Distributed ledger technology applications for the financial industry, in practice, are a pipe dream for many. At Thomson Reuters, we’ve been ahead of the curve, making the benefits of blockchain applications real for our customers. Embracing disruptive technology is what we do, and last year we partnered with Axoni, a distributed ledger specialist firm, to help financial industry leaders embrace disruption, too.
We recently sat down with Joyce Shen, our global director of emerging technology partnerships and investments, and Greg Schvey, the CEO of Axoni to talk about co-innovation. Together they share how our partnership came about, how they kept the voice of the customer front-of-mind and how the process was mutually beneficial for both parties.
View the 2016 Annual Report: The Partnership Equation to see highlights from other strategic partnerships over the last year.
Why partner on blockchain applications?
Joyce Shen: We saw at Thomson Reuters that the blockchain distributed ledger is potentially going to be an emerging technology that would transform the financial industry, transform legal, transform government… and the company Axoni saw the same thing.
Greg Schvey: Initially when we engaged with Thomson Reuters it was through their innovation team. And they had reached out to us after seeing some of the work that we had done elsewhere. And they realized that there was a potential application for our technology in the way that they offer services to their clients.
What blockchain projects came from this partnership?
Shen: Specifically we worked on two projects with Axoni. We worked with the founders first to extend analytics around the global digital currency investments and brought those analytics into our Eikon platform at Thomson Reuters, again helping our customers to understand:
And most recently we worked with Axoni on an equity swaps project alongside five other customers. Thomson Reuters played two roles in that project. One is to work closely with Axoni to identify customer requirements that are critical in building out an OTC equity swap application, on top of blockchain technology requirements.
Schvey: What that means is that when you have a trade that’s agreed between two counterparties, to be able to do all the post-trade calculations in a way that matches what your counterparty has determined is something that today breaks very frequently and has extremely high operational costs. By working with Thomson Reuters we were able to consume market data and have it synchronously process between multiple different counterparties such that when you are processing the trade you know that it matches the other party.
What made this partnership successful?
Shen: We all learned what blockchain can do as a technology in the financial services industry, and we were able to identify the strategic roles that Thomson Reuters could play alongside our customers.
Schvey: I think one of the most important things that came out of this is the fact that it produced a real product that is installed locally at the various firms that we worked with. They are able to consume real market data and are able to affect the value of real trades. The power of this technology is tremendous, the ability to integrate existing services makes it very seamless to implement actually use in a real context. The ability to deliver that is complex, but we’ve proven that it can happen. We’ve proven it in a way that integrates with the services that financial professionals are relying on today.
Shen: There aren’t many examples in the market where a firm like Thomson Reuters, as an incumbent leader in what we do, working with our major customers and an emerging startup like Axoni in such a close way to bring a very forward-looking product to the market.
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