At the Fortune Global Forum, Jenny Johnson, President and CEO of Franklin Templeton, discussed the company’s strategic integration of blockchain technology into its financial services.
Managing over $1.3 trillion, Franklin Templeton stands at the forefront of integrating blockchain into the financial mainstream, evident from initiatives like launching a U.S.-registered mutual fund on public blockchain and filing for a Bitcoin ETF.
Johnson makes a distinction between Bitcoin and blockchain. She notes, “I think it’s important that we differentiate Bitcoin and blockchain… blockchain technology… is going to enable access to things like private markets.”
Her vision for blockchain extends beyond cryptocurrencies, it’s about “the democratization of private markets” by “reduc[ing] the friction in transactions” to securitize or fractionalize ownership of complex assets.
Elaborating on the efficiency blockchain brings, Johnson says, “It’s going to make more efficient the types of products that you have today… imagine that you build a pooled vehicle on the blockchain.” She envisions this technological shift leading to “atomic settlement” which “removes the potential for fraud, it takes out latency in the system.”
Her firm’s tokenized money-market fund and role as a node validator exemplify this commitment.
On the topic of a Bitcoin spot ETF, Johnson admits, “I don’t know. That’s in the hands of the regulators… Their job is to protect the consumers, and I think they’ll do it in time, as appropriate.”
While uncertain of the timeline, she acknowledges the market demand for Bitcoin (BTC), considering it a more convenient investment method.
Johnson’s introduction to blockchain and crypto came from her tenure leading Franklin Templeton’s technology division. “I’m always staying focused on new technological trends,” she said, likening her interest in blockchain to that in AI.
The CEO’s personal investments in cryptocurrencies, though a small part of her portfolio, include mainstream choices like Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin, as well as ventures like SushiSwap and Uniswap. Regarding future blockchain or crypto-related products, Johnson maintains, “Our job is to make the products available.”
Franklin Templeton’s experiment with NFTs, starting with their Innovation Forum, reflects Johnson’s balanced view on new technologies.
The company’s CEO believes in “investments that are anchored in having financial returns,” acknowledging that while not all NFTs will succeed, some will find value.