Boston Fed’s blockchain enthusiast opens Forbes Summit

October 02, 2018
Chris Wheal

Jim Cunha, a central banker from Boston, has joined cryptocurrency enthusiasts from around the world to tell how the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston is experimenting with blockchain technology.

Jim Cunha Boston Fed vice president for treasury and financial services

Talking at the annual 30 Under 30 Summit, hosted by Forbes Magazine, Cunha – vice president of treasury and financial services at the Boston Fed – said his blockchain team of 200 were using both Ethereum and Hyperledger Fabric for a number of early-stage experiments with distributed ledger technology.

Security concerns

Cunha said that the biggest concern for central banks was not the potential disruption cryptocurrencies could have on the world of fiat money, but the security of the organisations building blockchain networks.

“We use private companies all the time, but I don’t know if we’ll ever do that cryptocurrency,” said the Boston Fed VP.

A 33-year veteran with the Fed, Cunha wrote an article that was posted on the Boston District’s website last weekend that explained its fundamental interest in blockchain.

“Over the years, we’ve spent a lot of time working on new technology in payments,” he said.

“Because of that focus, we’ve been looking at e-money since the 1990s, crypto-currencies since 2011, and DLT for the last four years or so.”

Payments industry

He said the central bank needs to understand how blockchain could impact the payment industry, particularly since it is mandated with ensuring efficiency, safety and accessibility of payments in the US.

“And to see if it is a technology that we should employ in our own systems,” Cunha added.

Many of the financial market’s most important institutions are experimenting with and deploying systems that use blockchain’s distributed ledger technology, so the Fed needs to ensure it poses no systemic risk for these key market players.

Back at the Boston event Cunha touched on other central bank efforts to understand the potential of blockchain, including Sweden’s efforts to research the possibility of a state-controlled currency issued on blockchain.

Post written by Chris Wheal
Chris Wheal is editor of OpenLedger's news and features service. An award-wining business journalists himself, he runs a team of freelance journalists from across the UK and north America.

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