Symphony CEO Brad Levy Sees Convergence of Traditional and Decentralized Finance

Jun 6, 2024

John Lothian

John Lothian

Executive Chairman and CEO

June 5, 2024

Elmhurst, IL (JLN) – Brad Levy, the CEO of Symphony, a leading financial services messaging platform, envisions a future where traditional finance (TradFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi) coexist on a continuum rather than being separate entities.

In an interview with John Lothian News, Levy expressed his belief in the digital asset world, saying, “We’re more of the belief that TradFi and DeFi are going to blend and have a spectrum versus there’s a crypto taking out fiat or everything’s moving to token from analog.”

Levy spoke to JLN following the company’s most recent Symphony Innovate event, an annual showcase that has evolved from its origins in chat technology to become more focused on settlement issues, KYC and margin collateral. Innovate has moved from vision to actual products, Levy said.

This year’s Innovate highlighted Symphony’s products embedded into customers’ technology, what Symphony calls, “embedded collaboration,” Levy said.

Levy discussed expectations for the T+1 transition and how it was not either as bad or as easy as predicted. He said T+1 has essentially moved trading to real time, as it moved from a 28 hour window to a four hour window.

Symphony worked with the DTCC to embed its software into the user interface, which helps customers escalate an issue when a trade is failing, Levy said.

He said what’s more exciting is Symphony’s building of an enhanced directory for the proper identities to deal with in the case of failed trades. “The directory is not just for DTCC but will work with any clearinghouse in the U.S. securities market, or not,” he said.

Speaking about tokenization, Levy said the tech is probably ready, but processes will have to change and people will have to become comfortable with using it. He also said the legal side of tokenization needs to catch up.

Levy acknowledged the challenges surrounding regulation and legal precedents in the digital asset space but remained optimistic about the potential of tokenization. “I definitely believe there’s a logic to tokenizing versus moving things actually physically. You just represent it as a token and say, ‘I have that, it’s mine’ and it’s in my custody,” he said.

Levy highlighted the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on Symphony’s operations, citing the acquisition of a company specializing in natural language processing and machine learning applications. He emphasized the incremental nature of AI adoption, with Symphony gradually incorporating more prompt-based and natural language interfaces.

Discussing the generational divide in the digital asset debate, Levy noted a significant shift on the horizon. “I think 2027-28 is where I mark where things will get a bit slopy as a generational change,” he said, referring to the digital native generation that will drive accelerated adoption of new technologies.

Levy also touched on Symphony’s recent expansion into Abu Dhabi, citing the region’s efforts to establish itself as a major financial center. He highlighted the influx of investment dollars and the presence of major firms like BlackRock, Blackstone, and Goldman Sachs setting up operations in Abu Dhabi and Saudi Arabia.

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