EU Commission invites banks for new blockchain initiative

BBVA and Santander are among the first five major banks to get on board

Photo: Flickr Carlos Kuchkovsky, Head of Research & Development New Digital Business at BBVA

The European Commission (EC) has invited five banks to join a new European association to promote the use of blockchain technology. Called International Association for Trusted Blockchain Applications’ (IATBA), the goal of the association is to reportedly garner support from private blockchain and distribued ledger technology (DLT) experts to contribute to outline the EU’s strategy regarding these technologies.

This would help the EU to “develop a trusted, secure and resilient European Blockchain Services Infrastructure meeting the highest standards in terms of privacy, cybersecurity, interoperability and energy efficiency, and fully compliant with EU law.”
The launch of the new blockchain association was announced during a blockchain forum organised by the EC in Brussels on 20 November, where EU officials said that the IATBA, which is expected to be legally set up in first quarter of 2019, will bring together companies interested in exploring the potential of blockchain and DLT to transform digital services at a global level. At the meeting, it was also announced that BBVA and Santander are among the first five banks invited by the EC to join the newly launched association, due to their interest and experience in the use of blockchain and DLT. The other members of the association, however, have not yet been disclosed.

At the forum, Carlos Kuchkovsky, Head of Research & Development New Digital Business at BBVA, stressed the important role this common project could have in terms of establishing blockchain best practice and standards and at avoiding fragmentation on a European level. He believes the IATBA is an opportunity for Europe to influence global standards and provide more clarity to the “regulatory uncertainty” that currently surrounds the use of blockchain tech.

“It is essential to establish a system of governance that aligns the different participating industries and their objectives”, which should represent different sizes of organizations and sectors,” Kuchkovsky said. “At BBVA, we fully support this initiative and are ready to get to work.”

“Blockchain is not only a technology, but it engenders new business models creating a tokenised economy and paving the way to a decentralized economy in the future,” he added.

As part of its moves to adopt and develop blockchain across the economic bloc, in February of this year, the EC launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum. It has already invested more than €80m in projects supporting the use of blockchain in technical and societal areas. Around €300m more are to be allocated to blockchain by 2020.

Furthermore, in April, the EU Commission also rolled out the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP), which has already been signed by 27 countries. The partnership aims to develop a trusted, secure and resilient European Blockchain Services Infrastructure (EBSI), meeting the highest standards in terms of privacy, cybersecurity, interoperability and energy efficiency, as well as fully compliant with EU law.

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