Fidelity Leader Touts Blockchain, Bitcoin

Blockchain, Event, FinTech, Innovation, Investing, News, Regulation | May 23, 2017 By:

Abigail Johnson, the chairman and CEO of FMR, the parent of Fidelity Investments, touted blockchain and bitcoin at an industry conference on Tuesday as vehicles to make it easier for more people to invest and use financial services.

In a keynote speech at the Consensus 2017 conference in New York City, Johnson said a world where the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence are increasingly important is paving the way for blockchain and bitcoin.

“I am in a traditional financial services business — but we at Fidelity can see that the evolution of technology is setting our industry up for disruption,” said Johnson. “What if this technology could do for the transfer of value what the Internet did for the transfer of information? There would be greater access to financial services and it would potentially give customers more control over their data.”

FMR has invested in TradeBlock and Axoni, two blockchain research firms, and said that blockchain has a “reasonable chance” of coming to pass and improving services. To get to that place, though, she stressed that collaboration would be needed.

“This transformation could complement lots of other innovative areas that we see emerging – including the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. These platforms shouldn’t develop in a vacuum,” she said, adding, “Part of the reason I am here is to ask this community to help us address some of the hurdles that we see. And there are several that are holding back the adoption of this technology. We want to get after these hurdles – but we can’t do this alone – we need to work together.”

So far, Fidelity Labs, the internal research and development arm of the company, has experimented with bitcoin micropayments and mined bitcoin and ethereum. She also noted that Fidelity customers will soon be able to see their Coinbase holdings on Fidelity.com.

“The Internet wasn’t just a more efficient way to send letters – it spawned new industries,” she said. Blockchain technology isn’t just a more efficient way to settle securities – it will fundamentally change market structures – and maybe even the architecture of the Internet itself.”