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RBS embraces crypto-currencies in hackathon challenge

17 November 2014  |  30656 views  |  3 RBS Hackathon

A team from RBS took top honors at the Deloitte Digital #GoneHacking capital markets hackathon on Friday with a trading platform that utilises the Ripple protocol to handle integration with crypto-currencies.

RBS built on top of its existing FXMicropay service, which offers wholesale foreign exchange capabilities and automatic real-time deal aggregation to businesses in order to price goods and services in their customers' local currency, effectively shifting the FX market risk to the bank.

The team at RBS used the open-sourced payments and remittance network from Ripple Labs to add various crypto-currencies onto the FXMicropay service - those included bitcoin, litecoin and Ripple Labs' own ripples (XRP).

The team included Richard Crook, head of technology governance, Ben Wyeth team/tech lead, Robin Morris functional/data architect, Mark Hornsby, distinguished engineer, Farzad Pezeshkpour, distinguished engineer, all at RBS.

Outside of the core functionality of the trading platform presented at the Deloitte Digital hackathon, the RBS team also explored the possibility of using the Ripple payments protocol and public ledger to replace the existing banking and Swift-based infrastructure.

Speaking of the win, the RBS team said they felt the emergence of crypto-currencies like bitcoin, and blockchain platforms like Ripple, would lead to huge disruption in the capital markets and they, as a bank, wanted to be ready for that change.

The judges were unanimous in choosing RBS as the eventual winner of the two day hackathon commenting that the product represented the highest level of disruption and most closely represented the capital markets nature of the challenge. Judges included Simon Tasker, capital markets partner at Deloitte, Tom Zschach, CIO at the CSL Group and Liz Lumley, of Finextra.

While there has been a huge increase in FinTech flavoured hackathons in recent years, Deloitte Digital's #GoneHacking event was unique in that it focused on the capital markets. An area of banking, that some many argue, hasn't seen a huge amount of digital disruption.

Other teams that were awarded with gongs at the hackathon include a group from Temenos, who built a platform that allows banks to crowdsource for liquidity, a team from Deloitte Ireland which built a wearable device that tracks the stress levels of traders on a dealing floor and Signal Noise, who showed a visualisation platform for investment information.

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Comments: (3)

Hitesh Thakkar
Hitesh Thakkar - FIS Payments Software and Services India - India | 17 November, 2014, 12:23

All kudoes to RBS team and congrtulation for briniging disrutpive concept on floor. Ripple again proving it's strong presence in crypto currency framework over peers but could not understand how it can bypass reliable infrastructure such as SWIFT??

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A Finextra member
A Finextra member | 20 November, 2014, 16:06

Banks and regulatory bodies exploring the use of blockchain platforms would do well to consider the carbon cost of distributed computing. Bitcoin mining is like a cyber cottage industry, witih miners often running old, energy inefficient PCs over weekends and can more recently, since BTC exchange rates have plummeted, spend more on energy costs than they gain in fees. 

Large bodies such as banks could consider centralising the computing resources in energy efficient datacentres to improve the blockchain proposition.

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Paul Williams
Paul Williams - Blocksmiths - Dublin | 21 November, 2014, 14:33

@Sian_Bently It's been impossible to mine bitcoin with ordinary computer hardware for several years now, even mining with high end graphics cards has not been viable for 2 or more years since the introduction of sha256 ASICS(the sha256 hashing algorithm implemented in silicon, instead of software running on a general purpose processor).

The current generation of bitcoin mining asics are 20nm silicon which is as efficient as is currently possible(when delivered (june 2014) they were the first 20nm chips to hit the retail market, ahead of even regular chips from Intel and Samsung). " https://www.kncminer.com/categories/miners "      I have no affiliation to KNC.

We will have 14nm silicon by next summer with another huge jump in efficiency.  http://www.coindesk.com/kncminer-plans-16nm-bitcoin-mining-asic-launch-2015/

I'm one of the "cyber cottage industry" types that you speak of, and this is the type of equipment I run(I've actually retired my 28nm equipment as it make more sence to buy bitcoin with the money it would cost to pay for the electricity to run it). Hence the continuous march towards more efficient technology. It only makes sense to run this equipment 24/7, so as get as much "work" done before the difficulty increases again(http://bitcoindifficulty.com).

The block reward(25 BTC) or a share of it(as most mining is done via pools these days) are the goal for miners, the tranaction fees are not worth considering just yet.

Mining is occuring on a large scale in extremely efficient data centres located in places like Northern Sweden and Iceland where cooling is free and cheap geothermal or hydro electricity is available. Centralized mining is controversial in the bitcoin world as it is not good for the consenses mechanism that makes the bitcoin protocol secure.

I bet the equipment running the distributed "master card" network is probably neolithic compared to what is happening in the bitcoin world(bet you didn't know it was distributed)  ;).

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