On Tuesday, a director of a leading think tank stood before the British Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee and called out blockchain technology as “magic wand, pixie-dust things” that is a “fad” and “a distraction from looking at getting some of the basics rights” in the banking industry.
Martin Walker, the director for the non-profit Center for Evidence-Based Management (CEBMa) was giving evidence on digital currencies and blockchain to the room full of British MPs following the submission of written evidence to the House of Commons Treasury Committee on April 12.
Walker was previously a consultant to the R3 blockchain consortium, which boasts more than 80 global financial institutions as members and has completed trials for a number of banking giants.
“Over and over again there have been these magic-wand, pixie-dust things come along… If 10 per cent of what I’ve heard in my banking career had come true, we would have the most amazing banks that run their infrastructure for a pound a week.”
“All that it takes to make a credible idea into a fad is people just switch off their brains and stop thinking,” he added. “Over 20 years in and around the banking industry – blockchain is a fad but I have seen many fads in my career.”
He did offer one olive branch with an admission that the hype around blockchain had pushed the banks to reform and update “un-sexy” parts of their business such as trade finance.
Walker was not the only expert in the room. He was part of a panel of blockchain experts present, including Dr. Grammateia Kotsialou, a postdoctoral researcher at King’s College London, Ryan Zagone, director of regulatory relations at Ripple, and Chris Taylor, COO at Everledger. The other blockchain experts extolled what they see as the potential benefits of the technology which could save the banking industry billions of dollars in costs.
Contrary to Walker’s narrative, this week saw the major announcement from Australia’s biggest stock exchange (ASX) which said it will implement blockchain-based post-trade technology from as early as Q4 2020, replacing the current non-blockchain system. Last month, Spanish banking giant BBVA was the first global bank to issue a loan using blockchain technology.