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Bank of England to Test Blockchain Tech in Domestic Payments System

Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM
Deb Olson
Last Updated March 4, 2021 5:06 PM

The Bank of England is beginning its Proof of Concept (PoC) to examine its potential in RTGS functionality with decentralized blockchain technology. Providing a resilient, strong, innovative system for the UK in mind, the PoC serves as a response to changes within the fintech industry.

The Bank looks to protect financial stability along with embracing innovation while keeping data integrity at the heart of the matter. The Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) handles nearly one-fourth of the annual GDP for the UK on an average day and must be able to continue to meet demand from users.

After releasing a renewed RTGS vision last May, this PoC is part of the bank’s strategic plan for 2020, which will see the “right technology  at the core.

Also included in the vision are an external-facing API and an increase in the number of firms able to access RTGS directly for payment flow settlement.

Proof of Concept

The BOE is opening itself up to outside evaluation, searching for solutions to blockchain/cryptocurrency system integration and capacity for new technologies.

With distributed ledger technology picking up pace, the Bank of England is now working to navigate RTGS through cooperation with Clearmatics Technologies Ltd, Token, R3, and Baton Systems. Greater insight will be provided to the bank, with multiple firms involved. All four firms have access to a replica of a pre-funded settlement service for UK retailers.

Learning how to support settlement once DLT is deemed “mature enough” for sterling markets is the goal. Additionally, seeing if innovative settlements will be able to properly function within the RTGS, and how functionality may be expanded.

Bank of England’s History with Blockchain Technology

In 2016, referring to DLT, the Bank’s Executive Director for Banking, Payments, and Financial Resilience, Andrew Hauser, stated: “there’s no likelihood of such an extreme revolution occurring any time soon.” That was in 2016.

Yet, in May 2017, the bank offered an RTGS blueprint regarding services for various settlement models. Regardless of executive statements offered the previous year, the necessity to include emerging payment systems was clear.

The Bank of England’s proof of concept findings is expected to be published later this year, including functionality expansion possibilities and necessary steps for implementation.

Time will tell how the Bank will adjust to the findings and what they’ll offer regarding DLT innovation…and when.