Bank of America’s tech and operations chief Cathy Bessant has said publicly that she remains skeptical of blockchain. “In my private scoreboard, in the closet, I am bearish,” she said.
For the past few years, Bank of America has been heavily investing in blockchain technological development. The idea behind it was that most of the legacy finance systems would eventually migrate over to the blockchain. However, the bank’s own tech and operations chief, Cathy Bessant, seems to not hold these same values to heart.
Bessant oversees some 95,000 technology workers and was named the ‘most powerful woman in banking’ last year. Despite Bank of America having 82 blockchain-related patents, the most out of any financial firm, Bessant is still not a believer.
In an interview, Bessant tells reporters that the use-cases are not there yet. She is most skeptical, however, of public blockchains like Bitcoin (BTC). She sees the concept behind it, where anyone can set up an account and participate, as being untenable. The scaling issue, for one, is what makes her skeptical. However, she has affirmed that private blockchains, serving as intermediaries between companies, could be beneficial “at some point.”
Bessant’s comments remind us of the comments made by Jamie Dimon when he called Bitcoin “stupid” and lambasted the entire cryptocurrency sector for being a scam in late 2017. Since then, JP Morgan Chase has come out with their own cryptocurrency, JPM Coin, and have been open about their blockchain adoption. Some things just are just not adding up.
It seems that we often hear criticisms of blockchain use from high-level executives, but when we look at the ground level developments, blockchain technology is booming among the traditional financial giants. It just goes to show the hypocrisy at play here — but cynically, one could also say this is a calculated effort to disparage a technology which every bank wants to be the first to introduce successfully.
What do you think of Bessant’s comments? Is she being honest? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!