Several U.S. banks and global financial institutions have dipped their toes into the blockchain world this year by implementing systems on permissioned ledgers that only invited members can join. Poland’s 10th-largest bank is taking it a step further.
Warsaw-based Alior announced that it is beginning to offer a feature that will allow customers to check on the authentication and integrity of official documents they receive using the public ethereum blockchain that supports the ether cryptocurrency valued at more than $27 billion. While financial institutions have been historically more open to working with permissioned, private blockchains that they have more control over, this use of a public blockchain is among the very first.
“Our mission is to be disruptive, so we want to provide innovative solutions, and we want other banks to follow us as well. We welcome if somebody copied our solution,” says blockchain strategy lead Tomasz Sienicki. “We are showing that it’s possible to use public blockchain even if some people think it’s impossible.”
The reason for the unusual position is that Poland has regulations that require banks to provide customers access to documents in the form of a durable medium, and its Office of Competition and Consumer Protection ruled in 2017 that a page on a bank’s website which can be easily changed doesn’t qualify.
That interpretation pushed Alior to explore new solutions to serve customers, and it established what it calls the Blockchain Center of Excellence last October to complete the project. Sienicki, who worked at the bank as a trader since its inception in 2008 before transitioning to lead the blockchain team, said the blockchain-based system complies with all federal regulations.
“It was born in our innovation lab, but later on, we managed to convince our management that a dedicated team should be set up on just…