A senior technologist has left DBS in Singapore to join a blockchain start-up focused on the buy-side. Gavin Costin, the head of risk technology within DBS’s core systems team, moved to Abele Group last month as a blockchain architect, based in Singapore and the US, according to his online profile.
Abele, which was founded earlier this year and is currently selling tokens to fund its development, pitches itself as the world’s first "fully digital" custodial bank. Using blockchain technology, it holds client assets in an institutionally secure manner for crypto hedge funds, acting as an “industry safe harbour”.
Costin joins a seven-strong team at Abele, some of whom boast banking experience. Company founder and managing partner Phil Wood was a director in FX global bank sales at Citi in New York and also held senior roles at Citi and UBS in Singapore.
Costin moved to DBS in February last year and was previously a consultant at Cal Global in Hong Kong, advising central banks on their IT architecture. He was at Barclays in Singapore from 2009 to 2013, latterly as an architect for credit risk IT, and he worked for Merrill Lynch as a development manager prior to that.
Senior technologists at banks typically move to start-ups for the “challenge” of developing systems from the ground up, says Warwick Pearmund, associate director of financial and emerging technologies at Pure Search.
“Going into a blockchain firm that's looking to do an initial coin offering may also eventually lead to a potential pay-out,” adds Pearmund. “Typically a good chunk of the coins are retained by the management, if the ICO is successful. Senior people are usually financially stable enough to take the risk of moving to an early-stage start-up where the salary might be lower than at a bank.”
By contrast, at the junior to mid-level, banks in Singapore and Hong Kong have been able to attract talent into roles involving blockchain development, says Pearmund. “It’s an area banks in Asia want to invest in and hire in as matter of urgency.”
Costin is not the only senior technologist to have left DBS recently. Last month we reported the departure of Paul Beresford, DBS's head of consumer banking group digital technology, to Standard Chartered.
But DBS is hiring in technology, too. It has a “huge pipeline of digital transformation projects” and needs to take on 200 people, mainly developers and architects, in the year to end-May 2018, Soh Siew Choo, head of core systems technology, told us.
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