Blockchain Brain Drain at UBS

Alex Batlin

Alex Batlin

The head of the innovation laboratory of UBS in London is leaving the company. This may hamper the development of its blockchain applications.

Alex Batlin is leaving UBS, «Financial News» (behind pay-wall) reported in London last night, citing an internal memo by Veronica Lange, the UBS head of innovation. Batlin is due to depart in October. The bank will however not change its blockchain and innovation strategy.

The departure ends a 15-year stint at the Swiss No. 1. Batlin, an IT scientist, joined UBS in 2001 after working as a consultant at UBS Warburg. In the following years, he rose within the ranks of the investment bank.

Level 39 Boss

From 2012, Batlin worked as a mentor for the UBS fintech innovation laboratory in London, helping to bring it on its way. In March of 2015, Batlin assumed the lead of the UBS development team Level 39 in Canary Wharf, whereto the group had dislodged.

He also advised a string of fintech startups working on the development of blockchain, the software that powers bitcoin, and other crypto currencies.

Blockchain Patent

In June, UBS applied for a patent on blockchain in the U.S., the result of Batlin's work. The application enables blockchain transactions that keep the identity of participants secret. In cooperation with R3 in New York, the Batlin group also managed to make the first blockchain transaction in the financing of trade.

Batlin's departure will hurt the company, because the work he's started isn't complete. UBS maintains that the pipeline of innovations is well equipped.

Second Guru Departure

The departure is the second of an innovation guru after Oliver Bussmann left the bank in March. Bussmann, who was Batlin's manager and UBS CIO, is one of the world's foremost fintech experts. After his departure, he had at least remained a mentor of Level 39 and in touch with Batlin.

 

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