By Rob Daly

Citi Takes Blockchain Platform Live

Although many industry participants have called 2017 “The Year or Blockchain Production,” the title is proving more the exception than the rule according to speakers and attendees at the Consensus 2017 conference in Midtown Manhattan.

However, officials from Citi Treasury and Trade Solutions announced that the business is live with its CitiConnect for Blockchain platform during the conference’s keynote panel discussion.

“The offering acts a bridge to multiple blockchain environments with the first being Nasdaq’s Linq,” said Vanessa Colella, head of Citi Ventures and the bank’s Chief Innovation Officer.

The initial integration will increase the automation of cross-border payments as well as the issuance of private company securities, she added. “We didn’t want to create a killer app, but a bridge to future blockchain environments.”

Citi began looking for ways to make use of blockchain technology three and a half years ago within its innovation lab.

After Citi had winnowed the list of potential projects that would solve actual pain points, provide the bank a strategic opportunity, and that could be turned around in a year, automating cross-border payments was one of six possible projects, added Morgan McKenny, global head of cross-border payments, Trade and Treasury Solutions at Citi.

Selecting Linq simplified the integration process since Nasdaq controls the entire technology stack of the distributed ledger, according to Nelson Griggs, executive vice president of listing services at Nasdaq and fellow panelist.

Citi began the integration work with Nasdaq and enterprise-blockchain platform provider Chain, in which Citi Venture has an investment in April 2016.

The greatest challenge faced by the bank was determining the proper amount of organizations that would participate in the development of the platform.

“If we had ten companies working on the legal, regulatory, and technical specification, we could not have done it,” said Brad Peterson, executive vice president and CTO/CIO at Nasdaq and fellow panelist. “You don’t build a network from day one. That will come later.”

Establishing a minimum viable ecosystem of participants also applies to the firm’s internal organization as well, added McKenny. “Our legal department attended the first meeting, and our anti-money laundering group came to the second meeting,” she said.

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