Dutch bank ING is about to launch a series of use cases leveraging blockchain technology for various financial services, after conducting 27 proofs of concept over the last year in areas including payments, identity and compliance.

ING assembled experts in fields ranging from general business to math and cryptology at its Blockchain Innovation center in Amsterdam, where it ran experiments with a consortium of 10 banks, demonstrating how shared ledger technology can cut banks’ operational and compliance costs and increase their revenues, ING said in a Jan. 31 press release.

A key challenge the bank faces is adapting blockchain technology to fit its specific needs, said Marianna Gomes de la Villa, ING’s senior blockchain program manager, in the release. “(Blockchain) technology wasn’t built for the financial industry, so there are constraints and it doesn’t always cover our experiments,” she noted in the release.

Bloomberg News
Bloomberg News

This year ING will focus on “five to six” practical use cases for blockchain, according to the release. Blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that enables bitcoin, is still early stage for financial institutions, though it's drawn enough interest that companies such as fleet and health care payment provider Wex are setting up development programs without having a firm use case.

“We will introduce more of these pilots and tests that make clients enthusiastic,” said Ivar Wiersma, ING’s head of innovation for wholesale banking on the blockchain team. “Not every pilot will be a home run, but that’s OK. I see them as stepping stones, showing us what’s possible,” he added.

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