Bank of England to Launch Blockchain and Fintech Accelerator

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The Bank of England is  launching a FinTech Accelerator to work in partnership with FinTech firms that will work with new technology firms to help harness new innovations for central banking – particularly in the realm of Blockchain and Distributed Ledger Technologies.

In return, this new accelerator will offer firms the chance to demonstrate their solutions for real issues facing us as policymakers, together with the valuable ‘first client’ reference that comes with it and will build a network of firms working in this space.

Partner firms will be selected to engage in short Proof of Concept projects (POCs) via a transparent and competitive process, based on clearly defined selection criteria.

These criteria will ensure each project has the potential to be truly innovative, relevant to the Bank’s Mission and that commercial considerations are taken into account.

At the end of the POC, the Bank will consider producing an assessment of our experience of the work.

Where appropriate, we will consider making this accessible through publishing a description of the findings. For successfully completed POCs, the Bank will consider acting as a reference client for the firms.

The Accelerator has already carried out initial work in the areas of data anonymisation, cyber security and distributed ledger technology. Other areas of potential future interest for the Accelerator include finding new ways to structure and analyse large datasets, machine learning, particularly in relation to anomaly detection and pattern recognition, and protection of the Bank’s sensitive data.

Current projects include:

  • BitSight: Uses publicly available bulk data to assess firms’ cyber resilience, including looking for evidence of malware on a firm’s systems, signs of known software vulnerabilities, or weak encryption, which can be used to form a view on the information security of a firm over time. For the Proof of Concept, we will be looking to engage with BitSight to evaluate the Bank’s own resilience and to assess the benefit of this service as one of the range of information security tools that we use.
  • Privitar: Provides tools to anonymise and desensitise data. As part of our Proof of Concept, we will first test this software on a manufactured dataset to examine the analytical value of the desensitised data. We will then look to assess the capability of the tool on data held internally to establish if this will allow us to provide wider access to data for researchers within the Bank.
  • PwC: We have invested in understanding the technology of Blockchain and distributed ledger, working with PWC. The team built a multi-node scalable distributed ledger environment, which contained several smart contracts to illustrate the applications of the technology. This has enabled us to better comprehend the resiliency benefits and practical limitations of the technology. These are detailed further in the linked publication.

However, the Bank’s interest is not limited to the topics above they would also welcome expressions of interest from innovative firms in all areas of FinTech that can demonstrate how their work relates to the Bank’s mission.

How to register interest: To learn more about the FinTech Accelerator, please see website. For any questions, please email FinTech@bankofengland.co.uk (please note that all firms will need to register)

About Richard Kastelein

Founder of industry publication Blockchain News, partner at ICO services collective CryptoAsset Design Group (helped raise over $200m+), director of education company Blockchain Partners (Oracle Partner) and ICO event organiser at leading industry event  CryptoFinancing (first ICO event in Europe) - Richard Kastelein is an award-winning publisher, innovation executive and entrepreneur. He sits on the advisory boards of half a dozen Blockchain startups and has written over 1200 articles on Blockchain technology and startups at Blockchain News and has also published pioneering articles on ICOs in Harvard Business Review and Venturebeat.
 
Kastelein has spoken (keynotes & panels) on Blockchain technology in Amsterdam, Antwerp, Barcelona, Beijing, Brussels, Bucharest, Dubai, Eindhoven, Gdansk, Groningen, the Hague, Helsinki, London, Manchester, Minsk, Nairobi, Nanchang, San Mateo, Shanghai,Tel Aviv and Venice. His network is global and extensive.
 
He is a Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Métis) whose writing career has ranged from the Canadian Native Press (Arctic) to the Caribbean & Europe. He's written occasionally for Harvard Business Review, Wired, Venturebeat, The Guardian and Virgin.com and his work and ideas have been translated into Dutch, Greek, Polish, German and French.
 
A journalist by trade, an entrepreneur and adventurer at heart, Kastelein's professional career has ranged from political publishing to TV technology, boatbuilding to judging startups, skippering yachts to marketing and more as he's travelled for nearly 30 years as a Canadian expatriate living around the world.
 
In his 20s, he sailed around the world on small yachts and wrote a series of travel articles called, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Seas' travelling by hitching rides on yachts (1989) in major travel and yachting publications. He currently lives in Groningen, Netherlands where he's raising three teenage daughters with his wife and sailing partner, Wieke Beenen.

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