Fidelity Investments Is Pouring Billions Into Blockchain Research and Incubation

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by Bhushan Akolkar · 3 min read
Fidelity Investments Is Pouring Billions Into Blockchain Research and Incubation
Photo: Colin / Flickr

The company’s research arm Fidelity Labs is dedicatedly involved in exploring new horizons and markets using the blockchain technology.

Blockchain is certainly the hottest buzzword currently in the global financial and technology market. There is hardly any company which is currently willing to turn its back over the blockchain technology. Fidelity Investments, the 72-year old financial services company is currently exploring the blockchain space. According to Fidelity executives talking to CNBC, the company is pouring of dollars into blockchain research and development.

Through the company’s open approach to tap-in new innovations and technology, Fidelity Investments looks to challenge the status-quo of big tech giants like Microsoft, Google, and others.

Fidelity – An Early Adopter of Fintech

During a panel presentation at the company’s Boston headquarters last month, Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson explained that the company had been doing fintech even before it was cool. The company claims itself to be a technology trailblazer and in the 1960s the company bought its first mainframe computer.

In just a few years post that, the company started selling their retail mutual funds through a toll-free telephone line. The company later unveiled its first EFT for money market firm called the Fidelity Money Line. Currently, the company pumps nearly $2.5 billion yearly on research and development through Fidelity Labs and Fidelity Center for Applied Technology (F-CAT). These subsidiaries allow its employees to explore new horizons and take risks without worrying much about failures.

The company adopts a “fail fast and fail early” for research wherein money can be saved while putting concentrated efforts on other developments. Sean Belka, the head of Fidelity Labs said: “If you’re running, no one wants to hear ‘we failed today,’ or call a call center and hear ‘oh sorry, they’re out-innovating’. We had to create a safe space, essentially for failure. That’s what the labs is.”

Diving Into The Blockchain Revolution

Fidelity’s head of Blockchain Incubation, Katie Chase thinks that Blockchain is still in its nascent stage of development and still a lot need to be done further for its full-scale acceptability. Chase said: “It’s (blockchain) still very nascent. If you dig under the covers is still in the proof of concept stage. We tried to apply blockchain to some use cases where we learned a lot but the technology isn’t mature enough to solve these problems.”

However, Fidelity employees’ active blockchain club called “bits and blocks” has more than 2600 members associated with it. However, Fidelity has got an arrangement with Coinbase which allows its customers to check their cryptocurrency balances straight away using the Fidelity mobile app.

Moreover, CEO Abby Johnson is an old player of the cryptocurrency market. When Bitcoin was just trading $180 started”mining” the digital asset. Johnson said: “A few plus years ago, myself and a few other senior executives here were just curious about what was going on, particularly with bitcoin. We started getting together to say ‘we’re got to understand this.'”

Last month during the Boston-Fintech week, the company ventured in the crypto market through its launch of different related products.

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