Is UBS Bleeding Blockchain Talent?

The exit of several high profile Blockchain developers from big banks begs the question if banks are facing Blockchain brain drain?

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Is UBS Bleeding Blockchain Talent?

Well, it has been a trend of late that banks have jumped on the Blockchain bandwagon, but there is another trend emerging which is at the top of Blockchain developers quitting banks.

A while ago we reported how Will Martino and Stuart Popejoy have left JP Morgan’s Blockchain development team. It has now emerged that Alex Batlin of UBS is also leaving. Alex is a Senior Innovation Manager and runs UBS’s FinTech Innovation Lab based in London, UK’s Level39 accelerator. He is also the lead of UBS’s Crypto 2.0 Pathfinder research looking into Blockchains and their impact on business models.

Planned Exit in October

Business Insider reports that they have seen an internal memo which puts Batlin’s exit in October 2016. The memo, according to Business Insider, has been authored by UBS’s head of innovation Veronica Lange and states that Alex Batlin is leaving “to pursue an opportunity outside of UBS.”

Lange has been reported as writing in the memo by the aforementioned publication:

"There is no change to our focus and approach on Bockchain technology. We are reviewing the options for internal and external candidates to lead the next phase of the program and to extend our L39 lab activities beyond Blockchain as we move forward.”

Brave words but UBS is bleeding blockchain experts

Alex Batlin is not the only developer who has left UBS. In March 2016, Oliver Bussmann also left the bank during a management reshuffle. While both the departures are not connected, Bussman’s was a high profile departure from the bank considering he is well placed in the Blockchain community and is a huge proponent.

Cointelegraph reached out to Oliver but he preferred not to comment.

Is Blockchain brain drain a thing?

Banks are betting big on Blockchain, in fact in May 2016 Morgan Stanley published a report titled ‘Banking on the Blockchain’ which starts with the preamble:

“The code underlying Bitcoin was supposed to spell the end of traditional finance; instead, big banks plan to leverage it to streamline operations and costs, while improving services and products for clients.”

However, it is also true that the open source nature of many Blockchain technologies mean that developers can also set out on their own with ease. Banks like JP Morgan, Barclays, Morgan Stanley and now UBS have lost major talent for one reason or another.

Stifling regulatory environment, greener pastures and even more open environments in foreign countries is leading to the loss of talent not only for banks and financial institutions but also financial technology companies. We can say that the brain drain at banks, thus, is a byproduct of myriad of factors rather than just the nature of the employer.

Banks are losing staff across board to crypto

While the movement from traditional finance to Bitcoin companies is not new or remarkable as people such as Blythe Masters of JPMorgan Chase, Duncan Niederauer of the New York Stock Exchange and Edward Boyle of Amex have quit lucrative posts at major financial institutions to join crypto-based enterprises in the past, the trend of Blockchain experts moving away from banks is certainly new and interesting.


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