The company made Steven Bastings, a former FinTech specialist who has been at the forefront of emerging financial markets, its new global head of digital assets last month. The appointment means the newest face of blockchain and Cryptocurrency in the company isn’t a bitcoin maximalist evangelist or ostentatious start-up founder, but a veteran of old-school financing markets.
Bastings, who is based in London, does have a radical vision for markets, however: a future in which all of the world’s financial assets reside on electronic ledgers, and activities that today require squadrons of bankers and lawyers like initial public offerings and debt issuances could be largely automated.
“In the next five to 10 years, you could see a financial system where all assets and liabilities are native to a block-chain, with all transactions natively happening on chain,” Bastings said in an interview. “So what you’re doing today in the physical world, you just do digitally, creating huge efficiencies. And that can be debt issuances, loan origination; essentially you’ll have a digital financial markets ecosystem, the options are pretty vast.”
Bastings is expanding his team, doubling its headcount with hires in Asia and Europe. In his first interview as head of digital assets, Bastings said he has near-term goals and more ambitious projects. Bastings is looking at how ledger technology can be used in the massive credit and mortgage markets, and even the possibility that trading markets could eventually migrate to the format.
But crucial to any of these efforts is building consensus with other banks, institutional investors and regulators. The technology will only take off when it gains a critical mass of users across the world of finance, he says, adding that industry consortium are the best way forward.
While Bastings wouldn’t say whether he personally owned any Cryptocurrency, he did have an observation that will probably raise cheers in the crypto world. Since the boom days of bitcoin a few years ago, interest has shifted from retail and rich investors to large institutions, he said.
“We’ve definitely seen an up-tick in interest across some of our institutional clients who are exploring how they can participate in this space,” he said. “It definitely feels like there is a resurgence of interest in Cryptocurrency.”Back To News & Insights