Tokyo-based tech multinational Hitachi has announced that it will open a research organisation in the United States to explore new innovations in FinTech, with an emphasis on blockchain-based technology.
The new laboratory will be based in the company’s existing Global Center For Social Innovation at Santa Clara, which opened in January of this year.
Hitachi also joined the Open Linux Foundation’s Hyperledger Project (also known as Open Ledger) in early February, a consortium effort among the world’s biggest tech innovators and financial powerhouses – including IBM, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan – to investigate the possibilities for blockchain technology in future financial applications and infrastructure.
The company, which has a capital arm and provides loan leases, guarantees and invoice financing, said in its statement:
‘FinTech, which combines IT and financial services, is attracting attention internationally as a new trend in society with the recent proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones and the rapid development of technologies such as the cloud, big data and artificial intelligence.‘
Hitachi radically reorganised [PDF] its global R&D structuring in February of last year, distributing its global efforts between centres in the United States, Japan, Europe and China. This followed on from a previous reshuffle in 2011, wherein the company consolidated its six corporate research laboratories into three, whilst branching further out into IT and social infrastructure.
Just as venture capital is beginning to tire of the tech startup scene, it appears to have made a fickle and avid move towards FinTech in the last six months – a transformation that seems to be fuelled by the interest in the blockchain distributed ledger system for which Bitcoin has been such a prominent poster child.
UK investment in FinTech rose 35% to approx. £622 million ($901 million) in 2015, third behind the U.S. and China, according to Innovate Finance, whose CEO Lawrence Wintermeyer commented: “A couple of years ago, entrepreneurs in the community were looking for introductions to VCs. Last year, they were interested in introductions to institutions. What this reveals is that corporate venture funding could be the new smart money for FinTech.”