What a week for the R3 consortia, with Goldman Sachs and Santander moving on. But is this beginning of a trend, and is everything alright as banks become aware of the potential value being created, or does impending doom await as they scramble to patent what they can for themselves?

Capitalist, protectionist agenda of banks

Lets face it, banks don’t play nicely in the playground. It may be because at their heart is a rampant capitalist, protectionist agenda with a company mission above every office door that reads:

“Whatever happens, the bank is more important than anything, any customer or any partner.”

BNY Mellon, Deutsche, Santander and UBS started working on their own versions of settlements, and like all other banks, started building their own secret Blockchain sauce.

However, they soon begun to recognise the disruptions that lay ahead. Then we have the distinction between an R3 partner and member. Albeit member fees were increased, bankers like to have the seat at the top table.

With Corda a few years away from delivering, and with banks hovering up the smartest people in the Blockchain industry in an attempt to not fall behind, the mere fact that Corda will be Open Source scares the bejesus out of members.

Banks historically don’t like to share anything, especially IP and data. That’s why the banking sector is full of inefficiencies. Nor do they feel comfortable disclosing their inner workings. It is their culture, their way.

Banks don’t really believe it

The mere thought of banks sharing experiences, IP and inner secrets has never sat well with the consortia model. But I have to say it is a great effort by R3 and a brilliant way of getting Blockchain on the global map.

Whilst banks are fierce rivals I can see other industries will have the same or more fundamental issues with sharing. For instance, pharmaceuticals, airlines and the automotive industry springs to mind.

I have always struggled with the concept of banks adopting Blockchain before other sectors, given they are hindered by layers of rules and regulation, but maybe for good reason.

Having listened to numerous presentations from Barclays, HSBC and many others, their Blockchain journey appears confused, more tactical than strategic, as if they don’t really believe they can get there.

After all, a consortia is perfect for organisations to ‘dip their toe in’ and get close to emerging technologies, buddy up to the brightest geeks and measure what they are doing internally against others. For the Blockchain, R3 has been brilliant in raising the profile and trying to get things done.

Now the banks have had a taste, they want to take their ball away and play their own game by their rules.

Well you know what bankers, mine is always the biggest…