PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), the world’s largest professional services firm, has recruited 15 leading technology specialists to explore the application and commercialization of the Bitcoin blockchain technology.
The blockchain research team will collaborate with PwC’s Belfast office and is expected to grow to more than 40 technological specialists throughout 2016.
The London-based corporation stated that they have decided to look into Bitcoin and its underlying technology, the blockchain technology, due to the growing demand of their clients and investors. With the help of the blockchain research team, PwC aims to assist its clients in understanding the Bitcoin blockchain technology and implement it in its services.
“There’s clear evidence that banks, institutions and even governments are looking at blockchain technology as a secure storage and distribution solution. Now there is growing interest and a real demand from our clients to help understand the implications of blockchain and how to respond to it. So as the blockchain juggernaut continues to gather pace, PwC will be well-placed to service our clients’ needs at a global level,” said PwC partner and EMEA Fintech Leader Steve Davis.
“PwC is now breaking new ground in developing radical fintech solutions and these appointments represent the first stage of our plans to grow a world-class fintech offering,” Davis said. “We expect the initial core team of 15 experts to grow rapidly, with PwC in Belfast continuing to expand, exploit and deliver technology and digital solutions to global clients.”
The team further emphasized that the proposal of U.K. chief scientific adviser Sir Mark Walpor to embrace blockchain technology in facilitating public services such as passport issuance, real estate ownership verification and tax collection inspired the company to actively explore the potential application of the blockchain technology.
PwC firmly believes that the blockchain technology could significantly reduce costs and enhance traditional financial systems in various industries. Through its growing blockchain team, the company plans to continuously explore the application of the technology in the existing banking systems and transaction settlement systems.
“Blockchain technology is worrying major players in the financial services industry as they don’t know where it will go or its potential to disrupt business models. However, in document delivery and settlement processing alone, it will offer significant cost reduction and efficiency gains,” said PwC U.K. Executive Board member and U.K. and EMEA consulting leader Ashley Unwin.
“We are confident that these disruptive fintech technologies will trigger a huge increase in demand for blockchain expertise, and we intend to be a leader in exploiting these disruptive new technologies,” Unwin said.
One limitation, according to PwC, is the relatively low level of awareness for bitcoin and digital currencies in general. According to the results of PwC’s forthcoming Global Fintech survey, which polled 545 leading asset managers, fund transfer companies, and insurers, 9 percent of the managers were familiar with bitcoin, but more than 30 percent of the managers had never heard of the cryptocurrency.
But the firm still feels optimistic in funding a group of blockchain researchers, as the fintech sector in the U.K. is growing at an explosive rate.
“The U.K.’s technology sector is increasingly focusing on fintech as offering radical and disruptive solutions to existing business models,” according to the company. “The sector raised a record $3.6 billion of venture capital in 2015, with the fintech sector accounting for almost a quarter of all investment raised by London-based tech companies.”
Over the next few months, the PwC team, which consists of more than 208,000, employees, will actively provide in-depth understanding of Bitcoin the system and raise the awareness of bitcoin the currency within their clientele.