9 September 2015
For those of you who are not aware of itBit, it positions itself as a global bitcoin exchange offering institutional and retail investors a powerful platform to buy and sell bitcoin. It sees itself as a leader amongst bitcoin exchanges by establishing the itBit Trust Company which is overseen by the New York State Department of Financial Services and it is the first and only regulated bitcoin exchange able to accept customers across the United States. It even has a global OTC Agency Trading desk to facilitate flow in transaction of 100BTC or more. Bitcoin über alles it seems. Then over the summer news emerged that itBit was to host a private Blockchain summit for Wall Street elite. This all day event was invite-only and branded “Bankchain Discovery Summit” with 100 attendees from 25 leading banks, brokerages, exchanges, and infrastructure providers. At the time, little was known about itBit’s Bankchain project which was described as the first consensus-based ledger system exclusively for financial institutions offering a service that will automate, accelerate, and simplify post-trade processes across the financial services industry. This is very interesting. How does Bitcoin fit into this Bankchain project? It doesn’t. Bankchain seeks to provide distributed ledger technology to tokenize existing financial assets based upon a proprietary itBit protocol which is not Bitcoin Blockchain based and consequently the token will not be Bitcoin but a proprietary token. Interestingly, UBS has recently been linked with a “utility settlement coin” and if you recall my earlier posts, Fidelity, Citi and others appear to be doing the same. All of this is incredibly encouraging and commendable by itBit. It does seem though that they have just pivoted their business model to focus on a proprietary protocol, consensus algorithm which is permissioned and tailored to mainstream financial settlement. I doubt they will be the last and I am sure we will see more “bit to bank pivoting” by other Bitcoin focused companies seeking to accelerate financial returns.