Expert: Blockchain Technology for Banks Faces Some Challenges

Catherine Christopher is an assistant professor in the Texas Tech University School of Law and is available to speak on the subject.

Pitch

Last week, nine of the world's leading banks announced they were joining forces with New York-based financial technology firm R3 to create a framework using blockchain technology in the markets. Goldman Sachs, Barclays, JP Morgan, BBVA and the Royal Bank of Scotland are just a few of the banks collaborating on blockchain technology, which underpins Bitcoin, a controversial, web-based technology that allows for transactions between people or companies without needing an intermediary.

Catherine Christopher is an assistant professor in the Texas Tech University School of Law and is available to speak on the subject. Her research focuses primarily on emerging technologies in the banking industry, including bitcoin and mobile banking. She has banking law at Texas Tech and international banking law as a visiting professor at Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania.

Expert

Catherine Christopher, assistant professor, Texas Tech University School of Law, (806) 834-7331 or catherine.christopher@ttu.edu

Talking Points

• The blockchain acts as huge, decentralized ledger of every bitcoin transaction made verified and shared by a global network of computers, making it almost tamper-proof. It also could allow for other information to be shared without being verified by a centralized third party.
• In order for the technology to work in banking, however, Christopher said some fundamental divides between the philosophies of Bitcoin and the banking industry must be reconciled: Anonymity versus know-your-customer; decentralization versus centralized clearinghouses; crowdsourcing versus managerial oversight.

Quotes

• "This announcement doesn't mean that banks are going to start accepting bitcoin. Rather, the banks are exploring whether the technology that powers Bitcoin can be applicable to commercial banking transactions."
• "Instead of having a centralized bookkeeper, blockchain transactions are verified and recorded by computer consensus. Once a transaction is confirmed, it is broadcast to the network and is effectively set in stone."
• "A ledger can keep track of anything. Bitcoin's blockchain was originally designed to track ownership and transactions of units of the bitcoin currency, but the banks that are part of this consortium are experimenting with whether a blockchain can keep track of other things, such as national currencies, commercial paper, contractual obligations, you name it."

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