Article Image

IPFS News Link • Central Banks/Banking

Why ABN Amro Wants to Separate Bitcoin from the Blockchain


For ABN Amro's director of transaction banking, the company's strategy on blockchain tech can be best described with a restaurant analogy.

If you were looking to enter the business, Karin Kersten argues, you might first invest in a restaurant. Next, you might try to get a feel for the workflow, washing dishes and observing existing staff. It's then, she said, that you might be ready to enter the kitchen.

It's that final last stage that Kersten contends is most indicative of the activity at the Dutch bank, which boasts more than 22,000 employees across business lines including retail, private and corporate banking. A member of banking consortium R3CEV and the Linux-led Hyperledger project, and an investor in Digital Asset Holdings, ABN Amro has 30 employees actively working in the proverbial kitchen to investigate blockchain applications.

Kersten told CoinDesk:

"We are doing experiments and seeing if they work. We are learning by doing, and working on different levels. There's not just one team working on the blockchain."

That's not to say that ABN doesn't have a more clear strategy for how it intends to move forward and which versions of the technology it deems more relevant for its business. As with many other major global banks, ABN is focused on distributed ledger aspects of the technology, and isn't working with digital currencies such as bitcoin.

"If you look at our view regarding the blockchain, we want to clearly separate bitcoin from the blockchain. There's bitcoin as a method of payment, and blockchain as the technology behind it. The latter we find interesting to explore," she said.

Kersten indicated that ABN is investigating matters related to trade finance and transaction banking, and how blockchain smart contracts can be applied to problems in these areas.

In line with its focus on distributed ledgers, Kersten said that ABN is not as focused on payments applications of the tech, which she said the company views as being more problematic from a regulatory perspective today.