British multinational banking and financial services company Barclays launchedRise New York, a physical space and virtual global community designed to pioneer the future of financial technology. By the end of 2016, Barclays plans to open other Rise hubs in North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
Barclays’ existing open innovation sites in London and Manchester (previously known as Escalators) will be rebranded as Rise locations.
“It is time to redefine financial services,” said Michael Harte, Barclays’ chief operations and technology officer. “Rise is designed to help shape the future of our industry and drive growth. We’re seeking to connect the world’s most active innovators to each other, to corporates, and to resources and support networks. By accelerating the development of groundbreaking products and services, we know that we can help to keep Barclays at the cutting edge of financial services, all while helping to revolutionize the industry.”
Based in the Castro Building on 23rd Street, in the heart of Silicon Alley, Rise New York will host the first Barclays Accelerator program in New York. The Barclays Accelerator program, offered in partnership with the Techstars global network, includes mentorship and opportunities for financial technology startups to access industry experts, influencers and potential clients. The program covers all areas of fintech, from cybersecurity and artificial intelligence to wealth management, investment banking, big data and cryptocurrencies.
“With Rise and the Barclays Accelerator, we are unlocking the power of open innovation,” said Derek White, Barclays’ chief design and digital officer. “By using our collective resources, we hope to accelerate the speed of innovation in financial services, and potentially unlock significant benefits for millions of people across the globe.”
In March, speaking at the Morgan Stanley European Financials Conference in London, Barclays’ CEO Antony Jenkins warned that the “banking sector has not yet felt the ‘full disruptive force’ of technology – but it will.” He elaborated on the growing concern among financial institutions that faster, cheaper payment systems will start to seduce their consumer and business customers in the coming years.
After the last Barclay Accelerator program in London, several fintech startups that participated in the program started to explore opportunities with the bank. Barclays signed a deal with Swedish Bitcoin company Safello to explore how the blockchain could be used in traditional finance.
The 11 companies that will participate in the Barclays Accelerator program in New York were selected from hundreds of applications received over the past four months from companies based in 55 countries. Among the participants, Bitcoin company Chainalysis offers a service that provides financial institutions with the means to obtain regulatory compliance through real-time analysis of the blockchain. The company provides an API for sophisticated in-depth real-time blockchain transaction analysis.
Chainalysis customers – including regulatory entities, law enforcement and financial service providers – have tools to trace all transactions recorded in the Bitcoin blockchain and determine the origin of the bitcoin held by any address.
Chainalysis’ snooping angers the underground, crypto-anarchist parts of the Bitcoin community, but it’s evident that mainstream financial operators like Barclays want to promote a totally different concept of regulated digital currencies and fully compliant operators.
Giulio Prisco is a writer specialized in science, technology and business. He is persuaded that Bitcoin and its underlying technology are about to bring disruptive positive changes to finance, business, and society.