Peter Randall, known for helping unleash a new era of competition for European stock exchanges in 2007, is seeking to upend the status quo yet again. This time, the goal is using the underlying technology for the digital currency bitcoin to dramatically speed up the transfer of assets.
Randall, the former chief executive officer of the Chi-X Europe stock market, has been hired as the chief operating officer of SETL, according to a statement Monday. The startup has developed a payment and settlement system based on blockchain, the software ledger that drives bitcoin.
“Clearing and settlement processes are fragmented, cumbersome, costly and in need of technological innovation and simplification,” Randall said in the statement. “We are currently in discussion with a number of first-tier institutions who are looking to commercialize blockchain technology.”
He’s the latest trading executive to endorse the use of blockchain in finance, joining a list that includes former New York Stock Exchange head Duncan Niederauer and Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. CEO Bob Greifeld.
It takes days to transfer assets such as loans or bonds, and that can tie up money in a bank’s back office. The often-overlooked post-trade process costs the industry as much as $80 billion a year, according to SETL, which cited an Oliver Wyman report. SETL aims to initially target the payments business, and then move into financial markets like foreign exchange, bonds and possibly stocks.
While cryptocurrencies tout their anonymity, SETL enables the identification of its users. SETL says its technology will be faster than bitcoin’s blockchain implementation, which can process about 7 transactions per second — though other blockchain enthusiasts also want to speed that up. SETL envisions handling 100,000 by industrializing the process and building it on enterprise-grade servers.