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Irish banking industry first in Europe in building new education platform based on blockchain

30 May 2019

IOB, Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank and Deloitte today announced that they are collaborating in developing a new financial services industry education platform based on blockchain technology.

The new platform is a first in the European financial services industry and will support the verification, tracking, direct access to, and management of, regulatory and other professional designations, education qualifications and lifelong learning credentials. This initiative will result in reduced annual costs, reduced risk and enhanced user experience across the banking industry.

The platform will offer attractive benefits to IoB members, financial institutions and their employees. It will reduce operational and regulatory risk and the manual effort and related costs around compliance with the Central Bank of Ireland’s Minimum Competency Code (MCC) and Fitness and Probity regimes for financial institutions. Employees will have a greatly enhanced user experience, with an easily accessible digital wallet containing all their educational qualifications, professional designations, CPD and completed lifelong learning courses and events. In addition, the new platform will enable banks to have a single view and support their competency and talent frameworks. The platform will be of interest to other professional bodies and education bodies in Ireland.

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe said: "This initiative between Bank of Ireland, AIB, Ulster Bank, Deloitte and IOB is an excellent example of how, through collaboration, Ireland is delivering real change and preparing the country for the future. I fully support the development and adoption of new technologies like blockchain, as a way to encourage digitalisation and foster innovation. This project will deliver improved customer experience, lower costs and reduce operational and regulatory risk, while allowing for professional development and further competencies training. This project aligns itself perfectly to both the Government’s Future of Jobs initiative and the new IFS 2025 strategy and I look forward to seeing the results of the pilot later this year.”

Mary O’Dea, Chief Executive of IOB, said: “We are delighted to be leading the collaboration with the banks and Deloitte in developing this innovative industry platform using blockchain technology which is the first of its kind in Europe. It’s an example of the innovation happening in financial services and Ireland’s growing blockchain ecosystem. More than 23,500 members hold a professional designation with IOB and, ultimately for us, it’s all about sustaining the highest professional standards for the benefit of the customers who are served by the financial services industry.”

Francesca McDonagh, CEO of Bank of Ireland highlighted: “I am delighted to see this initiative, which was initially developed by my colleagues in a Bank of Ireland innovation programme, come to fruition. This new education platform shows the benefit of collaborative working and will help to enhance learning and increase standards across our sector, in a secure, efficient, and user-friendly way.”

David Dalton, Head of Financial Services at Deloitte and lead of the EMEA Blockchain lab said: “This is a great application of blockchain technology to a vital area of banking. We are delighted to support IOB and the banks involved in this project and look forward to the results that this initiative will deliver. This is an excellent example of innovation in banking in Ireland and our dedicated blockchain team in Dublin are excited to be supporting this project.”

Colin Hunt, CEO of AIB remarked: “AIB was delighted to become involved with this project. The largest value in a blockchain solution is derived from using the network and achieving this through an industry platform is very attractive. This is a great story for banking innovation in Ireland but also to enable our employees and those in the sector to progress their career aspirations and ambitions.”

Jane Howard, CEO of Ulster Bank and Deputy President of IOB explained: “It made complete sense to collaborate with Bank of Ireland, AIB and IOB on this project. It will enable banking professionals to maximise their professional development throughout their career, which will undoubtedly lead to a healthier banking industry in Ireland, which supports consumers, communities and businesses to flourish.”

The pilot phase of the project is expected to be completed in the late summer, with the roll out of the system to IoB members expected by summer 2020.