There’s no need to panic. Yet.
That’s what Westpac Group CEO Brian Hartzer has to say when asked about bitcoin and blockchain during a briefing in Sydney on Monday, Australian Financial Review reported.
Hartzer said these technologies can be “potentially quite powerful from an efficiency point of view,” but it is still “a bit too soon to panic about it.”
“The development of the blockchain [will] certainly [have] a very interesting and potentially disruptive impact on financial services,” the Westpac boss said, according to the report.
He admitted that even Westpac is keeping an eye on these nascent technologies, but “nobody really knows yet where it is going to go to.”
In addition, Hartzer said bitcoinfaces challenges and limitations, such as the number of transactions that can take place on the blockchain—only seven per second. There’s also bitcoin’s highly volatile price, and the possibility that it might attract unlawful entities.
Still, the CEO said they are “staying close to the idea.”
Last June, Westpac’s venture capital firm Reinventure Group invested in San Francisco-based Coinbase, one of the world’s pre-eminent bitcoin companies. Westpac is also involved with Ripple Labs, which is developing a blockchain-like technology that will allow banks to send information to each other.
CoinDesk recently listed at least eight banking giants that it said have started to embrace bitcoin and its underlying technology. There’s French bank BNP Paribas, and the SocieteGenerale (SocGen), which posted a job listing for an IT developer specializing in cryptocurrencies.
Also included in the list is Citi Bank, which had already started exploring distributed ledger technology. Swiss investment bank UBS also announced that it was opening a research lab for blockchain technology, while Barclays has already started testing bitcoin technology.
Rounding up the list are Goldman Sachs, Spanish banking giant Santander, and Standard Chartered.