A banking dream team is looking at technology that could 'impact financial services the way the Internet changed media'

The banking dream team looking at blockchain — the technology that underpins bitcoin — is finally complete.

R3 on Thursday announced that 12 more banks have joined its project, taking the total number of banks signed up to 42. The doors are now closed on the first round of banking membership.

Here are the latest inductees:

Bank of Montreal, Danske Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Natixis, Nomura, Northern Trust, OP Financial Group, Banco Santander, Scotiabank, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, U.S. Bank and Westpac Bank.

R3 is the startup convening the banking industry to develop sector-wide standards and use cases for the blockchain.

What’s blockchain? Blockchain is a name for the software underpinning bitcoin that uses complex cryptography and distributed ledgers — copies of records in multiple places — to regulate, record, and enable transactions using bitcoin.

Right now, if you pay someone in pounds, one bank will have to get in touch with the other and tell them to update the balance. Then at the end of the day bulk transactions are moved between banks, via an intermediary, to make sure everyone has the right amount of cash.

With the blockchain, all that hassle is wiped out — you just pay another person directly into a digital wallet.

Banks are hoping they can adapt this technology to let them deal directly with one another, making things faster, cheaper, and easier. This would involve either using bitcoin’s blockchain or, more likely, building a replica system — a private blockchain.

New York startup R3, which launched in September, has taken charge of efforts to work out how exactly the world of finance will do this.

CEO David Rutter says in a statement today: “R3 has long believed that distributed ledger technology has the potential to impact the financial services sector the way the Internet changed media and entertainment.”

R3 will now look to sign up non-bank financial institutions in the new years — asset managers and the like.

Here’s the full list of banks signed up:

Banco Santander, Bank of America, Barclays, BBVA, BMO Financial Group, BNP Paribas, BNY Mellon, CIBC, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Citi, Commerzbank, Credit Suisse, Danske Bank, Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ING Bank, Intesa Sanpaolo, Macquarie Bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Mizuho Financial Group, Morgan Stanley, National Australia Bank, Natixis, Nomura, Nordea, Northern Trust, OP Financial Group, Scotiabank, State Street, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation, Royal Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Scotland, SEB, Societe Generale, Toronto-Dominion Bank, UBS, UniCredit, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo and Westpac Banking Corporation.

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