Goldman Sachs Quits Blockchain Alliance R3

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One of the founding members of R3 CEV, the high-profile bank consortium developing commercial applications of distributed ledger technology for the financial industry, is leaving the alliance.

Goldman Sachs decided not to renew its membership, which was up on Oct. 31, but will continue its research and experimentation with blockchain technology, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. The investment bank did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.

A spokesman for R3 said the news was unsurprising.

"As with any project of this scale and scope, we always expected the make-up of the consortium to change over time," he said in an emailed statement Monday morning. "Developing technology like this requires dedication and significant resources, and our diverse pool of members all have different capacities and capabilities which naturally change over time."

R3 launched in September 2015 with eight other bank backers to develop a settlement platform for the billions of dollars in transactions processed by the financial industry each year. It has since grown to more than 60 members; ABN Amro, Fifth Third Bank, Suncorp Group and Synchrony Financial are among the most recent additions.

The bank consortium has mostly acted as a sort of standards-setting body as its fellow blockchain vendors have begun developing technology for financial services more publicly. Earlier this year it filed a patent application for Corda, a distributed ledger platform designed to manage financial agreements between regulated financial institutions. It expects to launch a full-scale version of the platform by mid-2017, with firms testing it in early 2017. It is also now testing blockchain and smart contract technologies for ways to improve the syndicated loan market.

Goldman Sachs had been eyeing the space long before it joined R3. In October 2014 it submitted its own patent filing for SETLcoin, the would-be architecture behind a new securities settlement system that would reduce delays in the transfer of assets. A few months later, it co-led a $50 million investment in Circle Internet Financial, a bitcoin services company and wallet provider.

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