A direct descendant of an Italian dynasty that ran a banking empire in the 1400s is launching a new bank focusing on “digital-centric commerce and investing,” according to a news release published on May 8.
Prince Lorenzo de’ Medici, president of the eponymous Medici Bank, said he has been motivated by advancements in blockchain technology to start the new venture, which aims to “create seamless, digital customer experiences and expand financial opportunity across global markets.”
He argued that little innovation has come from the banking sector ever since his family’s original institution, the Florence-based Banco de’ Medici, pioneered the use of checks, letters of credit, double-entry bookkeeping and bank branches more than 500 years ago.
Medici Bank has said it is a fully licensed chartered bank in the United States and headquartered in Puerto Rico. Its CEO, Ed Boyle, explained that the institution plans to prioritize the needs of digitally native businesses while trying to eliminate the inefficiencies and friction seen in more established rivals. He added:
“We are building Medici Bank from the ground up, not reliant on aged infrastructures nor as an overlay on traditional banks. This is uncommon, especially in the United States where licensed challenger bank options are few and far between.”
The collapse of the original Banco de’ Medici began in the late 1400s after Edward IV, the King of England, was unable to repay loans. Nonetheless, the Medici dynasty continued to enjoy influence in other realms, with four members of the family serving as pope in the 1500s and early 1600s.
Blockchain technology is continuing to be put to the test by the banking sector. Letter of credit transactions, one of the Medici Bank’s innovations, were recently simulated on blockchain consortium R3’s blockchain platform in a test involving more than 50 institutions. Last month, JPMorgan Chase unveiled plans to add new features to its blockchain-powered Interbank Information Network, which is used by 220 banks globally.