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May 25, 2016

Deloitte to open Blockchain lab in latest backing for distributed ledger technology

News: Lab will be based in Dublin and focus on EMEA financial services market.

By James Nunns

Deloitte is launching a Financial Services Blockchain Lab as the business advisory firm develops its fintech initiative ‘The Grid’.

The purpose of the lab will be to focus on developing proof-of-concepts into functioning prototypes that can then be provided as "ready to integrate" offerings for FS clients.

The Grid is Deloitte’s fintech proposition for the EMEA market and plans to offer a set of products and services across the market. The idea is to help FS better understand and embrace the trends that are affecting it.

The company says that its approach is immersive, collaborative, and iterative.

The EMEA lab will be based in Dublin and house a team of 50 developers and designers once it has been built up over the next 18 months.

In essence the lab is serving as a centre of excellence in blockchain, it will work alongside teams from other member firms across EMEA, such as the London-based UK Blockchain team.

The firm has already made a number of moves around the distributed ledger technology by partnering with five companies in the area. The companies; BlockCypher, Bloq, ConsenSys, Loyyal, and the Stellar Development Foundation, are working collaboratively with Deloitte to provide new technological capabilities to its global financial institution client base.

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In addition to this, Deloitte is developing 20 blockchain-related prototypes in areas such as digital identity, digital banking, loyalty and rewards, and cross-border payments. Work is also underway to develop prototypes for the investment management space and insurance sectors.

David Dalton, head of financial services at Deloitte Ireland, and co-lead partner of the lab said: "There is significant demand from clients who are looking to use blockchain to speed up payments and transfer clearances, settlements, reconciliations and digital identity, and many other use cases.

"By bringing together the best of Deloitte experts and building upon our capabilities, we believe our lab will play a significant role in lifting blockchain use to a new level."

Demand from customers is coming in the form of desire for greater transparency, and efficiency, while there is also a need to improve trust.

The area of FS is being forced to undergo serious changes as regulation and technology advancements push established organisations to change their operating models.

The challenge is overcoming the burden of legacy systems that restrict how quickly banks and other FS organisations can react to challengers that threaten the market dominance that they have long held.

Increasingly technology is being adopted to rejuvenate the services that are being offered to customers but structural changes to how services are delivered will be what enables them to reduce costs and increase agility.

Blockchain technology is seen as something that can play an important role in solving this problem, which is why a number of banks such as Barclays, HSBC and JP Morgan are all trialling it.

There has also been an increased effort by tech firms to pick up on the advancement of blockchain technologies and push them. IBM for example is offering blockchain services on the cloud, Red Hat has an OpenShift Blockchain Initiative, while Microsoft has added distributed storage blockchain to Azure.

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