ANZ backs private blockchain, but won’t go public

ANZ backs private blockchain, but won’t go public

Like all the big banks, ANZ Banking Group is experimenting and investing in blockchain technologies, but don’t expect it to adopt a public ledger any time soon.

The recent hack of the Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO), a cryptocurrency experiment built on the Ethereum blockchain network that raised more than $US150 million worth of cryptocurrency, served as further proof for the bank that public blockchains were still too risky for adoption, and would likely remain so for the forseeable future.

“The point about who controls a public blockchain is slightly worrying and what happened with Ethereum two weeks ago is a great test case,” ANZ group strategy executive manager Nicholas Groves said at the Blockchain Summit on Wednesday.

“Had we been running something on Ethereum that was not the DAO and everything got rolled back, we’d potentially lose two weeks of stuff and for a bank that’s quite risky.”

Blockchain technology allows a list of transactions to be shared among a number of computers, rather than on a central server, and the secure ledger updates in almost real-time across all the systems in the network.

Blockchain networks can be either public or private. Public blockchains have many users and there are no controls over who can read, upload or delete the data and there are an unknown number of pseudonymous participants.

In comparison, private blockchains also have multiple data sets, but there are controls in place over who can edit data and there are a known number of participants.

Even moving to a private blockchain would be a big shift for the banks, which currently use a central ledger, wherein there is one copy of data.


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