Italian banking conglomerate Banca Intesa Sanpaolo has tested a bitcoin blockchain-based tool as part of a bid to validate trading data.
The bank, along with Deloitte and startup Eternity Wall, began testing the new proof-of-concept late last year.
At the heart of the project is the open-source OpenTimestamps protocol, developed by Bitcoin Core contributor Peter Todd, which Eternity Wall later moved to implement. It uses the bitcoin blockchain as means to notarize transactions, creating a publicly available record trail for later referral.
Carlo Brezigia, information security officer for the bank, explained:
"Relevant data has been hashed to produce a short unique identifier - a digest - equivalent to its digital fingerprint. This fingerprint has been associated to a blockchain transaction and hence registered on the blockchain: the blockchain immutability provides robust non-refutable timestamping that will always prove without any doubt the existence of that data in that specific status at that precise moment in time."
The bank tested the tool between October and February, according to Deloitte, and the firm said that future plans include support for multiple blockchains, potentially including private ones.
The trial notably showcases a willingness on the part of a regulated financial institution to experiment with a public blockchain. In a statement, Gianni Cavallina, the bank's retail innovation accelerator officer, spoke to both the interest in testing such protocols beyond the use case of digital currency.
"In particular, considering public blockchains, we are exploring the applicability of different use cases, abstracting from the value of its native digital currency. Notarization is one of the most interesting application[s]," Cavallina said.
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Correction: Grammatical error