Blockchain almost a must-have for business

Swiss financial services giant UBS Group may not be a fan of bitcoin but CEO Sergio Ermotti believes blockchain, the technology behind cryptocurrencies, is “definitely an opportunity” in the long term.

“It’s almost a must. The freeing up of resources to become more efficient will come through technology and blockchain is a great way to allow us to … reduce costs,” Ermotti told CNBC’s Michelle Caruso-Cabrera on Monday.

Blockchain allows data to be stored across a network of computers around the world rather than at one single location.

“Our industry will continue to be under pressure, in terms of gross margins. It’s no doubt,” he said. “The only way you can stay relevant is not only by being strong in terms of capital, in terms of products, the quality of the people you have, advice you give to clients. You need also to be able to price it correctly.”

UBS is currently involved in a blockchain-based global trade finance platform, called Batavia, along with IBM and other banks.

Ermotti said the focus is on the future, noting that transforming the cost base of the industry won’t happen “tomorrow.” Instead, he’s looking five to 10 years out.

He’s convinced that the technology “will be as crucial and disruptive, and changing as regulation was in the last 10 years.”

However, Ermotti still hasn’t come around on bitcoin.

He’s already said he is “not necessarily” a believer in cryptocurrencies. Last October, UBS warned bitcoin was in a “speculative bubble.”

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