Deloitte is launching a blockchain lab in Dublin

Deloitte's Dublin blockchain labJason Clarke PhotographyDeloitte’s David Dalton, left, and Lory Kehoe at the new Dublin blockchain lab.

“Big Four” consultancy and accountancy firm Deloitte is launching a new “lab” in Dublin to pioneer new projects and solutions that use blockchain, the next-generation database technology first developed to underpin bitcoin.

Deloitte announced on Monday that it is opening the new office in Dublin’s so-called “Silicon Docks” district, near tech giants such as Google and Facebook.

The lab will focus on developing blockchain projects for finance firms in Europe and the Middle East. A staff of 25 are moving into the new office from Deloitte’s Irish headquarters and the headcount is expected to rise to 50 by the end of the year.

David Dalton, a financial services partner at Deloitte, said in an emailed statement: “We are still at the early stages of the adoption of blockchain technology. But it is becoming increasingly clear that this technology is transforming the infrastructure underpinning financial services and other industries. It is bringing dramatic improvements in efficiency and customer experience.”

Blockchain technology, also known as distributed ledger technology, is a form of shared database originally developed to underpin digital currency bitcoin. It lets participants see the exact same version of a ledger as each other at the same time and uses complex cryptography and group authentication to police the editing of the ledger.

By replacing traditionally fragmented database systems, blockchain-based solutions can reduce or eliminate costs associated with replicating data and improve data quality.

Accenture and McLagan estimated in a report issued last week that blockchain technology could save investment banks up to $12 billion a year, while Santander estimated in a 2015 report that the technology could save banks more generally up to $20 billion a year.

Investment banks have invested millions in exploring the potential of blockchain over the last two years and are now beginning to roll out projects based on the technology. A consortium of seven banks, including Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and Societe Generale, announced a joint project to develop a blockchain-based international trade app last week. Wall Street clearing house DTCC has also begun working with firms to bring blockchain into the clearing process.

Deloitte says it has so far developed more than 30 blockchain-related prototypes in areas such as digital identity, digital banking, cross-border payments, trade finance, rewards programmes, investment management, and insurance.

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