04.10.2017
By Terry Flanagan

Fidelity Tests Blockchain Waters

As Wall Street tries to determine just how game-changing blockchain will be in optimizing processes, the nascent technology got a boost when asset-management giant Fidelity signed on to a development consortium.

Via its innovation arm Fidelity Labs, Fidelity has joined The Initiative for CryptoCurrencies & Contracts, or IC3, which includes faculty members at Cornell University, Cornell Tech, UC Berkeley, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, and the Technion, along with leading technology companies. IC3 is meant to collaborate with domain experts, entrepreneurs, and others to explore blockchain-based programs to make financial systems more flexible, transparent, efficient and secure.

IC3 was founded to advance the development of blockchain technology and applications by making its collective world-class expertise in cryptography, distributed systems, game theory, and programming languages available to industry partners. IC3 is based at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech in New York City. In a statement, Fidelity Labs says it is the first in financial services to join this initiative, which is expected to improve institutional transaction speed and transparency, while raising standards for confidentiality and security.

Fidelity Labs expects IC3 to develop blockchain and smart contract technologies that are secure, incrementally deployable, and efficient, to meet the needs of the financial services industry.

There is a broad range of capital-markets applications in which distributed ledger technology can potentially boost efficiency, including public equity and debt securities being traded on a DLT-based platform, automating processes and increasing transparency for credit default swaps, and building industry utilities for product reference data and other common repetitive functions.

Blockchain has been one of Wall Street’s ‘buzziest’ technologies for a few years now, but some industry participants have expressed skepticism about it ever living up to the hype. Earlier this year, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority noted that some argue that DLT has the potential to revolutionize the operations of the securities industry, while others have debated that any changes resulting from the use of DLT in the securities industry are likely to be incremental and take many years to develop.

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