It appears that Citigroup, the third largest bank in the US, has dropped plans of launching their own crypto which was to be known as “citicoin”
It came out in July of 2015 through the international Business Times (IBTimes) that Citigroup had been experimenting with blockchain technology, and was flirting with the idea of launching its own crypto. Interestingly, Ken Moore, the Head of Citi innovations Labs, told IBTimes UK during a technology briefing at the time that the bank had “been looking at distributed ledger technology for ‘the last few years’.”
Moore told IBtimes;
“We have up and running three separate systems within Citi now that actually deploy blockchain distributed ledger technologies. They are all within the labs just now so there is no real money passing through these systems yet; they are at a pre-production level to be clear.
We also have an equivalent to Bitcoin up and running, again within the labs, so we can mine what we call a ‘Citicoin’, for want of a better term. It’s in the labs, but it’s to make sure we are at the leading edge of this technology and that we can exploit the opportunities within it.”
“Most of our efforts have been focused on payments; trade probably being a second runner… Because we are a global network, a global bank, we can look for opportunities to use this technology to move money from country to country – country A to country B, across our network.”
Moore also told IBTimes that “the bank’s wide ranging work in digitalizing payments and transactions spans five large domains of which blockchain is just one.”
Four years on, the “Citicoin” project appears to be on its deathbed. A report by Coindesk read;
“Having taken stock of the experiment (not to mention the scorn of the Bitcoin community at that time)”, has “concluded that, while the technology has the potential to live up to its promises, there were other more effective and efficient ways of making improvements in payments.”
Citi’s global head of innovation for Treasury and Trade solutions, Gulru Atak, also chimed in;
“Based on our learning’s from that experiment we actually decided to make meaningful improvements in the existing rails by leveraging the payments ecosystem and within that ecosystem, we are considering the fintechs as well or the regulators around the world as well, including SWIFT…
We are trying to make those changes today, rather than just putting all our efforts into future technology…
If we are talking about cross border payments, how many banks do we have across the world – and how many of them are already on-boarded on SWIFT? And how long has it taken SWIFT to onboard all those banks?”
She went on to cite the firm’s 2017 partnership with NASDAQ, to point out Citi’s blockchain strategy the past several years, which was finding ways to integrate legacy systems, which according to her had similarities with the recent JPM project.
Despite what looks like a retreat by Citi, it is not giving up on blockchain technology. She clarified that Citi’s focus now was more on the trade space, trade finance, and trade letters of credit. She reiterated that Citi was still experimenting with blockchain but is “reserved when it comes to making bold public announcements.”
You would at first glance think that Citi was trying to follow in JPMorgan’s footsteps until you take into account Ken Moore’s statement about them looking into “Citicoin” as far back as 2015. Can the Citicoin project reinvent itself? Not if you take into account Atak’s words, what’s for sure though is that Citi just like many other financial giants are looking to go bullish on crypto.
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