Barclays talks blockchain, bitcoin and distributed ledgers

Just as the philosopher Walter Benjamin saw how photography would surgically alter the very fabric of modernity, creatives looking at blockchain technology can see an expanding universe of life-changing possibilities.

Within the fintech community, many of whom are enthralled by the technology’s Messianic potential, there have been rumours about Barclays and its attention to blockchain: the British bank is known to be advanced in terms of lab innovation.

Barclays has been quiet about its activities until recently when it made an announcement about a proof of concept with Safello, a bitcoin spending platform, that is working with the bank to explore how blockchain technologies could be harnessed in financial services. Safello had spent three months on the bank’s accelerator programme.

The bank has also been exploring opportunities with two other bitcoin/blockchain companies on its latest accelerator programme: Atlas, which provides mobile banking for the developing world; and Everledger which provides an immutable ledger for identifying and tracking diamonds.

Everledger marks and tracks diamonds on the blockchain, having developed a code that immutably verifies and tracks the life of each diamond.

Derek White, Barclays chief design and digital officer, told IBTimes: “This could fundamentally change the insurance industry around diamonds, fundamentally changing anything that requires paper documentation.”

In December last year Barclays brought together a small, invite-only group of technical experts who it described as shapers of the blockchain ecosystem.

This gathering was housed at a lab based Notting Hill which is dedicated to blockchain applications. Barclays now has two blockchain labs in London, in addition to a start-up accelerator.

White said technological disruption like never before is now courting a marriage between corporates and start-ups, which is driving open innovation. Alongside the shift from a closed to an open system is a focus on start-ups.

“I personally have an appetite for us to

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