UBS’s chief information officer (CIO) is giving 1-on-1 mentoring to fintech startups in London, working in areas like blockchain software and social media investment analytics.
UBS CIO Oliver Bussmann visited London’s fintech-dedicated office space Level39 in Canary Wharf to sit down and give advice to fledgling fintech businessess, according to Level39 head Eric Van der Kleij.
Van der Kleij told Business Insider: “Oliver Bussmann, who doesn’t come from financial services and is their CIO, is I think one of the most audacious CIOs that I’ve seen. He really understands it, he really gets it.”
Bussmann joined UBS from German software giant SAP in 2013. He oversees the Swiss bank’s technology globally.
Van der Kleij said: “He comes here and does 1-to-1 mentoring with startups to make sure that he is connected with the agility and the thinking. This is a global CIO with billions under his control, taking his time to come here to make sure he understands what the innovators are thinking at the sharp end.
“He’s doing it with blockchain [companies] and others. He’s also doing it with companies using social media to provide better investing signals. One of his responsibilities is to improve the investment performance of the bank.”
Most major banks are interested in the potential of blockchain, the software that underpins digital currency bitcoin. The blockchain creates a public ledger of transactions, making them irreversible and transparent, and has the potential to make things like payments quicker and easier, as well as digitising things like stock and bond trading further.
Blockchain startups in Level39 include blockchain building firm CodeStack and Tide Payments. Analytics companies include social media analytics company Datasift and Singular Intelligence.
Van der Kleij said representatives from most of the big banks regularly visit Level39 but Bussmann is by far the most senior bank executive to visit regularly.
UBS confirmed to Business Insider over email that Bussmann and executive Alex Batlin are mentoring startups at Level39. Batlin heads up UBS’ recently established Blockchain Innovation Lab, based out of Level39.
Van der Kleij said: “What’s interesting is they didn’t put this lab in Zurich, which is what they normally would have done. That sends a very strong signal for the UK.”
BNP Paribas recently said that blockchain technology had the potential to make some stock holding firms “redundant.”
Santander is also looking at blockchain technology, with the head of the bank’s fintech investment fund telling Business Insider that the bank has found 20 to 25 uses for the technology. We also believe that Santander is close to investing in a blockchain startup.
Barclays too is looking at the technology. The bank has signed a deal with Safello, a Swedish company that was on its fintech accelerator programme in London, to explore how the blockchain could be used in traditional finance.