Blockchain-Shy Bank of America Quietly Pilots Ripple Technology


Bank of America, the second-largest bank in the U.S., has quietly tested out Ripple’s distributed ledger technology – and may be planning to do more with it.

Ripple went so far as to identify B of A as a “customer” in a presentation given at a seminar held by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) late last year.

When asked about this, a Ripple spokesperson would neither confirm nor deny whether B of A was a customer – but said the companies had conducted a pilot together.

The spokesperson would not provide any further details about the pilot, which was not previously reported. Bank of America declined to comment.

It was previously known that B of A is a member of the steering group that advises on rules and standards for Ripplenet, the network of financial institutions using Ripple products. But the news of the pilot is the strongest indication yet that the bank’s relationship with the startup goes beyond friendly advice.

That would be a departure for the bank, whose chief technology officer, Cathy Bessant, has said she’s bearish on the technology and that B of A’s portfolio of blockchain patents (the most of any financial institution) exists only so it can pivot to blockchain quickly if the need arises.

One more sign B of A is warming to the sector is a job opening the bank posted earlier this month, for a product manager who would lead the team for a “Ripple project.”

The project was described as “a decentralized ledger technology-based solution to cross border payments marketed to GTS clients.” (GTS stands for global transaction services, a division of B of A that works with the treasury departments of large companies and financial institutions.)