The UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has developed a blockchain technology-based regtech application for the mortgage industry in collaboration with consortium R3, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), and a third unnamed bank, R3 revealed on Tuesday.
The prototype has apparently been in development for several months, and the parties will now work toward onboarding more participants to gather feedback on the application, in preparation for a live pilot.
The application has been designed to improve regulatory supervision in the mortgage space. Built on R3’s distributed ledger platform, Corda, the application allows mortgage lenders like banks to automatically generate receipts whenever a mortgage transaction is executed. The receipts are stored on a distributed ledger, creating a transparent and immutable record of all transactions in real time, and enabling regulators like the FCA to oversee such transactions as they happen. Currently, lenders must manually compile and submit a record of their mortgage lending activity to the FCA every three months, a system prone to reporting errors. The participants say that, through automation and improved data consistency, the new system promises to reduce human error, decrease compliance costs for lenders, and facilitate market oversight for regulators.
The solution is likely to be met with high demand in the financial services industry. The regulatory burden on financial institutions (FIs) is only getting heavier as the volume of new regulations increases and their legacy systems become ever-more overwhelmed by vast amounts of data. As such, solutions that can simplify such data management and reporting, and cut compliance costs, will be welcome, especially given how tightly mortgages are regulated following the 2008 crisis. Moreover, FIs are already pouring money into streamlining mortgages, a product rendered convoluted due to the sheer number of parties — from lenders to brokers and estate agents to consumers — involved in each transaction. Such investment is happening both on the front- and back-end, further indicating demand for these solutions is large and growing.
R3 seems to have chosen the best partner possible for getting this solution off the ground. The FCA is known as one of the most innovation-friendly regulators globally, and has created the template for other countries’ approaches to accommodating new technologies within financial services. As such, its participation in developing a blockchain-based regulatory solution may stoke enthusiasm for the technology among FIs still unsure of how to engage with it. Furthermore, a seeming vote of confidence by a well-regarded body like the FCA may prove instrumental to achieving the member onboarding necessary for a blockchain-based solution to truly add value to the financial services ecosystem. We will likely see more major FIs joining the initiative in the near future.
- Outlines banks’ experiments with blockchain technology.
- Details blockchain projects at three major banks — UBS, Credit Suisse, and Banco Santander — based on in-depth interviews.
- Discusses the likely trends that will emerge in the technology over the next several years.
- Highlights the factors that will be critical to the success of banks implementing blockchain-based solutions.
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