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Northern Trust turns to blockchain to speed up transactions and transparency

Tamlin Magee | Feb. 27, 2017
The immediate benefits are in increasing the speed of transaction verifications and transparency across those transactions

The development of the system was built to support compliance with local regulations. For example, this particular fund is domiciled in Guernsey and so the access keys to the platform also have to be located in the domicile, or risk losing the tax status. But if a fund was created in Luxembourg, for example, Northern Trust would be able to place the keys in that location.

One thing the regulators like, according to Cherecwich, is that they are a node on the chain - so the regulator is automatically able to see all the data that they require. "We'll work with them so that we can pull the data out and they can get the reporting they need right from the application," Cherecwich says. "So it will streamline the regulatory process a huge amount."

Other business benefits could include the elimination of paper and Cherecwich thinks legal fees will decline in time too.

Although this deployment is being received well, Cherecwich warns that the hype around blockchain has been "too much". 

"I've been on the record saying that blockchain is not going to change the US settlement system any time soon," he says. "But the technology does have uses and we can certainly learn from and utilise this."

"People are inventing things every day, and it moves fast - so the key was to look in the marketplace, collaborate with our clients and the regulators, find where frictions exists, and then apply that technology to the friction. We've done that and it works."

And there could be other uses for blockchain across the business. Cherecwich explains: "If you look at things that are manual peer-to-peer - over-the-counter derivatives, things in the securities lending industry - there are a lot of asset classes that are still peer to peer. And those ultimately I think are ripe candidates for this technology."


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