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Barclays to Explore Financial Applications of Blockchain, Signs Deal with Bitcoin Company Safello

Op-ed - Barclays to Explore Financial Applications of Blockchain

Of the 10 firms to take part in Barclays' 13-week fintech accelerator program in London, seven are now "exploring opportunities" with the bank, Finextrareports.

The Barclays Accelerator program, offered in partnership with the Techstars global networks, includes mentorship and opportunities for financial technology startups to access industry experts, influencers and potential clients. The program, which will soon open also in New York, covers all areas of fintech, from cybersecurity and artificial intelligence to wealth management, investment banking, big data and cryptocurrencies.

"At Barclays, we’re embracing the digital revolution, exploring innovations early on so that we can help to shape their development and co-create the future of financial services with these startups," said Barclays’ chief design and digital officer Derek White. “We're leading the industry with new pioneering technologies, which will be paramount to helping us achieve our ambition of becoming the 'Go-To' bank."

Some of the fintech startups that signed deals with Barclays operate in the emerging sector of blockchain-based fintech. Banks are interested in blockchain technology for many reasons, but the principal reasons are the speed, low cost and traceability of transactions.

A recent report co-authored by Santander Innoventures, the venture capital arm of the Spanish bank, estimated that blockchain technology could reduce banks' infrastructure costs by up to $20 billion a year and argued that banks, financial institutions and fintech startups should work together to undertake a fundamental "reboot" of the core processes, systems and infrastructure of the banking industry.

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 fintech accelerator program, Barclays has signed a deal with Safello, a Swedish company that participated in the fintech accelerator program in London, to explore how the blockchain could be used in traditional finance.

Marketing Magazinereports that a Barclays spokeswoman declined to reveal any detail at this stage, saying that the bank and Safello are still in confidential talks. But she added that the bank was making a "statement of intent" and said Barclays was generally interested in exploring what Bitcoin technologies could do for financial services.

"Safello and Barclays will be working together on creating a new payment platform that will support bitcoins," Safello CEO and co-founder Frank Schuil said, as reported by NewsBTC. Schuil added that the partnership would begin with a test of a payment system for allowing donations to be sent to charities using bitcoin. CoinDeskreported that Schuil said the partnership with Safello could help the bank reach an important demographic.

Founded in 2013, Safello set out to bring greater compliance and security to the Bitcoin industry. According to the company’s website, Safello’s user-friendly approach has since attracted tens of thousands of customers throughout Europe with an easy way to get into Bitcoin. Today, Safello supports 32 countries in Europe with direct payments and other payments such as SEPA, Faster Payments, Bankgiro, Swish and International Wire, and processes tens of millions of SEK, Euro and GBP in and out of Bitcoin.

PhotoMtaylor848 / CC BY-SA 3.0