Singapore central bank, bank association, Accenture in blockchain tie-up

FILE PHOTO: Visitors look at devices at Accenture stand at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, February 26, 2013. REUTERS/Albert Gea/File Photo

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. consulting company Accenture ACN.N said on Thursday it has been appointed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) to manage and develop a blockchain-based platform for interbank payments.

Blockchain, a digital ledger of transactions, leaped to prominence as the technology that underpins the first digital currency, bitcoin. It has since attracted global attention because it can be used to track, record and transfer assets across all industries.

The project aims to improve how central banks and financial institutions deal with the settlement of payments, Accenture said in a statement. It focuses on specific real-time gross settlement features and a liquidity-saving mechanism on a decentralized system without compromising privacy.

The project is the second phase of an industry-wide initiative called Project Ubin, led by MAS and ABS, a group of financial institutions that includes Bank of America Merrill Lynch BAC.N, Citigroup C.N, Credit Suisse CSGN.S, DBS Bank Ltd DBSM_pc.SI, HSBC HSBA.L, JPMorgan JPM.N, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group 8306.T, OCBC Bank OCBC.SI, Singapore Exchange SGXL.SI, Standard Chartered Bank STAN.L, and United Overseas Bank UOBH.SI.

“This helps to open up opportunity for a wider adoption of DLT-based settlement systems,” said Sopnendu Mohanty, chief fintech officer at MAS in a statement. DLT refers to distributed ledger technology, otherwise known as blockchain.

“We are sharing our learnings and knowledge from Project Ubin to encourage greater experimentation amongst central banks and financial institutions. We look forward to working with other central banks on the use of DLT for cross-border applications,” he added.

For the project, Accenture is using the Accenture Liquid Studio in Singapore, a research lab that focuses on emerging technology experimentation and rapid application development to develop and test interbank payment models using three blockchain platforms: Quorum, R3 Corda, and Hyperledger Fabric.

Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by Steve Orlofsky