Commerzbank goes blockchain mad

While other banks are carefully weighing up the pros and cons of various blockchain platforms and deciding which one to go with, Germany’s Commerzbank AG, one of the country’s largest financial institutions has chosen to take a different approach altogether: instead of selecting one protocol, it has chosen five protocols to build proof-of-concept.

Some years ago it started building on MultiChain, before adding BigChainDB to its development process. Since then it has joined three consortia: Hyperledger, R3 and the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA).

Whilst this strategy may seem counter-intuitive to some, Commerzbank believes that the future of blockchains is interconnectivity. Paul Kammerer, co-founder of Commerzbank’s blockchain lab, told CoinDesk: “We strongly believe that there will be not one blockchain solution, there will be a lot of blockchains – the big challenge is that these blockchains talk to each other.”

The bank points out the advantages of this pluralist approach will become more apparent due to more interconnected blockchain use cases, such as supply chains, cross-border payments and others, especially as the technology evolves. It also sees it as a way of future-proofing its investment, as well as expanding and strengthening Commerzbank’s expertise in the new tech sector.

Another way in which Commerzbank is bucking the trend is that it is keeping all its platform development in-house. Jörg Hessenmüller, head of development and strategy for Commerzbank, explained: “It’s not enough that we have a bunch of consultants telling us what is the latest in blockchain – we need to have our own skin in the game.”

Commerzbank also believes that central bank money on a blockchain is not only likely in the future, but sees this as one of the vital missing ingredients that will make blockchain apps more useful for everyone.

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