The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) is undertaking a proof-of-concept with Ripple technology as part of its £3.5bn technological revamp.
Chief administrative officer Simon McNamara announced the initiative during a webinar on the bank’s three-year transformation plan last Thursday, just one day after a glitch which caused 600,000 payments to go missing.
The banking group, which has been plagued by a series of IT failures across its four brands, RBS, Natwest, Ulster Bank and Coutts, is now looking to boost its image as an ‘innovation leader’.
Ripple is one of 24 other initiatives listed at the proof-of-concept stage with the bank. Logos from bitcoin startups Coinbase and Blockchain also feature further back in the RBS pipeline, under its ‘qualification’ stage.
Addressing the RBS investors and analysts on the webcast, McNamara said:
“I don’t know what’s going to succeed. What I’m certain of is that we are going to see blockchain solutions, peer-to-peer solutions emerging in our industry and we want to be close to that development.”
Since Fidor went public with its Ripple integration in March last year, two US banks and three of Australia’s ‘big four’ have expressed interest in using the peer-to-peer technology to streamline transfers.
According to McNamara’s presentation, four teams of RBS experts spent two days exploring how the bank could use Ripple at one of its Technology Solutions Centres (TSC), later presenting their findings to business stakeholders.
RBA has been exploring other cryptocurrency angles as well: in collaboration with several Scottish universities and Design in Action, its Edinburgh TSC also housed a so-called ‘Chiasma‘ where teams could win up to £20,000 to prototype business ideas related to the new technology.
The bank, which was briefly the world’s largest prior to the global financial crisis, was bailed out by the UK government in 2008. Earlier this month, Chancellor George Osbourne said he would start selling (paywall) the state’s £32bn stake, despite a potential loss of £7.2bn for UK taxpayers.
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