BNY Mellon Outlines Innovation Agenda — Less Office Space, More Blockchain

  • Philip Ryan
  • October 21, 2016
  • 1

© Can Stock Photo Inc. / peshkovBNY Mellon has made a lot of noise about blockchain technology in recent months and that continued in a discussion of the bank’s innovation agenda yesterday.

Reporting the bank’s third-quarter earnings, CEO Gerald Hassell outlines a shift in resources from real estate to digital. This practice normally refers to branches — all the large banks except for Wells Fargo have shrunk their branch footprint in recent years. But in BNY Mellon’s case, this means office space: the bank has shed 9% of its “rentable square footage” in the past year.

In parallel, the bank has opened another innovation center. “This one will focus on harnessing robotics and machine learning to reduce our costs and free our staff to focus on higher value activity,” Hassell said. “Now there is a good-sized pipeline of other projects under review and we expect more robotics automation to be deployed in the near future.” The bank now has seven innovation centers in the following locations: New York, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, Silicon Valley, London, and Pune and Chennai in India.

Hassell also described blockchain, and not in terms of testing or experimenting, but actual live uses:

In terms of blockchain, we’re using distributed ledger technology for system resiliency in our new broker-dealer services system which is up and running today. We created a tool called BDS 360 using a distributed ledger to reconcile transactions between clearance and repo platforms.

BNY Mellon has taken on some high-profile employees to help its innovation initiatives, including “reengineering HR”:

Niamh De Niese joined us to head up our EMEA Innovation Center [in London]. She has held a number of senior technology and innovation leadership positions in the financial services and consulting industry, most recently heading Visa’s European Innovation Labs.

Alex Batlin, a respected cryptocurrency expert, will be joining Niamh in our EMEA Innovation Center to bolster our effort around blockchain. Dana Hostipodi will join us next month from Morgan Stanley as Chief Operating Officer of our HR area and global head of HR Solutions. Dana will help drive our efforts to reengineer our HR operating model, to provide an even greater strategic value and impact to the organization.

In August, BNY Mellon lured away UBS’s blockchain lead, Alex Batlin. Shortly afterward, the BDS 360 initiative was announced.

Christopher Porter, managing director and regional executive at BNY Mellon, will be speaking on corporate innovation strategies at Bank Innovation Israel in Tel Aviv on Nov. 2. Register here to join us.

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Philip Ryan is Senior Editor of Bank Innovation and Senior Director of INV Fintech. He began covering financial services in 2012 and has more than 15 years' experience in online journalism. He can be reached at

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