Blockchain means evolution not revolution, says ISITC panel

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“There’s an evolution taking place” in blockchain and with other industry technologies, according to a panellist at this years annual ISITC Europe meeting in London.

Bob Santangelo, president of international sales at Broadridge Financial Solutions, said that to adapt to this evolution, “every financial institution is looking at a way to create lower cost”, explaining that “blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI) are two examples of how people will innovate”.

Panellist were unanimous in their opinion that the introduction of blockchain would improve the existing landscape rather than overthrow the established order of the market.

Hugh Richards, head of product at London Stock Exchange, stated: “The model won’t be changing but will just be more efficient, in the future. Machinery will still be the same.”

Santangelo added: “AI, robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning essentially shows us how we could do more with less. Cognitive technology could shrink the number of people working in our industry, but there will never be zero people. Evolution will take place, but you will always need people.”

Though, Brian Collings, CEO and chairman at Torstone Technologies, warned that the pace of change in the industry has been quicker than ever before. He said: “What’s now achieved in a space of five years used to take twenty years. I wonder, can we across the industry cope at that speed of change?”

The panel also discussed how Brexit could change the industry and whether the number of people working in the UK would lessen or increase.

Santangelo said that financial services have never been “rightly sized”, regardless of Brexit, but stated it needs to be bigger in terms of training the next generation going into financial services.

He explained: “Training is key as service providers need to have programmes in place to do that training.”

Richards concluded that the industry is not facing a “big shift”, or necessarily a loss of jobs, but just a “step change”.


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