Blockchain-based banking startup BABB (Bank Account Based Blockchain) has appointed banking technology veteran, Paul Johnson who previously lead one of the UK’s leading challenger banks, Aldermore, as CIO to spearhead the development of the world’s first decentralised bank.

Paul Johnson
Paul Johnson

During his time at Aldermore, Johnson oversaw the bank’s IPO in 2015 and led its asset expansion over a four-year tenure. Johnson’s next move is yet another major step forward towards transforming the retail banking industry – this time with blockchain powered financial services.

“I can only see blockchain technology as the next step in the evolution of payments and asset transfer in the future. The BABB proposition highlights this extremely well with the ‘everyone is a bank concept’ and I am excited to be joining the team to build this platform,” said Johnson of his new role.

BABB is developing a decentralised bank powered by blockchain technology that will enable anyone in the world access to a bank account for peer-to-peer financial services.

BABB will use smart contracts on consortium blockchain, machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and biometrics to create a next-generation banking solution. Users of BABB will be able to interact other users around the world at a low cost, in a trusted environment created by digital identity verification. The mobile app will make it easy to send, receive, lend and borrow money across borders and exchange currencies, all in a peer-to-peer manner with no middlemen.

“Paul’s wealth of experience in planning for growth, resilience, cyber security, regulatory compliance, business operations and go-to market strategy will be of great value to BABB’s long term vision. We want to enable everyone to benefit from a banking, payments, and peer-to-peer lending services regardless of their background, location or income,” said Rushd Averroes, Founder and CEO of BABB.

With his extensive experience in working within the UK regulatory environment to deliver digital transformation for Aldermore, Johnson officially joins BABB this month as it prepares its two phase Initial Coin Offering (ICO) due to launch in January 2018.

His immediate tasks will be to ensure BABB is fully technically compliant with UK banking regulations as it works towards its UK banking licence. BABB is already an FCA Authorised Payment Institution (API) .

“We know that regulators would appreciate Paul’s experience from the existing banking community and we’re grateful to have him on board to help us navigate the complexities of UK fiscal and regulatory policy. While blockchain is not entirely unregulated, it is how we will use a blockchain database that will impact regulation,” said Averroes.

Johnson left Aldermore Bank in December 2016 and in this past year he has provided executive leadership and consultation to the payments and banking industry.

Johnson is also an Independent Non-Executive Director at Sonali Bank, a leading commercial bank in Bangladesh and the largest bank in the country. As such, his understanding of formulating global solutions that meet a variety of cultural, behavioural and regulatory requirements will also be useful to fulfil BABB’s mission in building partnerships with central banks to allow for the integration and issuance of other digital currencies on the platform.

At a time where mobile banks such as Revolut and Square’s Cash App are offering customers to buy and trade cryptocurrencies on their platform in order to adapt to mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies, Johnson has ambitious plans to establish BABB as more than a mobile bank.

“I believe that BABB will not just be a mobile banking platform, but a bank with a platform that can provide peer-to-peer financial services to everyone around the world, especially the unbanked,” he said.

According to the World Bank’s 2014 report on Measuring Financial Inclusion Around the World, 2 billion – or 40 per cent of the global adult population – have no bank account or mobile money services and BABB wants to change that.

BABB’s platform aims to enable anyone anywhere in the world, who can be verified by “taking a selfie and humming a tune”, to open a UK bank account and manage it via a smartphone app set to launch in early 2018 .

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