It seems every financial institution is ready to talk up the potential of blockchain – the technology that underpins the cryptocurrency bitcoin – but one firm has taken a more reasoned approach and warned about the "unrealistic expectations" that could arise.
A research paper commissioned by the research arm of the global financial messaging service SWIFT - the SWIFT Institute - was published Monday based on interviews and focus group meetings with individuals from 75 organizations working in technology and post-trade processing.
The conclusion was that while blockchain – a distributed ledger technology – will be important, there is currently too much hype.
"Strong claims are now being made about the potential of mutual distributed ledgers to reduce costs and risks. A number of initiatives applying mutual distributed ledger to securities settlement are now being pursued, attracting substantial investment from both major banks and venture capital funds," authors Alistair Milne from the U.K.'s Loughborough University and Michael Mainelli from Z/Yen Group wrote.
"Understanding of the technology however lags well behind the hype, amongst practitioners, policy makers and industry commentators alike. 'Blockchain' technology seems to promise major change for capital markets and other financial services – some say it may ultimately prove to be as important an innovation as the internet itself – but few can say exactly how or why."