02.17.2017
By Rob Daly

Blockchain Nears Bearing Fruit

After years of evangelization and proofs of concept, Wall Street likely will see the first-generation of blockchain application in pilot production later this year.

Global custodian bank State Street’s Emerging Technology Center has 10 blockchain-based prototypes that it eventually would like to turn into pilots, John Burnett, managing director at State Street, told Markets Media.

He estimated that one or two of the projects could reach pilot production by the end of the year.

John Burnett, State Street

“Our list of use cases is longer than that, but those are the ones where we have gone significantly down the path,” he said. “There others that are in the hopper or have not been as prioritized as the others. I wouldn’t say that they were de-prioritized — we just wanted to focus on the projects that might be the most impactful for State Street.”

Most of the projects that the Emerging Technology Center is pursuing have a little added momentum since State Street does not have to coordinate with outside partners or clients, according to Burnett.

“By the virtue of them being inside our walls, we have the freedom to get these things moving more quickly,” he said.

Also, State Street doesn’t have a retail business, which allows the Emerging Technology Center to direct its efforts to supporting workflows related to the bank’s custody business.

“What we really wanted to do is focus on those efforts that would be most beneficial for State Street,” he said.  “So, in a sense, most of what we are talking about here has a traditional custody angle or aspect to it.”

Burnett didn’t discount the possibility of one of the many inter-institutional blockchain projects in which State Street participates may enter pilot production over the same period but declined to identify which project that it might be.

“With projects that require a lot of collaboration, they can create their own hurdles,” he said.  “But those can be some of the more meaningful efforts. Perhaps some of them might be able to get to a pilot stage in 2017.”

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