Vanguard, Symbiont And Partners Collaborate To Accelerate Digitization Via Blockchain Technology
Vanguard, in association with technology provider Symbiont, and in conjunction with Bank of New York Mellon, State Street, and Franklin Templeton, is actively investigating the application of distributed ledger technology (DLT) to foreign-exchange forwards, bringing transparency and workflow effectiveness to the over-the-counter currency market. As part of this pilot, Vanguard has simulated varied 30-day FX forward contracts with its allies in the initiative – a proof of concept that is contemplative of how the firms would lead the first test trades of FX forwards on a DLT network in the future.
“For more than two years, we’ve been developing blockchain use cases to help transform the capital markets,” said Warren Pennington, principal and head of Vanguard’s Investment Management FinTech Strategies Group in a statement. “The current environment emphasizes the need to streamline, automate, and secure critical business processes. When procedures are highly reliant on manual intervention and disconnected operations, it makes the markets vulnerable to disruption from crises and even simple manual mistakes.”
Providing the advantages of blockchain technology within the mostly manual forwards market will allow the contracts to be completed and documented on a single unalterable record, digitally securing the trades. It will also provide parties in the network the capability to value, move, and settle collateral immediately—decreasing the risk of payment delays and streamlining processes for those forwards that are non-cleared and subject to margining.
“Our work towards conducting the first FX forward contract on a DLT is one of a number of use cases we are looking at in our efforts to modernize trade lifecycles and improve the client experience,” said Jason Vitale, head of FX at BNY Mellon in a statement. “We think this partnership with Vanguard is an important step for the FX market, further automating end to end workflows.”
“As one of the largest providers of FX trading services to the buyside, State Street is pleased to engage with Vanguard and Symbiont on this initiative to digitize the supporting process around collateralized FX forward contracts,” said Dean Sakati, head of Product Innovation and Business Development for State Street Global Markets in a statement. “Our firm’s digital strategies overall are centrally focused on reducing our customer’s operational challenges through both process automation and by utilizing state of the art technologies that drives efficiency and growth, and we believe this pilot will help us further achieve that goal.”
Since December 2017, Vanguard has been operating with Symbiont to analyze the data management process by leveraging Symbiont’s blockchain platform, Assembly. The collaboration has allowed index data to move immediately between index providers and market participants over one decentralized database, ending in enhanced benchmark tracking and cost savings for clients.
“This platform is another example of how we’re transforming capital markets infrastructure through blockchain technology,” Mark Smith, CEO of Symbiont said in a statement. “Vanguard is an example of a forward-thinking financial services institution that is helping accelerate necessary change in the FX markets. This is not just about innovation – but about bringing much-needed efficiency and automation to this asset class.”