Bank of England gets closer to blockchain, AI

Maria Nikolova

The latest PoCs covered: analysis of large-scale supervisory data sets; executing high-value payments across currencies and borders; identifying and applying cross-cutting legal themes from regulatory enforcement actions; and measuring performance on the Bank’s internal projects portfolio.

The Bank of England has moved closer to the latest achievements in the financial technology arena, as shown by the results of the third round of Proofs of Concept (POCs) completed by its FinTech Accelerator. In an announcement on Monday, the Bank said the latest PoCs covered four key areas of its work: analysis of large-scale supervisory data sets; executing high-value payments across currencies and borders; identifying and applying cross-cutting legal themes from regulatory enforcement actions; and measuring performance on the Bank’s internal projects portfolio.

An important step was taken towards the use of artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, as the Bank has collaborated with Mindbridge Ai, a machine learning and AI firm, to explore the analytical value of using AI tools to detect anomalies in supervisory data sets. Via the use of a sample set of anonymised reporting data, it was found that Mindbridge’s user interface is intuitive, allowing the user to explore a time series of each variable, while comparing the results to industry averages. This PoC allowed the Bank’s internal team of data scientists to compare and contrast their own findings and the underlying algorithms being used, providing a complementary layer to the Bank’s work.

An interesting development was seen in the Bank’s collaboration with Ripple in the area of distributed ledger technology (DLT). In this PoC, the Bank and Ripple examined how DLT could be used to model the synchronised movement of two different currencies across two different ledgers. This formed part of the Bank’s wider research into the future of high-value payments.

The Bank has already concluded that DLT is “not sufficiently mature” to support the core RTGS system, but the exercise with Ripple has reinforced the Bank’s intention to ensure its new RTGS system is compatible with DLT usage in the private sector. The Bank has also identified areas where it would like to conduct further exploratory work.

The Bank has also worked with Enforcd and this PoC has demonstrated how technology could potentially facilitate compliance and the development of best practice in some key areas of regulation.

A proof of concept with Experimentus, using their ORB tool, analyzed historic Bank of England projects and visualised how they had performed against a range of standard key performance indicators (KPIs). This PoC showed the Bank whether its existing test data were sufficient to carry out effective KPI reporting, and where further data collection might be necessary.

Talking of Blockchain and AI in the UK, let’s say that these fintech areas prevailed in the second phase of the Financial Conduct Authority regulatory sandbox that allows firms to test innovative products and services in a live environment while making sure that consumers are protected in the right manner. BlockEx, for example, plans to test a bond origination, private placement and lifecycle management platform based on distributed ledger technology, whereas nViso will test an online platform providing advisors and clients behavioural assessment profiles generated by artificial intelligence and facial recognition. ZipZap develops a cross-border money remittance platform that picks the most efficient means for a payment to reach its destination, including via digital currencies.

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