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WSJ: Synchrony Financial Joins R3 Blockchain Group

Synchrony Financial Joins R3 Blockchain Group – The Wall Street Journal

By Kim Nash 24 October 2016

Synchrony Financial, the largest U.S. issuer of retail-store credit cards, has joined R3 CEV, a consortium of companies working on blockchain technologies. Synchrony, which is the first credit-card issuer to participate in the group of more than 70 banks, vendors and other companies, expects to focus first on using blockchain to settle payments, “We have been watching very closely how blockchain systems are being built and how money may be moving,” Chief Information Officer Carol Juel told CIO Journal Monday. Blockchain could “be a sea change” in how financial transactions are processed, she said. “If and when that happens, no one will be able to do it alone,” Ms. Juel said. “For it to work, we have to work collectively.” By participating in a consortium, Synchrony Financial can help influence the development of the technology, she said. Synchrony has not hired any software developers with specific backgrounds in blockchain, instead selecting technology architects from existing staff to work on the projects, Ms. Juel said. Finding blockchain experts has been difficult for financial services and other firms because relatively few technology professionals with deep experience with the emerging technology exist. Wall Street firms are vying with established and startup technology firms for such talent, prompting some to demand big compensation packages. Despite ongoing talent shortages, financial companies are beginning to introduce online ledger efforts into the wild. Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Wells Fargo & Co. said on Monday that they used a blockchain in a $35,000 shipment of cotton to China from the United States, Reuters reports. The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Visa Inc. unveiled a network it hopes to apply towards managing cross-border payments made between businesses.