaders provided contradicting views on Blockchain and Bitcoin. Jack Ma, along with the announcement of his Blockchain based remittance product made a comment that Blockchain had legs, but Bitcoin was doomed.

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A few days later Steve Wozniak shared his views that Blockchain was over-hyped (rather dead) and Bitcoin was the thing to follow closely. I was surprised at such contradiction. I have generally agreed with Jack’s view of the world in this context. But when it comes to developments within banking, I am starting to think Steve was more right.

Over the last couple of years, we have seen consortiums, pilots and prototypes using Blockchain fail badly. I wrote about Swift’s Blockchain PoC and the learnings from that a few weeks ago. The conclusion was that,

After a disappointing PoC with Ripple, Bank of England were conducting another PoC of their new RTGS infrastructure and its interoperability with DLT. And when I went through the results they published, a couple of thoughts crossed my mind.

These are the key takeaways from the PoC

Four participants were involved in the PoC

But that’s hardly progress. Connecting to a data stream (RTGS) using APIs, pulling some data and using Blockchain to act as a real time ledger in a test environment – doesn’t sound like rocket science to me.

If anything, it feels like a half-hearted attempt to make headlines with “BoE”, “Blockchain” and “successful prototype” on it.

It might be that, Blockchain within banking needs a break, a step back, a deep breath and a re-engage. Its been a good English summer (so far), and time for some tough test cricket. Blockchain hasn’t scored enough in the first innings, got to see if it can do better following on.


Arunkumar Krishnakumar is a Fintech thought leader and an investor.

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