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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Fido Sets Its Sights on Blockchain

News summary by MFWire's editors

Tech trailblazer Fidelity Investments has just set its sights on the next big thing: blockchain.

Abigail P. Johnson
Chairman and CEO
Fidelity Labs, the firm's incubator, has joined The Initiatives for CryptoCurrencies & Contracts (IC3), a group of academics working to advance the development of blockchain technology, the powerful distributed ledger that's currently most closely associated with the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin. Fidelity is the first financial services company to partner with IC3.

According to a blog post from Fidelity Labs, the firm will "explore a rich spectrum of new financial instruments and business tools that could someday improve the Fidelity customer experience..."

But it's not entirely about the customer — as an early proponent of the technology, Fidelity has a lot to gain from advancing blockchain development. The firm registered for a trademark for "Fidelitycoin" as far back as July 2015, reports Greg Ryan of the Boston Business Journal. In February of this year, it filed a patent for a method of using blockchain to process elections and authenticate votes, according to reports by CoinDesk. The quicker blockchain use becomes a reality, the quicker Fidelity cashes in.

Fidelity has an established reputation as a first-mover in tech. Undeniably, widespread adoption of Bitcoin and other blockchain-based applications might still be a ways off (Bitcoin suffered a highly-publicized setback when the SEC struck down the Winklevoss twins' Bitcoin ETF in early March and another similar proposal later in the month). But, if Fido is getting involved, it might be a trend worth watching.

IC3 is based at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech in NYC and includes faculty members from Cornell and UC Berkeley. Other partners, aside from Fidelity, include IBM and Intel.

Reuters, CoinDesk, and Bitcoin Magazine also reported on the story. 

Edited by: Katy Golvala

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