HSBC digital boss confirms growing blockchain interest

July 19, 2018
Chris Wheal

HSBC’s global digital head, Josh Bottomley, had admitted that the bank giant is looking closely at blockchain technology – though Bottomley is at pains to disassociate HSBC from any meaningful crypto asset link for the moment.

Bottomley was speaking to US business magazine Forbes. “We are cautiously looking into this area,” Bottomley told Forbes. “There’s a use case when you have a token or currency that’s actually useful for a particular purpose and it serves that need.”

Global banking titan HSBC appears, quietly, to be pushing towards blockchain

He went on: “But that is very different to if it’s pure speculation,” indicating nervousness about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Litecoin.

UK mixed bank sentiment

British bank’s attitudes to blockchain and cryptos remain mixed. Lloyds bank has banned credit card purchase of crypto assets, though Barclays, so far, appears more relaxed.

“We take precautions to assess affordability before extending credit, flag and prevent any suspicious transactions and also closely monitor credit risk,” Barclays told Business Insider earlier this year.

Earlier this year HSBC and ING teamed up to launch a live trade finance transaction on R3’s Corda blockchain, shifting a shipment of soybeans from Argentina to Malaysia. This was done on just one shared application, not multiple platforms.

Moving goods from one side of the world to another – blockchain tech appreciation is on the up from established finance operatives

Faster, simpler, cheaper

“What this means for businesses is that trade finance transactions have been made simpler, faster, more transparent and more secure,” Vivek Ramachandran, HSBC’s head of growth and innovation said at the time. “The need for paper reconciliation is removed because all parties are linked on the platform and updates are instantaneous.”

CEO of R3, David Rutter said the move represented “another major milestone for Corda as we work with the industry to make enterprise blockchain a reality in trade finance”.

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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