Distributed Ledger Technologies Expanding Within the Mainstream Banking Industry
Although the interest in Distributed Ledger Technologies (DLT) by financial actors seems to have peaked between 2017 and 2018, the progress to implement these types of technologies on a wide scale since has been slow but steady. In 2017, every single one of the central banks of the world’s major economies had expressed their interest in investing, researching or developing DLTs but none of them had implemented them in practices. Today, this reality has changed, and dozens of central banks have used DLT in one way or another to improve their overall efficiency in various complex and previously outdated processes.
Commercial banks are also getting abord this trend, perhaps at an even faster rate than central institutions. As of today, more than 400 banks worldwide are currently using DLTs to some extent. One recent and particularly meaningful example is JPMorgan, which released a new digital currency based on DLTs and fully employed it in a commercial context. JPMorgan’s platform Onyx has been in development for 5 years, and just a few weeks ago it began to issue the currency known as JPM Coin. This could represent a breakthrough for the wider implementation of these types of technologies in mainstream banking.
In Europe the use of cash has steeply declined within the last couple of years. In the UK alone, cash usage was reduced by 28% in 2020. As the world shifts towards the digitalization of currencies and financial assets, the need for new technological options is stronger than ever. Other countries in the world are following this tendency, as the access to technologies such as computers and smartphones become widespread. Although millennials and Gen Z are the generations in which FinTech options are being more strongly adopted, older generations are also switching to digital and online platforms to access their banks.
These trends create a lot of new opportunities for startup FinTech companies, as they possess the technical knowledge and the business models to supply the new demand within the banking sector. Many of the banks currently utilizing DLT platforms do so in partnership with FinTechs. Likewise, many FinTechs are focusing their business models towards the provision of advanced financial services and platforms for larger institutions and individual users alike.