Yesterday Citi confirmed that Ryan Rugg had joined the bank as Global Head of Digital Assets in its Treasury and Trade Solutions division. After six and seven-year stints at JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley respectively, she joined enterprise blockchain firm R3 in 2016, where she stayed for almost five years, playing a critical role in developing the business.
At R3, Rugg started with responsibility for insurance and became Global Head of Industry, including for trade finance. Most recently, Rugg spent just shy of two years as head of blockchain services for North America at IBM.
In addition to Rugg’s appointment in New York, Citi has hired Ireland based David Cunningham as Director of Strategic Partnerships for Digital Assets.
Last year we explored how the leaders of different financial institutions have embraced digital assets, comparing Goldman Sachs, Citi and Nasdaq. Citi’s CEO, Jane Fraser, is far more bullish about the potential of blockchain technology than the other two. “We are moving towards a boundless virtual economy in which markets do not open or close, digital asset on- and off-ramps are limitless and metaverse activities are widespread,” Fraser told Bloomberg at the time.
Citi’s Tony McLaughlin, has promoted the concept of the Regulated Liability Network (RLN), where regulated institutions collaborate to fight the “digital money format war”. The idea is a single interoperable network that can support central bank money, commercial bank money and emoney. Three months ago, McLaughlin posted a job ad for a Product Manager for CBDC and tokenized Citi money.
However, the RLN concept took a bit of a knock when SETL, a DLT startup backed by Citi, was acquired by Colendi. SETL has a highly scalable permissioned blockchain and was working with Digital Asset to move the concept forward. However, since the acquisition, both Digital Asset and SETL confirmed that the RLN project is proceeding. It makes sense for two technology firms to push the concept forward to avoid perceiving it as Citi’s network.
Meanwhile, Ryan Rugg’s move is a significant loss for IBM but certainly not the first. In March Ireland-based Anthony Day, a Blockchain Partner and high profile evangelist at IBM moved on to Parity, the company behind Polkadot.