Swiss investment bank UBS and Spanish megabank Santander discussed blockchain technology at the Bank of England’s Open Forum conference in London today.
Jose Maria Fuster, global head of innovation at Santander, commented on the potential of the blockchain to overhaul the financial industry during a panel discussion which aimed to decipher how financial innovation and technology could support the economy.
“Blockchain technology is very much related with the bitcoin concept … this technology is allowing us to create a completely new space of infrastructure to transfer money, to store money and to create smart contracts and to do a lot of things that could fundamentally change the landscape of the financial industry.”
“This is not something that is going to happen tomorrow,” he cautioned.
Although bitcoin and blockchain technology went largely unnoticed during the panel, Fuster urged his contemporaries to not lose sight of innovation, acknowledging its significance for the wider financial industry.
“Innovation is a new concept, but now innovation is a must,” he said, adding “If you don’t innovate, someone will replace your business model … Innovation is a strategic tool.”
His remarks come after Santander InnoVentures – the bank’s $100 venture capital arm – launched a global blockchain competition in an attempt to support early stage startups working with the technology and its participation in Ripple’s Series A $32m funding round.
UBS weighs in on the debate
Bitcoin and the blockchain also featured in a panel discussion about the role of central banks in financial markets, which featured Digital Assets Holdings CEO Blythe Masters and Alex Weber, chairman of investment bank UBS, which announced the launch of its blockchain research laboratory in April.
According to City.AM, Weber was positive about the benefits of blockchain technology but largely dismissive of digital currencies such as bitcoin, noting that private currencies would fail to succeed “because there is no lender of last resort – there will always be boom and bust”.
With their comments, Fuster and Weber became the latests additions to a growing number of mainstream financial figures who have publicly lauded the potential of distributed ledger technology and the ways in which it could potentially reshape the finance world.
Featured image via Twitter.