Tech

Cecille de Jesus

UBS CEO: Blockchain definitely an opportunity, almost a must

UBS has been dipping their feet in blockchain technology since 2016.

Sergio Ermotti, the CEO of Swiss financial services behemoth UBS Group, went on CNBC and expressed his optimism over blockchain technology last Monday.

“Long term, blockchain technology is definitely an opportunity. It’s almost a must. The freeing up of resources to become more efficient will come through technology and blockchain is a great way to allow us to reduce costs,” Ermotti said.

He adds that cost reduction is a critical aspect for industries to maintain their position and relevance.

“Our industry will continue to be under pressure, in terms of gross margins. It’s no doubt,” he said. “The only way you can stay relevant is not only by being strong in terms of capital, in terms of products, the quality of the people you have, advice you give to clients. You need also to be able to price it correctly.”

Ermotti says that transforming the cost base of the industry is one of the main things financial insitutions need to constantly consider in the next five to 10 years.

“It’s not something that’s gonna happen tomorrow,” Ermotti said. “But I’m very convinced that technology and changes in that front will be as crucial and disruptive and changing as regulation was in the last ten years.”

Since 2015, UBS has been busy exploring blockchain technology and building their own projects. They started out with their Crypto 2.0 Pathfinder Program, an initiative for business analysis and experiments on blockchain tech for investment banking, wealth management, corporate banking and retail—they explored over 20 use cases, some of which they chose for incubation. Last year, they piloted a blockchain data reporting platform that would help them stay compliant with the EU’s new data standards.

They have also released a white paper for a “trust engine,” as well as some projections for blockchain technology in finance.

“We have no crystal ball, of course, and cannot know how much if any of what we present here will ultimately come to pass. We think however we can outline with some confidence the most likely paths of transformation the blockchain could take us down,” UBS CEO Axel Lehmann wrote on their white paper’s foreword.

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