The Digital Banking Executive Securing Your Money With Blockchain

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In 2014, when it became clear that advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence were reshaping finance, executives at JPMorgan Chase & Co. pulled together their best engineers and told them, “Figure this out.” Among them was Amber Baldet, then a 31-year-old vice president for technology. “I started in machine learning, but I kept putting my hand up to say, ‘I know about ­blockchain,’ ” she says.

Blockchain—the novel combination of cryptography and distributed computing that gave life to bitcoin in 2009—holds great promise for industries such as banking that process immense amounts of data. Baldet, now a JPMorgan executive herself, helped organize the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA), a group of businesses experimenting with ethereum, a more powerful blockchain than the one that supports bitcoin. The alliance, which also includes IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp., among others, is developing Quorum, a modified version of ­ethereum with enhanced protections for client privacy.

Baldet’s enthusiasm for technology goes back to childhood. As a 13-year-old, she persuaded her parents to let her use a 9600-baud modem left behind by a deceased relative. The moment was life-changing. Baldet connected to university message boards, whose members “got me into playing MUDs, the first choose-your-own-­adventure-style computer games, and reading books like Gödel, Escher, Bach,” she says. The students taught her to see the world as “a fascinating puzzle worth unraveling.”

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