UBS blockchain brain's next stop: BNY Mellon

Credit: Micha Theiner

Alex Batlin

Alex Batlin will join BNY Mellon, which has $ 29.5 trillion worth of assets in custody and administration, later in 2016, according to people familiar with the matter. His job title and start date are unknown.

FN revealed on August 17 that Batlin will in October leave the Swiss banking group, where he has spent more than a decade, most recently as its fintech lead in London.

Batlin has established himself as one of the leading experts on blockchain technology in banking. He was a driving force behind the creation of the UBS‘s innovation lab in Canary Wharf-based accelerator Level39 in 2015.

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The lab helps the bank engage with the UK capital’s growing community of fintech startups to test and develop financial applications that use new technologies, such as blockchain. Projects have included the development of a blockchain-powered bond trading platform, work on a digital settlement coin and technology to help blockchain users prove they have conducted a transaction while remaining anonymous.

Batlin is also in charge of UBS’s Crypto 2.0 initiative to develop blockchain applications and is involved in bank blockchain consortium R3 on behalf of UBS.

BNY Mellon has also been an early tester of blockchain technology. In April, the custodian said it was working with the software giant IBM on a new project aimed at using distributed ledgers for securities lending technology. In 2015, it revealed that it had built internal distributed ledger-based applications to help its developers and employees learn about the technology. BNY Mellon is also a member of R3.

Custodians, as the keepers of record in the global markets, have widely been seen as the financial institutions most likely to be threatened by the emergence of blockchain, which is a shared ledger of asset ownership that is maintained and validated by a network of computers over the Internet. Analysts at consultancy McKinsey predicted in a report published in December that custodians faced possible revenue reductions from blockchain.

Discussing the potential impact on custodians, the authors argued that “the combination of central clearing and immobilisation of assets at CSDs [central securities depositories], or on the blockchain ledger, suggest less need for traditional asset custody”.

To help it keep up with emerging technology trends, BNY Mellon in November set up a Europe, Middle East and Africa innovation centre in London. The lab was led by Leda Glyptis, who left the bank a month later to join technology firm Sapient as a director.

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