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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Big goals for Ripple's blockchain-to-blackboard initiative

The University Blockchain Research Initiative (UBRI), underwritten by Ripple and launched June 4, 2018, will support academic research and development of blockchain and cryptocurrency schemes. Ripple, a global financial and blockchain settlement network headquartered in Amsterdam, with offices in San Francisco, New York, London, Sydney, India, Singapore and Luxembourg, stated it will donate $50 million to participating universities.

Eric van Miltenburg, senior vice president of global operations at Ripple, said Ripple looks forward to facilitating faculty and student-led projects that explore digital payments use cases. "Academia has traditionally been a critical driver of technical innovation," he said. "The University Blockchain Research Initiative is an acknowledgment of the vital importance of the unique role universities will play in advancing our understanding and application of cryptography and blockchain technology. It also speaks to the reality that university graduates will fuel a continually evolving and maturing financial marketplace and workforce."

As emerging currency schemes gain worldwide popularity, their benefits to civilians and business owners have yet to be fully clarified, van Miltenburg noted. He acknowledged Ripple will support university projects that focus on useful applications without dictating research parameters. The following 17 educational institutions will pilot test the UBRI program:

    The University of Pennsylvania
  • MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory
  • Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University
  • Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley
  • University of Waterloo
  • University College London
  • University of Oregon
  • The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Korea University
  • University of Luxembourg
  • Delft University of Technology (Netherlands)
  • University of Nicosia (Cyprus)
  • Australian National University
  • Fundação Getulio Vargas (Brazil)
  • McCombs School of Business, University of Texas, Austin
  • Indian Institute of Technology Bombay
  • International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad

Investments spur innovation

Diversified pilot partners will be free to design their own curricula and determine areas of interest and research methods, Ripple representatives stated. Participants will also be encouraged to promote themes of diversity in their respective blockchain and cryptocurrency fields. In addition to funding the project, Ripple plans to donate resources and support, as needed, to universities and student bodies to accelerate the success of UBRI and bring fresh solutions and talent to global financial challenges. Pilot partners will implement UBRI in myriad ways, which include studying global policies for cryptocurrency at Princeton and building blockchain research labs at Delft University of Technology and the University of Luxemburg, according to recent disclosures.

Referencing an Accenture report that found 18 percent growth in fintech investment in 2017 and 4,500 LinkedIn job listings for skilled bitcoin, blockchain and cryptocurrency workers; Ripple said globalization is driving demand for solutions and talent. The company expects UBRI research projects to address new problems while meeting demand for knowledgeable workers in emerging blockchain, bitcoin and cryptocurrency fields.

Julian Skan, senior managing director in Accenture's Financial Services practice, said global investments, particularly from China, Russia and the Middle East, are fueling fintech growth. "Also fueling growth was the rapid rise of 'insurtech' ventures where traditional carriers see new opportunities," he stated. "India's boom was driven by strong demand for cashless services following the country's 'demonetisation' events."

The Accenture report cited $97.7 billion in global fintech investments between 2010 and 2017, with U.S. startups representing 54 percent of total investments. "This volume of investment reflects the soaring demand within financial services for new digital innovations, as these technologies prove their value and applicability in the market," added Richard Lumb, group chief executive, financial services at Accenture. "That will continue to position fintechs for a vital role in helping reshape the financial services landscape." end of article

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