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Why PwC's New FinTech Director Won't Rock the Blockchain Boat

Geraldine Balaj

PwC’s new US FinTech director plans to change little about her company’s plan of attack on blockchain.

The ‘Big Four’ accounting firm has officially tapped former American Stock Exchange director Geraldine Balaj to help head its efforts after another blockchain director formally left last month. Joining the firm in March, she brought 22 years experience in capital markets and a drive to continue what she characterized as her firm’s success in the new sector.

In conversation with CoinDesk, Balaj said blockchain services have so permeated PwC’s financial services department that it’s almost hardly worth making the distinction between blockchain and other efforts.

She further laid out her vision for the future now that blockchain is well advanced in transforming the operations of her new employer.

According to Balaj:

“I’ve lost count of how many people from capital markets and capital markets tech are involved at this point. It’s fully imbued.”

Balaj led the blockchain practice at her previous employer, financial services consultant Capco, and says that in spite of the progress PwC has made, the demand from clients is requiring a new strategy.

Cross-industry clients

Balaj couldn’t share the names of current clients, but noted that service providers, asset managers, financial institutions and clearing firms are all now doing business with PwC.

In particular, she said that a wide range of vendors have sought her out for advice on how they might better integrate with clients on Wall Street already building with distributed ledgers.

A general theme Balaj mentioned was the idea of “coopetition”, where companies that might otherwise be competitors are faced with greater benefits by coming together to build distributed networks.

Balaj said PwC itself has become better at looking to non-traditional partnerships, and that her company is advising its clients to follow a similar path.

Working with competitors

Balaj says it’s important for those in the industry to be able to work well with other players in the field. For example, PwC partner Blockstream is a member of R3CEV and Digital Asset Holdings is a member of cross-industry consortium, Hyperledger.

“In many instances we’re sort of gluing the different parts together to really come up with that collaborative approach,” said Balaj. “Working with the R3s, working with the Hyperledgers, working outside of the R3s and Hyperledgers where necessary. There’s a lot of different options”

But Balaj says there’s a possibility for the formation of an entirely new consortium dedicated specifically to accounting in the future, one that could unite PwC with the other ‘Big Four’ firms that have been at the forefront of developing blockchain.

She concluded:

“There’s a lot of coopetition going on. We’ll see.”

Image of Geraldine Balaj via Michael del Castillo

Accounting Banking PwC


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