Franklin Templeton CEO says all ETFs and mutual funds will be on blockchain

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Jenny Johnson, the CEO and President of Franklin Templeton, a financial firm with $1.6 trillion in assets under management, recently reiterated her pro-blockchain stance during an interview with Bloomberg anchor David Westland during the 27th Annual Milken Institute Global Conference in California. 

Among the hot topics discussed by the two, Johnson had plenty to say on the subjects of tokenization and generative artificial intelligence.

Tokenization

When asked how Franklin Templeton benefited from tokenizaiton, Johnson was quick to reply. “First of all, I am a huge fan of blockchain and the technology.”

She described a situation where the company ran a side-by-side experiment to process account records using both traditional methods and blockchain for a period of six to eight months. As Johnson put it, the results were quite positive. “We were astonished by how much less costly it was to run it on blockchain.”

Johnson added:

“It’s a very efficient technology, and we think it’s going to open up a lot of new investment opportunities. And, honestly, eventually, I think ETF and mutual funds are all going to be on blockchain.”

She attributed this prediction to the “huge costs” associated with verifying data between disparate systems — a problem which blockchain was intentionally designed to solve. Johnson further pointed out that once data is reconciled in-house, financial institutions and stakeholders still need to verify data between external parties.

“In the case of blockchain,” she stated, “there’s only one source of truth.”

The savings, both monetary and temporal, can lead to more diversified investment opportunities, according to Johnson. She cited the use case of pop superstar Rhianna, who released a series of 300 NFTs that afforded their owners a tiny percentage of royalties for one of the artist’s songs via smart contract.

This is a reference Johnson has made in the past. As Cointelegraph reported back in October of 2023, the CEO relayed the Rhianna story during an interview with CNBC’s Delivering Alpha wherein she discussed tokenization as “securitization done on steroids.”

Source: @FTI_Global on X. 

Generative AI

The conversation then shifted to generative artificial intelligence. Johnson acknowledge the usefulness of generative AI systems but also warned that it was “kind of like the kid who gets an ‘A’ in English and an ‘F’ in math.”

The CEO noted that Franklin Templeton had recently partnered with Microsoft to build an AI-powered sales assistant, later adding that there were investment opportunities in the space. She also lauded the potential for AI-powered translation services to bridge language barriers in finance.

Related: Base set for ‘material share’ of SocialFi activity: Franklin Templeton