Over US$1B is likely to be collectively spent on bringing blockchain technology to capital markets in 2016, according to a recent survey of 134 global market participants. Of the businesses with bitcoin projects, 32% have an annual budget in excess of US$5 million, and 47% top US$2 million. This significant level of investment has been motivated by the various advantages presented by bitcoin technology and its potential to revolutionise global capital markets. Indeed, a majority of businesses surveyed predicted blockchain would create ‘meaningful change’ in capital markets within five years. Furthermore, the survey participants were mostly unconvinced that legal regulation would significantly impede blockchain adoption. As such, the nascent interest in blockchain use in capital markets seems likely to continue.
Public financial institutions are also getting involved. At a recent international summit of international bankers, the US Chairperson encouraged attendees to educate themselves on blockchain. In Canada, the central bank is working alongside private banks and R3 (a blockchain company). They are trialling a digital currency (Cad-Coin) and allowing limited participants to engage in interbank payments with blockchain technology. The Bank of England is also looking into possible applications of the technology, with the deputy governor raising the possible consequences of a digital pound in a recent speech.
There is also continued interest in possible blockchain applications in the private sector. Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group have partnered with IBM to research the possibility of using bitcoin for the instantaneous transfer of payments during settlements. This is part of a broader strategic effort on the part of Mizuho to explore the various potential applications for bitcoin and follows Mizuho’s announced collaboration with Cognizant to explore the potential of blockchain in facilitating secure and safe record-keeping earlier this year.