Barclays to develop blockchain-inspired legal contract template after London accelerator programme

A Barclays accelerator programme showcasing innovative fintech ideas from 11 startups has led to the bank agreeing to develop a blockchain-inspired prototype called Smart Contract Templates put forward by an internal Barclays team.

The Barclays team, taking part in Barclays Accelerator London programme, produced a prototype that combines legal agreements with business logic to create financial trades that run as smart contracts. It is the first public demonstration of an application based on Corda – a distributed ledger platform to manage financial agreements, which was only this month unveiled by global banking consortium R3. R3 was formed by nine banks including Barclays to research and develop blockchain technology and has since grown exponentially.

Announcing the results of the accelerator, which will see Barclays work with six of the eleven startups to showcase their ideas, Barclays said it will continue developing Smart Contract Templates and “looks forward to further collaborations in this space.”

Unlike the open ledger of bitcoin’s blockchain, the developers of Corda have said that only those with a legitimate need to know can see the data in an agreement. According to digital currencies publication CoinDesk, the developers of Corda, who include chief engineer James Carlyle, and lead platform engineer Mike Hearn, have focused from the beginning on legal language around how disputed agreements are resolved.

This was the first time an internal Barclays team has taken part in a Barclays accelerator programme, which is powered by startup programme Techstars and involves 13 weeks of intensive networking, mentoring and development, after which teams showcase their innovative fintech propositions, in this case at a demo day at London’s O2 Arena. The programme, which on Barclays’ website promises up to $120,000 investment from Techstars as well as other corporate partner perks, draws upon mentors from across Barclays, the Techstars network, and from programme partners including Cisco and Thomson Reuters.

An audience of more than 1,000 industry leaders, venture capitalists, senior executives and corporate partners attended the latest demo day, which was sponsored by Swiss Re. During the event the teams highlighted the progress they had made since the start of the programme, including six of the 10 external companies announcing that they are currently exploring opportunities with Barclays. These include a startup called Seldon, which has proposed working with Barclaycard by using machine learning technology to help identify customers that default after receiving credit increases.

Commenting on the conclusion of the programme, Michael Harte, Barclays’ chief operations & technology officer, said: “Our Accelerator creates value from rapid experimentation and long term partnerships, designed to scale early prototypes and create new business models, products and services. We look forward to continuing to work with this talented cohort in order to drive new value and change both within Barclays, and the financial services industry as a whole.”

Barclays and Techstars continue to work closely on the global Barclays Accelerator programme, with cohorts currently underway in Tel Aviv and Cape Town, and applications open until 20 April for the upcoming programme in New York.

For more information about Corda, ‘Introducing R3 Corda‘ by R3’s head of technology Richard Gendal Brown is well worth a read.