Setl CEO: Dubious Crypto Transactions Will
Setl–which has garnered the likes of Citi, Deloitte, and Credit Agricole as shareholders–has built a platform that its CEO hopes will become the industry standard for financial institutions.
We spoke to Setl CEO Peter Randall about why he believes Setl is positioned to become the financial services industry’s go-to platform.
“It’s Like an Automobile”
When we asked why Setl could be a contender when it comes to becoming the default network for the banking industry, Peter answered that he thinks “it’s because we approach things in a very industrial sort of way,” he said. “I mean, we’ve got this capacity, we’ve got scale, we understand how to deliver it.”
Peter explained that what it really comes down to is the fact that “we’ve done it before.” After founding Chi-X in 2006, a business that “fairly rapidly became the largest trading platform in Europe,” the business was eventually sold to CBOE for roughly $3.2 billion.
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“That’s not a bad return for those original investors,” Peter said. “So I think we’ve got a track record. We’ve got form, if you will, in being able to grow value.”
“We also approach it in a very proper way in terms of having the business logic–having the cryptographic primitives, and having a layer that’s able to deliver the sort of needs that the customer has. We call that our OpenCSD product. That’s the interface between the business, the industry, and the blockchain.”
“It’s a little bit like an automobile,” Peter said. “How often do you look under the hood? Even if you do, it just looks like a big, sealed unit–there’s nothing to do. It’s a very similar idea: we’ve built an engine that goes very fast and does lots of things, and we’ve built the OpenCSD application that allows people to interact with it. We’ve built the wheels and the brakes and the heater and the radio as well.”
Peter explained that the customers’ relationship with OpenCSD and the Setl chains is “wrapped up in a legal agreement… that says what the rules, benefits, and obligations are with each one of these participants,” which is particularly important when dealing with financial records.
Looking Ahead: Setl in Ten or Twenty Years From Now
What role will Setl be playing after blockchain is no longer considered to be a “new” technology? “It’s very clear,” said Peter. “If you take a small- to medium-sized bank, and say it operates in five jurisdictions, and it offers five different products (ie lending, credit cards, securities, trade finance, and mortgages), effectively, each one of those jurisdictions will have its own chain, and each one of those products will have its own chain.”
This means that in Peter’s vision, “even a small bank will have thirty or forty Setl chains. From our perspective (in terms of licensing), that’s a very attractive feature. If they want to talk to another bank, then they’ll have a chain to do that on, and so on and so forth.”
“I believe our ability to become integral to the post-trade environment across many different financial institutions, many different jurisdictions, and many different products, is very strong.”
When Will Banks Start to Take Blockchain Seriously?
“One of the things that happens is that the incumbent big banks and big financial structures look at everything…and realize that there’s disruptive technology arriving and companies delivering it which frightens their existing business models, or that one of their competitors has adopted it, which means that their competitor’s cost base has gone down significantly. That fact will bring people in droves–it’s a really effective way of doing it.”
Peter explained that he doesn’t believe that the quickly changing regulatory landscape surrounding blockchain and cryptocurrency will have much of an effect on Setl. “From experience, regulators very, very, very rarely regulate systems,” he said.
“What regulators do (most times) is regulate the people that use systems. Now, because [we’re creating Setl for use within] the existing format, the people who will be operating it are already working in regulated businesses. So it’s unlikely that this is going to have too much of an impact on us.”
However, he doesn’t believe that other blockchain networks will escape the regulatory net scot-free. “It seems that a lot of the more dubious cryptocurrency transactions, however, will fall afoul of regulations. I think it’ll be interesting to see if some of their more outlandish and outrageous claims are supportable. I personally don’t believe that they are–but that’s just me, and I would say that, wouldn’t I?”
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