Blockchain technology continues to make inroads into traditional finance, with major financial firms, including Lloyds Banking Group, Banco Santander, and UBS, participating in the recent launch of a liquidity management network. The Sterling Fnality Payment System, developed by blockchain payments startup Fnality, facilitated live payments within the Bank of England’s real-time gross settlement service.
Fnality’s milestone with blockchain tech
The Sterling Fnality Payment System, recognized as a regulated payment system by HM Treasury in August 2022, now falls under the purview of the Bank of England and the UK’s Payment Systems Regulator. Live transactions conducted in the Fnality-held omnibus account mark a significant step toward embracing digital models for transactions in both wholesale financial markets and emerging tokenized asset markets.
Fnality’s success is underscored by a strategic collaboration with financial heavyweights, including Goldman Sachs and BNP Paribas, who collectively invested $95 million last month. Fnality specializes in creating tokenized versions of major currencies, such as US dollars, euros, British pounds, Canadian dollars, and Japanese yen. These tokens are collateralized by cash held at central banks, enhancing their stability and reliability.
This development aligns with the broader trend of blockchain technology gaining prominence in traditional finance. JPMorgan, for instance, has been exploring tokenization and blockchain initiatives, exemplified by a collateral transaction between BlackRock and Barclays facilitated via a decentralized application. The bank also unveiled a programmable payment offering for blockchain-based accounts on the JPM Coin System.
The industry is in an “experimental stage” for tokenization, according to 21.co research analyst Carlos Gonzalez Campo. Moving into 2024, the expectation is a shift from experimentation to production, focusing on overcoming challenges, particularly cross-chain communication.
The launch of the Sterling Fnality Payment System aligns with the Bank of England’s commitment to interface with more payment systems, particularly those utilizing distributed ledger technology. As operations scale, the Bank of England is set to assess the system’s compliance with regulatory expectations, ensuring a seamless transition to commercial operations.
The House of Commons Treasury Committee has urged the Bank of England and HM Treasury to carefully consider the introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) in the UK. However, concerns about financial stability have been raised, particularly regarding a digital pound. The New York Federal Reserve, following a three-month experiment with major banks, suggested that centralized blockchain payments could address pain points in the settlement process.